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Working with Shape Layers in Adobe After Effects CC (2015 release)

  • Sample Chapter is provided courtesy of Adobe Press.
  • Date: Feb 3, 2016.

Chapter Description

Shape layers make it easy to create expressive backgrounds and intriguing results. You can animate shapes, apply animation presets, and add Repeaters to intensify their impact. Learn how in this chapter from Adobe After Effects CC Classroom in a Book (2015 release).

Duplicating shapes

You could draw a shape multiple times, but it’s easier to duplicate the shape automatically. The Repeater path operation lets you multiply a shape and transform its properties to achieve different results.

You’ll use the Repeater path operation to duplicate a shape that was created in Adobe Illustrator and then pasted into the Path property of a shape layer in the Drop.aep project file.

  1. In the Project panel, expand the drop.aep folder, and then double-click the Drop composition to open it.

The Drop composition opens in the Timeline panel and the Composition panel.

  1. Expand the Drop layer and its Contents folder if its properties aren’t visible. Then select Shape 1, and choose Repeater from the Add pop-up menu.

You’re selecting Shape 1 because you want to add the Repeater to the individual shape, not the entire layer.

  1. Expand Repeater 1.
  2. Change the number of copies to 4.

The Repeater creates three copies of the shape, for a total of four. You’ll rotate the shapes and then reposition them to create a pinwheel.

  1. Expand Transform: Repeater 1.
  2. Change the Rotation to 90°.

Because you applied the rotation to the Repeater rather than to the shape, each drop rotates around the layer’s anchor point to a different degree. When you change the Transform properties for the Repeater, the change is multiplied by the number of copies created. In this case, the first shape retains the original value of 0, the second shape rotates 90 degrees, the third shape rotates 180 degrees, and the fourth shape rotates 270 degrees. The same concept applies to each of the Transform properties.

  1. In the Transform: Repeater 1 properties, change the Position to 0, 0.

The shapes overlap because the anchor point is located in the center of each shape.

  1. Change the Anchor Point value to 15, 45.

The shapes align to form a pinwheel. Now you’ll make the pinwheel rotate.

  1. Make sure the current-time indicator is at the beginning of the time ruler. Then, expand the Transform: Shape 1 category, and click the stopwatch icon next to the Rotation value to create an initial keyframe.
  2. Press the End key or move the current-time indicator to the end of the time ruler, and change the Rotation value to 2x+0.0°.

  3. Drag the current-time indicator across the time ruler to see the pinwheel rotate.

You used the Repeater path operation to duplicate an individual shape. Now you’ll use it to copy all the contents of the layer, turning one pinwheel into eight.

  1. In the Timeline panel, hide all the properties under Shape 1. Then select the Drop layer, and choose Repeater from the Add pop-up menu.
  2. Expand the new Repeater 1 category, and change the number of copies to 4.

Because you applied the Repeater to the entire layer, the full pinwheel was copied.

  1. Expand the Transform: Repeater 1 category, and change the Position values to 450, 0.

There are now four pinwheels across the top of the Composition window.

  1. Select the Drop layer, and choose Repeater from the Add pop-up menu again to create the Repeater 2 category.
  2. Expand the Repeater 2 category, and change the number of copies to 2. Then expand the Transform: Repeater 2 category, and change the Position values to 0, 575.

By applying another Repeater to the entire layer, you copied the full row of pinwheels.

  1. Hide all the properties for the layer.
  2. Click the Motion Blur switch for the layer, and then click the Enable Motion Blur button (motion-blur-switch.jpg) at the top of the Timeline panel.
  3. Press the spacebar to preview eight pinwheels rotating in unison; press the space-bar again to stop the preview. Then choose File > Save to save your work so far.
5. Duplicating and modifying a composition | Next Section Previous Section

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