Getting Started in After Effects: Flag Animation | Laurentiu Lunic | Skillshare

Getting Started in After Effects: Flag Animation

Laurentiu Lunic, Motion Designer

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10 Lessons (39m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Class Overview

    • 3. Illustration In After Effects

    • 4. Texturing In After Effects

    • 5. Method 1: Flag Animation

    • 6. Method 2: Flag Animation

    • 7. Method 3: Flag Animation

    • 8. Method 3: Character Animation

    • 9. Export Your Work: GIF or MP4

    • 10. Final Thoughts

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About This Class


In this class, you will learn how to animate any shape of flag or banner in After Effects. We'll cover three methods so that you can animate flags in a just a few clicks and explore more stylized methods. The skills you will learn can be applied in a wide range of animation projects ranging from branding to GIFs on social media. 

What You'll Learn:

I'll walk you through a simple process in which you will learn to build and rig a simple flag for animation.  You will also learn about the duration of a flag animation cycle and how a flag would behave in the hands of an actual character. Lastly, you will learn how to stylize your illustration in After Effects and export it for you to share it on Skillshare and any other online platform.

We Will Cover:

  • Illustrating in After Effects. I will be showing you some easy ways to illustrate your flag in After Effects or use any kind of flag, even an image.
  • Animating in After Effects. We will walk through my three methods of animating a flag in After Effects.
  • Simple Frame By Frame Animation. In the last method of animating a flag you will be able to animate a flag in a  frame by frame fashion all in After Effects
  • Applying Effects & Techniques In Other Types of Animation. You will be learn how to apply what you've learned in other areas of animation beyond flags and add these techniques into your workflow
  • Project: Export Your Animated GIF. I will be showing you how to export your finalized artwork both as a gif and as an mp4.

Why Should You Take This Class?

This class will help you develop a solid understanding of how flags should behave in a motion graphics video.

Animation has become integral to the world of design. Expanding your design skillset to learn basic animation skills will give you a leg up by adding depth to your portfolio to helping you land larger client projects.

Who Is This Class For?

If you are an aspiring animator or an illustrator looking to add motion to your work this class is for you!


