The Beginner's Guide to Animating Custom GIFs | Jake Bartlett | Skillshare

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The Beginner's Guide to Animating Custom GIFs

teacher avatar Jake Bartlett, Motion Designer

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

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.

      Course Trailer


    • 2.

      Getting Started


    • 3.

      The Plane's Position


    • 4.

      The Plane's Rotation


    • 5.

      The Heart


    • 6.

      The Clouds


    • 7.

      The Text


    • 8.

      Exporting a GIF


    • 9.



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About This Class

This is the quick and easy total beginner’s guide to getting up and running in Adobe After Effects. No experience necessary! I’ll show you how to use the tools inside of the program, animate your design into a loop, and export a GIF in Photoshop to share with your friends!

This course is for anyone interested in motion design. Maybe you're a graphic designer who has always wanted to turn one of your pieces into an animated GIF, or maybe you've never even considered design before but thought animation always looked like something you'd enjoy! Whatever the case may be, this class will get you up and running in the world of motion graphics!

And if you are interested in getting into the world of motion graphics, this class is a great stepping stone to my other After Effects courses. The class I recommend you take next is The Beginner's Guide to Adobe After Effects.


Class Outline

  • Create custom .gif files. In this detailed class, Jake will teach you everything you need to know in After Effects to design and create animated GIF files. With the help of his step-by-step instructions, you can quickly learn how to become an animator as Jake walks you through his own animated videos and shows you exactly how he created them.
  • Making your own. You will be encouraged to create your own animated GIF, something similar to the demonstration example, or wildly original. If you get stuck, you can ask Jake questions on his class discussion page, and when you are finished, you can post your final product for constructive community feedback.
  • Setting up your workspace. You’ll learn exactly how (and why) Jake organizes his After Effects layout so that you can start your animation project on the right foot. Jake will demonstrate how to import Illustrator files and how to create new compositions of individual layers to make sure you are always moving in the right direction.
  • Animating layers. After breaking down his file into layers, Jake will discuss how he is able to move individual objects while keeping his background art locked. He will show you how to work with frame-by-frame animation to keep the process simple and your animation smooth.
  • Working with keyframes. A keyframe is a set of recorded values at a given point in time. You’ll learn how to set keyframes, and to use them properly to perfectly animate your object as it moves through space.
  • Learning your toolkit. Jake will explore all of the After Effects tools at your disposal, and talk you through how and when to use them. You’ll leave Jake’s lessons with a clearer understanding of your electronic toolkit, and how it can help maximize your creativity and smooth the animation of your GIF.
  • Rotating objects as they move. You will learn to use keyframes to rotate your design objects and make them appear to move more naturally. Jake will go into detail to make sure that you know the steps you should take to ensure that your object’s every rotation is easy and smooth.
  • Animating your background. Jake will teach you what a “shape layer” is, and when to use your initial art as a reference point as you work inside After Effects and create dynamic new designs. You’ll also learn how to animate new objects, adjusting their appearance over time to create maximum impact.
  • Combining layers. Using Jake’s tips, you will group layers together to create new “precompositions” of existing design objects that you can apply animated effects on. You’ll also come away from Jake’s lesson with a better understanding of the tweaks you can use to avoid common challenges, and how to scrub your work to ensure that it animates correctly.
  • Saving your animation as a GIF. Jake will discuss how to loop your animation to keep your designs coherent as you export them out of After Effects. He also will share his secret tricks to keep your GIF moving exactly as you designed it, no matter what program it ends up in.

