Repeating Patterns in Adobe After Effects | Jake Bartlett | Skillshare

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Repeating Patterns in Adobe After Effects

teacher avatar Jake Bartlett, Motion Designer

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Getting Started


    • 2.

      A Simple Pattern


    • 3.

      Taking It Further


    • 4.

      Building On Your Animation


    • 5.

      Even More Possibilities


    • 6.

      Seamless Edges


    • 7.

      Customizing Your Repeats


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About This Class

Making repeating patterns out of your animations is extremely easy, and a whole lot of fun! In this quick class I'll show you a few different ways of making your own repeating patterns in no time. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Jake Bartlett

Motion Designer

Level: All Levels

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1. Getting Started: Hey. I'm Jake Bartlett and this is repeating patterns in After Effects. This quick class, I'm going to show you some really easy ways to make repeated looping patterns out of your animations. I'll cover a few different methods and how to make completely seamless patterns. Experimenting with the way that your patterns repeat is actually really easy and a whole lot of fun. So let's get right to it. I've gone ahead and set up three different animations that I'm going to use as examples for this class. I'm not going to spend time showing you how I animated them, because I covered how to make these types of animations into other classes. The ultimate guide to Shape layers and After Effects and animating with this and after effects. So if you're interested in learning how i made these animations, go check out both of those classes. Or you can just download my project file, which is available in the project description. For my first repeated pattern, I made a composition that's only a 100 by a 100 pixels. So it's very small and the frame rate is set to 30. Now, you can say your frame rate to whatever you'd like, this is just what I prefer for this animation. It's a very short loop, so my composition didn't need to be very long, and you'll notice that I named this composition with source at the end, so that I know that this is the source of my repeating pattern. Here's my very basic animation. It's just a square turning into a circle while rotating, and then going back to being a square, it's just 20 frames long, and then it loops. Now, I've made another comp called pattern 01, that's 1920 by 1080, so full HD. It's also 30 frames per second and the duration is the same. I want to put my source composition into this new composition. You can see the size of that tile compared to the composition now, and if I ran preview the first 20 frames, we can see that animation happening. 2. A Simple Pattern: Now, there are a couple of different ways that I can repeat this. The first method I'll use is Motion Tile. I'm going to come over to the "Effects and Presets" and type in "Motion Tile" and apply that to this layer. By default nothing happens, I need to come into my controls, and look at the output and width and height. Now, the units for these two values are percentages, so if I increase this to 200 by 200, my layer is now twice the size as it was. Because my source comp is 100 pixels wide, the width and height can actually be the same size as my comp, so 1920 by 1080. You see that now my pattern is repeated across the entire comp. Now, it's important to note that if you're using a source resolution other than 100 by 100 pixels, these numbers wouldn't be the same size as your comp. You don't want to expand this any further than you need to, because the bigger these numbers, the more processing after-effects has to do to repeat your pattern. Already, you can see that I have a fully functional repeating pattern. But there are few more controls and Motion Tile that allow us to do some interesting things with our patterns. First is the Mirror Edges checkbox. Right now you see that all my shapes are rotating in the same direction. But if I enable Mirror Edges, you see that that made a pretty big difference in how this is animating. I'll zoom in here and you see that every other square is rotating in the opposite direction. That's pretty cool, I'll uncheck that, and then we have this phase dial, and if I increase it, you see that every other line is being shifted down. If I set this to 180, now I've got this checker pattern going between my tiles, and down at the bottom, there's a horizontal phase shift. If I check that, it shifts the tiles horizontally rather than vertically. Now, it's every other line on the horizontal rather than every other line on the vertical. If I wanted to, I could animate this property. Set a key frame, move it to the front, go to frame 20 and since this is an angular value, all I have to do is add a one to the first number, and that'll make a complete revolution throughout the duration in the animation, I'll run "Preview", and now every other line is moving downwards. Now, if I wanted these other columns to be moving upwards, I need to animate another property. The Tile Center property allows me to offset my tile, and actually gives me this little control down here, that I can just click and drag to reposition the tile. Since my tile is 100 pixels tall, if I go to the first frame and set a key frame, then I can go to the second key frame and subtract 100 pixels from the y value, so that it moves up 100 pixels. I could drag it like this, or I can just click on the number, click at the end of the number, and type minus 100 then press "Enter" and it subtracts 100 from that value and now, you see that my center point is up here. If I run "Preview", now those rows are moving up. But now I have the problem of every other