The Power Shape Layers
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- Simple to complex Shape Layer animations
- Using tools specific to Shape Layers to create dynamic animations
- Applying expressions to Shape Layers
- Practical applications for Shape Layers
- Full knowledge of how to create and use Shape Layers in professional motion graphics projects
- Basic knowledge of After Effects
- Adobe CC
- Understanding of motion graphic design
This comprehensive course analyzes every aspect of Shape Layers in After Effects. You will learn everything from the basics to advanced techniques. In addition to on-screen tutorials, I provide project files so you can follow along and experiment on your own. This course is intended for all levels of motion graphic designer, and all designers are encouraged to take this course in order to become a Master of Shape Layers.
- Beginner to advanced motion graphics designers who want to learn more about the breadth and depth of Shape Layers
Welcome to The Power of Shape Layers. My name is Jeff Knight, and I’ll be guiding you through this exciting course as you learn all the cool things that are possible with shape layers in After Effects.
I’m a motion graphic designer with over a decade of experience working for ad agencies, film agencies, studios, and businesses of all sizes. I’ve also worked as an independent contractor for clients in virtually every field, including advertising, tech, banking, real estate, music, fashion, and film. I’ve also taught courses at the college level, and I produce tutorials for a YouTube channel called “7 Minutes AE Tutorials.”
If you have little to no experience with shape layers, you’ll be amazed at what is possible with this powerful After Effects tool. If you’re an advanced shape layer user, there may be some useful information that you’ll come across that you weren’t aware of. So, regardless of your skill level and exposure to shape layers, I encourage you to go through this entire course to take the most advantage of the information we’ll be covering.
I’m going to take you through every aspect of shape layers including a broad overview of what they are, what they’re used for, and how to make simple shapes to more advanced topics, such as using groups, working with vertices, and applying animation tools, like the Repeater, Trim Paths, Zig Zag, and much more. Whether you need to create simple icons or complex HUD elements, shape layers are key to making you a better, more well-rounded, and more marketable motion graphic designer.
The last section of this course includes a series of tutorials, where you’ll take everything you’ve learned and apply it to actual projects. You’ll create intricate and complex designs, backgrounds, and more.
Take a look around at some sites for inspiration for your designs. You can also find project files that may be useful to learn from. A few great sites include informationisbeautiful.net and videohive.net - These sites include some very talented and experienced designers, so get familiar with the work of other people in your industry and see if you can learn from their designs.
I’ll provide project files where appropriate for you to download and practice. Feel free to use these project files in any way that helps you, such as creating templates, or hang onto them for reference as you learn shape layers in more depth over time.
Feel free to go through this course at your own pace. I’ve designed it so that each lesson builds on the previous one, so make sure you understand the principles, commands, and techniques of the lesson you’re on before moving forward.
I’m very excited to go on this journey with you, and I’m happy to answer any questions you might have. Just shoot me an email any time. Okay. There’s a lot to get through, so let’s dive right in.
Welcome to the Power of Shape Layers, Section 2: Shape Layer Basics! This is where it all begins.
In this section we’re going to cover some of the foundational aspects of shape layers. We’ll be going over the importance of understanding hierarchy in shape layers, shape layer transform properties, and the different types of shapes and paths. We’ll create some basic shapes and learn how to apply fills and strokes in a few different ways. We’ll dive deep into stroke attributes including how to apply, change, and manipulate color, opacity, stroke width, line cap, line join, and dashes. If some of these topics sound foreign to you, don’t worry. We’re going to go at a reasonable pace and cover everything you need to know to fully understand each topic.
There's a lot to get through, so let's dive right in!
Shape Layers have four main components:
Shapes and Paths: Rectangle (with roundness options), Ellipse (circle), Polystar/Polygon, Path
Fills and Strokes: Solid or Gradient
Animation Tools: Merge Paths, Offset Paths, Pucker & Bloat, Repeater, Round Corners, Trim Paths, Twist, Wiggle Paths, Wiggle Transform, Zig Zag
At the very least, you need a Shape or Path and a Fill and/or Stroke (2 and 3 above). Adding Groups and Animation Tools is optional for basic Shape Layer creation. Adding Groups allows more than one Shape with its own Fills, Strokes, and Animation Tools to be included in your Shape Layer. Adding Animation Tools brings your Shape Layer to life by providing movement and animation.
Shape Layer hierarchy is extremely important! With that in mind, there are three basic things we can do to Shapes:
Shapes can be nested within groups so that we can completely control how Shapes interact with one another within the same Shape Layer.
We can add Fills and/or Strokes to our Shapes so we can see them - without Fills and Strokes, there is no visible Shape.
We can add animation to our Shapes with Animation Tools to give them life.
Shape Layers are affected from the bottom to the top. Fills will only affect Shapes that are above the Fill. The same holds true with Strokes and all Animation Tools. Shapes MUST come first. Groups are necessary sometimes and sometimes they are optional. We will define when they are and are not necessary throughout this course.
Note: Shapes are not the same thing as Shape Layers. A “Shape” is a single entity - e.g., Rectangle, Polygon, or Ellipse. A “Shape Layer” is the layer within which one or more Shapes and/or Paths are created.
REMEMBER: Shape Layer Hierarchy is extremely important!
There are several ways to create a new composition:
New Comp icon
Ctrl/Cmd + N
Using the “Create New Comp” option on the main interface (the latter is only available for the first time you create a new composition).
There are several ways to create a Shape Layer:
Use the Shape Creation Tool
This option automatically adds a Fill and Stroke, using the last Fill and Stroke properties you chose.
The Shape Layer is automatically populated within a group with the Shape, Fill, and Stroke that you chose with the Shape Creation Tool.