Meet Your Teacher

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Jake Bartlett

Motion Designer

Level: Beginner

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1. Course Trailer: Hey, I'm Jake Bartlett and I'm going to teach you how to animate your own custom gifts. In this course, I'm going to teach you everything you need to know to get up and running with After Effects, even if you've never used the software before. Together, we're going to use the same assets to create this custom animation and export it as a looping GIF. Or you can design your own assets and make a completely original animation. This is a quick introductory course for anyone looking to get into motion graphics, or for someone just looking to have a little bit of fun and add some motion to their own designs. Once you're done with this class, you can move on to some of my more advanced courses. I'll see you in class. 2. Getting Started: Let's get started. The first thing you'll need to do obviously is open up After Effects. Once it's installed, get it up and running and it should look very similar to what I have here. Now, obviously you're not going to have this little Jake panel down in the corner, but everything else should look pretty similar. If it doesn't look like this, what you need to do is come up to this window menu and go to workspace and make sure that you're set to default. If you're on default already and it still doesn't look this way, then come down to reset default to save layout. Then it should look very similar to what I have on my screen. To get started, we need to bring in the artwork that we're going to be using to create this looping animation. If you haven't already, make sure you go to the Project and Resources tab on the class page. Right over here on the right-hand side is the Resources section. This is where you'll find the zip file that not only has the artwork you'll need, but also my project file. You can take a look at it if you want to see the final result of what I create throughout these lessons. Just extract the contents of that zip file onto your computer and there'll be an images folder in there with the artwork. Now, I already have that artwork on my computer, so I want to import it into After Effects. We're going to do that using this panel over here on the left side it's the project panel. This is where any assets that are outside of the program that we want to use will leave and anything that we create inside of After Effects will show up here like a directory. To get our artwork in here, I'm going to right-click in the project panel, go down to import and say "File". Now it's already located the artwork for me, but just navigate to wherever you've saved that artwork on your computer, go into that images folder. Finally, file. This is an Adobe Illustrator file. Then just come down to the Import button and click on it. Now, After Effects is going to identify and recognize that this is an illustrator file, and then it has layers within it that we can access an animate. It's going to ask us how exactly we want to import this because we can do it a few different ways. Under the Import Kind, make sure that we have it set to composition, not footage, that's very important. It's also very important that we come down to Footage Dimensions and say layer size not document size. Set it to composition then layer size. Then we can click, "Okay". Right away we'll see in the project panel a couple of things. This first object is a composition. You can see under the type column, it's a composition. You can think of a composition like a document, whether it's an Illustrator document or a Photoshop document, it's After Effects version of that basically. It's what we're going to be working with inside of After Effects. Right here you see the little thumbnail preview. We can already see that artwork showing up and underneath that is a folder. Again, look at the type column there, it says folder and we can twirl that open to see all of the individual layers of the artwork that make up this Illustrator file. They all have the Illustrator file icon. If I just expand this out a little bit, we can see that they all belong to the GIF artwork illustrator file. Now that all of our assets are in here, I'm going to collapse that up and I'm going to double-click on this composition. Just double-click and that will open it up in the Composition viewer, that's this panel over here. This is a direct preview of what our final animation will look like when we go to export it. You can think of it like a Canvas. This is where we're going to be seeing what's actually happening. Down here on the bottom is our timeline panel. This is where we're going to see all of the layers that make up what we're seeing in the composition, as well as how we're going to animate things across time. It's both the layers panel and the timeline panel. Now, this composition that was generated by After Effects was based on the dimensions of the Illustrator artwork. I created it at 800 by 600 pixels because I wanted to be able to post this to dribble. It'll automatically size my composition to that resolution. We can see that right here in the Project panel preview. But I want to take a look at some more of the settings of this composition. Let's go up to the Composition menu up here, and down to composition settings. In this panel, we can see all of the attributes of our composition, like the width and the height. They're set to 800 by 600. That's what I want. Then the frame right down here is what I'm really concerned with. It's currently set to 30 frames per second and that's what it should be set to. If yours is anything but 30, just click and drag in here and change that to be 30 frames per second. Then finally down here at the bottom is the duration. This is measured in time code, which is laid out in frames right here, seconds, minutes, and hours. It's like a clock or a stopwatch. We want it to be 10 seconds long. That's probably longer than it needs to be, but it's a good place to start. I'm going to leave that at 10 seconds. If yours is not 10 seconds, change that second set of numbers right there to 10 seconds. Then just click "Okay". Our composition is ready to go and we have all of our artwork layers. Before I go any further, I want to save this project so that I don't lose anything in case something goes wrong and After Effects crashes. I'm going to come up to File, Save. You can navigate to wherever you want to save this. But I'm just going to name it Loopy Feeling GIF and click "Save". Now let's add our text at the bottom of the composition. That part I did not do an illustrator, so we'll add it right in After Effects. Up at the top of After Effects is where all of your tools live. This is the toolbar and I want to go right here to the Text tool. I'm going to click on that text tool and right over here on the right side, the Character panel automatically opens. After Effects, notices that I clicked on the text tool and then I'm probably going to want to adjust the font. That's why it automatically expanded. Now to add text into a composition, all I have to do is click once anywhere in the Composition window. I'll just click here. Now I can type out my message, which is you give me a loopy feeling. Then I'll just switch back to my selection tool to apply that text. I've created a new layer with that text and I can click and drag it around with that selection tool wherever I want. Now this is not the font that I want to use and it's not the color that I want to use. I'm going to change the font by coming over to the character panel with that text selected. Right here is where I choose the font. Now, I know that I want to change it to one called nevis. I'm just going to type in nevis. There it is. I'll click on it to apply that font. Then I'm going to click and drag it down again using my selection tool to reposition this. It's above the clouds at the base of the composition. Next, I want to change the color from black to being the same color as the sky in the background. I can do that by just clicking on this Eyedropper Tool and then selecting that background color. You can see