row staying still now, and that's because it's moving up at the same speed that these ones are moving down. So I need to go back to my phase and change the second key frame from one to two. Now, it's moving twice as fast, I'll run "Preview, " and now, my motion is working the way that I want it to. Another thing I could do with Motion Tile is rotate my layer by 45 degrees. Now, it's going in a different angle, but it's not filling the frame anymore, so I need to increase the width a little bit until it goes all the way to the corner, do the same thing for the height. Repeating patterns can be a lot of fun to just play with. So you can try things like turning horizontal phase shift on, and that actually doesn't loop seamlessly because of the way that the tile center is animating, but I can modify those key frames and make it work if that's what I wanted to do. So just play around with the values to see what you can come up with. 3. Taking It Further: I'm actually going to take off the tile center and phase animations that I just made. Now we're left with just a static repeating pattern. I'm going to go back into that source comp and I want to be able to see how what I do inside of this comp affects the full sized comp. What I want to do is with the full-size comp open, I'll make sure that that composition viewer is active by clicking on it. Then come up to view new viewer. That will open up a second composition viewer in automatically lock it. Wherever I go in my timeline view, that composition will always be visible. If I go back to my source comp, I could do something like change the color and it will update in this viewer. If I were to change the size of this circle, I can instantly see how that's affecting my main composition. Now let's say I wanted to space this pattern out a little bit more so that the shapes aren't so close together. Well, because this pattern is based on the size of the table right in the center here, all I have to do is change the composition size of my source comp. Let's say I make this 200 by 200. Now that spread the tiles out, but it's also giving me all this black space and that's because my background layer is no longer filling the size of the comp. I'll just scale this up until it fills the entire composition. Now that fills in all the gaps and I've got a much more spread out tile now. Another thing I could do is change the composition size to not be a square. Let's leave the width at 200 and change the height to 100. Now you can see that we have these rows of repeating shapes. If I push the position of the square over to 50, so it's centered in the left half of the composition. Then I can come into my main composition and if I turn off the effects, you can see what our tile it looks like. Turn the effects back on. I'll duplicate this layer and then rotate it 180 degrees. Now I can't see what's underneath that layer because I have a white background. But if I turn that off and come back into my main comp and adding new solid by going to layer, new solid and make a white solid. I'll put it into the background and type BG for background. Now I can see all of my shapes and if I change the color of the top layer by adding a fill, I can change that to be whatever color I want and now we've changed the way that my colors are repeated. I could go even one step further and enable time remapping for the top layer by right-clicking on it, coming to time and clicking on enable time remapping. Then I'll go to the last frame of the animation, which is frame 20, set of key frame, delete the last key frame that it generated, and then an expression on the time remap by holding Option or Alt on a PC and clicking on the stopwatch and typing in, loop, capital O-U-T, loop out, and then open and close parentheses and I'll hit enter. Now if I solo this layer and ran preview longer, it will automatically loop forever. So what I can do is shift it back 10 frames by holding Option or Alt on a PC plus Shift and hitting Page Up. Now that it's 10 frames back, I can ran preview and you see what that did. Now the two shapes are animating at different times and however I affect that one source comp will update the way that my main composition is animating. So if I go back into this shape, you could do something like animate the size of this shape. Maybe you have it start larger. Let's say 40. Shrink down to 25 and then go back up to 40. I'll use ease these key frames by pressing F9 and then maybe increase the influence of the handles by going to the graph editor and adjusting these. Now my animation grows and shrinks as it's animating. Let's take a look at how that affected my main composition and now we've got a very different looking animation. There's a lot you can do with combining different techniques, duplicate layers, rotating them, changing their colors. Definitely try playing around with that. 4. Building On Your Animation: I also could have done this with one layer. Let's say I copy this blue color. We'll go back into my source comp. I'll duplicate this shape and move the position over here to the opposite side so it's centered on that half of the tile. I'll bring up the key frames for that shape and I'll copy and paste the size and roundness so that I have a loop for that value and then I need the rotation to continue rotating to the right. So I can't copy and paste these key frames. Instead, I'll just go forward to the next key frame, add 90 degrees to that. Then I'll go to the last key frame and add 90 degrees to that. Then I'll go into the graph editor and make sure that all of these are easing at the same speed. Now I can shift this back 10 frames. Because I have that blue color copied, I can change the color go back to my main comp. I've recreated that same type of animation with a single layer. But because it's on a single layer, I can now play