You must manually add Groups and Animation Tools using the Add Button within the Shape Layer or from the Shape Layer Control Panel located at the top of your composition, beneath the menu bar.
You must manually center your Shape Layer to your composition using the Align Panel
Right-click in the blank area to the left of the timeline and choosing “New/Shape Layer”
This option creates an empty Shape Layer
You must choose Groups, Shapes, Fills, Strokes, and Animation Tools manually from the Add Button within the Shape Layer or from the Shape Layer Control Panel
Your Shape will automatically be centered in your composition
Fill will always default to red, and Stroke will always default to white with a Stroke Width of 2 pixels
On the top menu bar choose: Layer/New/Shape Layer
This option creates an empty Shape Layer with the same rules and attributes as above (2).
Always center your Anchor Point to your Shape Layer and center your Shape Layer to your composition. Your Anchor Point affects how your layer will Scale and Rotate because all layers Scale and Rotate from the Anchor Point.
Every layer, including Shape Layers, has Transform properties. However, Groups and the Repeater, an Animation Tool, also have Transform properties. To keep them separate, remember the following:
Layer Transform properties affect the entire layer, and they are: Anchor Point, Position, Scale, Rotation, Opacity.
Group Transform properties only affect the specific group to which they are assigned. Group Transform properties include: Anchor Point, Position, Scale, Skew, Skew Axis, Rotation, Opacity
Repeater Transform properties only affect the specific Shape and/or group to which it is assigned, and they include: Anchor Point, Position, Scale, Rotation, Start Opacity, End Opacity
Understanding what these Transform properties control, how they interact with one another, and how to use them is vital when creating and animating Shape Layers.
Shapes are an enclosed set of Paths, and must include at least 3 Vertices. Therefore, a Triangle would be the simplest form of a Shape. Paths are not enclosed and may contain as little as 2 Vertices. Therefore, the simplest Path would be a Line.
Shapes available using the Shape Creation Tool include: Rectangle, Rounded Rectangle, Ellipse (circle), Polystar, Polygon
Shapes available using the Add button include: Rectangle (with roundness option), Ellipse (circle), Polystar (with Polygon option)
Paths can be created using the Add button and choosing “Path.” Or you can begin drawing with the Pen Tool (shortcut: G)
You have the same exact Shape options and controls regardless of which method of Shape Creation you use.
Holding SHIFT and clicking/dragging while using the Shape Creation Tool creates a perfect square from a Rectangle, and a perfect circle from an Ellipse. However, when adding a Polystar or Polygon, holding down SHIFT simply disables Rotation.
When you add a second Shape using the Shape Creation Tool, the Anchor Point will default to the center of the first Shape you created.
Shape Path Size and Layer Scale are not the same thing, nor are they measured in the same way. Shape Size is measured in infinite pixels (0-?), while Scale is measured in a finite percentage (0-100%).
All Rectangles and Ellipses default to a size of 100 pixels wide and 100 pixels high.
All Layers default to 100% Scale.
Shapes are made up of an enclosed set of Paths, and must have at least three Vertices (triangle minimum). Paths can have as little as two Vertices (line minimum) and are not enclosed.
To create a Shape, make sure your first Vertex is the same as your last Vertex.
You can add Solid and Gradient Fills and Strokes using the Add button within Shape Layers or from the Shape Layer Control Panel, located just beneath the menu bar. When you create Shape Layers by command, meaning from the menu bar by choosing LAYER/NEW/SHAPE LAYER, or by right-clicking in the blank area next to the timeline and choosing NEW/SHAPE LAYER, Fills default to red and Strokes default to white with a stroke width of 2 pixels.
Gradient Fills and Strokes default to a linear Gradient. Within the Linear Gradient, you can control the Size of the Gradient as well as how it is applied. You also have the option of making the Gradient RADIAL. Adjust the x and y values of the start point and end point of the Gradient to get the look you want.
Gradients default to black-and-white, but you can change that by choosing Edit Gradient. You can add more Gradient points to your Gradient with the Edit Gradient control panel.
Other Gradient options include highlight length and highlight angle. All of these options can be utilized to get the specific look you want.
All Fill and Stroke attributes are keyframable, meaning they can be animated.
When you use the Shape Creation Tool, the Fill, Stroke, and Stroke Width are automatically added, based on the attributes you used last. You can ALT/OPT + CLICK the Fill and/or Stroke color to choose Solid, Linear Gradient, Radial Gradient, or none.
These shortcuts are available immediately only when you create a Shape using the Shape Creation Tool. If you create a Shape Layer by command, you have to first manually add a Fill and/or Stroke using the Add Button. At that point, you can use the click-through method for changing the type of Fill and/or Stroke for your Shape Layer.
All Strokes have Color, Opacity, and Stroke Width. All of these values are keyframable, which means they can be animated. You can change the color of your Stroke through the Shape Layer Control Panel or within the Shape Layer itself. The same is true for adjusting the Stroke Width. Opacity is controlled within the Shape Layer, under CONTENTS/[SHAPE]/STROKE.
If your keyframes are Linear or Bezier, a combination of values will occur between the keyframes. For example, between red and white Linear or Bezier keyframes, you will see a blending of the colors. The color will be redder the closer in time you are to the red keyframe, and whiter the closer you are to the white keyframe.
Use Toggle Hold Keyframes to make the values for Color, Opacity, and Stroke Width change abruptly. Values change only when the playhead reaches the keyframe. The result will be flashing for Opacity, absolute color values flashing, and abrupt changes in Stroke Width.
There are times when you’ll want to specifically use one of the three types of keyframes: Linear, Bezier, or Hold.
