Adding Path Operations


Adobe® After Effects® CC® Quick Start


Lesson Info

Adding Path Operations

Let's go ahead and talk about operators because we can do a lot of cool things with these paths like or the shape layers. What I just gave you was just basic, basic, basic, basic getting started, the boring part of shape layers if there is such a thing. And now, we want to talk about these path operations here. I've already gone ahead and made some text. And we have this little explosion example here. And we're gonna make that very thing. So I just wanna show you what that is and then turn off the visibility and I'm gonna lock it actually. And basically, I didn't talk about this, but a lot of times, when I've been opening up these projects, you might have noticed that there is a bunch of stuff on-screen but then no layers in the composition panel or the timeline panel and so it's like, why, where are the layers? What's making that stuff? And what happens is, is that for training purposes, a lot of times, what I'll do is I'll make layers, what are called shy. I'll make a layer shy. And ...

this little switch right here, which I don't know if you guys can see but it's kind of like a little Kilroy popping his head over the wall. Just like, nose and stuff like that. It's pretty adorable. And if he's seen right here. Let's say for example for this. Then it's called not shy. And so then when I hit the master shy switch for the whole entire composition the shy layers get hidden. And I can click on the shy switch, shy switch, and it gets hidden. So, this is a little bit confusing initially. But it's exactly the opposite thing that the eye icon does. So let's say this background, I have these three layers that make up this background. These three solid layers that make up this background. If I don't want to see these in my timeline panel. I know that they're gonna be in the background. I don't care for them. I don't need to use them. I want to see them. But I don't want them cluttering up, I'm done, I've done all that, the work that I need to do with them. So I wanna clean them up. And so I can click the little shy icon, poke him in the face, and then he gets really shy and he hides. But nothing happens because this is another one of those switches, like motion blur, that needs to be enabled for the layer and also for the entire composition. So once I enable this for the entire composition then the shy layers go away. This remains blue to let me know that I have layers that I'm not seeing. And so then I can click the shy icon for the explosion example. Shy icon for the circle example. And because this master switch for the comp is already enabled, then by just clicking another, the shy switch for each layer it just disappears. To get 'em all back, just click the shy switch again for the composition. Thank you. My pleasure. So anyways we have this text here. It comes in. It bounces. And, I'm not gonna go over this too much. I spent a little bit of time making this bounce. But, to do this you basically, what's called overshoot. This is one of Disney's principles of animation when he created with his team of animators. Like these concepts of animation that were really important. If this is really scaling up really fast, you're not gonna right to 100%. So I see a lot of times new animators will animate zero to 100%. And that's not how things are. If you're going from zero to 100% and then you stop really fast, you're gonna jerk forward. And then you're going to, like if you had a seatbelt on, and somebody's like, my son's learning how to drive and he does this to me all the time. I'm in the front seat. And I'm like, "Oh, look how great my boy is." He slams on the breaks. And then like, I hit my face in the windshield. It's pretty funny. And so that's how things work in the real world. You go up to 100%. You kind of have to go over and then back a little bit. So I have, I wanted to animate this up to 100%. It actually goes to 110%. Then down back below to 95. And then comes resting at 100. So instead of just going from zero to it goes a little too forward, a little bit too much back, and kind of settles in. Yoing. Makes a little bounce. A little bit of life. A little bit of that organic energy to it. And it really helps. And so what I wanna do is here, is I wanna use shape layers to enhance what's going on. Now, in order to do that, or before we do that I should say, I wanna talk a little bit about path operators. 'Cause this is where shape layers get really, really, really fun. And I'm going to click and drag. And I'm going to just make another star. Click and drag. There's a star. By the way, if you are creating the shape, if you are dragging to make the shape, if you hold down the space bar key while you are still clicking and dragging, you can then move the shape where you want it to be. So if I let go of the space bar, I'm resizing. I hold the space bar, I'm moving it around. So that way I can get it kind of centered'ish. And there you have it. So we're gonna create some really cool stuff with path operators in just a second. But before we do, I just wanna talk about a few of the options out there. So, when you have your shape layer, you have contents here, and right across the street from contents you have the add menu. Click the add menu. And these are the path operators. These are all different things you could add to shape layers to enhance them. You could add other shapes. You could add additional fills. Additional strokes. Additional gradient fills. Additional gradient strokes. A whole bunch of stuff. But below this line, and these lines are really helpful, you'll see these all in Adobe stuff. It's like, when you're in line at the grocery store and then they have those dividers so that your groceries don't mingle with other people's groceries. Like that just kind of just separates them. That's what these things do. So these are kind of like categories. So below this grocery divider line thing we have all of these different things. Say for example twist. Add twist. Open up twist. And now there's just a couple options. There's angle. And center. So if I wanted to create this kind of like really nice little logo, it's that easy. Just draw a star, put a twist on it. Boom. Also go the other way. Also animate this. So it does this. I could also change the center around which it's twisting. So if I move, and by default it's in the center, if I move this to the left, now we get some really interesting things happening. And if I go really, really crazy you can create some really interesting spirals. Maybe we take down the stroke. Do some really interesting stuff. Really creative stuff. Okay. So I'm gonna select twist. And delete. You could also go to add, and add something called a zigzag. Which creates a zigzag pattern around the edges. Open up zigzag to get its properties. Increase the size of the zigzag. Make kind of like a, like an old Southwestern pattern there. We could also change this from corner points to smooth points. And now those become soft and pillowy. Increase the ridges per segment. Or decrease the ridges per segment. Create some really interesting shapes by fiddling around with these path operators. You could see how fun this is. A couple of fun things to be aware of too. The Adobe world, you see this term wiggle a lot, and wiggle basically just means randomness. Just automatic randomness. And so anytime you see wiggle it's like really, really fun. 