The Write On Technique: Hand Lettering In Motion | Jake Bartlett | Skillshare

The Write On Technique: Hand Lettering In Motion

Jake Bartlett, Motion Designer

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15 Lessons (1h 52m)
    • 1. Trailer

      0:57
    • 2. Class Project

      1:02
    • 3. Bringing In Vector Paths

      5:02
    • 4. Trim Paths Overview

      7:45
    • 5. Write On With Artwork

      12:05
    • 6. More Options & Cleanup

      5:50
    • 7. Get Creative

      13:07
    • 8. Time It Out

      11:44
    • 9. Work In Layers

      6:01
    • 10. Adding Paralax With A 3D Camera

      4:20
    • 11. Adding Texture

      11:41
    • 12. Building a Tapered Stroke

      25:05
    • 13. Exporting a Video

      3:46
    • 14. Exporting a GIF

      3:04
    • 15. Thank You!

      0:51
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About This Class

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What better way to animate your lettering than by making it appear to be written? This course will teach you how to do just that!

Part of my Hand Lettering In Motion series, this course will teach you how to bring your hand lettering from Photoshop or Illustrator to After Effects. Then we'll explore many different ways of using the Write On technique to bring your lettering to life. You'd be surprised at how many differnt way you can use this technique! And it can be applied to any text, not just hand lettering.

This class is for anyone. Whether you’re a pro After Effects user or just started playing around with the program, you’ll learn everything you need to know to achieve this effect. If you've never used After Effects before, check out one of my beginner's classes first: Hand Lettering in Motion - The Beginner's Guide to Animating Custom GIFs.

I can't wait to see what you create!