Line cap only affects Paths. They include Butt Cap, Round Cap, and Projecting Cap. Butt Cap results in squared corners at the ends of the Paths. Round Cap results in rounded corners that extend beyond the end of the Path. And Projecting Cap results in squared corners that extend beyond the end of the Path.
Line join affects Shapes and Paths with more than 2 Vertices. They include Miter Join, Round Join, and Bevel Join. Miter Join results in squared corners. Round Join results in round corners. And Bevel Join results in beveled corners. These changes are not noticeable in perfect Ellipses.
Remember, Line Cap affects only the end Vertices of Paths. It does not affect Shapes because there is no “end of the Path” for Shapes because they are enclosed. Line Join affects Shapes and only Paths with more than 2 Vertices. Line Join does not affect end Vertices of Paths.
Neither Line Cap nor Line Join are keyframable and, therefore, cannot be animated. That is, you must choose which type of Cap and Join you want for your Stroke and will be unable to change it.
Add and Subtract dashes using the +,- button next to the Dash drop down within Stroke. After Effects defaults to 10 dashes. If you increase the Dash Count, the size of dashes increase as the number of dashes decrease. Likewise, reducing this number decreases the size of dashes while increasing the number of dashes. Think of this value as controlling the size of the dash, not the number of dashes.
Adjusting Line Cap and Line Join has an impact on how your dashes look and operate, so make sure to keep that in mind. You may also need to adjust Stroke Width as you manipulate your dashes.
Use Offset, which is located beneath Dash, to move your dashes in a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction. Dash and Offset are keyframable and can be animated.
Clicking the + button next to Dash again adds Gap. Gap defaults to 10 and the higher this value is, the more distance there will be between dashes. Gap is keyframable, and can be animated. Clicking the + button again adds Dash 2 and you are able to continue adding Gap 2, Dash 3, and Gap 3. All of these options have different effects on your dashed Stroke. To remove any of these elements, choose the - button, but take note that these attributes are removed from the bottom up, meaning - will first remove Gap 3 then Dash 3, Gap 2, Dash 2, Gap, and finally Dash. This is important because you are not able to remove Dash 2 if there are more attributes added beyond Dash 2. For example, if you have the following:
Dash, Gap, Dash 2, Gap 2, Dash 3, Gap 3
When you choose the - button, Gap 3 is the only attribute that can be removed. You cannot remove, for instance, Gap 2 or Dash 2. Adding Dashes and Gaps back in does not result in the values you previously chose. All Dashes and Gaps default to the value of 10.
This section was packed full of very detailed and dense information, but it provides you with a solid foundation for understanding how to work with shape layers and what the technical aspects are of shape layers. If there’s something you’re not sure of or you don’t feel like you fully grasp a concept, I highly recommend you go back and watch that section again so you understand it fully before proceeding.
In the next section, we’ll be going over vertices and groups. Understanding the types of vertices on a path and how to manipulate them will give you more control over your designs. Grouping shape layers keeps your design streamlined but it also offers a lot more control over each shape you’re using in your design. In some cases grouping is necessary, in some cases it won’t allow you to get the desired effect, and in some cases grouping is optional. We’ll go over all of these situations throughout this course.
I look forward to seeing you in the next section.
Welcome back to the Power of Shape Layers, Section 3: Shape Layer Properties.
I’m glad to see you’re progressing through this course. Now that you’ve learned all about shape layer hierarchy, the different kinds of transform properties, the difference between shapes and paths, how to add fills and strokes, and all the components that make up strokes, let’s talk about vertices and groups. The plural of “vertex” is “vertices,” so when I talk about vertices, I simply mean more than one vertex. A vertex is a point where two paths meet. Think about it like a stopping point for a path. A straight line has two vertices. A rectangle has four. There are different types of vertices and ways you can manipulate them to get the most out of your designs. We’re also going to talk about grouping. Grouping refers to organizing a shape into its own compartment, where it has fills, strokes, and animation tools that are specific to itself only. You can either completely group a shape and its attributes, or you can group a shape and some of its attributes, such as when you put a fill, stroke, or animation tool beneath more than one group. We’ll cover all of this in the upcoming tutorials, but I want to you to go into this lesson with a basic understanding of these concepts.
There’s a lot get through, so let’s dive right in.
Every Shape has at least 3 Vertices, and every Path has at least 2. Shape Layer points are not Vertices. Vertices join two Paths.
To convert Shapes to Paths, right-click on the Shape Path and choose Convert to Bezier Path. This allows you to manipulate the Vertices as well as their adjoined Paths.
The controls allowed when using Convert to Bezier Paths holds true for all Shapes, regardless of how they are created, i.e., either by Command or using the Shape Creation Tool.
Vertices default to Linear, with no roundness. Bezier Vertices have rounded Vertices with handles that allow you to further adjust your Shape. LEFT-CLICK and dragging allows for Bezier Vertices to be created. If you RIGHT-CLICK a Bezier Vertex and choose RotoBezier, you will lose your handles. However, if you first create a Shape with Linear Vertices and RIGHT-CLICK to choose RotoBezier, nothing happens.
Ellipses and Rounded Rectangles are automatically created with Bezier Vertices. All other Shapes are created with Linear Vertices. If you create any Shape or Path with the pen tool, all Vertices will be linear unless you LEFT-CLICK and drag to create Bezier Vertices.
Trim Path animations originate from the first Vertex of the Shape. All Shapes have a First Vertex. You can make any Vertex a First Vertex by RIGHT-CLICKING the specific Vertex and choosing MASK AND SHAPE PATH/SET FIRST VERTEX
You can always add and subtract Vertices when working with a Bezier Path, and any Vertex can be set as that Shape or Path’s First Vertex.