'Cause wiggle is a fun word. And so if i said wiggle path. So if I chose the wiggle path operator then that gives AfterEffects permission to wiggle the path of my shape layer. And wiggle is always auto-animating. So if it means wiggle, it means you don't have to set any key frames. It's just kind of random. So now our path, ah, let me turn off my text, now, we have this wiggling path. I'm going to open up wiggle paths. And let's increase the size of this. Just so we can kind of see this. So it's wiggling. By the way, you'll notice that with this star every once in a while things kind of poke out like spikes on the edges will just kind of randomly poke out which is kind of annoying. And that's something called the miter limit. That's one of the strokes options. So I could open up poly star, the stroke, and I could increase the miter limit if I want to to make sure that those things are always spiky or decrease this to make sure that they're not spiky. Or we could go to line cap and miter join and change this to maybe round join. Or whatever. So they're just rounded edges. A little bit more advanced. But just something to play with. And because we don't set key frames for wiggling, we can adjust the wiggles per second. So there's no key frames, but I could make this wiggle at four wiggles per second. So now it's wiggling a little bit faster. Or if we want kind of like a slow, kind of undulating thing we could take this down to one wiggle a second. So now it's just kind of like, loosey goosey man. Just hanging out, listening to some Pink Floyd. I don't know. (laughing) So, that's what this star is doing. Okay. So that's wiggle path. There's also wiggle transforms. So, by default you don't see any difference at all. But what happens is it gives you some transform properties. If you open up wiggle transform, at the bottom there's some transform properties. And let's say I increase scale a little bit. Then it says, okay we changed the scale. The transform inside, ah, this is so confusing. I'm gonna maximize, I'm gonna hit the tilda key so we can maximize this. So here's the transform for the whole layer. And then there's the transform for the star. This is the transform for wiggle transform. So, let's just try to keep track of that. It's a little confusing. So what we're saying by this transform setting is that we increase the scale up 26%, that gives wiggle transform 26%, that's the range it can move around. I'm gonna hit the tilda key again. And so now, it has a 26% range where it can wiggle in between. So just kind of like, flexibly bounces a little bit. I could increase wiggles per second up to like five. And now it's going to do the same thing. But just be a little bit more bouncy about the whole thing. So a lot of flexibility. I'm gonna show you a really common trick here. I'm gonna turn off the star. And I'm going to make another circle. And I'm gonna hold the shift key. I'm gonna do the same thing with the right click, transform, center anchor point, layer content. Go to a line. Get that in the center. That's all I'm doing. Just doing that, the same thing we did before. And one of the really common things that you see a lot today in motion graphics is something called the trim paths operator. So I could go to my shape layer. Go to add. And I want to adjust trim paths. And by default this doesn't seem to do that much. But we have a start and an end. So if I increased start and end, we could animate this and kind of make this move. So if we had our stop watch that we made earlier, our little clock, and we wanted to make it kind of like, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, this is what we'd use. We'd use the trim paths operator. We could also go back to our starburst here. And do the same thing here where we add trim paths here. And now we can swirl that on. Or we could do the same thing at the end here. Now the way we set it up was a little bit different so there are actually multiple layers on top of each other so it looks a little bit weird. But, you still have that kind of wiping on ability with the trim paths effect. It's pretty cool. Another thing you could do, and this might work with the go anywhere text, is that you could actually go in and use the pen tool. This is a little bit advanced. This is a little bit more advanced. We're not gonna talk too much about the pen tool but just be aware, if you are familiar with the pen tool, or comfortable with the pen tool from other Adobe apps this works in a similar way. I'm just going to click here. Click and drag. Click and drag. Click and drag. Click and drag. And I'm basically creating a metaphor, a demonstration of going anywhere, where it's just kind of like loop-de-loop. And it's crazy. And it's fun. And zany. And it's going off the screen. And now what I can do is use trim paths, I'm gonna make that a little smaller. I'm gonna use trim paths because trim paths is like eroding the shape along the path. So I can go to trim paths, take down end to zero. Set a key frame for end. Move in time. Go to end 100%. And now this thing comes on. And we could also maybe like right before it ends adjust the start value, which is right here, to keep up. So we start at zero. Move in time. And increase start to 100%. So it's like a trail. You know what I mean? So then it wipes itself off screen. So then we have this. That's kind of fun. And what's really cool about animation is that you could have multiple animated properties on the same layer and they don't intersect or touch. Every property is kind of its own little world. So you could animate everything on a layer. Or just one thing. Or whatever. And they don't intersect. So, we didn't adjust, we animated a few properties here on this shape layer, but we didn't adjust or animate the stroke value. So, I could adjust the stroke value after the fact and I