1. Introduction: Hello, my name is Laurentiu Lunic and I am a Motion Designer form Italy currently working with Illo. A creative studio focused on Illustration and Animation. As I self taught motion designer, I was able to pick my career through online tutorials. I am now excited to share my knowledge to help you further expand your motion designs skills. In this class, I will be sharing some tips and tricks that they have learned working with up After Ethics daily for the past five years. We are going to learn how to animate flags. We will learn three different methods in After Ethics that will work with any flag design you have. Which includes logo or brand colors you might want to animate for a client, as well as any other flag animation you might want to add to your portfolio. The class is beginner friendly with easy to follow techniques that will get slightly more difficult as we approach the third method. If you are an illustrator working to add motion to your work or a beginner animator who want to grow your skill set, this class is for you. The skills you'll learn in this class can be applied to the Illustration and Animation of flags, and they are also incredibly useful for other animation projects. I would be using this base through most of our journey. I hope you are ready and let's get started. 2. Class Overview: Hi, everybody. We're ready to start. I just wanted to give you a quick overview on what we're going to be doing. These are our three outputs. Method one being the easiest, the method three being the slightly more advanced one. I divided this course in seven different lessons. The first one being illustration in After Effects, and I'm just going to be quickly looking over it, and adding texture, which I will be showing you my methods to add texture and grain and stuff like that. Flag animation method one, two, and three, and I added an extra lesson for method three, where we are going to focus on animating the little guy, and then, to finish things off, the way to export things for different social medias, like Instagram or Twitter, Tumblr, stuff like that. So now that we got this out of the way, we can start illustrating an animated [inaudible]. 3. Illustration In After Effects: We're now ready to start illustrating. I'm going to do everything in After Effects. If you're not already in illustrator, I want to do everything in Illustrator, that's fine. We're first going to focus on method one. Create a new composition, 180 by 180. For this I only have two tips, go to view, show grid, view again, snap to grid. This will make sure that you actually are very precise in your drawing. Let's import the color palette that we'll be providing you, and let's start drawing our shapes. I'm just going to go very quickly about how I illustrate this so you can stop the video and have a look if you don't understand. An important thing is to make a new composition for the flag. You have only the flag in this empty competition. Then start drawing any shape you want that you can add text, logos or anything that you might want. I will be doing this for two more flag shapes. That could be flag shape two and three. You can just duplicate the comps, and change the designs. Once you're done illustrating on the flags, you will go again to the main comp and resize the flag comps, and position them accordingly. This is the illustration for the second method. Again, following the same principle, new comp and you can just start drawing your stick. Again, you design anything you want, as long as you have a comp just for the flag. What I'm actually designing here, it's not going to make it to the final cut, I'm just leaving it here because I decided to draw a mountain. You'll see that in the next lesson. For method three, it's going to be a little bit different, because we're not going to have a main comp for our flag. It's going to be more of a frame-by-frame technique. But you will see that later in the animation part. An important thing that you should do is draw the flag. In this method three [inaudible] to change it quite a bit when we're animating it. So just make sure that you have some [inaudible] otherwise you can add them later. Now I'm going to draw the little guy, draw the eyes, eyebrows, and then refresh your features, might want. Once you're done doing one side, you should select them on, duplicate, create a new null object, and parent the duplicated layers to the null object, and then scale it negative 100. Now we can go ahead and reposition those features. I will re-scale the phase two. I'm just drawing a hand. Once I'm done, I'm just going to duplicate and scale it negatively. This is all for the illustration part. As you can see, I don't really have much to say for this, just use show and snap to grid for precise drawing. A very important thing is to put your flag in a empty comp, draw your flag bigger so you can resize it later in the main comp so you don't lose any quality, and use nulls to quickly flip features, this goes for facial features, or even background things you might have. Now we can go to the next lesson where we're going to focus on texturing. 