Note: Because this is an ongoing series, viewers will not receive a certificate of completion.
Skill Level Intermediate
- [Narrator] One of the best animation tools in After Effects, the Puppet tool, has another useful quality when it comes to animating objects on a single layer. This can save the trip to Photoshop or Illustrator, to separate the elements, or just mask them, and duplicate them inside After Effects. So let me show you what you need to do to make it work. So I'm going to switch to this composition, where I have a similar set of layers, and it-- notice that those four top icons are all part of this one layer. So, let's assume that I want to animate each one of them individually and maybe even change the rotation and scale of this guy, as well as, distribute them better. Then I need to mask it, and duplicate the layer at least three more times, and then animate each one of the layers on its own. Instead, I can use the Puppet Pin, and generate meshes that I can move here inside this layer. So, armed with the Puppet tool, I'm going to click near this icon and this will create a new mesh which will encompass only the transparent pixels around this circulation icon. So, as I'm doing this, my recommendation is to also go to the timeline, make sure that everything is expanded, and name the mesh that you create. So to do it, I'll "press Return" and I'll name this guy 'Circulation' and then, I'll do the same for the other layers. Now, since I already created my first mesh, the next time I'm hovering on top of another area that has a separate alpha channel, I can see a preview of what I'll get. So, I'm going to click again to create another mesh, and as before, I'm going to name this mesh one to 'Doors' this time. And now, let's say that I want not only to move this, but also to rotate and scale it. If this is the case, then you can expand the mesh that we've named 'Doors', and under the 'Deform', there is a 'Puppet Pin 1' here. And here, you can change the Pin type from position, to the relatively new, Advanced Pin. And this will also add the scale and the rotation properties, and you can change them from here, or from the heads-up display in the effect itself. So you can warp from here at the 'Shift key', and in this case the desired angle is 270, and I think I want to scale this guy to, let's say 110, and I can still select it from here and move it to place. Now, also note that every time that we are creating those pins, After Effects is generating key frames for those Puppet Pin properties. And those will be useful in a moment, when we animate them. But I know that I don't need to animate the scale and the rotation, so I might as well click on the stopwatch and remove those key frames. Alright, let's fold everything up and create the same thing for the 22 degrees and the time here. Now here it is a little bit more challenging, because each one of those characters has its own alpha channel, and in this case the Puppet tool doesn't know what to do. So, if we want to include all those elements together, what you need to do is to create a temporary mask. So I'll switch to the Rectangle tool, and I'll mask this part of the image, and then if I'm here I'm also going to mask the other part that I need to create, so I almost got it, I'm just going to double-click on the second mask here, and make sure that this one includes the entire clock. And now, I'm going to switch back to the Puppet Pin, and assuming the mask is still active in the timeline - that is to say that it is at the 'add mode' - I can click here in the middle of the mask and create a pin which controls the entire thing. So I'm going to do this for this part, and I'm also going to move my mouse until I can see the boundaries of the mask and click to create another pin in the timeline. Now I'm going to select both mask one and mask two, delete them, and as before, I'm going to select each one of the meshes, and rename it. So the last one that we've created was the 'Time' and the first one is the temperature. Now I want to animate them so they will enter the screen in a cascade style. So I remind you that After Effects already created those key frames for me, at least the beginning ones, so I'm going to select the layer, "press U" to reveal all the key frames and then I'll press on the "~ key" to maximize the timeline to full screen. Now I'm going to mark here on all of those key frames, and I'm going to move them so everything will end at one second. And then, I'm going to animate each one of them, one after the other. So let's move to 5 frames, I'm going to make sure that nothing is selected. And I'm also going to reorganize the order of the pins, so I'm going to take the temperature and bring it up. After this I want to animate the 'Circulation', and then the 'Doors' and then the 'Time'. This is just going to make things a little bit more easy. Now, I need to see what I'm doing, so I'm going to press again the '~ key', and I'm only going to use the 'y' value over here to push it outside the screen. Then let's go to 10 frames, and we'll do the same thing for the 'Circulation' icon, and then at 15 frames we'll scroll down the timeline and do the same for the 'Doors' icon; and last but not least at 20 we'll bring the 'Time' into the shot. Now, once again, I'm going bring the timeline to full frame, mark here around all of those key frames, "press F9" to ease the animation, as well as, click on the Graph Editor, this way I can mark 'key' around all of these key frames, making sure that I'm editing the Speed Graph. And I'm just going to push them something like this, so the speed - the motion - is going to be much more pleasant. Now if I'm going to play the result, this is what we'll get. So this is it. Another way to separate objects and animate them, while keeping everything on the same layer. This is the important stuff. So the timeline looks much more cleaner, and you can also apply effects now to the entire group. For example, I can go to the effect manual, and under 'Generate', I'll add the 'Fill' effect. I'll pause the playback for a moment, and I'll sample this color, and now let's bring this one to full screen, and by this one I mean the Composition Viewer. And, once again, preview the result. And everything that we are seeing here was achieved using only a single tool in After Effects - the Puppet Pin tool.