don't have to worry about key frames or anything else because we're not changing that value over time. So it doesn't matter if you're changing a bunch of other values over time if you're not changing stroke over time, then you could feel free to adjust it at will. Oops. Let's take it up to. Oops. Man, butterfingers over here. Okay. Let's try that again. Oops. Yeah, we need a bigger stroke here. Ah, kind of just disappeared for a second. There we go. Anyways, just wanna show you that you could shrink that down without key framing it and it works which is kind of fun. Okay. Let's do this little cool explosion thing with our go anywhere text here. I'm gonna go out to about where go anywhere is. And this is one of the greatest of all the path operators. And I'm going to go ahead and create a rectangle. And I'm going to click on fill. And create a solid fill. And I'm going to double click and make this white. And I'm going to option click the stroke swatch until it becomes nothing. Like so. And this one is a little trickier. This one's a little trickier. And it takes a second to set up. And it looks super stupid while you're setting it up. So again, patience and it shall be rewarded. So what I'm gonna do, here's this first tricky part, I'm gonna create this little tiny vertical rectangle. But here's the deal, the way this particular thing works, is I kind of want it to be lined up with the anchor point, so I want to hold the space bar. No matter where I move this around while the space bar is held the anchor point's still in the center. So I wanna try to get right directly above that anchor point. Right about there. Okay? So now we just have a little simple rectangle. No big deal. So now we wanna open up the rectangle. Open up rectangle path. And, maybe set this thing right here. I'll set a key frame for size. Again this is gonna look super stupid. Just, just hang out with me. So I'm gonna, set this key frame for size here. And then I'm going to make the size zero. So I'm gonna type zero. So the size is zero zero. So what happens is this thing just shrinks. Just shrinks. Yoink. That's all it does. Which is, again, admittedly lame. But just hang with me. And then I'm gonna set a key frame for position at the same time. So I'm gonna set a key frame for position here. And then we're going to move in time and I want to go backwards in the y direction because we want it to go up. So what I want it to do is kind of go off-screen. Like this. Yoink. Just like that. Okay. Super lame. I get it. But here's where it gets cool. I'm going to go to the add area to add a path operator. And the chief of all of the path operators is the repeater. It takes the shape and repeats it. So I'm gonna click repeat. And by default, you'll see just a couple extra copies. So what happens is, I'm gonna go over to the repeater. And actually I'm gonna maximize this with the tilda key. Just so we can talk about the repeater. Which also, again, has its own set of transforms, which is really, really confusing. So be aware of that. Transform repeater one. But this here, this section here, is the repeater. I'm gonna close up the rectangle path. Even the rectangle we don't need anymore. Just the repeater. So what happens is is that it makes a series of copies of your object. And if you had animation like we did even that gets replicated with the repeater. And I'm gonna go ahead and un-maximize this. So if I chose the copies, a bunch of copies, then it will make a lot of copies. Let me resize this here. And the reason why whenever you first apply the repeater by default the only thing that's changed is the position value. It's set to 100. And then transform in the repeater section determines what the copies will be doing. The transform in the repeater section determines what these copies will be doing. So when the position says 100 zero it means it's going to move each copy over 100 pixels from the original. So each copy is 100 pixels over from the last one. I'm gonna take this to, well actually let's just do this, let's say scale 90%. Well, what that's doing is that each one is going to be 90% of the size of the previous one. So you're determining what's gonna happen with those copies. How those copies are gonna react. I'm gonna take this back to 100%. And I'm going to take position down to zero zero. What I really want to adjust is the rotation. So as I increase rotation, oh, look at that. So now we have this kind of cool pattern. Which is all right. It's not, you know, it's not, I'm not gonna call my mom and be like, "Mom, guess what I did. There's like this round thing. I did it." So, it's not alarmingly amazing. But, because we created animation this animation comes, remember just that little line just went like, yoink. But, now that we did the repeater in a circle it can go pew. Like that. Pew. So all that, that little thing where those lines are just going up and disappearing. When we do it with a bunch of things at the same time, that's actually kind of cool. That's actually kind of cool. And I could increase the copies after the fact. 'Cause you know we didn't animate it so it's no big deal. And I might wanna increase the rotation or whatever. Again hold the command key if needed to get all those in there. That's pretty exciting stuff. Another thing that I can do, if I wanted to, is, 'cause this thing starts on, and then blows up. So maybe I could go a couple frames before this and then set another key frame for the size and make that zero. So that way it goes zero. It goes on to the regular size and then goes out to zero again. Go anywhere. Pew. There's an extra little line right there that I'm not loving. So I'm gonna go back to the repeater. And I might take down the copies, and maybe the rotation. There we go. Oops. That's looking pretty good. Okay. So now I preview this. Pew. So great little accents, like coming soon, or buy my things. Spend a bunch of money. Pew. And there you go. So that's the power of shape layers. And when you combine those shape layers with path operators it becomes very, very powerful. Very creative tools. Again, we could spend all day, several days, just talking about all the things you could do with shape layers and all the magic you could create with them. So I challenge you to go and just experiment and explore. And just have a blast trying to see what you can come up with. It's amazing you could take one little stupid thing that just goes mink, and just disappears and gets small. And then you just use the repeater and all of the sudden it's a cool little explosion. I mean, the possibilities are endless. It's really fun. So that's path operators in a nutshell.