4. Texturing In After Effects: Let's sample. It's time to add some texture to our illustrations. Just before we start with texturing for method one, I wanted to show you the two methods we're going to be using, Noise and Dancing Dissolve. Let's start by duplicating the green background and we'll make it to a darker color, select the pen tool and create tool mask. Mask the part of the shape you want to be darker we mask around where you want the shadow to be. Let's go ahead and add some feather by hitting "F" on the keyboard, and change the blending mode to Dancing Dissolve. Go ahead and adjust the mask, and here is all about playing with values. Once you're happy with it, duplicate it and change it to a darker color and play around. After [inaudible] duplicate it again. Apply some noise on this one, playing, sharpening this by a good amount of highlight. Set [inaudible] here I'm just fixing the stick to make it more round in order to add effect on the flag to duplicate the base comp and the field and make it a darker color. Such masking, certainly don't multiply blending mode and add a nice effect on it. Again, play with the mask to get the effect you want. Another way to add text to is to create separately in an empty comp using the solid method and then adjust drug it may comp and applies at [inaudible] , then you just do the same for left or right. Here we are going to see quickly how I did method two. I'm just going to stop later to show you how I did the distortion on clouds. You can see it's just a applying the same techniques. Select the preform for the clouds layer, create an adjustment layer and the play optic compensation. Adjust values and position of the clouds, or just copy the settings I have, and you're going to look at this [inaudible] effect. At this part I realize that I don't have the building anymore, so I quickly build a mountain and then just applying the same techniques, its shapes and then masking them. After I'm done with all the details of the mountain I'm just going to decompose it all so i can mask it all and make it look like a small part of this environment. Method three is just the same techniques that we've seen before. I have attached on the illustration on the texturing layers you can have and open them. If you find this part can be a-bit rush, we are going to mainly focus on the animation class, so its fine if I'm going a little bit fast now. This is the end of the extreme lesson. We've seen one of these, Just made sure that when you want to mask a shape layer, you have it set properly by having to create masks you have selected and to finish off, if you're using dancing [inaudible] and you also want to put it in the blending wall. You should recompose it and animate your texture in a separate column. The texturing part is over. The next part we're going to start animating. If you have any questions about the texturing methods I used, just let me know. See you in the next lesson. 5. Method 1: Flag Animation: In this Lesson 3, we are going to finally start animating using method 1. In this main comp about creating shapes or flags, then mainly going to focus on this first one because the other ones are going to be the same technique. Let's start by going into the composition of the flag shape one, I will resize it so that I have less space around, then create an adjustment layer on which I will apply a wave warp. Search for the effects and preset banner, as you can see our flag is already moving. However, every part of it is moving so we will need to fix that. In order to fix the left side of the flag, we need to align it to the left that and in the wave warp options on pinning, that's select left edge. That way where the flag is connected to the stick, it's going to keep still. As you can see our wave warp has a speed of one, that means it's going to repeat itself every second. Let's go ahead and make our site for one second. Make you think I'm on the keyboard you decide the end off through. If you change the wave speed to two, it means it's just going to cycle two times in the same second. Since we have aligned this flag on the left, we need to reposition it in the main comp. Go ahead and parent the texture flag to along the base shape, so you can move it all together. By holding shift you can make sure that it only moves in one axis and after you are done repositioning it just fix the mask of the textured layer. Now I'm just going to fix a little bit the wave width and height. It's about like what you like and the effect you want to give it, so feel free to play around with the values. I'm just going to bring the speed back to one because it was a little bit too fast and I don't think you can play golf with that wind. We are basically done with animation in this, we are going to apply the same effect for a flag two. I think next instructions would be more than enough for the final part. I'll go ahead and speed this part up and once I am done with it I will take you above one finishing touch. Now that we have all the flags animated,one last touch that I usually like to add is the posterize time effect. Go ahead and make a new adjustment layer and on this adjustment layer apply the posterize time effect. By setting the frame rate to 12.5 our animation's just going to hold every two frames since our base frame rate is 25. This effect gives us a traditional animation feeling to our animation just as an example, you can play around with shapes, change the logo and your design. Once you have your adjustment layer with the wave warp properly animated it will just accept every design you may think of. We're done with method one, now it's time for the recap of the things we have seen in this lesson. Have your flag in an empty Comp. Add everything to the base shape, align it to the left side and pin the wave warp to the left. Play around with the height and width of your wave warp, those are both influenced by the size of your flag and the size of the Comp. The speed that works best, the faster it is, the more wind there is. Then to finish off apply posterize on everything because it just makes the animations better. See you in the next lesson where we would normally use, again the wave warp, but in a different way to give it more of a geometrical feeling. 