that's reflected right over here in the fill color, and now that text is the same color. I also want to make this all caps instead of uppercase and lowercase, which I can do right down at the bottom here, this little button is all caps. I'll click on that. Now I have all caps text layer. I also want to space out the text a little bit more so there's more room between each letter. I can do that right here under this little icon that says VA, it's called the tracking of the text. I can click and drag this just to be able to freely adjust the spacing or I can click once and then type in a number. I'm just going to type in 100 as a nice round number and then click off. That gives me a little bit more space between those letters. Now, this text is currently aligned to the left edge. It's left justified, but I want it to be aligned to the center of the text. To do that, I need to open up another panel. I'm going to collapse this character panel just by clicking on it. Then I'm going to go to the paragraph panel, but just below it, click on that. My text is still selected and right here is where I can change the justification. I just want to center justify it. I'm going to click on that. Now the text comes from the center of the layer rather than the left. Finally, I want to align this to the center of my composition, but doing that by eye isn't going to be very accurate. I'm just going to leave my texts where it is and come up to another panel just a few up here, the Align panel and click on it. What this allows me to do is align layers to other layers as well as the composition. With this one selected, it's going to default to aligning the layer to the composition, and that's what I want. Right here I have the aligned horizontal button. If I click on it, my texts snaps to the center of the composition. That's exactly where I want it. Now I might want to reposition my text up and down a little bit, but keep it centered. Well, if I click and drag, it's going to be very easy to accidentally get off of that center point. But I could hold down the Shift key on the keyboard while I'm clicking and dragging. That will constrain the text to only moving horizontally or vertically. I'm just going to hold down that Shift key while clicking and dragging with my selection tool and moving it right about there. It looks nice and centered vertically on that cloud. Now I can deselect that layer just by clicking anywhere that isn't another layer. As I move my mouse around, you can see that there's corner handle transform outlines around each one of these layers. I'm just going to click in this dark gray area outside the composition to deselect. Now that I have my text positioned correctly in all of my artwork where it needs to be. I'm just going to save one more time by going up to File, Save. Or you could use the keyboard shortcut Control S on a PC or Command S on a Mac. Before you move onto the next lesson, make sure that you've set up your artwork in After Effects, you've got it imported, you change your composition settings to be the way that I have them set and you've added your text and styled it the way that you want to. Then we can move on to actually animating. 3. The Plane's Position: Now we actually get to start animating, and the way that this animation is going to play out is the airplane is going to start off in the bottom left corner behind the clouds off-screen, come in and follow this line. We're just going to use it as a guide for now, but it's going to make this heart in a smoke trail basically, so it will loop all the way around and then exit off in the opposite direction that it came in. To be able to do this, we're going to use what are called keyframes. Keyframes are what drive almost every animation inside of After Effects and a lot of other animation software. We'll start by animating the airplane, and I don't want to accidentally adjust any of the other layers. I'm going to lock all of those down in my timeline. This column right here has a little lock icon on it that allows you to lock a layer, so you don't adjust it. I'm just going to click and drag on all of these, leaving the plane layer unlocked, and then lock the last two. Now I can't click on anything in this composition except for the airplane. With my selection tool active, I'm going to click and drag this to where I want it to start at the beginning of my animation, which is down here to the left. Now as I did that you saw that it's scrolled the composition down and that's letting me know that I'm not actually seeing the entire composition as a whole. If I switch to the hand tool, which is right here next to the selection tool, I can click and drag to pan around in my composition. Now, I want to be able to see the entire thing all at once. I'm actually going to come down to this little menu right here, which is the magnification menu. It's currently set to 100 percent, meaning we're viewing it at 100 percent scale. I want to set it to fit. That will shrink down my composition to fit within my viewer no matter what. I'm going to take this opportunity to point out that this magnification is actually not the resolution of our document. This menu right next to it is the resolution, and it's important to distinguish the difference between the two because resolution and magnification are two different things. Remember, we set the composition settings of this document to be 800 by 600 pixels. That is the resolution of the document and the resolution of what it will be when we export it as a GIF after we're done animating. The magnification ratio is just the scale that we're looking at, that resolution. But where it can get really confusing is that we can actually view this composition at something other than full resolution. I'm actually going to go back to 100 percent magnification really quickly, so we can see this is the actual resolution, the size of our composition once we export it, and we're currently looking at it at full resolution, meaning it's full quality, this is a direct representation of what our exports should look like when we are done with it. But if I change this from full to half, everything gets a little bit soft, especially if I zoom in past 100 percent magnification. Let me go to 200 percent and just pan around a little bit you can see that now we're getting a lot more pixelated. I could change this resolution down to quarter, and it's going to get extremely pixelated. This is because we're actually scaling down the resolution of our document and viewing it at one-quarter of the full resolution. But if I switch it back to full resolution, you'll notice it's still is a little bit fuzzy, especially if I go into something extreme, like 800 percent. We're seeing all of these pixelated, blocky edges around our artwork, and the reason for that is because this composition is made up of pixels, even if we're working with some vector graphics, some Illustrator files, After Effects ultimately is going to rasterize everything and turn it into pixels. If we're looking at this, anything beyond 100 percent magnification, regardless of whether or not we're looking at it at full resolution or not, it's going to start showing us pixels and that's normal. Don't let that bother you. That's totally normal behavior for After Effects, just switch back to 100 percent magnification and set your resolution to full to see a preview of what this actually is at full quality. With that explanation out of the way, I'm going to change my magnification back to fit, so I can see the entire composition and then switch back to my selection tool. We were starting to animate this airplane, so I'm going to again click and drag it so that it's below the clouds right here. Now I want to tell After Effects, and this is where I want the airplane to start at frame zero, and I can tell I'm at frame zero by looking at the time code right down here. Remember these first two numbers are the frames, then seconds, minutes, and hours. As I scrub through this timeline, if I click and drag on this blue play head, those numbers count up as I move to the right, forward in time and back down to zero as I move to the left. At frame