Class Description

Knowing how to utilize the tools and opportunities in After Effects® can take your video from amateur to professional. Award-winning filmmaker and author Chad Perkins will help you get started with utilizing this motion software. This course covers the basics of starting a project and how to make the most of the many ways to bring life to a video. You’ll learn:

  • How to start a project and create a composition
  • Working with layers
  • Creating text
  • Understanding animation
  • Working with textures and shapes
  • Creating 3D motion with lighting and camera
  • Compositing techniques

Learn to enhance your video projects by animating text or creating transitional effects with this quick start into Adobe® After Effects® CC®.

Software used: Adobe® After Effects® CC®


a Creativelive Student

If you want to get into learning AE. Watch this video first. I've watched many AE tutorials and I still had many 'why' questions. Chad is great and explaining things and even uses great analogies​ so you understand what is going on. I highly recommend it. Thank you.

Chaka Akbar

Excellent introduction to After Effects. Definitely delivers on being a quick start to the features and capabilities of the software. Chad's passion and enthusiasm really shines through.

Nicholas Jacobson

Chad is an incredible teacher. He makes what would seem like daunting projects and tasks to the common person become both possible and even simple! He keeps his audience engaged by taping into one's inner child of creativity. Keep your hand hovering over the pause button because this presentation is crammed full of incredible information. Thanks again, Chad and all the folks at CreativeLive in Seattle!