6. Method 2: Flag Animation: We are now going to start animating using method two. It will be a similar technique to the first one, but slightly more difficult. Let's go in our flag comp, resize it again to 500 by 500, and align it to the left. Let's create our adjustment layer where we would apply the wave warp. In wave type, choose Sawtooth. After that, we're going to play a little bit with the settings. Wave height, wave width. Make sure you align it to the left edge, fix a little bit of the wave width. You can start to see the movement it's going to do. The direction is going to be quite important on this one. If you want to make sure it's exactly the same as mine, make sure you have a good angle on this. Look at the top corner so you get a good line there. 62 is looking quite good. The size of the comp really impacts how the wave is applied. If you want to scale it, you need to scale everything. That really means every menu like wave height, wave width, and the illustration, too. Now, in our domain comp, let's apply a new adjustment layer where we're going to put going to put the posterize to give it that nice animation feeling. Again, set it on 12.5 so it moves every two frames. If you can't really see much now, we will start seeing really the flag popping out when we add the shading. Start by precomposing all these animation inside the flag comp or just the animated flag is fine. On top of this, we're gong to start creating our shading layer. When you draw this, try to follow then all that we created, the 62 degrees comp. Create the Preserve Transparency box so you can see it only on the flag, and just keep going every ten frames so you can move around and fix it. Then, maybe you need to come back to the beginning because we didn't really get the angle right the first time. Just go through it, and go every 20 frames, every 10 frames, and move it around. Towards the end, you will need maybe to fix the width part as you can see here. Here, you can move every two frames so you get it right. It's just about moving every two frames and seeing that everything worked. Once you've finished one cycle, you just duplicate the layer and offset it, make sure that it matches. If it doesn't, just go and fix it. If it does, just duplicate again and offset it. If you see any imperfections, you can just go every two frames and fix them. The only thing we're missing is the initial shadow as it just comes out so fix that. Once you're done with that, just select all the shadow layers and lower their opacity. If we have a look at it, we will have that folding effect. Then, we can move on to the underneath part of the flag. It's similar to the shadow, but it will just have a different shape. These would require a little bit more time, so make sure you just do every two frames and match the corners and the angled one. As our flag starts moving up, you can go a little bit faster. Then, you'll go in between and fix the frames that don't really match it. Towards the end of the flag starts raising, go every two frames and follow the motion that we have, thanks to the wave warp, and go on for two, three more frames and create the unfold. If the animation works, you should just duplicate the layer and start off [inaudible] it, see where it matches, and then, fix where it needs fixing. This one actually needs quite a lot of fixing. Similar to the shadow part, we need to fix the beginning of this underneath part. Let's head back and create this initial creation of the underneath part as it starts to fold. Once you put that in, you're basically done. This is the final animation. Everything else that I'm adding now is just extra stuff, some styling, but you've already seen that in the extreme part. Make sure to fix the flag mask so it actually has an impact on all of it. Once we're done stylizing it, let's head back to the main comp. Now, it's time to look at our flag animation. Go to Time, Enable Time Remapping. On frame 24, set the key frame, delete the last one and apply the loop out expression. Make sure that it's exactly like this, without the air caps, and copy every amount to the other comps. Once I have done this, I'll just animate slightly the mountain, move in the positions. We have an entrance of this flag. They did the same thing on the clouds. What's nice about this method again, is that you can completely customize it, the shape, the length, everything. You can even add a logo on it, whatever you want. To finish it off, I just slightly fix the animation on those clouds, and then, nicely open up as we're rising. We're now done with method two. Let's just have a quick recap. Again, the rules are the same. Have the flag in an empty Comp with the parent, everything gets aligned to the left, and just make sure that once you animated the flag, recompose it, and then, you want the shadow, the text, and the underneath part of the flag. Again, if you want to resize the flag and make it bigger, make sure that you actually make it twice the size if you duplicate everything by two. The wave width, the height, and then, for the shadow layers and the back, you're just pairing them to a node and scale it to 100%. Make sure it's aligned. If you have any questions about this, let me know. I will now see you in the next lesson, which was going to be our last method. It's going to be quite fun. See you there. 