zero, I want the biplanes layer to be at this point in the composition positionally, and to record that we're going to set a keyframe for it. Down here, I'm going to twirl down the layer controls, and within that layer, we see the Transform category. I'm going to twirl that open as well, and we can see all of the transform controls for this layer along with their values. These are all in relationship to the composition,so the position currently is set to this value, which puts it right down here in the bottom left corner. Now all of these stopwatches next to these values or how we set keyframes for these values. I'm going to click on this stopwatch on the position property at frame zero. The stopwatch turns blue, and we now have this little diamond icon in our timeline. This is a keyframe, and all a keyframe is, is a recorded set of values at a given point in time, so what we've done is told After Effects at frame zero, we want this plane to be at this position. Now I can move forward in time and progress this animation around the heart and add keyframes for each new value. I'm going to go forward, say 25 frames, and I'm just going to click and drag to get around 25, and then what I can do is use the page up or page down keys to advance one frame forward or backwards, so page up goes backwards, page down goes forwards, and if you don't have the page up or down keys on your keyboard, just hold down the Control key or Command on a Mac and press the left and right arrows. Get to frame 25, and then we're going to move the airplane, and it's going to automatically set another keyframe. Watch. I'm going to click and drag this to rate at the base of that heart rate at that point, and then let go. After Effects is automatically added another keyframe for me, and we also have this representation of the motion of that animation on our composition viewer. This is called the motion path. Watch what happens now if I click and drag the play head back. It's going to animate between those two keyframes. This is the foundation for all animation and after effects, and it's a lot of fun to play around with. Now that we have that second position set, I'm going to move forward to frame 50, so just drag this forward. But you need to notice something as soon as I got past one second, and remember we have 30 frames per second. As soon as I got past frame 30, it's reset the frame number and count it up one second. But if you look really closely underneath this is another set of numbers, and this is literally just the frame count, so you don't have to think about seconds, minutes, hours, anything like that. You can just look right down here to see the exact frame number that you're currently on. I want to go to frame 50, so I'm going to click and drag and use my page down key to get to frame 50. At this point, I want to click and drag the airplane up and over to the right. Now the airplane's going behind this cloud and I can't really see it aligned to that heart anymore, so I'm just going to disable the visibility of that layer by scrolling up here on my timeline and disabling the visibility of the cloud right layer just by clicking that eyeball. Now I can see that path clearly, and that's actually pretty close. I think that's a good spot right about there for that point in time, and then I'll move 25 frames forward. Again, we'll go to frame 75, this is pretty arbitrary at this point. Don't worry too much about the timing, but I'm just going to keep it simple and do 25 frame increments, and then I want to move this over to this point right, where it has that criss-cross section of the heart, and then I'll move 25 frames forward again. We'll get to frame 100, and then I'll move that airplane over to the left side, and I don't have to be perfect, it just needs to be roughly about the same height as that. Then I'll move forward 25 more frames, 125, and let's see 125, there we go. For this next keyframe, I actually want it to be the same value as this keyframe right here, which by the way, these keyframes correspond to these squares on the motion path. If I click on this square right here, it's going to select the corresponding keyframe in my timeline, and vice versa. If I click a keyframe in the timeline, the corresponding square on the motion path is highlighted. I want to duplicate this keyframe to this point in time and to do that, I'm just going to have it selected, come up to edit, copy and then edit paste, and it's going to paste that keyframe in the exact spot of your play head wherever you are in the timeline. Finally, I want to move forward 25 more frames, so frame 150, and then move the airplane off and down to the right behind the clouds. As I scrub through this, you can see that airplane roughly going around that entire heart. Now, your motion path may have curves to it just based on the preferences of your After Effects by default. I've changed it so that my motion paths are all straight lines basically but I actually want to make them curved. If yours already have curves, that's great. If not, I'm going to show you how to add those right now. I'll start by selecting all of these keyframes and then switching to my pen tool up here in the toolbar. With that selected, you'll see that the icon is now different. It's set to the pen tool but if I come over to any one of these motion paths and highlight over the keyframe points, it switches to the convert vertex tool. Since they're all selected, I can do this all at once but I just want to click on one of those, just a single click and it's added handles to every one of these keyframes. These work exactly the same as vector pads in Illustrator and you can even work with vector pads here in After Effects but instead of generating artwork, it's generating the motion trail that this airplane is taking. Now that I've added those, I'm going to switch back to my selection tool and this will allow me to modify these curves to fit the heart shape but before we get there, I need to add a couple more keyframes. I'm going to move my play head back in time to right here, right where it's at the top because the airplane is not going to come up to this side of the heart, come down here, and then shoot right over here. It's going to follow this loop and do a loop right there before coming over. I want to add a keyframe between these two here and these two here. I'm going to go roughly halfway between those two and then I'm going to copy and paste this keyframe, this time with the keyboard shortcut, which is really simple. Control or Command C to copy, Control or Command V to paste. Now I have that keyframe there, and I'm going to paste it again halfway between these two. Again, it doesn't have to be super precise. Just Control or Command V to paste that, copy the keyframe and then I'll go back to this center keyframe right here. I want to make sure that I'm directly on top of it so as I'm scrubbing through, I'm going to hold down the shift key and that will snap my play head to the closest keyframe. Now that I know that I'm right on top of that keyframe, I can change the value and After Effects will automatically adjust to that keyframe's recorded value. What I want to do is move the airplane down to this part of the loop at this point in time. I'll just click and drag it and remember that keyboard shortcut of shift, that modifier key will snap it to moving it just vertically or just horizontally. I want to move it straight down to right about there so that it's aligned to the base of that loop. Now that I have that, the airplane is going to move around that loop before moving over to the left side. Now all of our keyframes are set but it's not following the heart very precisely. Let's switch back to that pen tool and we can modify the curves of these keyframes. Again, if I select all of them at once, we can see the handles all at once but I want to edit one at a time so I'll deselect those keyframes and just select the layer so I can see the motion path in my composition. What I want to do here is just click and drag on any one of these handles and basically match this path a little bit more closely to the heart artwork. I just clicked