Join Chris Meyer for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating vignettes, part of After Effects Apprentice 05: Creating Transparency.
In addition to selectively revealing portions of a clip or animating and wiping on a layer, another common thing you do with mask is create vignettes. Maybe areas of the frame which are say slightly darkened in the corners. To do that I'm going to create a Layer > New > Solid. It says we have a solid block of color, which I will then selectively mask to create my vignette. I am going to make sure that my solid covers the entire composition, so I'll click the Make Comp Size button and I'll pick a color for the vignette. Typically I go black, but since I have some really nice blues and purples going on with this footage I think I'm going to use the eyedropper and pick a really dark color along this freeway here to be my vignette color, just to tie the vignette in with the rest of my footage. Click OK, name this layer more intelligently like vignettes and click OK.
Now I have a solid filling in my screen. I want to mask out that solid to reveal my stack of layers, my title, my additional footage underneath. I am going to go to my tools, select the Ellipse tool, and I can either start dragging out of vignettes, which is fussy, or I can just use the shortcut of double-clicking the Ellipse tool. With my layer selected, that will create a nice ellipse that's the full size my layer. Well I do have a bit of a problem right now.
I've got a big oval obscuring my footage, which is kind of the opposite of what I wanted. That's not a problem. I'll click the Invert to invert the effect of my mask and now I've got an oval reveal with darkened corners that are the color of my solid shape. I want to soften up that transition, so I'm going to go ahead and press F to reveal Feather, start scrubbing the Feather to go ahead and get that a bit of softening that I wanted. This yellow mask outline is kind of blocking what I'm doing, so I am going to go ahead and turn that off for now.
So I see suggest the vignette. If I want to expand or contract the amount of the area that vignette is taking up, I'll make sure the layer is selected, twirl up my layer, and then press MM to reveal all of the mask parameters. Again you can just twirl the mask as well. And I can use my Mask Expansion to either make the vignette just hit the corners of my layer or to go ahead and take up a lot more the layer, just maybe create a small hole in my world like that. But I'll go ahead and make it just take up the corners and to soften effects in the corners I could either increase the Feather even more, Undo, or press Shift and T to reveal the opacity of the entire layer and fade out the whole vignetted layer to just add a little bit darkening in those corners.
Before, after. I like vignettes quite a bit. They do add just a bit of class to a video project. It's worth spending a little bit of time adding them. Now in fact I did a whole course on creating vignettes. That might be worth watching if you like this technique and there we go. We've created an interesting little composite here, by by going ahead and taking this footage, masking it out selectively to reveal just portions of it, and by doing so revealing a background layer behind, animated on a title, and created a vignette just to add a little bit of classy darkening to the corners, and all this was done with a very simple mask shape tool.
However, there are many occasions where just these simple rectangles, ellipses or even polygons and stars aren't quite enough. You need more detail in your mask. And for that you use the Pen tool, and that's going to be the subject of the next chapter inside this lesson.
The After Effects Apprentice series was created by Trish and Chris Meyer. The tutorials are designed to be used independently and as a companion to their book After Effects Apprentice.
- Creating masks using parametric shapes or freeform with the Pen tool
- Editing and animating masks
- Combining multiple masks
- Using one layer to define the transparency of others
- Explaining the interaction between effects, masks, and mattes
- Mastering mask animation
Skill Level Beginner
Q: This course was updated on 11/15/2012. What changed?
A: We added a movie that shows our premium subscribers how to use the exercise files, We have also added new sets of exercise files designed for After Effects CS5.5 and After Effects CS6.