with the other controls of the motion tile, like Mirror the edges or do a horizontal phase shift. So there are lots of different ways that you can control how your pattern is repeated. So experiment with different things, play around with the controls and see what you can come up with. 5. Even More Possibilities: Now there's actually another effect that can also repeat things, I'm going to duplicate this layer, remove motion tile from it and disable my other layer, the other effect is called the Repetile. I will type in Repetile and here we go, I will apply this to that layer, if you remember, I rotated this layer 45 degrees so just so we can see what's happening more clearly, I'm going to turn this rotation back down to zero, now again, by default nothing happens with this effect applied. I need to expand the edges in order to repeat this pattern now with Motion Tile, the width and height are length, so if you increase the width, both sides are extended. With Repetile every side is controlled independently so if I increase the right, you see that my pattern is just repeating to the right also these values are measured in pixels but they're from the edges of this tile, so I've expanded this 885 pixels from the right side. I will do the same value for the left then I will expand down just as much as I need, say 515 and then do the same for the top. Now I have my repeated pattern using Repetile. What makes rapid tile different from Motion Tile is that it has a lot of different tiling options. By default, the repeat is identical to the default settings in Motion Tile. It just repeats the pattern in every direction but if I change this from repeat to checker flip H for horizontal, you see my repeating pattern is completely different now. If I change it to vertical, its actually very similar to the regular repeat, except that the shapes are now rotating in opposite directions. That's similar to the mirror edges, you can play around with all of these different repeat styles to see how they affect your animation. Some tiling options work better than others depending on what type of tile you're using, so definitely play around with this effect to see how it affects your pattern. Again, I could rotate this layer 45 degrees to give it a little bit different effect, then I just need to make sure that my expansion goes to the edges of the frame. Again, only expanding it as far as you need because the more that after effects has to repeat your tile, the longer it's going to take to render. 6. Seamless Edges: For this next animation, I've just set up a single line that's about twice the width of the comp. I've added a stroke, and a zigzag operator to that stroke to make the squiggle, and then I've animated it with the trim paths. First, I turned it down to just be 25 percent the length of the path itself and then I have animated the offset from zero to one, so that it makes a full revolution around this path. I ran preview, you see that the squiggle just comes on and off the screen. So let's see what that looks like if I repeat it into my main comp. Put this right in the center, I will add motion tile, type in 1920 by 1080 and then preview. Now, we've got an issue where my squiggle is getting cut off at both ends of the animation. Now, might have been easy to miss that in this view just because of the way that we're looking at it. But I can actually use motion tile in this view to make sure that objects that go outside of the frame repeat seamlessly. To do that, I'm going to make a new adjustment layer by going up to "New Layer", "New Adjustment Layer", and I'm going to apply motion tile to that. I'll rename this seam checker, and if you remember the tile center property, this allows me to offset where the center of this repeat is happening from. So by default, the position is the center of my comp, which is 50-50. But if I change the X down to zero, it shifts my whole animation to the edge. So the seam is actually straight down the middle of my comp, and if I back it up to where it hits the center, you see that it's getting cut off. At the end of the animation, the same thing is happening. So what I need to do if I turn this seam checker off, is have my squiggle leaving the frame on the left side as it's entering on the right side. I'm going to do that just by duplicating this layer and then shifting it back 10 frames by holding "Option" or "Alt" on a PC, "Shift" and hitting the "Page Up" button. If I bring up my key frames, you can see how they are staggered. Now as this squiggle enters, this one leaves. But as this one leaves, a new one needs to come back in. So I'm going to trim this layer to the second key frame, and then I'll duplicate it and then shift it forward 20 frames. So it comes in 10 frames after my main squiggle does. Now if I run preview, that looks good, and if I turn on my seam checker, it looks the same. So this is telling us that our pattern is going to repeat seamlessly because there's no discrepancy between the two halves straight down the middle. So now if I go back into my pattern O2 comp, it looks like my squiggles are moving across the screen indefinitely. So that's working just how I wanted it to. So if I wanted to play around with this a little bit, I could duplicate these squiggles, maybe change the color of them just so I can keep track of which is which. I'll make them bright magenta color I was using earlier, and then maybe pull them down, let's say 75 pixels and I'll open up a new viewer, and set it to be my pattern O2 comp so I can see how that's looking and maybe I'll change the width of the stroke for these three copies to be half, and I'll rotate them 180 degrees, so they're going in the opposite direction. Let's see how that looks. Great. If I go into my source comp and turn off the background, and then add a white background in this main comp, let's see what happens if I duplicate this, rotate it 180 degrees, and I actually want this set of squiggles to be reversed so that the pink and blue overlap, but they also go in opposite directions. So it actually might have been easier if I took off the rotation. So now they're back to being identical. But then I could offset the tile center to be 100. Now the squiggles overlap each other and if I set the blend mode to "Multiply", that will blend the colors as they go over top of each other and that is extremely trippy, but I like it. So that's how you can make sure that objects moving outside of your tiled area remain seamless. 