Transcripts

1. Trailer: Hey, I'm Jake Bartlett and in this class I'm going to teach you how to create a write-on effect for your hand lettering. We'll go over lots of different ways to animate and style your lettering in unique and customizable ways. For the class project, you'll be lettering your favorite city or state name and animating it using the write-on technique. Along the way, I'll show you workflow tips and tricks and keyboard shortcuts I've learned from years of using After Effects. This class is for anyone, whether you've been using After Effects professionally for years or just started playing around with the program, you'll be able to easily follow along. If you've never used After Effects before, check out one of my beginner's classes, like Hand Lettering In Motion for The Beginners Guide to Animating Custom GIFs first. As a bonus, I'll be sharing a method I've personally developed for creating customizable, animatable, and reusable tapered strokes inside of After Effects. Get ready. This is going to be a fun one. I'll see you in class. 2. Class Project: For the class project, you'll be applying the write on technique to your own hand lettering. The theme for this class is your favorite city or state. For my sample project, I picked my home state, which is Michigan. If you'd rather hand letter or something else, or you already have hand lettering that you'd like to use, by all means, go ahead. What I'll be teaching you in this class is how to take existing hand lettering and apply the write on effect to it. The important thing is that you have hand lettering to work with. Once you have your favorite city or state picked out, create a project and let me know what you'd be working with. Then once you have your hand lettering completed, post an update to the project page so I can see what you'll be animating and if you'll be using different hand lettering, go ahead and post that to your project page as well. Now you can be super creative with the write on. It doesn't have to just be a single line animating on your text. As you watch through the lessons, you'll see that there are so many ways that you can be creative with the way that your text writes on. I would encourage you to watch through all the lessons before you decide how you want to animate your text. As always, don't hesitate to ask questions on the ask me anything thread or on your own project page. I know these projects are going to look awesome and I can't wait to see what you create. Let's get started. 3. Bringing In Vector Paths: Let's dive right in. I'm going to start with the title of the class as our first example. This method uses the Trim Paths operator within a shape layer, and it's the basis for everything we'll be doing in this class. Now this specific example works on its own for lettering that has a single width created in Illustrator. Let's jump into Illustrator and I'll show you what I mean by that. Here I have the awesome hand lettering that my wife made for me inside of Illustrator. I took the sketch that she did on paper and then traced it in Illustrator with the pen tool. If I switch to my outline mode, you can see that this text is a path with a stroke applied. The width of the line is consistent. If I were to select this lettering, I could increase or decrease the size of the stroke to adjust how thick it is. The reason I decided to do this inside of Illustrator instead of After Effects is because I just like the control that the pen tool has inside of Illustrator better than what's in After Effects. I'm more comfortable in this piece of software for doing tracing like this. But ultimately, I need to get these paths into After Effects. What's the best way to do that? Well, we could pull the Illustrator file into After Effects and then convert the artwork into shape layers, but that will separate each one of these segments out into its own group, and we'll have to do some extra steps to clean up our artwork before we can actually animate it. In my opinion, there's actually a better way. Let's jump over into After Effects. I've already set up a comp that has a background for my title. If I were to make a new solid layer by going to Layer, New, Solid, making sure it's the size of the comp, doesn't matter what color it is, press "Okay". Then we can come back into Illustrator, select my text, copy it by pressing Command C or Control C on a PC, coming back into After Effects and with my solid selected, paste by pressing Command V or Control V on a PC, and those paths are pasted straight under that layer. If I press M to bring up the masks for that layer, you can see that we have four mask paths, and they're all colored the same way that they're showing up here on the comp viewer. This is just a demonstration to show you that we can copy and paste paths from Illustrator to After Effects very easily. Now we don't want mask paths, we want shape layer paths. I'm going to go ahead and delete this solid, and I'm going to go up to Layer, New, Shape Layer. Now that creates an empty shape layer and if I were to paste those paths on top of that layer right now, it would again paste them as masks, and that's not what we want. So undo by pressing Command or Control Z, and then I'll open up the contents. Then make sure that I have my layer switch is enabled down in the bottom left corner. Then I'll come up to the add drop-down menu and come up to Path. Now in my contents, I have a path. If you remember when we pasted, we had four separate masks, and that means I have four separate paths from my original artwork. So I need to make sure I have four paths inside the contents of my shape layer before I paste. So I'll duplicate this path by pressing Command D or Control D on a PC, until they have four paths. Then I will expand all four of these paths, then click on this Path, hold Command or Control on a PC, and click on the next path, and do the same for the third and fourth paths. Now with all four of those paths targeted, I can paste those same paths we had from the Illustrator artwork, and now the paths are showing up inside of our shape layer, and you can see that the paths colors are no longer different. They're all the same color as our shape layer, which is telling us that we don't have any masks on our layer, which is exactly what we want. Since all my paths are still selected, I'm going to go ahead and group them by pressing Command or Control G on the keyboard. Then I'll press "Enter" to rename this group paths. Right now, we just have empty paths with no styling on them. So if I deselect, you see it disappears again. Even though the shape layer is still there and our paths are contained within that shape layer, we need to add a stroke to this path in order to see it. So I'm going to come to this add drop-down again and go up to stroke. Right away you can see that now our paths have an outline, but it's a bit thinner than I want, so I'm going to jump back into Illustrator so we can see what stroke width we had inside of here. Looks like we had it set to 10. If I come back in After Effects, I can come up to the toolbar at the top here and change my stroke from two pixels to 10 pixels. Now my stroke is the same width as it was in Illustrator. But if I zoom in here, you can see that we have these pointy corners and some flat caps. But in Illustrator, we had round caps and round joins. If I come back into After Effects and open up my stroke properties, I can change the line cap from butt cap to round camp, and that makes our ends round, and I can change the line join from miter join to round join. That gets rid of the pointed corners. Now our text looks the same as it did in Illustrator. I'm fine with the stroke being white, but if you want to change the color, you can just come up here to the top toolbar and change the color to whatever you'd like. I'm going to undo that. Now that my paths are inside of After Effects, I don't really need to see them anymore. The stroke itself is enough, so I don't need this blue overlay on top of my text. To get rid of that, I'm just going to come down to this button right here, which is Toggle Mask and Shape Path Visibility and click on it. You can see that that got rid of the overlay of the paths on top of my lettering, and that'll just make it easier for me to be able to see what I'm doing. 4. Trim Paths Overview: Now that we've got our artwork inside After Effects, how do we animate it? Well, I'm going to open up my shape layer again, and I'm going to come to the add drop down one more time, and now I'm going to come to this trim paths operator. I'll click on that, and you see that that adds the trim paths into our contents. If I open that up, we see that the trim paths has some controls. We have a start value, an end value, an offset value, and then some options for how to handle the paths. If I click and drag on the end value, which is set to 100 percent, you can see what's happening. My paths are being trimmed based on the percentage of the end value starting at the end of each path. Right now you can see that each path segment is being trimmed at the same time. If I was to adjust the start value, you can see that it's being trimmed from the opposite end. If you think about it, when I was in the Illustrator, I traced these letters in the same order that they would have been written. So I started at this part of the w and worked my way to the right. Then I started at the top of the t, and then at the e, then the o, and then I was done. That's why if I adjust the end value, everything starts at the left and moves to the right. If I were to have traced the w, r, and the i in the opposite order, After Effects would have taken that order into account and would have started at the end of this set of letters and worked its way to the front. So keep that in mind whenever you're tracing any lettering. If you want it to appear to be written on in-order, then make sure that you trace everything in order. Now what if I don't want all the paths to be trimmed at the same time? Well, that's what the trim multiple shapes property is for. Right now it's set to simultaneously, but if I change that to individually and then adjust my end value, you can see that now it's being trimmed in order, from start to finish, one at a time. That's what I want for this piece. I'm going to go ahead and set some keyframes because I want this to animate in order from left to right. I need to keyframe the end value. I'll start by setting the end value to zero and clicking on the stopwatch to add a keyframe. Then I'll move forward a second and change the value to 100 percent. Now if I preview this animation by setting my work area to contain the two keyframes and then way RAM previewing, you can see that we've already got the basic write on effects down. Let me slow this down just a little bit more and preview again. I think that timing is a little bit nicer. Now because these are keyframes, we can ease them just like anything else to give the animation a little bit more personality. So with both my keyframes selected, I'll right-click on them and go to Keyframe Assistant, Easy Ease. If I RAM preview that, now you'll see that the trim paths eases into the animation and eases out. If I were to go into my graph editor and select the End property, I could exaggerate the speed curve to ease it even more. I'm going to come back out of my graph editor and I want to show you something about the ordering of my pants. Now like I said before, I traced these letters in the order that they would be written. So when I copied and pasted them from Illustrator, they were automatically pasted in the order that I wanted. I'm going to turn my path visibility back on so you can see what I'm selecting here. Path 1 was the first section, path 2 was that t, 3 was the e, and 4 was the o and n. Now since our trim paths is set to trim the multiple shapes individually, it trims them in order from one through four. But what happens if I change the order and I swap four and one, then I RAM preview? Well, now it starts with path 4, which is on, and ends with the w, r, i. This is why the path ordering matters. If you traced your artwork in a different order, that's fine, but you'll have to do some reordering if you want the trim paths to behave the way that it would if you were actually writing this out. So I'll switch this order back to the way that it's supposed to be, and now we've got our paths back in order. I'm going to go ahead and get rid of my keyframes just for a minute to demonstrate something else. Let's say in Illustrator, when I traced on, I didn't start with the o, I started at the end with the n. In that case, when I animate the end value of the trim paths, it would've been written on in the reverse order that it should have been. Well, if I come back up to my paths, you see these little icons next to each path. Right now they're all set to the first value. But if I highlight over the second value, you see that it's called the Reverse Paths Direction. If I turn that on for path 4, which is my own n, and then adjust my trim paths, you see that now it's writing on in the opposite direction. It's starting at the end of the path and working its way to the front. How do I traced this backwards in Illustrator? All I would have to do is reverse the path direction to get it to line up correctly inside of After Effects. I didn't need to do that, but it might be something that you run into. So be aware of how to control your paths directions. Now I'm going to set my end value down to something like five percent. So we've just got a segment of our path showing up. The offset value will take whatever percentage of your path that's being shown and offset it throughout the path of your shape layer. I'm going to turn off my path visibility again, and I'm going to adjust this offset value. Now you could see that we have this line traveling through our path. You'll notice that once we got to the end, it automatically loops around back to the beginning. Once the value gets past 360 degrees, it just adds a one before that value. I could keep doing this as many times as I wanted. You can also go on a negative direction too. If I set this back to zero, we go backwards instead of forwards. I could increase my end value so that it's a longer segment that's traveling throughout the entire path, or make it very small so that it's just a little blip. For your basic write on effect, you don't really need to use the offset value. But a little later on, it'll come in handy with some of the more advanced techniques. I'm going to set that back to zero and change this back to 100. Now another great reason for using shape layers inside of After Effects to do a write on, is that because it's a shape layer, I have full access to all of the special operators and styling that they allow me to do. If I went into my stroke, I could add some dashes, increase the gap size, and now my lettering is dashed. Again, I could add some keyframes to get some animation of this write on, come into the graph editor, ease the keyframes, and then increase the ease just a little bit. Now I've got a dashed line right on. I'll take those dashes off. Let's say I wanted to add a little bit of texture to this line. Well, I collapse everything down, and then I can come up to my Add menu again, and add a Wiggle Paths. Then I'll open that up, change it from corner to smooth, maybe decrease the size just a little bit, increase the detail and that size down a little bit more, and now you see that we have a rough edge on our text. I forgot to turn off my wiggles per second so that it stays static. So I'll turn that down to zero, and then I'll preview that. Now you can see that we have a little bit of a textured edge on our stroke. It really opens up a lot of possibilities when you have access to all these shape operators to mess with your lettering. But for this class, we're going to be using the trim paths operator to control our write on effect for every example. Now if this is all I wanted my write on to be, I would be finished at this point. But what if your hand lettering isn't single width and it's not even vector? Well, that's what we're going to take a look at in our next example. 