Shapes layers some of the key features you can’t miss from After Effects it allows you to modified and animate vector art form. In this tutorial I will show how useful After Effects Shapes can be, and what you can do with them. Below the different subjects I will go over.
What are After Effects shapes?
Brief overview for the newbies shape layers are 2D vector graphic layer that can be tweaked directly in After Effects. Shapes are made out of vector path, points, lines. Shapes in After Effects allows you to modified and animate vector art forms.
For in depth information on shape layer you can also check the adobe after effects shape layer documentation page.
Basic standard After Effects shape example below
Since shapes are basically vector art graphics they can also be very detailed and beautiful such as below
Multiple ways to create a shape layer in After Effects?
Here a couple of method how you can create shape layer in After Effects:
Create Shapes from the Ellipse Tool
You can create simple shape directly in After Effects with the Ellipse Tool located on the top tool bar.
Hold Click on the Ellipse tool select the shape you need (Rectangle tool, Round Rectangle Tool,Polygon Tool, Star Tool)
Shape Layer Shortcut: To switch between Shape tools press Q multiple times.
Create Shape Instantly
Double click on the shape icon to create a shape layer.
Change your shape Fill and Stroke color quickly
To switch between opaque color, gradient, or no background
Hold Alt + Click on the “Fill” icon or “Stroke” icon.
Draw Shape Layer
Although Adobe Illustrator is much better to create custom and draw shapes you can still create shapes with the Pen tool located on the top tool bar.
Make Shape from Illustrator
When it come to After Effects shapes, Adobe Illustrator is your best friend as you can import your AI or EPS file into After Effects and convert to a shape layer.
Simply import an Illustrator file in After Effects, drop it to your timeline and “Create Shape from Vector Layer”
Now if feel the method above are boring you can try a higher level and technically create your 3D object in a 3d software such as Cinema4D or Maya and export them as vector file then convert them into shape layer in After Effects.
After Effects Shapes Properties
Once your shape layer is created, you can see and edit the properties such as path, stroke, fill, transform…
Add Shape Options
Now let get to the cool options that you can use on any vector shapes in After Effects
On the right side of Contents you will see Add: with a right arrow
Click on it you will see the options below:
- Gradient Fill
- Gradient Stroke
- Merge path
- Offset Path
- Pucker& Bloat
- Round Corner
- Trim Paths
- Wiggle Paths
- Wiggle Transform
- Zig Zag
Here is a brief animated preview of the add shape options based on basic squares, feel free to click on any of the links below to download the After Effects shape project.
After Effects Shapes Presets Animation Preview
In the Effects & Presets window there are a bunch of animated shapes presets you might not be aware of. To use them check out the steps below.
Open the Effects & Presets window.
Expand *Animaton Presets
Expand the Shapes folder
Click on any of them
Drag and Drop to your composition.
Below a preview of all the After effects shapes presets, just click on + to expand and preview.
Shapes path and Expressions
I found a couple of really good tutorial on expression that are applied to After Effects shape. Just expand below the tabs.
Shape Animation Templates
Now you might not have all the time in the world to make creative shape animation so an alternative to that is finding good template, below a couple of After Effects shape templates that might help you gain some production time.
Haven’t found the information you need on After Effects shape layer? Please let me know what you are looking for in the comments area below. Thanks!!