and dragged to modify that path and make it more of a heart shape. Now by default, all of these handles are changing proportionally meaning if I were to grab my selection tool and click and drag, you can see that moving one handle also moves the other handle but if I have the pen tool selected and then use that convert vertex tool, it's going to break the relationship between those two handles. If that ever happens to you, just click and drag on it one more time with the convert vertex tool and it will link the relationship between those two handles again. That'll help you make much softer curves but I'm just going to switch to the selection tool to modify the rest of these handles and you can even grab one of the anchor points to reposition it. I can click and drag these as well and very quickly realign all of this motion path to better fit this heart artwork. I'm just going to quickly modify these pads and this one especially is going to need some help. I'm going to switch to my pen tool for this one. Click and drag to soften that out. I might even move it down a little bit. That airplane is pretty big, so it's going to cover that up but I want this to be just a little bit bigger of a loop but that looks pretty good. I think that I'm happy with that and now that airplane is going to follow that path much more closely. So far we've just taken a look at this animation by scrubbing through the timeline but what if we want to preview what it's actually going to look like in real time? Well, we're going to do that simply by pressing the space bar. I'm going to go to the front of the timeline and press space bar to play my animation. The airplane's now going to loop around the artwork and go behind the clouds again. Now you can see this little timeline highlight right here. This is letting us know what part of the timeline we're seeing currently but after it gets past this last keyframe, we just have a bunch of empty space. I don't want to see all that empty space. I can actually change the range of the timeline that After Effects will preview using this bar right up here. I press space bar one more time to stop the animation but this bar here is called my work area and it has a start point and an end point. If I click and drag on the endpoint, I can highlight a specific section of the timeline to preview. Again, if I hold down the shift key that will snap to the nearest keyframe or the play head. I'm going to snap it to that last keyframe and then press play one more time. Now it's only going to preview that section of our animation and it's just going to loop indefinitely. Now if you've used any editing software in the past you're probably used to hitting the space bar and just seeing the playback instantly. After Effects doesn't always work that way because it has to calculate every single frame of your animation in order to play it back for you. This whole area right here, this green bar is my indication that After Effects has already previewed all of these frames and cached them so that it can play it back in real time but the first time that you play through this animation, it might take a little bit of time to calculate each frame. After it's made its way through the entire work area, then that entire work area should be green and then loop around and play it back in real time again. Now you might notice that the airplane isn't all that smooth right now and it's obviously not rotating. Don't worry about the rotation but After Effects has a really cool feature that will help smooth out this type of animation automatically for us. What we need to do is select all of these keyframes between the first and last ones then right-click and select this option that's called Rove Across Time. I'll click on that and all of the icons, those diamond-shaped keyframes, have now turned to smaller dots and they've all shifted around a little bit. What this has done is basically proportionately smoothed out all of the keyframes timing so that it travels at a consistent speed throughout our motion path. I'll play it back so you can see what I mean. If I press the space bar, now it's moving much more smoothly throughout the entire animation. What's really cool about this is that let's say I didn't like how slowly that airplane was moving, I could just click and drag on this last keyframe and all of those rove across time keyframes are going to proportionally space based on where I put that last keyframe. If I put it right there and play it back, it's going to move more quickly. If I space it out a lot more, then it's going to play back more slowly. We can see that represented in the motion path as well. As I click and drag, you can see all these little dots moving around on that motion path. Every single one of those dots represents a frame and the position value for each one of those frames. The squares are the keyframes, and the dots are the position value of each one of the frames between those keyframes. I'm going to leave that back at the timing that we had it at. Moving to frame 150 and then it's clicking and dragging while holding shift to snap it to that point. Be sure to save your project at this point so we don't lose any information. File, save or Control or Command S, again is the keyboard shortcut. Now we have a pretty good foundation for the animation of our GIF. We've only done the position so far, but in the next lesson we're going to move on to the rotation. 4. The Plane's Rotation: Now we get to add keyframes to the rotation property instead of the position property so that we can actually animate the airplane moving around in this loop. What we're going to do is move back in time to where the airplane is right at the base of the heart there, and this is where we're going to set our first rotation keyframe. Under the transform controls for the airplane layer, I'm going to click on the stopwatch for the rotation value and add a keyframe at that point in time. This isn't actually the value that I want for the rotation because the airplane is moving across the screen right now. Or at least it looks like it should be, but it's really following the loop of that heart. I need to change this rotation value to align it with the heart, and we can do this a couple of different ways. The first way I'm going to show you is using the rotation tool, which is right up here in the toolbar. I'm gonna click on that and then click and drag on my layer just to be able to freely rotate it however I want. So just going to point the nose of the airplane in that direction. Another way that I could've done that is just by coming down to this value which now has changed since I changed the rotation and click and drag on it. So either way will work. It's basically just a matter of preference. With that key-frame set, I'm going to go forward in time to rate about where it hits that second keyframe and the motion path, and since my rotation tool is still active, I'm just going to click and drag to rotate this and back. Again I'm basically aligning the airplane to the outside of this motion path. Wherever this curve is taking the airplane, that's how I want to rotate their plane to look convincing like it's following that path. Then I'll just move forward in time again and we'll get to say this point right here, and I'll rotate it this direction because remember we're coming down this direction. I'll move forward in time, back to where it meets that criss-cross one more time, and I want to be careful to continue rotating it in the same direction. Because if I were to rotate it back in this direction, then it's going to animate incorrectly, see how it's doing a backward rotation when it gets there. I want to make sure to continue rotating that airplane around counterclockwise so it's pointing in the correct direction. If we take a look at the value down here that it's recorded, you can see that after it's cycled 360 degrees in either direction, it adds a revolution value. That's why it's important to know which direction you're rotating things. Then I'll just continue this all the way along the motion path, rotating the airplane to align wherever those motion key-frames are, and then