5. Write On With Artwork: For this next example, I'm going to be using this piece of artwork. If we zoom in a little bit, you can see that my wife used to textured brush inside of Photoshop. This isn't something that I can easily recreate with a vector path inside of Illustrator. To preserve that texture, I'm going to use the Photoshop file that she created inside of After Effects. Now, I've gone ahead and merged all of the lettering into a single layer, and then my background layer is separate. You don't have to do this, but it'll make things much easier to manage inside of After Effects if all of your lettering is on the same layer. I'm going to go ahead and bring this PSD into After Effects. I've made a folder for images, I'll right-click inside of it and go to "Import", "File", and then I will double-click on my Explore.psd. After Effects is going to ask me how I wanted to import this. I want the import kind to be set to composition-retain layer sizes. That's all I have to worry about. Then I'll press "Okay". You'll see that that creates a comp with the artwork and both layers in the same position that we had inside of Photoshop, and it gives me a folder that have both of those layers separated out. I'm going to move that Explore Layers folder into my images folder just to keep things organized. I'll move the Explore comp into my comps folder. Now, this composition is the size of my PSD. So if I open up the composition settings by pressing Command or Control, K on the keyboard, this will bring up my composition settings. You'll see that my comp size is much bigger than it needs to be. I'm going to lock my aspect ratio is 16:9, which is what I want, and change the width from 2,560 wide to 1,920. wide Because it's already a 16:9 ratio, my height automatically went to 1,080. I have a full HD comp now. My frame rate is set to 23.976. That's fine for what I want. Feel free to change that to 30 frames if you'd rather have smoother animation, that's totally up to you. Then I'll hit "Okay". You'll notice my artwork is now cropped. To fix this, I'm going to start by parenting my explore layer to the background layer by selecting it, making sure that I have my layer switches turned on, which is this little icon in the bottom left corner, and then grab the pick whip for that layer by clicking and dragging, and then hovering over the background layer and letting go. Now, wherever the Background layer goes, the explore layer goes with it. If I change the scale, it also scales with it. Now, I'll right-click on the background layer, go to "Transform", and say "Fit to Comp". That automatically scales the background layer to fit the comp and keeps the explore layer proportional to what it should be. Now, I'm going to select my explore layer, and I'm going to decompose it by pressing Command, Shift, C or Control, Shift, C on a PC. That will bring up the pre-compose window. I'm going to name this Explore WriteOn. In this case, I'll leave all attributes in explorer, and I'll press "Okay". If I click on my layer name, it will switch it to be the source name. Expand this out, you'll see that Explore WriteOn is the new name for that pre-comp. If I double-click on this, it opens up that comp and shows me the artwork which the comp is sized to. Now, what we need to do is trace this lettering using the pen tool. I will switch to the pen tool by pressing G on the keyboard, and I'm going to trace this in the order that it would be written on in, just like our first example. I'll start at the top with this E, and I'm actually going to come just a little bit past where the E starts and click there. Then I'll just start tracing with the pen tool. Right away, I notice that this path has a fill set to it. I'm not going to want to fill in this path, so I'm going to click up here on the fill options and disable it. I press "Okay". I'm going to make the width of my stroke much thicker so it covers pretty much the width of the lettering. Then I'll continue tracing where I left off. Now, the goal is to get this path to line up as perfectly as possible with the lettering, but I can go back and edit it after I've traced everything. So I'm just going to continue this path. I found that adding points where curves are in the path works pretty well for this kind of thing. That's the end of my first path. Now I'm going to pan around by holding the space bar and clicking and dragging in the comp viewer. Then I'll zoom in using my mouse wheel or the period key on the keyboard. Then I'll switch to my selection tool and adjust the path as needed. Now you can see right here that my stroke width is not quite wide enough to cover the entire thickness of this lettering. So I'm just going to increase the width until all of that white is no longer visible. Then I'll go through and make sure that everything is hidden by this path. That looks pretty good. I'll continue doing this tracing on the rest of the text, remembering that whatever order I do my tracing in is how the write-on will be ordered by default. Now, all of my lettering is traced and, obviously, it does not have the same effect because none of my brushstrokes are showing up. That's okay though, because what we're going to do is use this shape layer tracing as a matte to reveal the original artwork. Because it's a shape layer, we can use the trim paths to create the write-on, which reveals the artwork in the same way that our original example did. So I've just made sure that all of my lettering is covered up with this tracing, and what I'll do now is enable my transfer control pane by clicking on this second button down here. Now we have the track matte column showing up. If I change the track matte from none to Alpha Matte-Shape Layer 1, that's telling After Effects that we want this layer to use the layer directly above it as a matte for that layer. What that means is, whatever is opaque on this shape layer is what will be opaque on the explore layer. So if I were to change the opacity of the shape layer from 100-50, it's affecting the opacity of the explore layer, even though we haven't changed the opacity because the Alpha matte is taking the opacity of the layer directly above it into account. You'll notice that, when I selected that Alpha matte, it automatically disabled the layer directly above it, and we got these two little icons. That's because we don't want to be able to see that layer anymore, we just want to use its opacity to determine what's visible of the layer below it. Because our Alpha matte is a shape layer, if I open it up and go into the contents, you can see all the different paths that I traced to cover up the artwork. So let me start by organizing my shape layer a little bit. I'm going to click on the first shape group, Shift click on the last shape group, and then group them all by pressing Command, G or Control, G on the PC. I'll rename this, Paths. Then I'll come into my contents and add a trim paths, open up that trim paths, change it from simultaneously to individually, and then adjust the end value to see what happens. Well, that's not what I wanted, it's going from the back to the front. Why is that? It's because After Effects actually orders things oppositely of what Illustrator does when you're tracing them. It's really annoying, but it's something you have to deal with. So if I open up my paths, give myself a little bit more room, you see that one is actually at the bottom. Every time I added another path, it put it on top of the one previous to it. The other thing it did was made a separate shape group with its own path stroke and fill for each one of the paths. Now, that's fine for most cases, and it's probably just fine for this one, but I like to work extremely simplified. So instead of having a stroke and the fill for every single one of these shape groups, I want to put all of my paths into one group and then have a single stroke that styles all of those paths. To do that, I'm going to collapse this, give myself a little bit more room again, actually zoom out once. Then I'll switch to the pen tool so I can select a path, then I will hold down Command or Control to temporarily switch to the selection tool. I'll drag a box around all of my paths. Now, they are all selected. I'm going to cut them by pressing Command, X or Control, X on a PC. Now all my pads are gone. If I expand this up a little bit and open my shape group, you can see that none of these groups have paths in them anymore. That's okay, though. I'm going to get rid of the shapes 2 through 13, so I'm left with just one, which has a stroke and a fill. Since I know I don't need a fill, I'm going to go ahead and delete that as well. Then with shape 1 selected, I will paste by pressing Command, V or Control, V and a PC, and now we have all of our paths ordered one through 13 inside of our shape group. I'll rename this shape group by pressing Enter on the keyboard and naming it, Paths. Then I'm actually going to move my paths group out into my main contents, and I can get rid of group 1. Then I'll go into my paths group and I'm going to move with the stroke outside of the paths group into my contents as well. Now we have a group full of our paths, our stroke outside of it, which controls the width of the stroke for all of the paths at the same time. Now I can add a trim paths operator, just like we did before. If I change it from simultaneously to individually and then I just my end, unfortunately, these pads are still in the opposite order that they need to be in. So I'm going to expand this up a little bit again so that I have more room to work, and I'm just going to start reordering them by clicking and dragging the paths so that they reverse their order. As far as I know, there is no quicker way to do this. Unfortunately, it's just something you have to deal with. Now that my paths are reordered, our trim paths should behave in the way that I was hoping, and it looks like it is. That's great. Now, if I enable this layer again, you can see that our trim paths on our shape layer is behaving the same way that it was on our first example. The difference is we're now using that as an Alpha map for our artwork. So our brushstrokes and all the texture of original artwork is preserved and being revealed by that shape layer. Right now, the end of our line is flat. If I wanted to round that off, all I have to do is go into my stroke and change line cap from butt to round, and, that way, it's just not such a harsh edge. Let's go ahead and key frame the trim paths. I'll start it off at zero, move forward two or three seconds, and then set the end to 100. Then I'll set my work area by pressing N on the keyboard, and then run preview by pressing zero on the number pad. Now I've got a functioning write-on using artwork that was created inside of Photoshop. Just like before, I can select these two key frames and easy ease them, and maybe coming in my graph editor and exaggerate that curve a little bit more, run preview, and now we have a little bit more dynamic of an animation. Now something I just noticed was, at the very end, the exclamation mark is written a little bit differently than I wanted it to. This top part right here writes from the bottom up, and I'd rather have it go from the top down. So let's go into our paths, and I'm pretty sure that is path number 2. If I turn that on and off, you can see that that segment disappears. What I need to do is reverse the path direction for that path. I'll just click on that switch, and now you see that it flows from the top down instead of from the bottom up. If I run preview that, looks pretty good. If I wanted to, I could even enable the motion blur for the comp and for that shape layer. Now, as this animates along, you'll see that motion blur is being produced for that shape layer. Because we're using it as an Alpha matte for the artwork, it shows up on top of the original artwork as well. 6. More Options & Cleanup: That's great. I'm going to go ahead and turn the motion little back off, and let's take a look at a few more options. I'm going to open up the Contents, and change the Trim Multiple Shapes from Individually back to Simultaneously. I'm going to speed up our animation just a little bit, change my work area, and RAM Preview. Now each character is being written on at the same time. But what if I wanted to try something a little bit different? Say I didn't want the letters to start at the start and end at the end. Well, because I have a start and end value, I could change the first keyframe for the end value from zero percent to 50 percent so that the trim end starts in the middle of each character. I could change the start value to 50 percent as well, and set a keyframe. Now because both values are set to 50 percent, nothing is visible. If I animate the end value to 100 percent, it starts at 50, goes to 100, and it shows the second half of each letter. If I animate the start from 50 - 0, then it starts halfway and ends at the beginning. If I ease all of these keyframes, and RAM Preview, now my letters write on a little bit differently. Again, I'll go into my graph editor, just give this a little bit more personality by increasing the influence handles of the curve, and now my write on looks a little bit different. If I switch this from Simultaneously back to Individually, it starts at the center point of the entire artwork and works its way to the front and back. Let's RAM Preview that. You can see what that does. You have a whole lot of options to play around with using the Trim Paths operator from a shape layer. I think I'm going to set this back to writing on the way that it normally would. I'll set the start back to zero, the end to zero, and animate it to 100 percent. Then I'm going to add a little bit more time to that animation so it doesn't happen quite so quickly. I'm pretty happy with the way that looks. Let's go back out into our main composition that has our background artwork. But this might be a little hard for you to see. I'm just going to add a little drop shadow behind it. Now set my work area, and preview that. Now I have this hand lettering writing on over top of our original artwork. If I go back into my animation comp and enable that motion blur again, and then I'll RAM Preview again on my main comp, you can see what that looks like. Now there is a little bit of an issue that's going on at the beginning of this animation. If I zoom in on the E, you'll notice right here, between this frame and that frame, part of the letter is being revealed that we don't want to see it. If I go back into the write on comp and zoom in, the reason this is happening is because the stroke of our alpha matte layer is wider than it needs to be at that point. But because of the thickness