7. Method 3: Flag Animation: We can start now animating using Method 3, we will just move the anchor point down from the stick. Just move it down. Rap about this its right. We need to decide the length of our cycle. In this case it's going to be 28 frames. Just go to frame 28 and hit N key. Let's start adding keyframes to our rotation. In order to make a cycle the initial rotation is to be the same as the final one. In this case, the rotation is going to go from 34 degrees to minus 34. Just make sure that you start and end with the same degree of rotation. It's easy as those keyframes might right-click Keyframe Assistant and Esc or you just can hit F9 and select all the keyframes and copy them over, so we will be able to offset them later. Now let's look at the graph editor and edit a little bit the handles, just so it never comes to a full stop. It's always slightly rotating. Once you're done working on the keyframe, you can just copy it over to the other ones. With the layer selected, hit B to get to the position, right-click separate dimensions. Let's animate the flag moving on the x-axis from right to left. The same concept applies to the position, to the initial position needs to be the same as the final one, so in the mean time it will be different on the opposite direction and then just copy it over. We'll be able to offset it again. Again, easy is it. Then edit a little bit the key frames,so we don't get that annoying stop. Once you're done editing it, just copy it over to the other. We can now go ahead and not there and the adjustment layer for the poster riser. We'll need to take care of only every two frames to the actual animation and the value of 12.5, or make sure that we are actually having movement every two frames. We need to cut this double flag now. Let's go ahead and choose the green part of the flag. Go around the middle. Come and shift B, to cut it and lets bring the yellow in, perfect. We already have some flipping here, we'll just need to make it much better. Before doing that though,we need to make sure that our stick movement is the final one because the flag is going to follow. Let's just offset slightly the rotation. We can move on once we get a satisfying result. Go ahead and search for the echo effect in the effects and preset. The exact value of the echo time should be 0.08 minus. It will give us an Onion Skin off every two frames. As you can see, we're starting to have our arc. That would remain later in our flag animation. Just start drawing with the stroke dark that the echo effect is describing. Make it an equal all you want just as long as you have it as the reference. We can start using this for our actual flag shape. We will now be editing it every two frames and just as a reference and putting it every two frames. Edit the handouts, just so it follows the arc. We will need to transform those keyframes into hold. Right click and hold keyframes. Just copy the one, you just edited to the next one so you get an easier way of editing it. Let's just make it a stroke for now so we can better see what we're doing because we're going to copy the echo effect from the stick for our flag. That way we are going to get the bottom patch, right, as you can see now it's not properly following the arc. Thanks to this Onion Skin, we will be able to properly do it and we keep going like this until you get this satisfying arc, i mean on that proper final flip. Now we got to the tricky point where the flip starts to happen. Let's start shrinking our green flag, which has now the black outline. It starts going in and turn. For now just make it smaller in this way and we will now use the yellow part to properly guide us. Keyframe the path of the yellow part to unfold it. Let's move to frame 20 when the yellow flag completely unfolds and edit its frame following the arc. We can move back to the middle of our animation and properly complete this font. The yellow one starts popping in. This, it would be the flapped sitting above the stick. The green one will sit behind it. The green one is just following the yellow movement. Here I just noticed that the flag should flip two frames later because that's when the stick starts changing direction. I'm just offsetting it by blue frames and the green one should be offset it too. Just copy the previous keyframe when it's still at its full length. We can't get back to editing our flag shape. Focus on the yellow unfolding. We'll need to extend the green one, which is now the black stroke. Just extend it accordingly and make it follow. The yellow gets shorter as it unfolds. Let's add one more folding keyframe. This one will be more subtle and since we're done with the green part of the flag we can change its color back to a solid, which is red because I apparently got bored of the green color. Just tweaking it, and let's see how it looks. The flip works. Lets just keep editing the yellow one, and add the same echo effect to it to make sure that it keeps following the arch and just keep doing the same thing we've done with the first part it's just more of the same. The only difference now, would be that the yellow flips from the front. Let the back part now guide the yellow and create that nice folding. Just edit it following the arch as accurately as possible and just more of the same until it completely falls back into the red. I think you grasped the concept here. It's just about making the folding and following it with the other flag layer. Then let's just add this little detail that will make feel smoother. It will be very soft but we will still notice it. We can now have a look at how this is looking. It's working nicely. Since our red flag is supposed to be under the stick, just move it under. We have the yellow being in front and the red being behind the stick. We are done with the flag. Then our next lesson we will add some life to the little guy. Here's more or less everything we've covered in this lesson. Just to make sure to first animate the stick and then just follow with the path the animation you did and with your echo you get your arc and pay attention to when the flip happens, which is as soon as the flag starts moving in the opposite direction. See