One of the strongest trends in motion graphic design is the resurgence of 2D, clean, minimal, vector style animation. How do you create a background like this with repeating vector elements? Author Ian Robinson walks you through how to use assets from Adobe Creative Cloud Market to create a 2D, vector animation in Adobe After Effects.
- One of the hottest trends in motion design today is the resurgence of clean, 2D-vector style animation. And in this video, we're going to create an animated background with some repeating vector elements we sourced from the Creative Cloud market. Now, even though we're starting in After Effects, we're actually going to jump over to our Libraries panel. If your version of After Effects doesn't look like this, make sure you're in the standard workspace. Then, navigate to the Libraries panel, and you can see we've got a whole bunch of graphics that we downloaded earlier in the course.
It's this one, One line 110 Icon Set. Let's double-click on that. And that'll cause Illustrator to open. Now, inside of Illustrator, you can see I've got all these cool icons. And if I use Command + plus, or Control + plus on Windows, to zoom in, you can see each one of these icons is created just with a single line. So, if I grab my Direct Selection tool here, and then hover over any one of these icons, I can select each one.
Or, if I click and drag, I can draw a lasso around each one. Now, if I want to import this into After Effects, don't just drop it straight from your library into a composition. What we should do is go up under File and choose Save As, and I'm going to go ahead and navigate to my Exercise_Files folder. And I'll save this in the Assets folder. In here, we'll call this Icon _Prep _Line _Ae.
The _Ae lets me know this is the version that I'm importing into my After Effects project. Now, down at the bottom, I don't want to bring it in as an SVG, so let's click on that, and make sure we choose Adobe Illustrator. Now, when I click Save, this file's going to ask me, do I want full Illustrator? Yes, I want to make sure it's PDF compatible, that's fine. I can click OK, and now it's ready for import into After Effects. So let's jump back over into our After Effects project, and double-click in the Project panel.
You guessed it, we're going to navigate to the Assets folder, and choose the Icon_Prep_Ae file. Under Import As, if you click on the pulldown, choose Composition - Retain Layer Sizes, and click Open. Now, notice, this was a 2000 by 2000 comp, so it's really large. But what I can do is open this folder, and then drag this Illustrator layer, and drop it down into the 03_02_Graphic_Backgrounds timeline.
Now, you won't be able to see anything, because these graphics are black, but if you press Option, or Alt, and 4 on your keyboard, that'll show you the Alpha channel of the graphics. Now, since this is an Illustrator file, I can go ahead and press S, and scale this way up, and it looks jaggy, but then we can go ahead and click this button here for Continuously Rasterize, and there are our lines.
Now, this is all well and good, but what I'd really like to do is have each one of these lines come in as a line, because I could use the Stroke effect to actually have them all draw themselves into the scene. So this is kind of interesting. Instead of just doing the import, what I'm going to do is go ahead, click on Layer 1, and just press Delete. I don't need that in my timeline. In my Project panel, I can select the Illustrator layer, and press Command + E or Control + E to edit the original file.
Now, back inside of Illustrator, I can go ahead and just draw a lasso around any of the icons I'd like, or I could just come over here in the Layers panel and click this little button over here on the right. That'll automatically select all of these different graphics. Now I can go up under the Edit menu and just copy, so when we go into After Effects, I can go up and create a new layer solid, making sure I'm on the comp panel here, Layer, New, Solid.
And I'll click the button to make sure it's the comp size, so it's 1920 by 1080, and I can click OK, and notice we're still looking at the Alpha channel, so I'll go ahead and change that back to RGB, and now we can go up under Edit and choose Paste. And you should see all of these different elements coming in as mask paths. And with our mouse over the Composition panel, if you scroll up and down, you can zoom in and out. And as you can see, I've got many more paths than I actually need.
So I'm going to do a little cleanup here. I'll just grab my Selection tool. I'll click outside of the canvas area to deselect all these paths. And I'm just going to go ahead and draw a lasso around the top part up here, and, actually, I need to double-click on my layer. There we go. That'll open the Layers panel. And now, I can draw a lasso around these top masks, and then press Delete. And you may see an extra point like this. You can press Delete one more time, see if that gets rid of it, or just draw a lasso and get rid of that.
So we can do the same thing down here. I'll click and drag a lasso around those bottom ones, and press Delete. And even though these are cut off, that'll be perfectly fine. Let's go back to the Composition panel. So, in here, I now have my solid with my graphic elements, and I want my graphics to appear instead of the solid, so I'll go up under Effect, go down to Generate, and choose Stroke. In the Stroke options, you want to change the paint style from On Original to On Transparent.
Now, all we have to do is animate the end parameter. So I want it to start with nothing on the screen, and I know we really can't see anything yet, but don't worry, this is where the fun begins. Let's go ahead and change the end parameter to zero and add a key frame. Now, we can move our current time indicator down the timeline. Let's have it go two seconds down the timeline. And then we'll change the end parameter up to 100. Now, before I preview this, I'm going to go ahead and move a little bit further down the timeline, and press n to change my work area to be a little bit shorter.
Then I'll click in the Composition panel, and then I can go ahead and zoom in, Command + plus or Command + minus, until you get to about 50% magnification or just sort of fill the screen. Now, all we have to do is just press the spacebar, and After Effects is going to go ahead and load up a preview. And you'll see, only one little element is drawing on. Well, that's not exactly what I wanted, so make sure that we enable All Masks.
There we go. And Stroke Sequentially is set up, so notice they're going to draw on one after the other. And the order in which they appear depends on the hierarchy of the mask when you expand the masks down here. So, from the top down, they will draw on. I want them to actually draw on all together, so I'll deselect Stroke Sequentially. And I'll click in the Composition panel, and here you can see, I've got this really cool animation drawing on with each of the different icons, and that was made possible by copy-and-pasting my vector element out of my Illustrator file into a layer solid in After Effects.
- Exploring the Creative Cloud Market
- Searching and saving assets in the Creative Cloud Market
- Organizing Market assets in the CC Libraries
- Creating custom brushes and textures in Photoshop
- Creating backgrounds and animations in Illustrator
- Building a short promo in After Effects