of the stroke has to be consistent, we need it to be that thick in order to cover up the thickest parts of our artwork. To solve this issue, I'm going to have to mask off those areas by hand at the time that they're visible. To do that, I'm going to click on the "Explore" layer and then switch to the pen tool by pressing "G" on the keyboard, and then I'm going to draw a mask that follows the contour of this line. Just big enough so that I can cover that section, and then close the path. Then I'll press "M" to bring up the mask, and change it from add to subtract. Then I'll do the same thing for this bottom segment. Again changing the mask from add to subtract, and then zooming in a little bit and adjusting it until it fits just right. That looks pretty good. I'm going to set a keyframe on the Mask Path for both of these masks. Then I'll press "U" to collapse the layer and "U" one more time to bring up just the keyframes. Then with both of them selected, I'm going to hold "Option" plus "Command" and click on one of the keyframes, or "Alt" plus "Control" and click on one of the keyframes on a PC, that will convert my keyframes to hold keyframes. Now if you don't know what a hold keyframe is, it's a keyframe that does not change between other keyframes. If I were to go forward in time and move my mask paths, you'll see that another hold keyframe is generated. Between those two, nothing changes. The only time the mask changes is once it hits that next hold keyframe, and that's what I want for this situation. The very next frame is where I want these two paths to no longer be visible. I'm going to zoom in by pressing the plus key on the keyboard, and then grab the second two keyframes for both masks and drag it over to where my play head is. Now if I step through this animation one frame at a time by pressing the "Page Up" and Page Down" keys, you'll see that until that second keyframe, those two masks are hiding the part of the artwork that was revealed before. Then as soon as that path goes through that section, the masks are moved out of the way. If I preview this, you'll notice that we no longer see that segment of the E before we're supposed to. It's showing up a little bit on this X, a little bit on this R, but it happens so quickly on those letters that I don't know if it actually needs that much work. It's completely up to you to make those decisions. In this case, I think it goes by way too quick to worry about. Fixing that first one was probably a good idea, but the rest, I'm pretty sure we're okay with. Now if I come back out into my main comp and preview the animation, I've got a write on effect working on top of the original artwork created inside of Photoshop, with texture and brush strokes. 7. Get Creative: So with this next example, I'm going to take it a few steps further so we can do a little bit more of an advanced right on. This artwork has more words and it has a mixture of different types of lettering, it also has texture added to it and some accent marks here at the bottom. For this case, I decided to break up each word into its own layer so I can focus on one word at a time instead of after effects. I've also masked off this part of the background so that I can have it as a separate layer and play around with some 3D camera work inside of After Effects. That's completely bonus, you don't have to do it, but I'm going to show you how I did it. So I have my PSD all set up. Let's bring it into After Effects. So again, I'll go to my images folder and press "Command" or "Control I" to import, and then I will click on "my adventure PSD" and make sure that composition retain layer sizes are selected and press "Okay", and then I will drag that comp into my comps folder, open it up, and then again go to my composition settings by pressing "Command" or "Control K" on the keyboard. This time the aspect ratio is not already set to 16 by 9. Now there's nothing wrong with working at a different aspect ratio than film. So if you want your end result artwork to be a portrait instead of landscape, that's totally fine. After effects can work at whatever resolution you tell it to, and you can create or give it any resolution. Now, this composition is still way too large even if I was going to stay at a 2-3 ratio. I would want to drop this down to probably maximum of 800 pixels tall there's just going to end up being a GIF, or you could always work at twice that resolution just in case you ever want it bigger, and then scale it down once you go to export your GIF. For my purposes, I'm going to still want to work at 1,920 by 1,080. So I'm going to change my composition settings to be that 23.976 frame rate is fine for this one as well. So I'm going to leave that there. Press "Okay", and then I'll expand the Timeline panel up just a little bit so I have more room to see all my layers, and I'm going to clean this comp up a little bit. So right away we have this layer that's disabled, which is all of our artwork on one layer. I am not going to need that, so I'm going to go ahead and delete it. This layer zero copy is the mask off layer that I am going to be using to create some parallax. So I'm going to rename this, foreground. Then I'll select everything, but the background and parent it to the background. Then I'll click on the background layer, right-click, transform, fit to comp width. Now, if I were to say fit to comp, this is what happens. It stretches my image. This is because the original artwork is not set up to be as 16 by 9 aspect ratio, and fitting to comp scales you're layer to the comp regardless of what aspect ratio it is. So if I open up my scale, you see that we have 80 percent on the X and 30 percent on the Y, that's why it's squished. So instead, I'll right-click, go to transform, and say, fit to comp width, and that way it fits on the width of my comp. If I were to do fit to comp height, then we're going to get these black bars on the sides. I'll undo by pressing "Command Z" or "Control Z" and a PC, and now I'm seeing that my text is actually a little bit too big. So I'm going to select all of my text layers and change the parenting from the background to the word adventure. Then I'll select my adventure layer, and scale this down while holding shift on the keyboard to constrain the proportions, and I'm going to bring up my guides by pressing the apostrophe key on the keyboard to help me position this in the center of the comp. Think I can make this a little bit bigger, that's pretty good. I'll turn my guides off by pressing the apostrophe a key again, and now I want to select all of my text layers and decompose them by pressing "Command shift C" or "Control shift C" on a PC, and I'll rename this adventure right on, and then press "Okay". Now, I can go into that comp and see all of my texts layers on their own. This is where we'll generate are right on. So again, I'm going to trace each word one at a time using the pen tool, creating shape layers to cover up all of the artwork. Again, keep in mind that I'm doing this in the order that it's going to be written on. Now, because I have different words on different layers, I need to do a separate shape layer for each word. So this first shape layers for the word love. So I'll rename this love, Matte, and I'll put it directly above the love layer, and then I'll move on to the next word. All right, that was a bit of a process, but now all my text is traced, and I wanted to just quickly mentioned that. I'm going to separate these three accent marks into their own layers because I'm going to animate them a little bit differently from the text. So I'm going to rename this first one, accent mark one, and I'm going to mask it off and change the mask to reveal a center accent mark, then duplicated again, change the mask, and then I'm going to set the anchor point to the center of each one of these layers by selecting all three, and then holding "Option" "Command" and pressing "Home" or "Alt" "Control" "Home" on a PC. You see that that snapped my anchor point to the center of each one of those layers. Now I have all three of them separate, and I'll trace them really quick so we can do the right artifact for them as well. Now, I've got all of my artwork traced, and we can start animating using Trim paths. So the first thing I need to do is make all of the tracings Alpha matte for the artwork. So I'm quickly going to select all of my artwork layers by clicking on the label color for one of the artwork layers and saying select label group, that will automatically select every layer with that same color. Then I'll come over to the track man option for one of the artwork layers and change it from none to Alpha matte, and because I had already stacked all of my mattes directly above the artwork that they were part of, all of the alpha mats are behaving the way that they should and we can begin revealing the artwork using the trim paths. So I'm going to turn off my transfer control pains just to give myself a little bit more room, and we're going to start with the first word. So open up that Matte and look at the contents. You'll see that I have three groups for that word. Just like before, I want to put all of my paths into one group. So another way that I could do this is by opening up all the shape groups, and then clicking on the path of the third group, holding "Command" or "Control" on a PC and clicking on the path of the second group, and then just clicking and dragging them into the shape one and making sure that they go above the stroke. Then I can delete the other two groups, and get rid of the the fill for the group that's left. Now, I have all three paths plus one stroke inside of my Shape layer. I can collapse that group, click on my contents and add a trim paths, and then I'll open that trim paths up, set a key frame for the end value and move it forward maybe a second, and then change that value down to zero. Also change it from simultaneously to individually, and then just add an easy ease. Set my work area by pressing "N" on the keyboard and then ram preview by pressing "0" on the number pad. Alright, we have some paths out of order. Let's open up our shape group, and it looks like path 2 is actually the E and path 3 is the own V. I'm not sure how that happened, but all we have to do to fix it is rearrange that, and we ran preview and now it writes on in the right order. Now something else I want to do is change the cap type to round. So I'll go into my stroke properties and change the line cap to round cap, and I'll change my miter join to round join, and I'll press a "U" to bring up my key frames, run preview again, and I think that might go just a little bit too fast. So I'm going to bring that out just a little bit more and run preview. I like that speed, but if you notice right here, we've got a little bit of the L showing up that really shouldn't be. Now, I can try and correct this by adjusting my path a little bit, and then maybe turning down the stroke size just a hair. Now, the problem with doing this is that you'll notice as I'm getting rid of those two edges that are showing up, it's also thinning out the line width on the rest of my lettering. So it's up to you if this is the method you want to do to solve the problem of having paths that overlap, but most times, the amount that you lose is a little enough that it's often worth speeding up your workflow to lose a little bit of your artwork, but that's completely your call. If I ran preview this now, I'm happy with the way that looks, and we can move onto the next word. So I'll open up the is Matte, go into the contents, open up those two groups, and move this second groups path into the first group. Then I'll delete the second group, delete the fill out of the first group, and it looks like path 1 is the S. So I'm going to move that to the second slot, and now there should be ordered the right way, and now we can actually just copy and paste the trim paths from the previous letter. So I don't have to do extra work. Remember that wherever your play head is in the timeline is where the key frames are going to show up that you paste. So I'm going to go back to the beginning and paste there. Now, I have a trim paths with two key frames, and if I ran preview, looks like it was backwards on the order of those paths. So I'm going to go back and reverse that order, run preview. Now, the writing on the right order, but it's getting a little too slow. So I'm going to press U to bring up the key-frames, and I'm going to bring this second key-frame in quite a bit. Let's run review that, and I'm happy with that speed. I'm not going to worry about the timing of all these layers yet. We'll do that a little bit later. For now, let's move on to the next word. Coming again, now this one has five shapes. So to speed up the process, I'm going to select one of my anchor points, hold down command or control on a PC. Click and drag to select all of my paths, command X or control X on PC to cut, delete groups two through five, and then paste into the first shape group, open that up. Drag all those paths above the stroke, delete the fill, and then reverse the order of these paths. Now, I can copy and paste that trim paths again, and again I'll go back to the first frame to paste, and then I'll run preview, and that looks pretty good, but I think I'm going to make it just a little bit longer and adjust my work area so we just preview that part. Maybe that was a little bit too much. I'm basically just trying to match the speed of the word is. I think that's pretty close, and we can move on to the next word, and this one has a whole bunch of groups. So again, I'm going to do the quicker method of just selecting a point, dragging a box to select all of them and paths, cut, delete all but the first group, paste into that first group, move all those paths above the stroke. Get rid of the fill, and then reverse the order of my paths, and then I will copy the trim paths from the first word and paste it onto the adventure matte, show key-frames and just my work area, and then preview. That's pretty fast in the center area. So I'm going to drag this out a little bit, and then maybe adjust my speed curve. So it's actually less than what easy ease gave me. Let's preview again. Maybe increased that curve just a little bit, and then I'm also going to adjust the stroke so that it has around cap. I'm going to do that for the other two words as well. So I'll just open up the stroke, change it from back cap around cap, and now all of my strokes have round caps. Then I'll just add the trim paths to these three accent marks, and because each one of them only has one path, I don't have to do any clean up inside of the Shape Layer. So I'll just copy the trim paths from a different word, and then paste it on top of the map for each one of these accent marks all at the same time. Press "U" to bring up the key frames, and then run preview. I'm going to make that happen a little bit quicker and maybe increase the incoming velocity of the second key-frame, and let's run preview. Yeah, I like the way that looks. Now, let's just make sure that our stroke is set to round cap, and run preview the whole thing, and that's looking pretty good. 8. Time It Out: Now we can work on timing. Start by moving all of the layers except the first word forward in time. I'll click on the first layer, shift, click all the way down on the is layer, and then move them forward a good amount of time. I can focus on just