you in the next lesson, which is going to be our last. 8. Method 3: Character Animation: Well, here we are, our final lesson. We're going to animate the character. It's not going to be anything too complicated, so let's start by making sure that our eyes are parented to the body and everything is parented to the eyes. If we move the body, everything moves. Let's start key framing the position of the eyes. They will sit in the middle of frames zero, 14, and 28, and in the middle of those frames, they're going to turn left and right. Let's start moving them, and the opposite eye will moves a little bit more to give it depth, and do the same thing for the other eye. Once we've got our position, let's easy ease the sides, so we get this nice face tone. Copy the loop on both eyes and select the Lucky frames, and let's start offsetting them so they follow the flag, but with a slight delay. Now we are going to make the body jump of the offsetting eyes, so go ahead and select the texture layer of the body two, and parent it to the main body. We're ready to animate the position of the body. Setting for the eyes, it's going to hit the ground on frames in zero, 14 and 28, and on frame seven and 21, it's going to move up. Select move up positions and easy ease them. We'll get some easing but I'd like some more so select the keyframe, hit Command shift K on the keyboard, and edit the influence to 66, and just copy the first keyframe to the second jump. Copy the keyframe position, copy all of it, and we'll paste it to this Null Object we're creating right now. Parent the stick layer to the Null. Paste the position of the body and offset it slightly so the hands will follow the body jumping, and we'll get that nice Null 2 that will give a little bit more life to the animation itself. As you can see that when we play it the hands will follow, with a little bit of delay the jump. Let's go ahead and create the new composition where we'll animate the mouth, we animate the lips, make it smaller in comparison to bezier. I'm going fast here. You can pause the video and just see how I added this little extra detail. But it's just for animating the mouth, getting some random mouth positions, and once I got a few of them, I just copy them. Now I'll go back to the main composition and run the mouthing, parent it to one of the eyes layer. In this case, it's IPG, and just at the center of the mouth in the middle of the eyes. Maybe it will need some positional animating, but in this case in [inaudible] and just stylize it as we've previously seen, how to do it. Now create a new null object, and move it on the bottom when the body is sitting. Duplicate the body and parent it to the Null, and scale it negatively, so we get the shadow. Then just stylize the shadow by adding some motion blur, some noise [inaudible]. Make it as small as you want. It's just something that feeling that is sitting on something, and we are done. This is only the character, I hope you enjoyed animating it. For this part, just make sure that all your features are parent to the body. If you want to make this rotation just animate the eyes going left and right, and offset that position so it follows the flag. You can use Command Shift K on keyframes to give exactly the easing you want if you don't have plug-ins to do that. That's about it. I'll see you in the next and final video where I say my good byes. See you. 9. Export Your Work: GIF or MP4: Now, that we're done animating, it's time to export our work. We first can export an MP4. It can be for Instagram or anything else where you want to publish a video. The way it's done is, go to Composition and add it to Adobe Media Encoder Queue. Once Adobe Media Encoder opens, you can choose H264, Match Source. High bitrate, it's fine. Choose the destination where you want to save your file. After you've done so, you just hit the big play button, and we are done. As long as the export is under 30 megabyte, you will be fine compression wise Now, we will see how to export the GIF for dribbble or posterior ascription. I'm now just resizing my comp because, I don't want its square root. So 800 by 600 and I will re-scale my main comp. So, 64 it's fine for me. I'm just creating a new solid to have the background continue, and that would make the same color. Since our cycle is 27 frames, that would just hit the mark. Now, we're ready to export. The easiest way to export GIFs from our [inaudible] at CSS by using GifGun, but that has a cost. You basically just make a GIF and it's going to export it. If you don't have [inaudible] , or just found export of the same complex and MP4, and then exporting from Photoshop as a MP4. Go ahead and export it on MP4, and open Photoshop and you are just going to File, Open, and import all your [inaudible]. Once you have imported your file, you just go to File, Exports, Save For Web(Legacy). The settings should be like this. Make sure looping is set forever and just hit the "Save" button. Then you choose where you want to save it, and then rename it. Hit again "Save", and it's basically done. Using Media Encoder is quite easy, and as long as you use the H264 format, it should keep your file sizes relatively small. That's it. I can't wait to see what you've done and then see you in the final interval to get some advice. 10. Final Thoughts: This is the end of our course. I hope you had fun and learned something new. I'm excited to see what you would be making. Upload your project in the class section. I will answer to any eventual questions you might have. If you are interested in learning more, you can leave a comment with some suggestions of things you might want to learn. See you around and I hope you will be here for my next class. [MUSIC]