Groups must be added through the Add Button, either within the Shape Layer itself or from the Shape Layer Control Panel, located just below the menu bar.
Groups are important because they allow you to control Transform Properties and other attributes of a Shape independently of other Shapes within your Shape Layer. Groups also allow you to add expressions and animation tools to a Shape independently, thereby allowing for multiple Shapes to be created within each Shape Layer and with their own unique controls.
There are times when you want more than one Shape within a Shape Layer, and Groups are ideal for those situations.
Note: You can rename all Shapes, Groups, and even Fills and Strokes.
Ellipses and Rectangles have Position and Size settings. Size is not the same thing as Scale. Size is measured in pixels and is relative to its shape, whereas Scale is measured in percentages and controls the relative scale of a Group or Layer.
Anchor Points are affected in your Shape if you adjust the Position and Size settings within your Shape Path. If you need to Scale a Shape from the center point but move your Rectangle or Ellipse using the Position setting under the Shape Path (as opposed to the group or layer Position), the Shape will no longer Scale from the center. However, it will still Size from the center, meaning if you animate your Shape’s Size using the Shape Path’s Size controls. This can get confusing, and unless there’s a good reason for it, it’s best to adjust Shapes using Group Transform Properties.
There are times when it is necessary to use your Shape Path’s Position and Size settings, so if it’s not necessary then I recommend that you don’t adjust those settings.
Your Anchor Point will stay in the center of your Shape as long as you use the Group’s Position control, which is the recommended method.
When Shape Layers contain multiple Shapes, you want to use Groups so you can affect each Shape independently of one another. You don’t have as much freedom with Fills, Strokes, and Animation Tools without Grouping your Shapes. In order to affect Transform Properties of multiple Shapes within the same Shape Layer, Grouping is necessary because the Layer Transform Properties will affect everything within the Shape Layer.
Groups make your Shape Layer cleaner and more streamlined especially when you have Shape Layer designs with a lot of Shapes, such as characters, HUD elements, and advanced icons.
• Shape Layer: the layer itself, which is controlled using the layer Transform Properties
• Shape: an individual Shape within the Shape Layer which may be controlled with Group Transform Properties, Repeater Transform Properties, and Position and Size settings. There may be more than one shape within a single shape layer.
Group Transform Properties are relative to the Layer Transform Properties, meaning the Layer Transform Properties control the entire Transform Properties of the Layer. Group Transform Properties begin at 0.0 Position, meaning it is 0 pixels from the center of the Layer Transform Properties.
Group Transform Properties control everything within its Group, and nothing outside of it. However, Layer Transform Properties affect everything within the layer.
Layer Transform Properties: mid-point in a 1080 comp is 960px x 540px. The Group is measure from a 0.0 midpoint from the center point of the layer.
The Scale of a group always defaults 100% of the Layer’s Scale, regardless of what the Layer Scale is.
While you can Mask Shape Layers, it is recommended that you use Merge Paths, which we will cover in a later lesson. If you do Mask a Shape Layer, you must choose the option for TOOL CREATES MASKS. By default, when you choose the Shape Creation or Pen Tool, TOOL CREATES SHAPES is enabled because After Effects believes you want to create a Shape. Choose TOOL CREATES MASKS and you can Mask your Shape Layer. However, there are some things to keep in mind:
• You cannot Mask individual Groups or Shapes because the Mask Tool applies a Mask to the entire Shape Layer
• You can Mask a Shape Layer with a single Shape, but when you have multiple Shapes, you will have issues
• It can become cumbersome or even impossible to Mask Multiple Shapes within a single Shape Layer
Type some text and then convert by RIGHT-CLICKING/CREATE/SHAPES FROM TEXT
Shapes will use Fill and Stroke attributes from the original text. If you don’t use a Fill or Stroke, the Shape Layer will still include a Fill and a Stroke, but the option not chosen will be shied.
If you are using a version of After Effect before 2018, the option for Creating Shapes from Text, Creating Shapes from Vector Images, and Creating Masks from Shapes will be in a different location. You will not see the drop-down menu for CREATE if you’re using a version of After Effects prior to 2018. Rather, the options for Creating Shapes and Masks will be in the primary window after you RIGHT-CLICK on your layer.
Once you’ve created Shapes from Text, After Effects hides your text layer because it assumes you want to use the Shape Layer, not the Text Layer. The Text Layer remains shied in your timeline for reference or in case you want to make alterations.
Every character is placed in its own Group with the Fill and Stroke properties that you chose for your text (including “Fill over Stroke,” or “Stroke over Fill”). Each Group comes with its own Transform Properties, however, the Anchor Point defaults to the center of the Shape Layer, not the individual Groups. You will need to manually move each Anchor Point for each Group if you want it to Scale and Rotate from a specific point from within your Group.
Overall, more styles of animation are possible when you Create Shapes from Text.
Illustrator files (AI) and EPS files are Vector Images that can be rasterized and enlarged to any Size without losing clarity. Shape Layers, be default, are also rasterized. When you add a Vector Image to the timeline, make sure that you rasterize the layer or you will lose quality. Vector Images are not rasterized by default.
Creating Shapes from Vector Images are made the same way that you created Shapes from Text: RIGHT-CLICK and choose CREATE/CREATE SHAPES FROM VECTOR IMAGES (unless you are using a version of After Effects before 2018). You will only see one option for Creating Shapes from Vector Images.
After Effects will hide your original image because it believes you want to use the Shape Layer version of your Vector Image. Your original image will remain in the timeline, but it will be shied.
Groups, Fills, and Strokes within your new Shape Layer are based on the way they were originally created in Illustrator, Photoshop, or some other software.