move down to the very bottom. That's where I'm going to point the nose towards that motion path, so it goes off the screen in a straight direction. Let's preview this animation now that all of those key-frames are set and see what it looks like. I'll move back to the front of the timeline and press the space bar. So there we go. All of our values are set. But again, it's not very smooth and that's just because of the default state of these key-frames. What I want to do is start by selecting the first and the last key and smoothing them out a little bit. With one selected, I'm going to just hold down the Shift key on the keyboard and then click and drag to make a selection box around the other key-frame. Then I'll right-click on either one of them and go to key-frame assistant and up to easy ease, what this is going to do is basically smooth out that transition from this key-frame into the next one and from the previous key-frame into that one. Then I want to select all of these key-frames again by clicking and dragging in my timeline to make a selection box around them. And then hold down the Control or Command key on a Mac and click once on those key-frames, those diamonds are now going to be circles, and this is again, another method of smoothing out the transition between values. It's a little bit different than the easy ease method. But if we play this back again, it should now playback more smoothly. It eases out of that first value. Those rotations are much smoother now and overall, my animation is just looking a whole lot nicer. At this point, our animation for the airplane is done. It's moving very smoothly and that loop is nice and smooth as well. We can move on to animating this smoke trail that the airplane leaves behind to create this heart shape. 5. The Heart: Now that we have the airplane nicely flowing around the screen, let's go ahead and animate this trail of smoke that the airplane's going to leave behind. We're going to do this using what are called shape layers. It's a little bit more complicated, but I'm going to walk you through it step-by-step. Don't worry. First of all, let's collapse this biplane layers since we're done animating. I'm going go ahead and lock it so that I don't accidentally add any more keyframes. Then I'll go ahead and enable that cloud right layer, just turn that back on so we can see it again. What I want to do is unlock the heart layer right here. This is that guide that we've been using this whole time for the motion path of the airplane. What I want to do is right-click on that layer, which I can do right here in the composition viewer. Right-click, go down to the create menu and then over to create shapes from vector layer. When I click on this, two things are going to happen. First, it's going to hide the original Illustrator artwork layer, so it's not visible anymore. Then it's going to generate this new layer, which is a shape layer. I know it's a shape layer because of this star icon right here. A shape layer is After Effect's version of vector artwork just like in Illustrator. We can control all different things about how it's styled. Like how thick this stroke actually is, the color of the stroke. We can even make it a dashed line and that's what I want to do right now. Let's twirl down this shape layer and scroll down to the contents. This is where everything contained in this shape layer lives. I'll twirl that down, go into the group one folder, and then open up stroke 1 which is where we can see all of the properties for this particular stroke. If I scroll down a little bit further, there's a dashes category. I want to click this plus icon to add a dash. Right away my line is dashed and I'll zoom in to 200 percent, so we can see this a little bit more clearly. I'd like to make those dashes a little bit larger. I'm going to change the dash from 10 to 12. I'll just type in the number 12 and press Enter. Then I want to add a little bit more space between each dash. I'm going to press this Plus button one more time to add a gap. That will allow me to increase or decrease the spacing between each dash. I'm going to set mine to something around 20. Maybe 19 just to be a little bit tighter. That looks pretty good. Now if I switch to my hand tool and pen down a little bit, you can see that right here at the bottom, that dash in the very bottom of the heart isn't centered and that's bugging me, but we can fix that really easily. First of all, I'm going to hide the overlays of the path so that I can see the dash is nice and clearly, just by disabling this button right here, toggle mask and shape path visibility. Then I'm going to come down to this option right here, offset. Switch to my selection tool and then click and drag on that value. As I do that, you can see that the dashes are now being shifted around that path. I'll just back that up until it looks nice and centered. That looks great. I'll re-enable my overlays and then change my magnification back to fit, so I can see this as a whole. Now that the smoke trail looks the way that I wanted to, I need to animate it and we're going to do that within the shape layer as well. I'm going to collapse those dashes and scroll up a little bit, collapse the stroke. Then right over here is a little add menu with the play button icon. If I click on that, it'll open up a menu and we want to go to trim paths. If I click on that, it's going to add a trim paths operator to my shape layer. If I twirl that open, we have some controls that allow us to reveal parts of our path. If I grab this end value, which is currently at 100 percent and back it up, you can see that, that line looks like it's now being drawn on. This is exactly how we're going to animate it. I'm going to start with it at a value of zero and then find the point where the airplane should start revealing that smoke, which would be right about here. I'll set a keyframe on the end value. Click on that stopwatch to add a keyframe to the end property. Then I'll move forward in time and tell that plane is at the end of the heart right about there. Change that value to 100 percent. As I do that since there was a keyframe set already, After Effects generates the second keyframe for me. Now if I scrub through here, we should be able to see that line being animated on and revealed by the airplane as it moves along. Let's play it back in real time and see what that looks like. The airplane comes out in that trail is revealed behind it. That was perfect. If yours isn't aligned, then all you need to do is click and drag on these keyframes to re-time it until the plane is hiding that trail for the duration of the animation. But mine worked just fine, so I'm going to leave it as it is. The next thing I want to do is have that smoke trail expand its thickness as time goes on, like smoke coming off of an airplane does. It starts off a little bit smaller and then spreads out and eventually fades away. Let's back up to where that animation starts, which is right here. I'll hold down the Shift key again to snap to that key frame. Then I'll collapse the trim paths options and go into the stroke options again. The stroke width is what's going to control how thick the line is that we're using to make the smoke. I want to set a keyframe on the stroke width at that point in time. Then move forward probably all the way to the end of the animation. I'll hold Shift to snap to my work area and then just increase the thickness of this. This can be whatever thickness you want. I'm going to make it just big enough to where the dashes start touching each other. Now the thickness of that line changes over time as well. The only other thing we need to do for this smoke is to have it fade away as the airplane moves off screen. I'm going to go to this point right about here and then collapse the stroke, collapse the group, collapse the contents, and then open up the transform controls for that layer and find the opacity value. This will allow me to basically dial down the opacity and we're going to use keyframes to animate it off. At about this point in time, I'll set an opacity keyframe by clicking on the stopwatch, setting that value at 