Join Alan Demafiles for an in-depth discussion in this video Shape layers and transforms, part of After Effects CC 2018 Essential Training: Motion Graphics.
- [Narrator] Shape layers are a unique kind of layer inside of After Effects, in that they are generated internally, just like the solid layers. There is one additional big picture concept unique to shape layers, and that has to do with transforms. Each layer has a set of transformation properties, meaning ink, point, position, scale, rotation, and opacity. However, shape layers have the added complexity of having their own additional transform controls. In this movie, we'll see how multiple transformations can affect the end results. If you've ever seen the movie Inception, you're probably familiar with the concept of a dream inside of a dream.
And that's pretty applicable here, in that layers can have transformations and shapes can have transformations. And all those things can be inside of one another. Or, more specifically, shape layers have transformations inside the layer transformation. So to show what I mean, I've got a simple animation here that is just a square moving from left to right. And this animation is made possible by, if we twirl this down, the position keyframes. There's two position keyframes here under the transform of the layer.
So this is kind of a top level animation. It's happening to everything inside the layer, and what's inside the layer is a shape. So let's go ahead and move to this second composition. And we have the same animation, however now we're introducing some rotation. And this rotation is actually found inside the rectangle, inside the shape. So let's look at the transform at the top level, the layer level. You'll notice that there's no rotation here. We have our position keyframes as before, but now if we twirl down the contents, you'll see that we have our shape of the rectangle, and inside there, we have another set of transformations.
So these are independent of the layer itself. These belong to the rectangle. So as evidenced by "Rectangle 1," it takes the name of the shape. So under here, this is where we're getting our rotation. So, again, we'll play that back and you'll see that the rotation lives on the shape, while the position animation lives on the layer itself. You're starting to see how we can get more complex animations, but it increases the complexity. And we can increase the complexity even further by introducing group-level animations.
So let's twirl this guy down and, again, we still have our transform at the top level, we have our rotation for the rectangle as evidenced right there. Let's go ahead and pull this up, so you can see a little bit more of our timeline. And, for this example, I want to introduce another shape layer. So I'm going to select my shape layer, and just come over here to my star tool, and let's just add in a star. Real simple. You'll notice that the shape layer gets added to the existing selected layer.
So, twirling this down, you'll notice that we have a new transform property for the polystar. And it has no keyframes in it. So if we go ahead and preview this, you'll notice that our star is moving, because we have the position at the top layer, but it's not rotating. So that's good. When you group these two together, let's go ahead and Shift + Select these two shapes and hit Command + g, these two guys are grouped now, and on top of the group level, we now have another transformation.
So there's a total of one, two, three, four transformations in this one layer. So, we have a transformation for the star, we have a transformation for the rectangle, we have a transformation for the group containing the star and the rectangle, and if we move this rotation here, you'll see that we're controlling both the square and the star. And then, at the top level, we have the transformation for the entire layer.
So there are many other courses in the library that tackle this idea in detail. But, for our purposes here, it's just important to note that shapes can have their own transformation controls that are independent of the top layer controls. Grasping this concept will allow us to open the door for greater possibilities down the line.
- Working with shape layers and paths
- Animating compositions
- Animating type
- Animating 3D layers
- Creating 3D text and geometry
- Rendering your motion graphics
- Following an effective motion graphic workflow