Creating Shapes from Vector Images gives you complete control over Fill and Stroke color, and you have full control over the Transform Properties of each Group, so you can animate each element of the image.
After Effects cannot interpret Gradients from Vectors created in other software, such as Illustrator. When a Vector Image with a GradientFill and/or Stroke is converted to a Shape Layer in After Effects, the result is a gray Fill or Stroke. You will need to manually create a Gradient Fill and replicate the desired color.
Now that you’ve learned all about the basics of shape layers, vertices, grouping, fills and strokes, and transform properties, you’re ready to tackle animation tools. This is where all the fun happens. While you can do quite a bit with shape layers on their own, there are animation tools designed specifically for animating shape layers, and these tools make your design possibilities endless. You’ll learn basic as well as advanced animation tools, and by the end you’ll be able to use them all with confidence and ease.
I look forward to seeing you in the next lesson!
Welcome back to the Power of Shape Layers, Section 4: Basic Animation Tools.
I’ve broken animation tools into two groups: basic and advanced. Basic animation tools are those that have a few settings and add some alteration to your shape, such as twisting a line, rounding a corner, or affecting the integrity of a shape. While these are basic animation tools, they can yield some impressive results. Advanced animation tools include those with more intricate and complex settings, such as Trim Paths and the Repeater. The possibilities are virtually endless with these animation tools.
Animation tools are used to create motion graphic designs, such as HUD elements, animated boxes, bursts, moving icons, and so much more. In this and the next lesson, you’ll learn how to bring your motion designs to the next level. The key to getting used to working with Animation Tools is “experimentation.” I’m going to show you how these Animation Tools work and we’ll go through some tutorials at the end of this course where we apply these Animation Tools, but I highly recommend that you experiment with them all in order to truly master them.
Don’t get overwhelmed. We will cover each animation tool completely and thoroughly. There is a lot to get through, so let’s dive right in.
Round Corners has one option: radius.
Rectangles have a “roundness” option, which makes Round Corners unnecessary for this Shape. Also, Round Corners isn’t effective for Ellipses since they are completely round. Round Corners can be useful for Polygons, in conjunction with other Shape Tools, or when used with other Shapes if you want all Shapes to have the same amount of roundness.
If you are using Round Corners in conjunction with other Animation Tools, Round Corners must come first, otherwise it will have no effect.
Offset Paths has an interesting interaction with Round Corners because this is the one Animation Tool that can go underneath. However, the effect is altered to a much less degree.
Round Corners is keyframable and can be animated.
Offset Paths has two controls: Amount and Round Join.
Amount defaults to a value of 10. It increases and decreases the Size of your Shape, and has both positive and negative values.
Line Join for Offset Paths has the same effect and options as the Line Join for Strokes have.
Line join: Affects Shape and Paths with more than 2 Vertices. They include Miter Join, Round Join, and Bevel Join. Miter Join results in squared corners. Round Join results in round corners. And Bevel Join results in beveled corners. These changes are not noticeable in perfect Ellipses.
Offset Paths interacts with other Animation Tools and can be anywhere in the hierarchy, but note that the effect is different when inserted in various places within the hierarchy.
Amount is keyframable and can be animated. However, Line Join is not and, therefore, cannot be animated.
Offset Paths has a greater effect on Paths. When applied to a Path with two Vertices (a line), Offset Paths creates a Rectangle that expands vertically for a horizontal line, and horizontally for a vertical line.
For Paths with more than two Vertices, the effect is much more significant. You can create a Path with multiple Vertices and create a unique design, and Offset Paths will expand it equally to either side of the Path. If Amount is set to 0, there is no effect.
Since Amount is keyframable, you are able to get interesting animations using this Animation Tool. You can also use Stroke attributes, including Line Cap, Line Join, Dashes, and Stroke Width to get more interesting results.
There are two Wiggle Tools: Wiggle Paths and Wiggle Transform.
Wiggle Paths includes options for:
Size: Defaults to value of 10.
Detail: Defaults to value of 10.
Points: Includes Corner and Smooth.
Wiggles/Second: Defaults to a value of 2. This must have a value in order to see animation as it’s the primary source of movement for this Tool.
Correlation: Defaults to a value of 50%. At 100%, edges are no longer visible.
Temporal (Time) Phase
Spatial (Space) Phase
Random Seed: Defaults to a value of 0.
All controls of Wiggle Paths are keyframable and can be animated, and interact with one another.
Wiggle Transform has controls for:
Wiggles/second: Defaults to a value of 2. This must have a value in order to see animation as it’s the primary source of movement for this Tool.
Correlation: Defaults to a value of 50%. At 100%, edges are no longer visible.
Temporal (Time) Phase
Spatial (Space) Phase
Random Seed: Defaults to a value of 0.
The key to Wiggle Transform is in the word Transform. The Transform Properties of Wiggle Transform dictate how the Animation Settings are applied to the Shape Layer. All Transform Properties default to values of 0. You must adjust the Transform settings in order to get an animation. Wiggle Transform is similar to the wiggle expression: wiggle(x,x,). This expression applies a random wiggle both temporally and spatially.
The Transform Properties of Wiggle Transform directly effect the Transform Properties of the Shape Layer, based on the animation settings above.
All controls of Wiggle Transform are keyframable and can be animated, and interact with one another.
Applying Wiggle Paths and Wiggle Transform to a Shape Layer:
Wiggle Paths affects the Shape’s edges
Wiggle Transform affects the entire Shape
Wiggle Paths and Wiggle Transform can be stacked in any order
Wiggles/Second is the primary animator for both tools
“Transform” is the key to Wiggle Transform
You will get significantly random animation with just a few changes
Wiggle Paths and Wiggle Transform affects Paths with 2 Vertices in a similar way that they affect Shapes. When creating a Path with more than 2 Vertices, Linear and Bezier Vertices have different, though significant, effects.