100 percent. Then I'll move forward in time probably a little bit further than the work area this time and then turn that value all the way down to zero. That way the fade lasts just a little bit longer. I want to preview this in real time, so I'm just going to extend my work area out by clicking and dragging on that endpoint. Back this up to the first frame and then press the space bar. The plane comes out, the trail is revealed, the thickness of that line expands and then it fades away. Now you can feel free to adjust the timing of this fade off and the thickness of the line as well. A really quick way to bring up all of the keyframes that you've set for a layer is to just have that layer selected and then press the U key on the keyboard. That brings up only the properties that have keyframes applied. From here I could say extend the stroke width animation to be the duration of the fade out. I did that very simply just by clicking and dragging while holding Shift to snap it to those surrounding keyframes. I'm going to move it all the way to the end of the opacity animation. Then let's say that I don't want the fade to happen quite so quickly. I don't want it to start until the airplane's maybe about here. Well then I could just grab the keyframes for the opacity. But I also want to move the ending keyframe for the stroke width as well. Hold Shift and click on that selected and then click and drag this out a little bit further. Then I'll just extend my work area out just a little bit more and play this back. Now the airplane completes its loop and the heart behind it just takes a little bit longer for it to fade off before the animation repeats itself. Always be sure that you're saving your project regularly so that you don't lose any of your work. I realized there were some more advanced techniques in this lesson. If you need to re-watch it, just go ahead and do that. Make sure that you really understand what's happening in this video before we move on to animating the clouds in the next lesson. 6. The Clouds: Now we get to animate the clouds in the sky. This is where we need to start being a little bit more precise with our timing in order to create a seamless loop. These clouds are going to have to start and end in the exact same place to make that seamless loop. Let's start by first collapsing the heart outlines shape layer and locking it so we don't accidentally move it around. Just for good measure, let's lock that original heart illustrator layer as well. Then we'll unlock the cloud left and cloud right layers. These are the two up here in the sky that we're going to animate. What I want to do is go to the start of the animation and set position keyframes for each one of these. There's a really handy keyboard shortcut for revealing the position property of any layer or any number of layers, if I select both of them by holding the Shift key on the keyboard, I can click on the other one and it will select both of them, then just press the P key on the keyboard and that will reveal just the position property for both of them. It's never too early to start learning keyboard shortcuts. With both of those layers selected, I'll click on one of the position stopwatches, and that will set a keyframe for both layers. We have the cloud starting in this position. Remember I said we need this to be ending in the exact same position as well. So I'm just going to go to the end of my animation, which let's say six seconds is probably a great whole number to be the looping point. We're going to go say that's the end of the animation. I want to set identical keyframes on both of those layers as well. To do that, I'm just going to click on this little diamond icon, a keyframe icon right here on the left side. When I do that, it will add a keyframe at the current value, at the current time. I have the same keyframes at the start and end, now we need to go to the halfway point and shift the clouds around a little bit. Half of six seconds is three seconds. I need to back this up until I'm at the three second mark, there we go. Then I'm going to deselect these layers just by clicking somewhere in the composition. I want to focus on just one cloud or the other. Let's start with the left one. What I want to do is just move it over to the right a little bit. Not even this much, I just want it to be very subtly moving over to the right and I want to make sure that it's not moving up and down. I'm going to hold the Shift key, which will constrain the motions to just horizontal or vertical movement. I'm just going to shift this over a little bit to the right and then I'm going to do the same thing for the other cloud, but move it to the left so they both move inwards a little bit. I'll just click and drag on that one, hold Shift and move it to the left just a little bit. Now, if I play this back, the clouds are going to just subtly move inwards and at the halfway point they're going to reverse directions and go back to where they started. Now, if I want to preview this as a six second loop, I need to make sure my work area is set to six seconds. I'm going to click and drag on that endpoint while holding Shift to snap to that six second mark. Now I can be sure that these clouds are going to loop seamlessly, but the movement is a little bit rigid. I want to add that easy ease to all of these keyframes. I'll stop the playback by pressing the space bar and drag a box around all six of these keyframes to make a selection of them. Then I'll right-click on any one of them, go to keyframe assistant and up to easy ease, that will ease in and out of each one of these keyframes. Now if I play it, you can see that it just moves a little bit more smoothly in and out of those two positions. That's all I need to do to animate these clouds, but now that I decided on the six second loop, I need to make sure that all of my keyframes fall within that six seconds. Once again, without any layer selected, you can deselect just by clicking off of the layer in the timeline. I'm going to press the U key on the keyboard once to collapse all of the layers and then one more time, the U key to reveal all of the keyframes across all of my layers. I just want to scroll down in this timeline and make sure that all of my keyframes are within that six seconds. It looks like my stroke width and opacity keyframes are within that six second mark, so I'm good to go. That's all there is to animating the clouds. We can move on to the final step in the next lesson where we actually get to add an effect to the clouds and text at the base of our composition. 7. The Text: Let's finish off this GIF by animating the text and the clouds at the base of the frame. I'll start by first collapsing all of my key frames again by pressing ''U'' on the keyboard and then lock up the cloud left and right layers. I want to unlock the text layer and unlock the clouds bottom layer and I actually want to resize this text layer, it's not quite as large as I want. I'm going to go back to the Character panel by clicking on it, with that text layer selected and then click and drag on this number right here, this is the font size. I'm going to make it nice and big, so it's nice and clear, easy to read and then I just want to shift it down a little bit. I've been using the selection tool and clicking and dragging to move things around, but you can also use the keyboard to move things around. If I just have that layer selected and tap the down arrow a few times, I can very precisely center this in the clouds vertically, I think that looks pretty good. Now that that's done, I want to select both of that layer and the clouds bottom layer, I'll do that by holding the Control or Command key on a Mac and click on that and now I want to basically group these two layers together and I can do that through a menu command under the Layer menu. I'm going to go up to Layer and then all the way down at the bottom is Pre-compose. I'm going to click on that and it brings up this pre-compose window, you can think of pre-composing, like sticking these two layers or any number of layers into a folder. I'm going to give this composition a name and we'll just