the first word. I'll set my work area and run preview. I think I want the next word to come in right about here so that it doesn't take too long for this entire phrase to animate on. I'll select the next word and bring that back in time to right about there, and then I'll grab next word which comes up right after it and have it overlap just a little bit as well. Let's preview what that looks like. I like that timing so far, so let's move on to the next word. I'll probably have it start right about here. I'll grab the next word, drag it back and I bet I could even start that sooner. Let's see what that looks like. At this point, most of the ride on effect is happening on the word Adventure and that's pretty much what I would expect because it's the longest word in the entire phrase. What I actually want to do is overlap the animation of different characters within that word so that it doesn't take as long to write on. To do that, I need to go into the Adventure matte layer and I'm actually going to group some of these paths with their own trim paths. First I'm going to drag this trim paths layer just below the path 8 and paths 8, 9, and 10 are the A in Adventure. I'm going to select all of those plus the trim paths and group them together by pressing Command G or Control G on a PC, and then I'm going to rename this group, A. Now, the trim path is only affecting that layer. Now what I'd like to do is have both this path and that path animate out simultaneously and I think we can do that with a single trim paths. If I go into my trim paths and change the first keyframe for the end value to 50 percent and the first keyframe value for the start to 50 percent and then I go to the second keyframe, and animate the start down to zero and keep the end animating to 100, then I'll easy ease all the keyframes. If I scrub through, it's almost doing what I want. What I think I need to do is reverse the direction of the first path. I'll click on that and then preview. That's exactly what I wanted. Let's make this animation a bit quicker and then set my work areas, start by pressing B on the keyboard and then set the end work areas by pressing N on the keyboard and then run preview. Again, I'm just focusing on the letter A. That's pretty much exactly what I wanted. Let me just adjust the speed curve a little bit for both keyframe values and run preview again and I think that's great. Now I'm going to collapse that shape group and move on to the D. Now I can actually group that path on its own. I'll press Command G or Control G again, and rename this to D and then I'll add a trim paths to that group. I think I'm going to want it to start writing on right about here. Then I'll open up the trim paths, set the end to zero, set a keyframe, move forward in time, and I'll probably want the D to stop animating around the same time that the A does. I'll go to the same point in time that the A stops animating and change the value of the end to 100 percent. Then I'll easy ease them, go into my graph editor, and adjust the incoming velocity for the second keyframe to make it a little bit more exaggerated, then run preview and that's pretty good. I think maybe the animation should last a little bit longer. Let's preview that. Yeah, I like that speed. For the next group of letters, I'm going to want it to start animating right here, right when this part of the D is animated on where it joins with the V. I'm actually going to copy this trim paths. Go to the next path, group it by pressing Command G, renaming this ven, and then pasting the trim paths. It looks like you could actually start a couple of frames sooner. I'll open it up and get into the trim paths and bring the keyframes back probably just one frame and let's run a preview of that. Yeah, I'm liking that so far and you can see that this is just creating a little bit more of an overlapping effect. I'm going to bring that second keyframe in just a couple of frames so it ends a little bit quicker. Now let's move on to the T. Now the T is actually two different paths. I am going to group both of them together, and then I'm going to go to the point in time where I want the T to start animating, which is probably right here and I should have that trim path still copy to my clipboard. If I try pasting again, sure enough, it pasted the trim paths. If I run preview, let's see what that does. That's not bad, I actually like the motion that it has we're both lines are drawn on it at the same time. But I think it could happen a little bit quicker and a little bit sooner. Let's open up the trim paths, pull the keyframes back a couple of frames, and bring the second keyframe and a few frames. Preview that. I like that timing. Let's move on to the last three letters. Now these three letters are separated. I'm actually going to do each one of them individually so it can overlap each one of them. I'll group the first one name it u, group the second one, name it r, and group the third one and name it e. Then I'll go to the point in time that I want the u to start animating on. Probably right about there and then paste again, go to where I want the r to start, paste again and then go to where I want the e to start, paste again. Now all of these increments are completely estimated and I'm probably going to want to change the timing of all of them. Don't worry about the exact number of frames that I'm offsetting each one of these, it all needs finessing. The last three letters need to animate on a little bit quicker and I might want to adjust the speed of the graph editor a little bit. I'll press u to bring up all the keyframes for that layer and I know that the last three sets of keyframes are for those last three letters. I'm going to make them all animate on a little bit quicker and let's see what that looks like. I think I can overlap them even a little bit more. Preview that. Maybe that was a little bit too much. I'll move that back to the way that we had it and then maybe just have them animate on a little bit quicker and let's see what that looks like. That's good. Now I think I want to extend the T out a little bit longer so that it's still animating on, while the last three letters aren't animating on. I'm also going to pull back the first keyframe and the e just a couple of frames so it takes a little bit longer to animate and then this keyframe here should be for the t, so I'm going to bring that out to line up with the end of the e and let's see what that looks like. Let's back this work area up and see what everything is looking like so far. I like that. Let's move on to the accent marks. They can probably pop on right about there. I'll grab all those layers for the accent marks and shift the endpoint of all those layers to where my play head is by pressing the left bracket. Now they all start right at that point in time. Let's preview that. I think that's pretty good, but I want to add a little bit more motion to this instead of just having it up here, I'm also going to scale each accent mark up. Let's find the second keyframe for each one of these accent marks. Then I want to parent the matte to the original artwork layer for each accent mark. Now wherever the artwork goes, the matte will go with it. Then I want to reposition the anchor point to be right about here for each one of these accent marks. I'm going to zoom in, switch to the pan behind tools or anchor point tool by pressing Y on the keyboard, then I'm going to click and drag on my anchor point to reposition it right about there. I'll do the same thing for the other two accent marks. They all have roughly the same anchor point and then I will select all three of the artwork layers and set a scale keyframe by holding Option or Alt on a PC and pressing S. Then I'll go back up to the first frame of each layer and scale them down while holding Shift to constrain the proportions. We'll probably go right about there. Then I'll grab the second key frame from each layer easy ease by pressing F9 on the keyboard, go into the graph editor and then pull the incoming influence value of the second keyframes all the way to the left. Then I'll set my work area to just that portion and preview. That might be a little bit too quick. I'm going to pull them out just a few frames and then maybe bring up the keyframes for the actual alpha matte, pull those out as well maybe not quite as far and then I'm actually going to get rid of the easing on the first keyframe for each one of those trimmed path animations. To do that, I'll hold Command or Control on a PC and click on one of the key frames and that converts them back to linear. I think the trim paths keyframes actually need to last longer than the scale keyframes. I'm going to pull them out even further. That's looking better. Now, I'm going to go into the graph editor and just pull this handle all the way out to the left. Preview what that looks like and then maybe just bring them back in just a little bit. Yeah, I think that's it. Now let's adjust the timing of these animations a little bit. I'm going to stagger them so that they go in order from left to right. I'll select all the layers for the second tool, offset them by maybe two or three frames, deselect these two layers by command or control, clicking on them and then offset two or three more frames and then preview. Now our animation is little bit offset. I think three frames is probably too many, so I'm going to bring these each end by one frame and then zoom out so I can see all my artwork and then run preview the whole thing. I think that's great. I can probably just bring those accent marks in a little bit in time and then speed up everything just ahead. I'll select the second set of keyframes for each animated property and drag them back in time just a couple of frames and run preview. I think that timing is pretty spot on. Now again, it's completely up to you to determine what type of timing, animations, everything for your own artwork. This is just how I ended up animating mine, but the possibilities for what you could do with your lettering is pretty much endless. 9. Work In Layers: So now that we have this animated, let's go back into our main comp. I'll unpreview this so we can see it over our background image. So this is a perfectly decent write-on effect, and it's slightly different than the one that we did already. But how can we take it a step further? Well, one thing we could do is add a second stroke that's a different color, that appears before this stroke. To do that, I'm going to duplicate this precomp. So now I have two copies of our artwork animating on. If I offset this one by maybe one or two frames, and then come to the first one, I'm going to add a fill effect. That allows me to change the color of that layer. If I come up to the effect, I can change the color to whatever I want, and let's say I want it to be the yellow color of what's on the map. Well, I can pick the eyedropper, and then sample the color, and then I'll probably want to increase the saturation, make it a little brighter, and it looks a little green to me, so I'm going to make it a little more yellow. Press "Okay", and now let's preview the animation. Now you see that we have a trail leading out in front of this animation that's a different color than the final artwork, and these stacked layers of animation just adds another layer of depth to your write-on effect. But what if we wanted to take it one step further? Well, I'm going to come up into my project, and find that composition, Adventure WriteOn, and I'm going to duplicate it by pressing Command D or Control D on a PC, and then I'll rename it, Adventure WriteOn Dashed. Then I'll come into that comp, give myself some more room, collapse all of the layers by pressing U on the keyboard, and then open up the first words Matte. Then I'll go into the contents, into the shape, into the stroke, and then add a dash and a gap. I'm going to zoom in on this so we can see what's happening and turn off my mask path visibility. If I increase the gap size, and maybe turn down the stroke width, now we have a dashed line that's a little bit thinner than our original artwork. This still animates on the exact same way that our original write-on did. Now we can copy this stroke. Go into the next words, Matte, go to the Contents, find the stroke, select it, and then paste, and now all of the properties of that stroke are applied to this one as well, and I'll continue doing this for the rest of the words. So now I've got a dashed version of the entire write-on animation that I already had. You can see that we have a little something weird going on with the A, but don't worry about that for now, I'll come back to how we can fix that in just a minute. For now, let's go back out into our main comp, duplicate the second layer, which is the one with the yellow fill applied, and now we're going to replace it with our dashed comp. To do this, I'm going to have the layer selected that I want to replace, then I'll come up into the project, click and drag on the comp that I want, hold down Option or Alt on a PC, while dragging that layer over top of the selected one. Then I'll let go of the mouse, and those comps are swapped. Then I'll select the first and the third layers, and offset them by two frames by holding Option or Alt on a PC and pressing the page Down Key twice. Now if I run preview, you see that now I have a dashed yellow line followed by a solid yellow line, and then finally a white solid line. If I wanted to see that dashed line even more, I could offset these two layers a couple more frames, and now that dashed trail line leads a lot further. Now if you're using a dashed path animation and you're not having any issues, then you really don't need to do this next step. But let's say that you do have an issue like I do, or the dashed line is moving instead of just being revealed. This is happening because we animated both the start and end values for the A inside of the adventure words matte, and the start value determines where the dashes start on an After Effects shape layer. So if you're having this issue, I found the simplest thing to do is to first get rid of all of your animation. So just press "U" to bring up all of your key frames, and then I'm going to expand this panel by having my mouse hovered over it, and then pressing the Tilde key, which is directly below the Escape key on the keyboard, that little squiggly line. Then I'm going to click and drag a selection around all of my keyframes, and press "Delete". Then I'll press "U" to collapse all the layers, go to the first frame, select everything, and press the left bracket to snap the endpoints of all my layers to the playhead. Then I'll press the Tilde key one more time, to return to the normal panel view, and now I have a comp with all of my lettering as a desk stroke, no animation. Then I'll come back out into my main comp, give myself some more room to see. Now we have the entire dashed line artwork appearing the entire time. Just the same way that we used a shape layer as an Alpha matte, inside of these precomps, we could actually use this precomp as an alpha matte for the dashed artwork. So I'll make another duplicate of our original artwork, drag it down, shift it over to start at the same point as the dashed line comp, select the dashed line comp, and change the track matte to alpha matte. Now, if I solo this layer, you can see that that dashed line is now being written on just like it was before, and the reason this is happening, is because the layer we're using as an alpha matte, is our original artworks precomp, which has the animation built in already. So the dashed line is never moving, it's just being revealed in the exact same way as the other lettering is. Using this method is actually a little bit better, because however you change your animation inside of your main animated comp, it's going to affect the way that the dashed line is being animated on, because the dashed line precomp is using the animated precomp as its alpha matte. Now again, if you're using dashed lines and you don't run into any issues or you don't mind the dashed line moving, then by no means do you have to do this method. But now you know how to, if you ever run into that issue. 