Join Chris Meyer for an in-depth discussion in this video Exploring shape effects, part of After Effects Apprentice: 14 Shape Layers.
In the previous chapter, we experimented with the Merge Path shape effect to go ahead and create a complex compound shape for multiple paths. We used those to create variation on this gear look. However, there is a whole group of different shapes effects that are worth exploring, and that's what we'll do in this chapter. Now if you like, you can go back to your original rounded rectangle, turn off the polystar so you have the simple shape. Or let's get some more practice in. Select the comps folder, make a new composition. Size isn't so important.
I'm going to choose the NTSC Square Pixel size just for starters, click OK, solid-color fill, solid-color stroke, whatever color you like. How about back to the red we were working with earlier? And now change your shape selection to Star. Star is the most complex of the parametric shapes, so this will give you more options to play with later on. Go to my Comp panel, toggle apostrophe, just to make sure I'm more or less centered. It's not critical, but it'll just give us room to play with. Apostrophe again to make it go away and drag out my polystar.
I'm now actually going to knock it down to a fairly simple four-point star. Press Shift to center out the rotation. But this is a more interesting shape than just a rectangle. Now I'll release the mouse. And as before, we have a shape layer with a shape group called Polystar. There's this particular parameters, such as a number of Points, Inner and Outer Radius, rounding, et cetera. I'll twirl that up. Most of the shape effects can be applied after a shape group. However, I like to keep things inside the shape group just for organization.
So I'm going to make sure I have by group selected before I use the Add button. The first one we're going to play around with is Trim Paths. This is a way you can make a shape layer draw on or draw off by animating the Start or End properties. If we turn off our fill for a second and did Trim Paths, you'll see we'd be trimming just our stroke. Now I'll turn that fill back on.
If you have multiple shapes inside your shape group, you can go ahead and draw them all on simultaneously or one after the other. This is very similar to what the Stroke effect could do with mask shapes. One other thing that's kind of interesting about Trim Paths is if you want to have a partial path, like say that much, you can use the Offset parameter to chase around your shape. Again, that's particularly useful if you happen to set your fill off and all you have is a stroke, because now you'll chase around the outline of your shape.
I can turn off my Outlines, so you can see that more in isolation. I'll turn this back on so you can see the original shape. Like all other elements of a shape group, you do have a visibility eyeball right next to your shape effects. And I'll just turn off Trim Paths for now. I'll select my shape group again and this time pick something a little bit more fun, like Twist. What Twist does is very simply twist your shape around a center point.
And you can see you can quickly create really cool things like saw blades, tribal tattoo forms, et cetera. Since twist is happening after your shape path, any change to your shape path will then get twisted. For example, if you were to animate the radius, you'll get some interesting effects. Same with things such as the Roundness; those will get twisted as well. And I'll undo. Twirl that up, twirl up Twist, and turn that off.
Select my group, and we'll keep getting more complex. Beyond Twist is one of my favorite shape effects, Pucker & Bloat. Not only does it have great name, it creates some very fun distortions to your shapes. Basically it decides if the segments between vertices of the shape get bowed outward or pulled inward. Outward is bloating, inward is puckering, and you'll see some interesting things happen at the vertices.
As you pucker in, the overshoot back out again. So this is a way of quickly creating some very complex shapes. So as you can see how things fill in, I'll turn on that solid color again. This, like virtually any other primary shape layers, can be animated, so you can create some really fun graphical animations with frankly a minimum amount of work on your part. For example, this shape would have taken quite a while to draw by hand, but instead, it's just a four- point star and a shape affect.
I'll knock this down a little bit so you can see what's going on, and again any changes to say the Radius of your shapes affect the final result. Twirl this up and turn off Pucker & Bloat for now. If a Pucker & Bloat is a bit too organic for you, it's hard-edge brother is Zig Zag. Once I turn that on, you'll see we get these serrated teeth along the segments of our particular shape. I'll twirl that open, and you have a couple of different parameters.
You have the number of ridges per segment between vertices, so I can knock that down, just get big teeth, increase their size. Again the more you push, the more you overlap and the more interesting shapes that you get. I'll knock this down to something more sensible, like around there, and you can also choose whether or not you get hard-edged zigzags or rounded corners to your zigzag. Now hopefully you're seeing already how fun shape layers can be. I mean even you create all sorts of complex graphical elements relatively easily.
I'll turn off Zig Zag and try another one. Rounded Corners is obviously a very simple one. In this case where I have this star, you can go ahead and round of those edges. Now since there are rounding parameters in parametric shapes, you don't need to use Round Corners to achieve that effect. But if you've drawn something with the Pen tool and you have sharp edges, rounding gives you a way of softening those edges or to animate the amount of rounding in the path that you've drawn. I'll turn that one off.
The After Effects Apprentice series was created by Trish and Chris Meyer. These tutorials are designed for After Effects CS4 through CC, and can be used on their own or as a companion to the Meyer's book, After Effects Apprentice.
- Drawing parametric shapes and pen paths
- Creating multiple shape groups
- Exploring Wiggle Paths and the Wiggle Transform effect
- Defining gradient fills
- Creating a swarm
- Blending multiple shapes into a texture
- Crafting and animating dotted and dashed lines
- Combining effects, layer styles, expressions, and the Brainstorm tool with shape layers
- Showing tips for stylizing sidebars