All in all, the effects that Wiggle Tools have on Paths is the same as the effects on Shapes and the possibilities are endless.
Pucker and Bloat only has one setting: Amount.
This control defaults to a value of 10 and is keyframable. Although Pucker and Bloat has only one control, it yields some impressive results. You can get a kaleidoscope effect, especially when it’s combined with the Repeater. Pucker and Bloat is good for either static or dynamic designs.
You should really experiment with Pucker and Bloat by itself as well as in conjunction with other Animation Tools. Notice how the effect is vastly different depending on which Shape you use. Using multiple Shapes within Groups with various Fills and Strokes yields even more interesting designs. The possibilities really are endless.
Pucker and Bloat is a simple Animation Tool that is very underestimated and underused, but it is very powerful.
Pucker and Bloat only has the effect of rounding corners on a Path with 2 Vertices. However, the effect is much different when you add more Vertices. The effects are as interesting and vast as when you add Pucker and Bloat to Shapes. You can increase the Amount in conjunction with adjusting Stroke width and color, then animating it to get some cool effects.
Twist has two controls: Angle and Center.
Angle defaults to a value of 10, and Center defaults to 0 on the x and y axes. Both controls have positive and negative values, and are keyframable and can be animated.
You should adjust Line Cap and Line Join when increasing the Amount of Twist, depending on the look you’re going for. Angle works best with either Round or Bevel Join. To avoid extreme deforming, decrease the amount of Angle.
Moving the values of Center creates interesting shapes and designs. Using Angle and Center together yields much different results than manipulating them separately. Notice how Twist affects different Shapes. Rectangle and Polystar/Polygon are the best Shapes to use as Ellipses are not affected at all by Twist.
You can get some cool results with Twist, just remember all the attributes you have at your disposal: Solid and Gradient Fills and Strokes, Stroke Width, keyframes, multiple Shapes, different types of Shapes, and so on.
Twist affects Paths with two Vertices. It creates an optical illusion type of effect when you increase the Amount but leave the Center values alone.
Adding more Vertices gives you a different result, but Twist is more effective on Paths with only two Vertices (a line). You are very limited with what you can do with Twist if applied to a Path.
Zigzag interacts very well with Shapes and Paths. There are three controls:
Size: defaults to a value of 5
Ridges per segment: defaults to a value of 10
Points: either Corner or Smooth
All controls are keyframable. More extreme settings yield more interesting designs. Zig Zag is great for both static as well as dynamic designs. Adding a Stroke, multiple Shapes, and different Shapes result in even more possibilities. Each Shape has a unique look when Zig Zag is applied. Even changing a Polystar to a Polygon has a different look with Zig Zag.
One thing to note is that you cannot animate Points - you are given only Toggle Hold keyframes, so you must choose Corner or Smooth for your design. While you can add as many Toggle Hold keyframes as you’d like, the change from Corner to Smooth will be abrupt because there is no in-between value with Corner and Smooth points.
As this point, you should be able to create some shapes and use some of the more basic animation tools. The next section is going to be fun. We’re going to dive head-first into Advanced Animation Tools. These include the the Repeater, Trim Paths, and Merge Paths. While you should already be able to do some pretty impressive things with what you’ve learned so far, this next section is what’s going to make you a motion graphics wizard. There are so many possibilities with the Repeater, Trim Paths, and Merge Paths, but there’s a lot to get through, which is why I’ve given these three animation tools their own section in this course
I look forward to seeing you in the next section and teaching you how to use Advanced Animation Tools.
Welcome back to the Power of Shape Layers, Section 5: Advanced Animation Tools. You’re almost through this course, so stay strong.
Advanced animation tools include tools with more intricate and complex settings, and it includes the Repeater, Trim Paths, and Merge Paths. The possibilities are virtually endless with these animation tools, and you’ll be creating some amazing motion graphics once you learn how to use these tools in your projects.
The key to getting used to working with Animation Tools is “experimentation.” The Repeater will open a world of creativity with what you can do with a single Shape - from backgrounds, to circular designs, to endlessly repeating designs, and so much more - it’s all possible with the Repeater. Trim Paths is a path animator that will bring your designs to life - animate designs on, off, or have them animate in countless ways, all controlled by keyframes - Trim Paths is one of the most powerful Animation Tools available. And, finally, Merge Paths will make icon creation not only possible but much easier, as well as making creating difficult shapes and designs a breeze. Again, I highly recommend that you experiment with these Animation Tools in order to truly master them, but this section will give you a stronghold on how to harness the power of these Animation Tools.
Don’t get overwhelmed. We will cover each of these Advance Animation Tools completely and thoroughly. There’s a whole lot to get through, my friends, so let’s dive right in.
The Repeater is very important and powerful. The Repeater creates multiple copies of a Shape, all of which can be animated in a consistent pattern. The Repeater repeats everything above it, so it must come below all of your other attributes.
The Repeater has the following settings:
Copies: defaults to 3.
Offset: defaults to 0 and moves your Shapes horizontally away from the center as you adjust the value of Offset.
Composite: Below or Above.
Transform: Anchor Point, Position, Scale, Rotation, start Opacity, and end Opacity. Position always defaults to 100x and 0 y.
Your original Shape will always be bound by a box. All of the copies will follow the original Shape, so if you adjust Position, Scale, Rotation, and Opacity at the Shape or Group level, all the duplicates will mimic these attributes.