10. Adding Paralax With A 3D Camera: I'm really happy with the way that animation looks. Now let's play around with the little bit of parallax. Since I have this foreground background layer separation, I'm going to start by parenting all the lettering layers to the final artwork layer. Then I'm going to make everything a 3D layer by clicking and dragging down on the 3D layer switch for everything, then I'm going to add a new camera by going to Layer, New Camera. I'm going to set this camera to be preset 50 millimeters. Make sure that the depth of field is turned off. Press Okay. This is where I'd like the artwork to end. I'm going to move forward to maybe four seconds. Instead of position key frame by pressing Option P, while having the camera layer selected. Then I'll move back to the first frame, switch to my camera tool by pressing C on the keyboard, and continue pressing C to cycle through all of the tools options until I get to the track Z camera tool. If I click and drag on the composition, I can pull the camera back until it's about where I want it for this animation. I'm not sure if that was far enough or too far. So let's just preview and see what that looks like. Now I have a nice slow dolly on my artwork, and that's great. But, the problem is we can see past the background layer on both sides and we're getting these black bars. So what I need to do is offset the background layer in Z space as well as the foreground layer just a little bit, and then, increase the scale so that we don't see the edges of our comp. Let's start at the first frame of our composition. Grab our background layer, switch to the selection tool by pressing V on the keyboard, and then hovering over the blue handle where it says Z, then, click and drag to move it backwards. Something I forgot was that, the foreground was linked to the background. So I'm actually going to undo that, unpair the foreground from the background, and then push the background layer back in Z space. Now you see that the foreground layer is staying where it was. Once I get that back far enough, I'll click on one of the transform handles and hold shift to constraint proportions until it covers up all of the background. Now my foreground layer is too small and you can see a duplicate from the background layer behind it. So I need to scale that up as well. But first, I want to push it back in Z space a little bit. Now I'll click on the transform handle and hold shift until it's scaled up enough to cover up all of the background image and then pull it down, so you can't see anything behind it. Now if I run Preview, it's extremely subtle, probably too subtle, but there is now a little bit of parallax between the foreground, background, and text. I want to make this much more dramatic. So I'm going to push the background layer way further back in Z space. I'm going to open up the position property, and then click and drag on the Z value until it's around 2,000 pixels. In fact, I'm just going to type in 2,000. Then, I'll scale it up again. Then, I'll grab the foreground layer, press P to open up that position, and push that back to about 800 pixels. Then, I'll scale that up, reposition it, and then, run Preview. Now, it's just a little bit more noticeable. I definitely want it to be subtle because it is a subtle effect. But now you can tell that there's three different layers to my composition. The text is offset from the map, and the map is offset from the background. Just so you can have a much clearer idea of what's going on, I'm going to increase this even more. Now you can really tell that parallax between the three different layers. The text is way further away from the map than it was before, and the map is extremely far away from that background. Now, like I said before, I was going for a subtle effect. So I would never want to push it this far. But now you can get an idea of what I actually did. 11. Adding Texture: This example I've already animated similar to the way that I animated the last example. Each letter has its own frame paths and each character is offset by just a frame or two. I've also got these little dots bouncing up and down for their animation. I've already added a 3D camera and offset the text from the background. Now, what I want to do is add a second color that just appears at the tip of these letters, and also give it a bit of texture so that it looks like it's wet paint being brushed on. To do that, I want to precompose this write-on precomp. Now, I knew I was going to do multiple precomps, so I went ahead and named this one Michigan-writeon-01. Now, when I precomp it, I'm going to change it to Michigan-writeon-02 and press okay. Then I'll go into that precomp and that's where we will see we have our original precomp on its own. How can I isolate just the tip of this write-on? Well, let me start by duplicating the layer, renaming this brush, and then adding a fill. I'm going to make it just a slightly less hard to look at red. Then I'm going to duplicate that layer again, and name this brush matte. I want to get rid of the fill effect, and there's a quick keyboard shortcut for that. Holding command shift E or control shift E on a PC will remove all effects. Now, I'm back to my original just white text and I'm going to turn off my original artwork just so I can focus on the brush. I'll go near the beginning of the animation and then press the plus key to zoom in on my timeline. I want to offset my brush matte layer by just one frame forward, so I will click and drag it, and now we see that we have this red tip followed by the white path. This is the exact method that we used in the last example with the yellow path followed by the white path. The difference is, I want to isolate less of this path than what's being shown here. But I can't really do that because I can only offset this layer by one frame at a time, and one frame is too much. What I need to do is mess with the time remapping of the layer, and because After Effects is generating the animation, it can re-interpolate my keyframes to fit the time remapping. Now, I know I just threw a whole bunch of big words out there on you. It's okay if you don't know what they mean, just follow along and we'll get it done. The first thing I want to do is find where the last keyframe is for the white layers animation. It looks like this frame right here is the last frame of the animation. I'm going to go ahead and mark this layer by coming up to layer and going down to add marker. Now I've got a mark, so I'll always know where that animation should end. Next, I want to change the color of this layer just so I don't mix it up with the others. I'm going to click on the color for the layer and change it to maybe yellow. Next, I want to right-click on the layer, scroll down to time, and click on enable time remapping. Now, that opens up the time remap property and you can see that we have a keyframe now. If I zoom out, you'll see that we have a second keyframe way down here. Now just really quickly to understand what time remapping is, is right now, this keyframe represents the beginning of that comps time and this keyframe represents the last point in that comps time. If I were to scroll forward until this is at one second and set a keyframe, I now have a keyframe value of one second at the appropriate point on that precomp. If I RAM preview, nothing has changed. But if I were to grab that keyframe and pull it back to be at say frame 12 and then preview, you can see that that animation is happening twice as fast. The time remap property gives you the ability to re-time your layers animation or video playback if you're using videos to whatever you'd like. Because After Effects is generating the animation for this comp, it's able to take a look at what you're changing the timing to and appropriately interpolate the animation to your defined timing without losing any quality. I'm going to undo until I get rid of that keyframe. Then we're going to go to that marker that I had set for where the animation ends. This is where I want a keyframe set. Now, I don't actually want to speed this up at all, but I do want to offset it just a little bit. If I come back to about here and select these two keyframes, keeping in mind that these are the two keyframes that contain the amount of time that the animation lasts for, I can still only drag these one frame at a time in this view. However, if I go into my graph editor and I have those two keyframes selected, and I come down to this little box right here where it says choose graph type and options, there's a little option that says allow keyframes between frames. Mine is checked. If yours isn't, go ahead and check it. What this allows you to do is shift your keyframes around between frames. As I'm doing this, you can see that I have much more control as to how far that trim paths is being offset. Let me undo that and zoom in a little bit more. I'll come back to the front of my timeline. You'll see this is the first frame of that comp at frame one on the comp. If I go forward one frame and I have both of these keyframes selected so that the timing between the two doesn't change, I can click, hold shift and drag this keyframe between the frame it was on and the frame after it at any point in-between. This gives us greater control as to how far offset this red line is from the white line. Again, I will click, hold shift and drag until it's just leaving the tip of that red line. Now, much less of that red line is being shown, which is exactly what I wanted. Now, I don't actually want this brush matte to be visible, so what I'm going to do is take the brush layer and change the track matte to alpha inverted matte. Now the difference between alpha matte and alpha inverted matte is that alpha matte will show you whatever is shown inside of the matte layer. Alpha inverted matte will show you whatever is not being shown inside of the matte layer. It's literally just inverting your matte. Now, if I zoom in here, you can see that some of the texture and an outline is still showing up for the red layer, and I don't want that. To fix this, I'm going to come back to my brush matte and I'm going to add what's called the simple choker. If I turn this layer on and adjust the choke matte value, you can see what it's doing. If you increase it, it will choke the boundaries down of your layer and if we adjust it in a negative direction, it will expand the edges. I want to expand this just a little bit so that it overlaps all of the edges of the red layer. Now, if we turn that back off, you see we're left with just the tip of that red. Let's RAM preview this. Now we have these brush tip strokes being applied for each one of our letters and it's all being based on our original precomp. Let's turn that original artwork back on. Now, again, this isn't much different than what we already had. We need to take it a few more steps further. The first issue is that our red layer is overlaid at the exact same time as our white layer. I'm going to select my original artwork and shift it forward one frame by holding option or alt on a PC and pressing the page down key. Now, I need to enable the time remapping for the brush layer so I can offset both the brush and the brush matte backwards so that the red is overlaid on top of the white just a bit. I'll right-click on the layer, scroll down, go to time, enable time remapping and then I'll come to the point in time where the animation ends and then go one frame backwards since this layer is offset one frame from that layer. Again, I'll set a layer marker for this one as well. I'll set a keyframe for that point. Then I'll select the keyframes for both time remapped layers. Back up in time just a little bit so I can see both the white layer and the red layer, go into my graph editor, zoom in, click and drag on one of the keyframes while holding shift until it overlaps about halfway on top of the original layer. You can see that that tip is overlapping the white layer. Now we can add texture to the red tip to simulate a brushstroke. With my brush layer selected, I will add another effect called roughen edges. At its default settings, it doesn't really look the way that we need it to. The first thing I'm going to do is turn the border pretty far up, something around 20. Then I'll turn the scale way down. Probably something like that. Then I'll turn up the edge sharpness a little bit. If I zoom in here, you can see that now there's a texture to the red map. Now the way that this should look is completely subjective. You should play around with the settings until you get something that you're happy with. There are a whole bunch of different values that you can play around with that will give you different textures. I'm pretty happy with the way that that looks. Let's RAM preview this. The first thing that I noticed is that you can't really see the brush mark. It's too short, especially on the letters other than the M. Let me zoom out a little bit. Grab these two keyframes, go into my graph editor, and then bring them forward just a little bit. That way, the brush overlaps the white a little bit more. But I actually don't want it to overlap quite so much. I'm actually going to grab the white layer and drag it forward one frame. Then I'll have to re-time these two layers a little bit till they overlap again. Then probably bring this set of keyframes forward just a little bit. Then maybe grab all of them one more time so I can shift the whole line forward a little bit and then let's RAM preview. I think that's looking a little better. Now, you don't have to make this a second color. If I disable the fill, now it just looks like we have a white brushstroke being applied. But I like the added effect of having a second color. I'm going to switch that back to being red. Another thing I'm not really a fan of is that you can see these white edges on the outside of the red. We're also getting some red marks where there shouldn't be any. First, let's expand out the red brushstroke. To do that, let's add a choker to the brush layer and expanded outwards. Also, it's important to note that you should have the choker before the roughen edges, so that the roughen edges is the last effect applied. Then I'll come to my brush matte and then really expand this out so that we're not getting any of these holes filled in or edges that shouldn't be showing the red. Then finally, I don't like this clean edge on the brushstroke. I'm actually going to add the same roughen edges that we added here to the brush matte. Now, that edge is just as rough. If I preview this, you can see that we have this nice brushstroke leading out the animation of our write on effect. Again, it doesn't have to be a different color. Maybe a more realistic look would be using the same color so that the texture matches the lettering. But if I enable that red color and we come back out into my main comp, I think that goes along with the cherries in the background a little bit better. I'll RAM preview this comp and there is my final animation. That's how you add a little bit of texture to simulate a brushstroke. 