7. Customizing Your Repeats: Here's my last examples animation, I've just got a bunch of geometry spread out on a composition that's a 300 pixels square, and this time I'm going to use a couple of different comps. I'm actually going to drag this source comp to the new comp icon, so that pre composes it into a new composition and I'll increase the size of this one to be maybe an 800 pixels square. What I want to do is make a repeating tile by hand the size of this comp, using my source comp as the building block. First I want to rotate it 45 degrees, I'll press "W" to switch the rotation tool, and then click while holding Shift and drag it down so it snaps to 45 degrees. Next, I want to make this a loop by adding the loopOut expression to the Time Remap. I'll set a key frame at the 30th frame, the end of the animation, delete the last key frame, and then I'm going to set a marker on this layer by coming up to Layer and saying Add Marker. That just gives me a visual mark of where the loop point is for this layer, then I want to duplicate this layer. Basically I want to repeat this tile around the square so that there's one on every edge, and it lines up perfectly with the main one. To do that, I could either turn on snapping, and you see that now the two layers snap to each other, or I could just hold down Command or Control on a PC to temporarily enabled the snapping. I'll continue to do this until it's on all four edges of my source tile, and then I'll fill in the corners. I have eight tiles surrounding the center tile, if I zoom in here you can see that there's actually a little bit of a black seam. All I have to do to fix that is add a white solid to the background, and that'll fill in those gaps. Next I need to fill out these corners, I'm going to zoom out and duplicate, offset it. Just so I can keep track of this, I'm going to change the color to maybe yellow, and I'm going to move it to the top. Then I'll duplicate this layer and fill out the other corners, and then I'll change the color of my main layer so I can distinguish that one. I have my source tile, which is the center of first layer of my animation, followed by these eight tiles that surround that source, that'll be my second layer of animation. Then finally I've got these outside corners, that'll be my third layer. What I want to do, since this is all time remapped is offset the outer edge back 20 frames, hold "Option, or Open a PC + Shift and tap page up twice" to shift back 20 frames. Then I'll grab all of my second layer, back it up 10 frames, and then I'll run preview. You can see that animations are happening at different times depending on where it is in the comp, and I can already tell that it's not going to line up seamlessly. See this shape here is not perfectly split in half on this side and this side, I'll go ahead and add a New Adjustment Layer, apply motion tile to it, and then set the center x and y values to be zero. Right here in the middle, it should line up seamlessly, but it's not. I'll rename the seam checker, lock it so I don't accidentally move it. What I need to do is parent all of the layers to my center layer, and then change the scale down until that seam goes away. I'm going to zoom in, and just click once on the scale and tap the up and down arrow keys until I can get where I need to, it looks like it's somewhere between 94 and 95 percent. If I hold "a Command or a Control" on a PC and tap the up arrow, it moves it by a tenth of a pixel at a time, and it looks like right there, 94.3 makes a seamless tile. I'll zoom back out, turn off my seam checker. Then I want to come to my Project panel, rename this Pattern_03_Tiled, then I'll drag that comp into a new composition, and I'll rename this Pattern_03. Resize it to be 1920 by 1080, apply motion tile to it, then I want to make the output width wide enough and tall enough to fill the comp. Then I'll go forward 30 frames, then I'll preview my loop. Now I have a repeating pattern that because I offset it by hand, timing is different depending on where you are in the texture, but it's still a seamless repeating pattern. I can still play around with the controls like mirror edges, to come up with these really unique shapes, try messing with the phase shift and come up with some unique options. There's a handful of ways that you can make some unique repeated patterns. Play around the different effects, try offsetting animations and time, rotating them, duplicating them, changing the colors, blending modes, experiment and see what you can come up with. Make sure that you share your repeated animations so that I can see them, and repeated looping patterns like these are perfect candidates for looping gifts. I have another really quick class on how I export gifts called compressing gifts like a boss, if you don't know how to export a gift, go check out that class. If you have any questions at all, feel free to ask them on the Ask Me Anything discussion on the community page, and if you post anything on social media, be sure to tag me @Jakeinmotion. Thanks so much for taking this class, I hope that you found to be useful, and I would love it if you left me a review. Thanks again, and I'll see you next time.