This is a common design that is really easy to produce if you know the right steps. Below is what you need to remember:
Repeater Position and Anchor Point must be at: 0, 0
Add any number of copies you want
Move the Position of your Shape or Group to a positive Y value
Divide the number of copies you have by 360 on the Rotation of the Repeater.
Make sure you are adjusting the correct Transform Properties - they must be the Repeater Transform Properties. You can also create bursts by keyframing the Position of your Shape or Group.
Go through the above steps several times until you have it memorized. It only takes 4 steps to create a perfect circle of Shapes.
Make sure you are highlighting the appropriate controller when adding the Repeater. Adding the Repeater to a Group has a different effect than adding it to the Contents of a Shape Layer.
When adding a Group, don’t forget that you have multiple sets of Transform Properties. Layer Transform Properties affect the entire layer. Group Transform Properties affect only the Group they are in. The Repeater Transform Properties only affect how the Repeater interacts with the Group and Layer Transform Properties. It can be confusing, but it’s best to fully understand this differentiation.
The Repeater is ideal for both static as well as dynamic designs. Experiment and see what you can come up with.
You can repeat the Repeater and open a world of possibilities. Simply add a Repeater beneath another Repeater and see what happens. Put the Position of the Repeater to 0,0; move your Shape to a positive Y value, add copies, then divide the number of copies by 360 in the Rotation of the Repeater in order to create a perfect circle.
Notice how the second Repeater interacts with the first Repeater in very unique and interesting ways, by simply adjusting the Transform Properties of Repeater 2.
Keep in mind that the way Repeater 1 interacts with your Groups and Layer is much different than how Repeater 2 interacts with Repeater 1. You can’t create a circle with a secondary Repeater because it is repeating the information from Repeater 1. As you stack Repeaters, remember that each subsequent Repeater is repeating the information above it. So Repeater 1 is repeating the Group or Shapes. Repeater 2 is repeating Repeater 1. Repeater 3 repeats Repeater 2. And so on.
You can create interesting backgrounds by repeating the Repeater. Copies behave relative to the initial Shape. In addition to creating circular designs, you can also create rectangular designs by using Repeater 1 to control horizontal copies and Repeater 2 to control vertical copies. The Repeater’s Position is key when creating repeated designs.
Experiment with Start and End Opacity to get interesting looks for your designs.
Using Expressions with the Repeater can yield some very cool results. One of the most common expressions is Time.
Expression: time*(positive or negative value)
When applied to Rotation, this expression will Rotate a negative or positive value (depending on which you choose) a specific speed, indefinitely.
Apply this expression to different Transform Rotations and see what you get.
Remember, you have Layer, Group, Repeater 1, and Repeater 2 Transform Properties.
Trim Paths is a Stroke Animation Tool, not a Fill animation tool. Trim Paths has options with defaults:
Start: defaults to a value of 0.0%
End: defaults to a value o f 100.0%
Offset: defaults to a value of 0x +0.0 Rotation degrees
Trim Multiple Shapes: Defaults to “Simultaneously” but has the option of “Individually”
All of the controls, except Trim Multiple Shapes, are keyframable and can be animated. Trim Paths is automatically added to the bottom of the hierarchy, meaning below all Groups, Shapes, Fills, Strokes, and Animation Tools. If you are using Groups, it’s best practice to put Trim Paths inside the Group that contains the Shapes you want to trim.
When you apply a Trim Paths to a Fill, you don’t get effective results. Remember, Trim Paths is a Path Animation Tool, and Paths only have Strokes.
Trim Paths defaults to 0% start and 100% end. So the Path is already animated fully. To animate a Path Off, keyframe End from 0%-100%.
Fully complete Stroke animation: trim Paths end percentage is 100%, start is 0%
Fully incomplete Stroke animation: start and end percentage is 0%
Trim Paths defaults to a fully completed animation, with end set at 100%
There are percentages in-between, which results in a partially completed Trim Path animation.
There are a few ways to tell Trim Paths where to begin and end it’s animation:
Convert Shape Paths to Bezier Paths, then physically Set a First Vertex. Trim Paths will use the First Vertex as its starting point
RIGHT-CLICK Bezier Path, then choose MASK AND SHAPE PATH/SET FIRST VERTEX
Use Trim Paths’ Offset control and adjust the percentage until your starting point is in the right location
You can change the direction of your Path animation by choose Reverse Path Direction On/Off, which is located next to your Path name.
Start percentage defaults to 0%. If you only animate the start percentage with end percentage at 0%, it will animate a Stroke ON. If end percentage is set to 100%, it animates a Stroke OFF.
If end percentage is at 0% and Start is at 100%, there will be no visible Stroke. You must keyframe either start or end percentage in order to get a results.
End percentage: animates Strokes on
Start percentage: animates Strokes off
* Note: You can animate a Stroke on if end is set 100% and you animate start from 100% to 0%, but the best rule of thumb is to use the above formula.
You can trim single or multiple Paths, depending on where Trim Paths is located. As with other Animation Tools, Trim Paths will animate everything above it, including Fills. If you have multiple Paths and only want to animate some of them, then make sure Trim Paths is located ABOVE the ones you do NOT want to animate. This is where Grouping becomes important. It’s much easier to Group the Shapes you want to use Trim Paths with and apply Trim Paths to the Group.
You can Trim Multiple Paths Simultaneously, meaning all Fills and Strokes above Trim Paths will animate at the same time.
You can also Trim Multiple Paths Individually, meaning all Fills and Strokes above Trim Paths will animate one after another, in the order of their hierarchy.
Trimming Paths Simultaneously will animate all Shapes and Paths at the same time, therefore, the animation will be much faster than animating them Individually. However, if you are only Trimming one Path, there’s no need to adjust Simultaneously to Individually. This setting only matters when applied to Multiple Shapes.