12. Building a Tapered Stroke: One one that I've tried to do many times before is tapering a stroke inside of After Effects. Unfortunately, there's nothing inside of After Effects by default that allows you to easily achieve a tapered stroke. The easiest solution by far is purchasing trap codes 3D stroke that plug-in has lots of controls that allow you to taper your stroke and control a lot of other aspects. But what if you don't have the money to spend on the plugin? Well, I think I've come up with a way that allows you to create a tapered stroke using the trim paths effect so that you can animate it inside of After Effects with no extra plug-ins. Now I have to tell you up front that my method is not simple, it's not the easiest to understand, and it involves a bunch of expressions. Now I, by no means claim to be an expert in expressions. This is probably the most complicated set of expressions that I've ever come up with on my own. But it gets the job done it's customizable, and once you have it built, you can plug in whatever pads you want and the effect will still work. If you're up to the challenge, follow along with me in this video, I'm going to try to explain this step-by-step as clearly as I possibly can. If following along in the video is too difficult for you or you'd like to reference a written version of the instructions. Check the discussions page after watching this video, and I'll write out step-by-step exactly how to achieve this effect. First, let me show you what I have. I've got my single shape layer with the title text paths, a single width stroke applied, and a trimmed paths operator with the end value animated to write the text on, just like our first example. Inside of my paths folder, I have four separate paths. Let me go ahead and take off the animation and then trim this down. It's just a little portion of the path and I'll disable my mask visibility. What we're going to do essentially is make a whole bunch of duplicates of this path, each offset by a little bit in space, as well as in the stroke width. Let me show you what I mean. If this were offset forward a little bit and then I made a duplicate, then I offset it a little bit more and increase the stroke size from 10-12. Then I duplicate it again, offset a little bit more, increase the size to 14. I could continue doing this by hand one at a time, incrementally changing the offset and the stroke width on each duplicate to create the illusion of a tapered stroke. Now this does create the tapered stroke, but it's not very practical to duplicate and offset each one of these by hand every single time. I've come up with a way that automates this process a little bit and allows us to customize it after the fact. I'm going to delete all of my duplicate layers and set my values back down to zero and add a couple of effects to this layer. If you come up to effect and come down to expression controls, we have a few options. The two that we need are the slider control and the checkbox control. Now expression controls don't do anything on their own, but they allow you to control values linked with expressions within any property inside of After Effects. Let's go ahead and add a slider control and a checkbox control. I'm going to rename this slider control by clicking on it and pressing ''Enter'' and then naming it taper size. Then I want duplicate this effect by pressing Command D or Control D on a PC. I'll rename this layer stroke size. Then I'll duplicate it one more time and rename it segment length. Then I'll select my checkbox control and rename it reverse taper. These are the controls that we're set up that allows us to customize what our taper looks like. I'm going go into my trim paths and extend the end so we can see part of the path. I'm also going to change the size down to one. Then I want to rename this layer right on - master. I'll duplicate this layer and rename it taper 1. Then I'm going to change the color of the master layer to orange just so I can pick it out easily. I actually don't need these expression controls on the duplicated taper layer. I'm going to remove all effects again by holding Command Shift E or Control Shift E on a PC. Next, I'm going to give myself some more room, collapse my trim paths, open up the paths, and expand each one of the paths within the shape layer and then do the same thing for the tapered layer. I'm actually going to maximize this panel by having my mouse over the panel and pressing the tilde key again directly under the escape key. Now I want to link these four paths to the master layers four paths using expressions. To do this, I'm going to Option or Alt click on the first paths stopwatch. This brings up the expression control dialogue. Now I don't actually have to type anything in here because each expression control has its own pick whip. If I click and drag this pick whip from the first path of the tapered layer to the first path of the master layer and let go. After Effects automatically writes in that code that it needs to reference that path, then I can click off. Now these two paths are linked. I'll do the same thing for the other three paths. Hold down Option or Alt on a PC, click on that stopwatch, grab the pick whip, and drag it from the second path to the second path of the master layer. Do the same thing for the third path and again for the fourth path. Now if I go back to my normal panel view by hitting the tilde key again, press ''U'' to collapse those two layers. I'll give myself some more room. Now I have duplicate layers with linked paths. If I were to enable my path visibility and adjust my master path, you see that the duplicates path also updated. Now I didn't actually want to adjust this path, so I'm going to undo. But that is our first set of expressions. This way, the duplicate layers will always have the exact same paths as the master layer. Next, I'm going to set these slider values to a default of one. Again, these effects aren't doing anything yet because we haven't tied any expressions to them. Let's start with the stroke size. I'll open up my master layer, go into the contents, go into the stroke, then Option or Alt click on the stroke width. Then I'll drag this pick whip up to the stroke size slider. When I let go, After Effects fills in the code it needs to reference that slider. Now you can see that we have a red number instead of a blue number. This is telling us that After Effects is using an expression to generate this value. We just told the stroke width to be the value of the stroke size slider, which is now set to one. The resulting value is a width of one. If I change this to two, our stroke width is now two. I can change this to whatever I want and you can see that the stroke width is being affected. That's how we can use a slider to affect a value inside of After Effects. I'll change this back down to one. We'll move on to the next step. I'll collapse my stroke, go into the trim paths, and we want to link the start value to the end value, but offset just a little bit. I'm going to disable my mask path visibility again just so we can see the stroke, and this is going to be a little bit more complicated. I'll try to go slow so you can follow along. I'll start by holding Option or Alt on a PC and clicking on the start stopwatch. Then I want to pick whip the end value. This is telling the start value to be the same as the end value. If I were to click off of my expression, that's exactly what's happening. But we want to add a little bit more to this line. I'll click on this text and make sure I click at the end of the line and I'm going to add minus. Then pick whip, the segment length slider divided by 5, enter. Now what this expression is saying is for the start value, take the end value subtracted by the segment length value, divided by 5. The value is going to be 27 minus 1 divided by 5, which gives us 26.8. If I turn off my duplicate layer, you can see that now we just have this tiny little stroke for master layer. If I were to adjust my end value, you see that the start value travels along with it, just behind it by the value that we added using expressions. Now because this is being subtracted by the segment length slider. If I increase the slider, the length of our segment gets longer. If I decrease it, it goes in the opposite direction. For now, I'm going to leave this at one. I'm going to turn my duplicate back on and I'll zoom back out. Now I want to write a similar expression for the tapered layer. We'll open up the contents and get into the trim paths for that layer. What you'll notice is that because I switched layers, I no longer have access to my expression and controllers that were on the master layer. What I'm going to do is select the master layer. Then up in the effects control, you'll see this little lock icon. If I click on that, this panel will always stay visible regardless of what you have selected. If I come back up to my trim paths of the duplicate taper layer, I will hold Option or Alt on a PC and click on the start stopwatch and then I'll pick whip the end value. I'll type minus, and then pick whip this segment link slider divided by 5, and then I'll press ''Enter''. Now we have the same relationship between the start and end values of the trim path for the duplicate layer, as we do for the master layer. Next, I want to link the end value of the duplicate layer to the end value of the master layer. I'm going to expand that layer out, so I can see both end values. Then I'm going to hold Option and click on the stop watch for the end value and pick whip the end value for the master later. Then I'm going to type minus index times, then pick whip, the segment length divided by 5, enter. Now let me go over what I just did. If I move my mouse right here, you can see that we get this double arrow and I can actually expand out to see the entire expression. What this expression is saying is for the end value, look at the master layer trim paths end value, subtract the index. Now the index is the number value of the layer in your composition, so in this case it's taking the end value of the master layer minus 1 times the segment link slider divided by 5. Now, it's not really important for you to understand why I did all of these fractions, this is just the way that I figured out how to set it up to get it to work the way that I want. If you made it this far, congratulations, hang in there. We're getting close. Next, just for good measure, I'm going to link the offset of the taper layer to the offset of the master layer. I will "Option" or "Alt Click" on the Offset stopwatch and pick whip the offset value for the master layer, and I don't need to do anything else, I just want this offset value to always be the same as the master layer's offset value. Then I can collapse the trim paths for both layers, and then I'll open up the stroke for the taper layer, and I want to set an expression on the stroke width. I'll "Option" or "Alt Click" on the stopwatch for the stroke width, and I'll pick whip the stroke size slider plus index times, and then pick whip the taper size slider. What this expression is saying is take the value of the stroke size slider, add the index value or the layer number, which in this case is 1, and then multiply it by the taper size slider. If I zoom in here, you can already see what's happening. My duplicate layer, which is this thicker line, now has a value of 2 instead of 1 because it's taking the stroke size value, which is 1, adding the index which is a value of 1, and then multiplying it by the taper size, which is also 1. So 1 plus 1 is 2 times 1 is 2. Now, if I collapse everything but pressing "U" on the keyboard and expand this so I can see more of my composition, I'll open up the trim paths for the master layer. Now when I change the end value, you see that the tapered duplicate is also following it, offset just behind it and being a little bit larger, and now the way that we wrote these expressions, it's basing the offsetting and the size difference on the value of the index of the layer, which is the layer number. If I were to grab this taper layer and duplicate it a handful of times, see that each time I duplicate it, a new layer's created, it's offset a little bit more and it increases in thickness. If I continue duplicating this, you see that suddenly we have something that looks quite a bit like a tapered stroke. Now, it's not perfect, you can definitely see where the segments are between all of these lines, but that's why we built controls into it. Right now if I go between each one of these layers and you look up here at the stroke value, you can see that it increases by one pixel for every duplicate. If I were to come up to my taper size and change this from a value of 1 to a value of 2, now each layer's stroke width is offset by two pixels. If I were to change it to 0.5, now each one is by a half of a pixel, and you notice the taper much less. If I change the segment link slider value, you can see that the length between each one of these segments is increased or decreased. If I zoom out here and I come down to the trim paths for the master layer, I can now animate the end value and have a tapered stroke grow out behind it. If I start at 0, go forward two seconds and end at 100, and maybe Easy Ease these keyframes, RAM preview, I now have a functioning tapered stroke being animated across my path. Now, there are a few issues, but there's still a few more steps we can take. First of all, where's the rest of the path? We can fix that pretty easily. I'm going to duplicate my first tapered layer and rename it Final, and I'm going to change the color of it, just so we can easily pick it out. I'm going to move it below all of the tapered layers, but above the master layer. Remember, because we wrote expressions that are based on the value of the layer, it's important that they are in a certain order. Your master layer should always be at the bottom and your tapered layer should always be on the top. Now right now there's no difference between the final layer and the tapered layers. What I need to do is go into the trim paths for the final layer and disable the expression for the start value. If I twirl this down and click on this little blue equal sign, that will disable the expression. Now the start value never changes. As our master layer's end value animates, the end value of the final layer animates and is offset based on the index value, as well as increased in the stroke width size based on the index value, and appears as a right on, just like all of our other animations. Let's preview that, and there you have it. An animated write on with a tapered stroke. Now here's another issue we're running into. When the animation finishes, we still have a tapered end. I have to be honest with you, I couldn't figure out a very simple way of fixing this problem. Like I said before, I am not at all bad experienced in writing expressions so there very well could be a simple way of fixing this that I'm just not aware of. The work-around that I figured