Join Eran Stern for an in-depth discussion in this video Designing a sunburst background animation, part of After Effects Tips and Techniques: Shapes, Text Masks, and Path Effects.
- In this movie I'll show you another usage for the same technique of dash strokes which are based on shape layers inside After Effects. We'll use it in order to design and animate what I call a sunburst effect, which will add more energy to the background of this animation. I'll continue to use the same project that we've worked on before in the previous movie, but now we'll concentrate on adding some interest to the background. So this is what we already have. In order to make our life a little bit more easy in this case, I'm going to scroll down and make sure that I'm only seeing the background by turning the Solo switch for the background on.
This will actually turn off all the other layers. Because I want to create a new shape layer, I need to make sure that nothing is selected, so press F2 or choose from the Edit menu Deselect All. Now I'm going to hold on the Rectangle Tool and from the list of tools, I'm going to choose the Ellipse Tool. Now I want to draw a perfect circle from the middle of the composition. So I want to make sure that the Info Path is actually switched on.
If you can't see it, go to the Window menu and choose it from there, or press Control 2, Command 2 on the Mac, and it will show up. I'm also going to turn on the Title/Action Safe. This will allow me to more or less point my mouse in the middle of the screen. Now since I'm working on a 720p composition, I know that the middle of the screen should be 640 by 360. So I may want to take my mouse just a little bit up or down that.
To tell you the truth it's very difficult from this distance to really see what I'm doing. So I'm going to press Command + a couple of times in order to really get close to it. This allow me to really move my mouse in small gestures. Now I can see that I'm hovering exactly on top of the middle of the screen, so X is 640 and Y is 360. I'm going to click and then I'm going to start to drag. Then I'm going to press Command plus Shift in order to create a perfect circle from the center of the screen.
I'm just going to drag it to, say, something like this and I'm going to let go. Let's zoom the comp window to fit to 100%, this time using a keyboard shortcut. So on the PC side press alt + /, and on the Mac, of course, opt + /. This will show us the shape that we've created. Now since I know that it is a background element, I'm going to make sure that it is selected in the timeline. Go to the Layer menu and from the Arrange, I can send it all the way to the Back.
So you can also use this keyboard shortcut of Shift command and the opening left bracket. This way I can easily take it one layer above the background, and we can move on with the design itself. Now I know exactly the measurements that I want to plug inside, so you can open up the Ellipse, and since we hold down Shift, this is actually a perfect circle. Underneath the Ellipse Path, you can get to control the Size in pixels.
So in this case I'm going to set it to 800 by 800. This of course will create a circle that is just outside of the boundaries of this composition. In order to see it better, I'm going to press on the quotation key on the keyboard, and this will hide the Safe Title Area grid. Okay, now let's work on the design itself. When you create new shapes, After Effects will remember the previous settings, so this is the reason why we are getting a transparent fill, so no fill for this shape, and 4 pixels for the Stroke.
Now I want to create a very thick stroke, and then I'm going to create the dashes. So for the pixels I'm going to actually set the same value of 800. This looks a little bit weird at this point because we are actually covering the whole screen. But now when we are going to open up the Stroke Properties in the timeline, and press + in order to create dashes, we can see that the result is that we have a nice sunburst effect above everything.
Now since this is a shape, you can, of course, rotate it. You can offset the path. You can do a lot of interesting stuff with it. But we want to actually create a background element, so we may want to reduce the amount of dashes. For that I'm actually going to start to scrub the amount over here until I see something that I like. Just make sure that the lines will actually connect to each other. So if you ware going to set it to, say, 76, you can see that you have a strange gap at the top of it.
So just continue to drag it until it meets with the next gap. So in this case, 78 is going to be our magic number over here. That's all we need to do. But I do want to select a different color and maybe also set different blending modes. So for the color, I actually want to sample something which I already have in this composition. I'm just going on turn on the eye for the CRAZY SUMMER title.
This will allow me to use the color picker, I should say, and try to sample the same tint of cyan or bright cyan. That's it, I'm going to turn it off for now. I'm also going to reduce the opacity of the whole shape. You've got couple of options. You can reduce the opacity of the stroke, if you like from here or you can press D and reduce the opacity of the whole layer. This is actually up to you. In this case I'm going to reduce the opacity of the stroke itself because it's easier for me to do it since I already see the value.
Now in order to examine some other blending options, I'm going to click on this icon and this will show us the Blending or Transfer Controls. Then I can examine couple of options. I can cycle through the different blending modes by selecting the layer and then pressing Shift +. This will cycle through the different blending modes. If you don't have time, you can just start with Multiply, maybe then Screen and Overlay.
But in this case, I really like this classic Color Dodge effect, which is over here. So this is what I'm going to choose for this shape. Now it is a good idea to actually name your layers. So in this case I'm just going to call this Sunburst Effect. In order to bring more life into it, you can, of course, rotate it in place. So I'm going to press R in order to see the Rotation Properties of the whole layer.
I'm going to start the animation after everything is basically going to settle down. So in order to see the other elements, let's just un-Solo those two layers. This will allow us to actually see what's going on over here. So around 1:15 I will set a keyframe for the Rotation, and then I'm going to go to the end of the composition, and maybe add 30 degrees to it. So this will look something like this, the background will start to rotate after everything is going to settle down.
But it does look a little bit strange since we may want to expose it over time. We can easily do it using the same mathematical operation as before. So let's just twirl it up and then twirl it down once again. Make sure to select the Ellipse under the contents of the shape layer. Then from Add menu over here, I'm going to add the Trim Path effect. Remember that the Trim Path effect is going to work best on stroke elements with no fill.
This is exactly what we have over here. So let's open up the Trim Path options. Let's go to maybe around 16 frames when everything is starting to build up. I'm going to play once again with the End of it, so I'm going to turn it all the way back to 0%. Then we know that around 1 second and 15 frames, everything is already been drawn on the screen or most of the animation, and we can just bring it all the way back to 100%.
And this is it. Let's go to the beginning and create a RAM preview to check how both elements are working together, those dotted lines and the dotted or stroke background. This is how you can create this popular spinning sunburst effect using the dash properties of only one shape layer here inside Adobe After Effects.
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