Trim Paths is a Stroke Animation Tool.
You can animate both the Start and End percentages, as well as the Offset, which will alter the starting point of your animation.
You can animate Multiple Paths either Simultaneously or Individually.
You can change the direction of your animation by changing Reverse Path Direction.
Merge Paths combines multiple Shapes in order to create one final Shape by adding, and subtracting overlapping segments of Shapes as well as including and excluding intersections of various parts of multiple Shapes.
Hierarchy is very important with Merge Paths, as you’ll see over the next few lessons.
You must use at least two Shapes with Merge Paths. Merge Paths automatically places itself between Groups/Shapes and Fills/Strokes - this is very important. Merge Paths must be located between Shapes and Fill/Strokes, or it will not work.
Merge Paths has the following options:
Merge: this option doesn’t do anything. In fact, the result is as if you didn’t add Merge Paths at all. It’s useful when you want to see Shapes in your animation but don’t want to delete Merge Paths altogether in case you want to re-apply it
Add: this is the default setting. This option adds all Shapes together to make one larger Shape
Subtract: subtracts overlapping segments as well as any Shape not first in order
Intersect: makes only the intersecting segments of Shapes visible
Exclusion: excludes all areas of intersection
Note: Shape order only affects the Subtract mode. The Shapes you are merging can be in any order for the other modes.
While using Groups is encouraged in order to keep your Shape Layer organized, when you use Merge Paths, you should avoid using Groups for a single output. In other words, it’s best practice to put your derivative Shapes, Fills, Strokes, and Merge Paths inside of a Group, as opposed to putting the Shapes that are being merged with their own Fills and Strokes in separate Groups.
Including Fills and Strokes inside of Groups is useless because the Fill and Stroke located beneath Merge Paths will always supersede any Fills and/or Strokes inside your Group.
You can duplicate a Shape Layer with a Subtracted Shape using Merge Paths, then change the secondary Shape Layer’s Merge Path setting to Add. This will reverse the original Shape and allow you to have a perfectly fitted piece, such as a slice of a pie. The first Shape Layer will serve as the larger pie, and the secondary Shape Layer will be the slice.
Remember, a Shape is not the same thing as a Shape Layer. A “Shape” is a single entity, such as a Rectangle, Ellipse, or Polygon. A “Shape Layer” is the layer within which one or more Shapes and/or Paths may be created. While you can have more than one Shape created as a result of using Merge Paths within a Shape Layer if you use Groups, sometimes it’s better to have one Shape Layer per Shape created with Merge Paths.
If you are creating more than one Shape using Merge Paths within a single Shape Layer, remember to put each shape within its own Group. However, do not use Merge Paths to merge Groups. Merge Paths should only be used to merge Shapes.
To save Shape Layers and Shape Layer Animations as presets, highlight the things you want to save as a preset, go to the top tool bar and choose ANIMATION/SAVE ANIMATION PRESET.
User Presets are located in DOCUMENTS/ADOBE/[AE VERSION]/USER PRESETS for both PC and MAC.
Create a folder and save the preset inside or you can also save it to the general User Presets folder.
You can locate your new preset, along with all the other presets and folders inside of User Presets, by going to the Effects Panel and choosing ANIMATION PRESETS/USER PRESETS
If you have keyframes in your saved preset, the first keyframe will be located wherever your playhead is located in the timeline.
You should be super proud of yourself right now. You have gone through each and every aspect of Shape Layers. From the basics of creating a simple rectangle, to adding Fills and Strokes, to learning about Vertices and the different types of Transform Properties, to using powerful Animation Tools that even advanced motion graphic designers don’t know how to thoroughly use. Starting now, you truly are a motion graphic rock star.
There’s one more section that I’ve created just for those of you who have dared to become a master at Shape Layers. The next section includes some tutorials where you will take what you’ve learned and apply it to create actual designs. You can watch these tutorials as many times as you want, and in some cases you may want to revisit the ones that are packed with a lot of information. The key is to experiment. Once you’ve learned these tricks, try them out on your clients or at your job. Impress the people you’re creating designs for, and proudly tell the world that you are a Shape Layer Wizard.
I look forward to seeing you in the next section and learning how to create some really impressive motion graphics.
Welcome back to the Power of Shape Layers, Section 6: Tutorials. This is where you put what you’ve learned to the test.
In this section, you’ll follow along with me to create HUD elements, icons, shape layer from text animation, and make some really cool motion graphics.
I’m assuming that you’ve learned all the basics so, while I won’t be going too fast, if you don’t have a strong hold on the basics, you might find yourself running behind a little. Don’t worry - I’m here for you. You can watch these tutorials as many times as you need. You can also contact me any time with your comments and questions, and I’ll make sure that you understand Shape Layer principles completely.
Now let’s get down to it, and start making some awesome motion graphics!
I must say, I am completely impressed with you. Not only have you gone through all the instructional sections of this course, you’ve also watched the tutorials. You have enough mastery of Shape Layers that you can start incorporating then into all of your designs.
I’m also very humbled and grateful that you’ve chosen to take this journey with me. I hope that I’ve delivered what you were expecting and even more. I can only continue doing these courses if I’m successful at teaching my students. So, please, leave me an honest review to let me know how I did, what you learned, and what I could have done better.
I’m a Shape Layer nerd, and love everything about them. I hope after taking this course, that you are as well. Check out my tutorial channel on YouTube, 7 Minute AE Tutorials as I put out instructional videos like these often. I also produce Quick Tips where you can learn a cool trick in under a minute.
This is my first Udemy course and I would love to create more of these.
Thanks for watching everybody. And I’ll see you all next time!