is by extending the path of the master layer. Let me enable the path visibility again, and we'll go to our master layer, I'll switch to the pen tool by pressing "G" on the keyboard, click on this last anchor point, and then click up here to extend the path out. Now, you'll notice the further I drag this out, the closer the taper gets to being cut off where we need it to be. I'm going to pull this out just far enough to where the thickness of the line is uniform and stop there. See that the thickness of the line is consistent through all the lettering by the end of the animation. But what do we do about this extended line? Well, we need to put this comp inside of another one. I actually already have this pre-comp set inside of my main comp. What I need to do is pre-compose this one one time, I'll name it Write On Tapered 2. Then I'll go inside of that comp, and we're going to mask off the portion of this path that we don't want to see anymore. If I go back to my original comp, this is where we want the line to be cut off. To make it easier to see this point instead of my pre-comp, I'm actually going to angle this a bit so I can see where it should end. Then I'll go back into the second comp and I'll draw a path around this point to mask off that extra part of the line. I'll press M to bring up the mask and change it from add to subtract, and now my path is rounded off the way that it should. You can see as my taper comes in, it hits that point and stops there, and grows into its final width. If I ran preview this, now we've got a nice tapered stroke that fills out the width by the end of the animation. If that's the taper you're going after, you're done. But what if I wanted the taper to go in the opposite direction, starting off thicker and then tapering down? While I was about to record the next segment, I actually thought of something that will make everything much easier for everybody, so we don't have to write any more expressions. Originally, I told you to make this reverse taper checkbox. We're not going to need that anymore. You can actually delete it. If you want your taper to start thick and get thinner, all you have to do is adjust your segment lengths to be a negative value. First, I'm going to turn off my final layer, and then show you what I mean. If I adjust this slider and go to a negative value, you see that now the taper is extending out in front of the master layer, but still animating in the same way. Now if we go back to the first frame, where we've set our first keyframe, even though the value is zero, the taper is showing. That's because we have this set to a negative value, so it's telling all the duplicates to go out in front of the master layer instead of behind it. All we have to do to fix this is open up the trim paths control for the master layer, and adjust the offset, which we linked all the duplicate layers to. I'll push it back just enough to where we can't see it on the first frame. Now if I zoom back out, that does push our stroke out just a bit on the right-side because that's how the offset value works. If you remember, once it gets to the end, it just loops around at the beginning. That's okay though, because we'd mass this off inside of the other comp. If I ran preview this, we now have a taper that's going the opposite direction, from thick to thin, and all of our control still apply. If I want to make the taper size bigger, I can increase or decrease that, I can increase or decrease my segment length. The other control that we have that I haven't gone over yet is our stroke size. This is an overall control for your stroke width. Say this line was too thin for you. You could increase this stroke size just to give it a little bit more thickness. In this case, I actually want the thickness to end at 10. The starting thickness needs to be much bigger. Turn my stroke size up to 10, which is directly translated to my master layers thickness, and then increase the taper size just a little bit, and then may be turn down the segment length, so we have a much stubbier taper. Now I'll turn my final layer back on, and you will see that the stroke is way too thick now. What I need to do is go into my contents, go into the stroke, open up the stroke width expression and disable it. Now it goes back to the default value we had it set to, which is one. But if I change that up to 10, now the line taper is down to the resting thickness of 10 pixels, which is exactly what we want. Now if I preview my animation, we've got a thick stroke tapering down to the 10 pixels single width stroke. It looks like our offset needs to be set back just a little bit more for a master layer. I'll just drop that back to here. Now if I go into our other comp and preview this animation, it gets cut off right where it should, but there is a little issue which is the mask no longer fits that path stroke. I'm going to backup to where it's the thickest, and just modify my mask path to fit that stroke, then preview that. Now it looks like I need to offset this path just a little bit more. In fact, it looks like I would even have to animate this. Let me just back up a few frames to where it's the thickest, position it right where it needs to be, set a keyframe for the mask path, and then go forward a few frames until it's at the point of being 10 pixels wide. Then I'll readjust this mask path, which automatically sets a keyframe, and that should be better. Yeah, that works. Now if we look at this up-close, you will notice that there's some pretty visible changes between segments of this taper. Now one thing we could do to fix this is go back into our main taper, and change the paper size down to maybe 0.5. Add a whole bunch of duplicates, and then change the segment length way down. Now it's much less noticeable because we have many more duplicates being offset by a far smaller value. If I preview that, we've got a nicer looking taper. If we come out into my main comp, with all the styling, you can see what that looks like. Just like with all of our other examples, I could duplicate this, offset it in time, maybe one or two frames, autofill, change the color, and now I've got two tapered strokes chasing after each other. The great thing about this setup is that I can always go back into my comp. Now this completely rigged with expressions and replace the path contents with anything I want. If I was to go back to one of our other examples, like this adventure one, and I went into that comp, and grab the paths for the A of that adventure word, I could copy them, go back into my tapered comp, and replace these first three paths, and it's automatically updated. Now if you need more than four paths, all you have to do is delete all of your tapered layers, maximize this timeline panel to give yourself some more room, and then expand the paths and duplicate for as many as you need. Let's say we needed eight, then you would just have to do the same thing for the tapered duplicate. Duplicate so they are eight, then link these paths with expressions to the appropriate paths in the master layer. Once all of that linking is done, you can just duplicate your tapered layer as many times as you need to recreate the effect. That is my method for coming up with a tapered stroke solution inside of After Effects. Hopefully, it wasn't too difficult to understand and you were able to follow along. If you have any issues or any suggestions, please let me know in the discussions page, on the thread with the instructions for this effect. 13. Exporting a Video: So now that you have your hand lettering completed, you have to decide what's going to be the best way to present this online. If you did something a little bit more complicated, like I did, with a photo in the background, and some camera movement, and overall just a lot of colors, you're probably going to want to export a video. But if you did something simpler, like the title of the class with a solid background and not too many colors, then you might be able to get away with a GIF just fine. I can tell you now that if you don't need it to be a GIF, exporting a video is much more straightforward and then you can share it online with websites like Vimeo or YouTube. So let's start with exporting a video. Keep in mind that whatever your work area set to, is how long your video will be when you export it. I've set my work area to be the length between the two position key frames on the camera. Then come up to Composition, Add to Render Queue. This will automatically open up the render queue panel. By default, your output module is probably set to lossless, that setup to export an uncompressed video from After Effects. The video will be completely clean, but it'll also be a ginormous file. Let's add some compression settings. Click on this blue text to open up the Output Module Settings, make sure that format is set to QuickTime. Then under Video Output, go to Format Options. Change the Video Codec from animation or whatever it's set to, and scroll down to H.264. That's just a really nice compressor for videos. We'll leave the Quality set to 100, set the Key Frame Every to whatever your frame rate is for the composition. So in my case it's 23.976, but we have to do whole frame. So I'm just going to say 24 frames. If your composition is set to 30 frames per second, set that to 30 frames. Leave Frame Reordering unchecked. Then your Bitrate Settings depends on what resolution you're working at. If you're working in full HD, I would recommend you set this to something like 10,000. If you're working at 720P, you could probably bump that down to something like 6 to 8,000. But basically, if you export your video and you're not happy with the quality, increase your data rate to something higher. Once all of that is set, press "OK". If you have audio, make sure this is set to audio on. I don't have any audio, so I'm going to make sure it's set to off and then I'll press "OK". Then you just need to tell After Effects where you want the video, exported to. So come up to Output To, and click on that blue text. I'm going to put mine right on the desktop and name it Michigan. Then I'll press "Save". Then we can hit "Render". After Effects will render each frame and show you the progress bar. Once it's done, it'll give you a chime to let you know it's finished. Great. Now I'll go to my desktop and open up that file. I can play this back. I'm happy with the way that looks. So I can now post it online. I've gone ahead and uploaded this to Vimeo, and I really like Vimeo's embedding settings. I'm going to show you how I would customize this to post on Skillshare. I clicked on the little Share button, right here. Then I click on "Show Options", then I'll scroll down, change the Size to 580 wide, and it will automatically update the Height for me. Then you can choose what info is displayed on top of the poster frame. But you get this added control that would allow me to autoplay the video as well as loop the video. I don't need the text links underneath the video, so I'm going to uncheck that. Now if I scroll back up and copy this embed code, then come back to my project page and click on this little Embed Media button, then I can paste that embed code into this box and press "Submit". Now my video shows up in my project page and autoplays and loops. So that's by far my favorite way of posting a video to Skillshare. 14. Exporting a GIF: When exporting a GIF, you'll again want to set your work area to whatever you want the length of your GIF to be. Then come up to Composition, go to Add to Render Queue, then under Output Module, click on these blue words. That brings up the Output Module Settings, and we want to change the format from QuickTime or whatever it's set to, to JPEG Sequence. If you like, you can resize your artwork at this point. I'm going to go ahead and do that. So I'll check this box that's next to Resize and scale this down to 580 wide because that's a good width for your project page on Skillshare. Then I'll press "Okay" then under the Output Tool line, I'll click on that blue text, I'll put my artwork random on Desktop and I'll make sure that Save in Subfolder is checked and Write On Title is fine for the name of that folder. Then I'll click "Save" and render. Once it's done, it'll give you a chime to let you know it's finished. Now, we'll go into Photoshop and I'll go to File Open, go to the Desktop where I exported my image, select the first image in the sequence, and then come down here and make sure Image Sequence is checked. Then I'll press "Open". It will ask me what the frame rate of the GIF should be. Make sure it's set to whatever your comp settings were inside of After Effects and then press "Okay". Now, if you don't see this timeline down at the bottom, just come up to Window, scroll down to Timeline. Then you're able to play through your GIF the same way that you were in After Effects. It's not full quality, but it lets you know that your image Sequence worked. Now, I will go up to File, and if you're using a version previous to CC-2015, you would go to Save for Web right in here. But in CC-2015, it's now moved to Export, Saved for Web. That will open up the Save for Web dialog, and I'm going to come over to the Preset up here and scroll up to GIF 128 Dithered. I'll let that load. This is where you have to use your own judgment as to how happy you are with the quality of your overall image. If it's not looking as good as you'd like, you could try increasing the Dither to 100 percent, see if that helps. You could also increase the Colors from 128-256. I think that looks pretty good. If you look down here in the bottom left corner, it tells you how big the resulting file will be with these compression settings, 461 kilobytes is a great file size for a GIF, but really anything under five megabytes is fine. If you want to post it directly on Skillshare's website, it needs to be under two megabytes. If it's over two megabytes, you'll have to host it on something like Imager or someplace else online and link to the image when you post it on your project page. Last thing I need to do before I hit "Save" is changed my looping options from Once to Forever so the GIF will constantly loop, and then I'll click "Save", tell it to post it on the Desktop and name it Write On. Then I can come to my project, click on "Upload Photo". Go to that image, double-click it, and it's uploaded to my project page looping just like I had hoped. That's all there is to it. 15. Thank You!: All right, that's it. Thank you so much for taking this class. I hope that you had a lot of fun learning this right on technique and that you're able to use it in your future projects. I would love it if you left me review, telling me what you thought about my class, and if you post your project on social media, be sure to tag me at @jakeinmotion. You can always ask me questions if you're having any trouble or if you just want to talk through what you want to do with your project. Just leave a comment on the Ask me anything thread, or on your class project page. I have to say a huge thank you to my lovely wife who was kind enough to give me all the hand lettering that I used in this class. I seriously couldn't make any of these classes without her help or support, especially with hand lettering because that is something I have no talent in doing. Go check out more of her work and her shop at apairofpears.com. Again, thanks so much for taking this class and I'll see you next time.