After Effects and Illustrator – Let’s Paint

By Tom Womack

After Effects paint tools are similar to Photoshop and Illustrator but in some very real ways they are quite peculiar to After Effects. For one thing, as you paint and create objects, you are at the same time creating a potential animation because simply creating objects with your paint tools offers the option of presenting your images in time.

One of the first things to note as you paint in After Effects is that while you do so much of your work in your composition window, adding and manipulating objects on your timeline, you ‘Paint’ on a layer and must be in the layer panel to begin painting. Like Photoshop and other graphics applications, you will probably begin by choosing a brush, a brush style and diameter. Choose a color and then, paint a little bit! Paint a scribble or spell ‘Hello World’, something easy and silly just to see how easy painting in your layer is.

The first way to begin animating your paint is with the start and end stroke options. Like all After Effects animations, click the stopwatch setting to create a keyframe, move down the timeline, change the ‘start’ or ‘end’ percentage value and this will create another keyframe.

It is that simple but… what are you doing? You are telling After Effects what portion of your shape has been drawn at that point, or more accurately where your start or end progress is in relationship to the beginning. This wasn’t obvious for me and like most AE effects, when it’s not perfectly clear, I play with the settings a bit, letting it sink in exactly how they are being applied. In the first experiments of grasping exactly how these settings behave, pick one object, a simple paint stroke or word spelled, and pick one setting to experiment with.

Draw an ‘s’ curve with your brush. To see the most natural intuitive illustration of animating paint, under brush, stroke options you may set your ‘start’ and ‘end’ percentages. Set your timeline to the beginning of your composition. Note the default setting for start is 0% and end is 100%. It is by default, ‘completely drawn’ with ending set to 100%. Click your stopwatch to create a keyframe and change your end setting to 0%. Your paint object will disappear. It’s end completion is now 0%. Now move down the timeline a few seconds and set it to 100% creating a second keyframe. This will completely draw your new paint object. Now execute your composition (enter ‘home’ to return to beginning, ’0′ on numeric keypad to play). You will see your paint object drawn on your composition panel appearing over the timeline you set.

Now here is a nice ‘next step’. Let’s animate your start setting instead. It’s not really ‘where’ you start but more like what stage of progression, how far along you are on the ‘start’ to the ‘end’ of your drawing. This may be a bit confusing but set your stroke option ‘end’ to 100%, it is completely drawn. Now, at the beginning of your timeline, set your start to 0%. Move down the timeline a few seconds and set your start to 100%. As you scrub your timeline your will see your paint object drawn backwards! At the beginning of your timeline, your ‘start’ progress is at the end, the last pixels you created for this object. As you move in time, you move further into the ‘start’ progression, yet moving from where it was at 100% to 0%. When you reach your second keyframe, you will see your complete object but it will be animated in reverse. Pretty cool, if not a little bit confusing. Any behavior like this, any control that is something less than intuitive gets the same treatment from me. Play! Play with the behavior, experiment a bit, watch how it unfolds changing parameters to get intimate with how they control your animation behavior.

We will play with some of the other fun settings in paint, like ‘write on’, in our next paint tutorial.

Full Moons, Dogcreek, think globally, act locally.

Author Tom Womack is a Web Designer, nature lover, and environmentalist.
Living by Dog Creek in Kingston Springs, TN, much of his work is devoted to images borrowed from nature using Adobe After Effects, Premiere Pro and other applications from the Adobe Design Suite, and much inspiration from Henry Thoreau.

Article Source:—Lets-Paint&id=3254361


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