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Animating Text

Chapter Description

In this sample chapter from Adobe After Effects Classroom in a Book (2020 release), authors Fridsma and Gyncild teach you to create and animate text layers. You will learn to stylize text using the Character and Paragraph panels, apply and customize text animation presets, and more.

Animating imported Photoshop text

When you just need to add a few words of text to a unique project, it works well to type directly into After Effects. But in the real world, you may need to ensure brand and style consistency among multiple projects. Fortunately, you can import text from Photoshop or Illustrator. You can preserve text layers, edit them, and animate them in After Effects.

Importing text

Some of the remaining text for this composition is in a layered Photoshop file, which you’ll import now.

  1. Click the Project tab to bring the Project panel forward, and then double-click an empty area in the Project panel to open the Import File dialog box.

  2. Select the LOCATION.psd file in the Lessons/Lesson03/Assets folder. Choose Composition – Retain Layer Sizes from the Import As menu. (In macOS, you may need to click Options to see the Import As menu.) Then click Import or Open.

  3. In the LOCATION.psd dialog box, select Editable Layer Styles, and click OK.

After Effects can import Photoshop layer styles, retaining the appearance of the layers you’re importing. The imported file is added as a composition to the Project panel; its layers are added in a separate folder.

  1. Drag the LOCATION composition from the Project panel into the Timeline panel, placing it at the top of the layer stack.

Because you imported the LOCATION.psd file as a composition with layers intact, you can work on it in its own Timeline panel, editing and animating its layers independently.

Editing imported text

The text you imported isn’t currently editable in After Effects. You’ll change that so that you can control the type and apply animations. The LOCATION.psd file is a boilerplate template for the location of company tours. You’ll edit the text and add a stroke to help it stand out for this promotion.

  1. Double-click the LOCATION composition in the Project panel to open it in its own Timeline panel.

  2. Select the LOCATION layer in the Timeline panel, and choose Layer > Create > Convert To Editable Text. (Click OK if you see a warning about missing fonts.)

Now the text layer can be edited, so you can customize the tour location.

  1. Double-click the LOCATION layer in the Timeline panel to select the text and automatically switch to the Horizontal Type tool (type.jpg).


  3. Switch to the Selection tool (selection.jpg) to exit text-editing mode.

  4. If the Character panel isn’t open, choose Window > Character to open it.

  5. Click the Stroke color box, select a teal blue color (we used R=70, G=92, B=101), and click OK. Leave all other settings as they are.

  6. Choose File > Save to save your work so far.

Animating the location text

You want the letters of the location—ISLA MUJERES—to flow organically onto the screen under the activity title. The easiest way to do this is to use another text animation preset.

  1. Go to 5:00 in the timeline. At that point, the title has finished scaling to its final size.

  2. Select the LOCATION layer in the Timeline panel.

  3. Press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+O (Windows) or Command+Option+Shift+O (macOS) to jump to Adobe Bridge.

  4. Navigate to the Presets/Text/Animate In folder.

  5. Select the Raining Characters In animation preset, and watch it in the Preview panel. This effect works well to reveal the text gradually.

  6. Double-click the Raining Characters In preset to apply it to the LOCATION layer, and then return to After Effects.

  7. With the LOCATION layer selected in the Timeline panel, press UU to see the properties modified by the animation preset. You should see two keyframes for Range Selector 1 Offset: one at 5:00 and one at 7:15.

The U key, sometimes referred to as the Überkey, is a valuable keyboard shortcut that reveals all the animated properties of a layer. Press it once to see the animated properties; press it twice to view all modified properties.

You have a lot of animation to fit into this composition, so you’ll speed up the effect.

  1. Go to 6:00, and then drag the second Range Selector 1 Offset keyframe to 6:00.

  2. Select the LOCATION layer, and press U to hide the modified properties.

  1. Select the FishSwim tab in the Timeline panel to make that timeline active, and then go to 6:00.

  2. Use the Selection tool (selection.jpg) to move the LOCATION layer so that ISLA MUJERES is right-aligned with and just below Snorkel Tours.

  3. Deselect all layers. Drag the current-time indicator across the time ruler from 4:00 to 6:00 to see the letters fall into place. Then save your work so far.

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