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The After Effects Apprentice videos on lynda.com were created by Trish and Chris Meyer and are designed to be used on their own and as a companion to their book After Effects Apprentice. We are honored to host these tutorials in the lynda.com library.
- Animating to music
- Arranging layers in 3D space
- Performing time stretches
- Working with 3D camera tracking
- Typesetting and animating text
- Adding effects like drop shadows and motion blur
- Creating and animating shape layers
- Building and delivering a broadcast package
Skill Level Intermediate
I've created a new shape layer and created two separate paths or shape groups inside the same shape layer, one defining the outside of my frame, one defining the inside, time to start using these paths to create my actual cutout. Now After Effects creates a new shape group everytime you start drawing another path on the same layer. I actually want both of those paths to be part of the same group. That way I can subtract one from the other.
Now that I'm done drawing my paths, I'm going to select V to return to my Section tool and with my Hero Title timeline tab selected, I'm going to press the tilde (~) key to take up my entire display. Shape layers have a lot of parameters and sometimes you might temporarily need the additional real estate to see what you're doing. I'll take my Path from Shape 2, that was my inner path, and drag it below my Path from Shape 1. And I'm going to rename these groups to help me keep things straight. This is hero frame, this path is the outer path, and this path is the inner path.
And I can even delete this extraneous Shape group 2. And I might even rename my entire shape layer to hero video frame and press tilde key again to return to my normal display. Things look as they did before with my two paths. They're only part of the same shape group now. Now let's go ahead and subtract the inner path from the outer path. To do that, I'm going to select the Hero Frame Shape group and add an operator of Merge Paths.
I'm going to make sure it's immediately below these two paths in my shape group. I'll twirl it open, see its options a little bit better and say, subtract the path immediately above you from the paths above, and now I have my frame. And I'll Toggle Transparency, so you can see what's going on. So that's nice beginning to my frame, now when I look at it, it is looking a little bit on the squared off side, to be honest. So I think I'm going to round those corners a little bit. With the Hero Frame Group still selected, I'm going to go Add and this time choose Round Corners, make sure it's after Merge Paths, turn off by Mask and Shape Path Visibility, so I can better see what I'm doing.
Now you're going to start to see some of this rounding taking place. You can turn on the Transparency Grid if you want to as well, and I'm going to play around with the rounding parameter to get the amount of rounding that I want to my edges. You can obviously go quite extreme here to get very stylized looks. I just want a little bit of rounding as if this is a nice soft edge plastic bezel. That's looking better. Allthough I've noticed, I'm only seeing the blue color, I'm not seeing the green that was suposed to be the inside of my gradient. That's because by default, the gradient doesn't stretch very far across this layer.
I need to change that. Make sure your shape group is selected and that you're on the Selection tool. When you've done those two things, you'll see this user interface items for the gradient. Drag that second point out until you start to get some of that green shading or whatever color you chose, appearing across the part of your frame. I think I'll turn off the Transparency Grid for now, to see how that looks against dark space. That's pretty good. And flat frames aren't too interesting to me. I'm going to go ahead and use a Layer Style to Bevel this particular frame.
Now that's giving it a little bit of fake 3D, and I'll twirl this down, maybe have a little bit wider Bevel Depth, but in my case maybe even back off the strength of the Bevel, just to make it a soft rounding, rather than something quite solid and extreme. I just want a little bit of softness to this edge. And again, these are parameters you can adjust to taste. Another possibility is to actually use the Shape layer as a starting point to take advantage of the Ray-traced 3D renderer and create some of this actually extruded and actually translucent and has index refraction and all those niceties, it will look very nice.
It does take a long time to render, so I'm going to avoid that for the sake of this demo, just so we can move more quickly. Certainly considered an option you can go back to later, to make this frame look more interesting. Okay. This is our work in the pre-comp, how does it look in our final composition? Well, you'll see that that frame has immediately appeared as part of our final render. My tabs are outside of my Action Safe Areas. I might reduce the depths of those tabs, just to make them less obvious in the final zoom in, and I might tweak the color to differentiate a little bit further from the background.
Feel free to tweak the Color, Bevel and even Shape of your frame, until you get something that you like. Save your project. And then in the next movie, we'll start working on frames for the additional videos.