name it clouds and text. Don't worry about any of the other options just click "Okay" and now we have a new composition icon and a new composition showing up in our project. When you pre-compose something, it's literally taking those layers and putting them into a new composition and then replacing those layers with the new composition. Now, instead of having two separate layers for these clouds and text, it's one layer at the base of my frame. Now, what I want to do is give this some waviness so that it looks just like it's floating in the sky and has a little bit of motion to it and we're going to do this through an effect. We're going to go to this panel right here, Effects and Presets and drop it down. This is where you can find all of the effects and After Effects and what's really nice about this panel is that you can search for specific effects and I happen to know that the name of the effect we're going to use is called a wave warp. I'm just going to type in wave and right there at the top under the distort category is wave warp. To apply an effect, just have the layer selected that you want to apply it to and then double-click. Right away you can see this distorted text at the bottom of my screen and over here instead of the project panel, we now have the Effects Controls panel and like the name says, this is where we can control the effects properties and there are only a few things that we need to change. The first thing I want to do is go straight to this property right here called pinning. It's currently set to none, but I want to change it to bottom edge and if you look at the bottom edge right now you can see that the wave is applied to the entire layer uniformly. But if I say bottom edge, then it's going to keep the bottom edge pinned, it will not distort anything touching that bottom edge and we won't see through the clouds. Next, I want to change the wave width to be a lot bigger, if I increase this by clicking and dragging it, I want to make it a much larger number and in fact, let's just round this off by clicking on that number and typing in the number 200 for the width. Next, I want to change the wave height because if I play this back, you'll see that the effect is actually animating this wave and that's a little bit too wavy, I don't want it to be super distracting. I'm going to change the wave height down to a very small number of two and press ''Enter'' and now you can see that that wavy motion is much more subtle and it matches the overall speed of the rest of the animation a little bit better. We don't want it to be distracting, but we want to know that it is moving. Now, it is still animating a little bit fast and we can change that with the wave speed property. I'm going to change this down to a value of 0.5 and watch this playback as a whole. Now, pay attention right where it loops, that actually looped pretty seamlessly. This wave speed value determines what the wave looks like at a specific point in time, so if I were to do a different value, say 0.6, then this last frame isn't going to match the first frame and you'll notice a jump. Watch really closely right here. See how it jumped, this value is basically measured in seconds. If I put it at half of a second, since my animation loops on a whole second, that should loop very seamlessly, that is the final step to animating my entire GIF. Since everything is moving nice and seamlessly and it's looping, we can move on to actually export this as a GIF. 8. Exporting a GIF: How do we export our animation as an animated GIF? Well, we're actually going to send it to another program called Adobe Media Encoder. First of all, we never named this composition. It's currently just named based on the artwork, which is a GIF.Artwork and I want to change that. Over here in the effects controls panel, right over here, it's hard to see, but there's another tab for the project panel, which gets us back to this view. I want to rename this composition by selecting it with my selection tool and then press "Enter" on the keyboard and I'll rename it to Loopy-Feeling and then press "Return" or "Enter" one more time. Now that that's named correctly, I'm going to come up to the composition menu. It's important that we have the composition that we actually want to export open when we do this. Go up to composition and then down to add to Adobe Media Encoder queue. When you click on that, Adobe Media Encoder will open, and it might take a little bit of time to initialize, but eventually you should get to something that looks like this. Don't worry about what you're seeing. You don't have to understand any of this. But what we want to do is come over to this queue panel right here and start by changing the format under this format column. This could be set to H.264 or any number of other video formats. What we want to change it to is Animated GIF. Click on that little drop-down arrow and go to Animated GIF, and then come over to the output file column and click on this blue text. This is going to determine where your GIF is actually saved once it exports it. I'm going to choose this directory right here. It's named the same thing as our composition, and I'm fine with that. I'm going to click on the "Save" button. Then all I have to do is click this green play button for Media Encoder to immediately link to After Effects, give us a little output preview, and we can watch the progress bar go by as it exports this animation. Once it's done, we'll immediately be able to click on this blue text, which will open the directory that the file was saved to. If I double-click on that, we'll immediately be able to see the animation playback. Now I'm on a PC using Windows and the built in photo viewer on Windows supports animated GIF playback. But I know that on a Mac, the preview app does not. It's going to show you a bunch of frames individually as photos. The way that you can preview it is by selecting your GIF in the Finder and pressing the "Space bar". That should show you the preview, or you could drag it directly into your browser. The browser does support animated playback, and you should be able to preview it just fine that way. Now, there are other ways of exporting GIFs. This is the most straightforward, simple way for you to be able to export it, upload it to your class project, and share it with me and your fellow students. If you're interested in learning how to customize the GIF compression a little bit more and get higher-quality and understand exactly what's happening with GIF compression, you can check out my other class called Compressing GIFs Like A Boss. I'll put a link to that class in the notes of this video right now. All you need to do to be able to share this on Skillshare is create a project on this class and scroll down and make sure that you upload the GIF to the body of the project right here. The cover image does not support animation, so don't try uploading the GIF there. Put it down in the body, and that way it'll play back just fine. But with that, you've completed your class project. 9. Congratulations!: Congratulations, you've finished this class and hopefully completed a custom GIF as well. I really hope that you'll share that GIF on the class project page so I can like it and comment on it and so your other fellow students can see it as well. If you want to share it on social media, be sure to tag @Jakeinmotion, and I'll give it a like there too. I would love it if you left me a review on this class so that I can know what you liked and what I might need to change a little bit in the future and if you have any problems at all, any issues or questions, don't hesitate to leave those questions on the discussions page. I'm actively looking at those and will be glad to work through any problems that you have. Now, if you're interested in motion design and really diving in headfirst, the next class I suggest that you would take from me is the Beginner's Guide to After Effects. That's a much more comprehensive introduction to the entire program and you get to make a really fun project for that class. Thanks again so much for taking this class and I can't wait to see you in the next one.