Tutorial 59: Shape Expressions

Joe Clay | Feb 24, 2017

Update: Barry McWilliams sent us a project file that lets you add circles from the outside, as well as the inside. Download it and check it out! Big thanks to Barry!

I was watching a cool tutorial about tapering a stroke since I've seen that technique around and I was wondering how people were accomplishing it. And of course, as I usually do, I found something that can be used elsewhere to great effect.

I always figured people tapered strokes with similar expressions, but the propertyGroup function was one I was unfamiliar with on the expression side (I've used similar techniques in scripts). Anyway, using that you can find out indexes for various shape elements, which means you can sort of construct your own repeater, using other properties. So now you can do something I've wanted to do for a while—concentric rings in a single shape layer with the same gaps and strokes.

So watch this and watch the School of Motion tapering a stroke tutorial. There are worse ways to spend your time!

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Tutorial 58: Speed Lines

Joe Clay | Feb 17, 2017

So I'm a glutton for punishment apparently, but I figured out how to both make make a preset to add speed lines to your shapes and save a preset with named shape elements. This tutorial shows you how to do both of those things.

Well, to be fair, I thought I knew how to do the latter, but After Effects defeated me at every turn. If I didn't know it were possible, because I did it on the very last preset I built, I would've just assumed it wouldn't work. But I figured it out so hopefully that'll help you too.

A text article on that will appear on the blog, for the future when you need an even better refresher and you go searching for it on google. Haha.

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Grab the Project Files

Feel free to download the project file that you can use in your own projects!

Feel free to download a preset that you can use in your own projects!

Tutorial 57: Quick Particles

Joe Clay | Feb 10, 2017

This week we'll explore a way to make semi-randomized circular particles by drawing a quick path with a dashed stroke and using wiggle paths. Using this technique you can make cells, an alternative vegas effect, fake bokeh, and really whatever you can think up.

Combine giant strokes with smaller ones and perhaps a repeater, and you might even be able to make the main cells as well. Thanks for watching!

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Tutorial 56: Curled Paper

Joe Clay | Feb 3, 2017

Andrew Embury sent me a great idea for a preset. So I built it. Here are a few options for building a simple curled paper rig. The project file has been updated slightly to show a better way to use the dashes—for example the moirĂ© pattern was removed by also dashing the strokes that make up the front sections. It's a little tedious to set up, but I might look for a way to make a preset out of it as well.

I hope to eventually expand on the parametric version as well. Stay tuned.

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Grab the Project Files

Feel free to download the project file that you can use in your own projects!

Feel free to download a preset that you can use in your own projects!

Tutorial 55: Mo Better Blobs

Joe Clay | Jan 27, 2017

This week we take a look at our previous Tutorial 3: Blobs and make it mo better. Now it's all shape based, so it's infinitely scalable and perfectly sharp!

Edit: YouTube user os cand alerted me to a very cool French tutorial from a couple of years ago that is a better mo better version of this tutorial. Thankfully I understand a little French, know how to use Google Translate, and realized this technique is similar to my older tutorial. I'm leaving this video up, since it still explains the idea behind the technique for English speakers, but here's an explanation of what needs to be done to improve it. Also note, the project file has been updated to add this technique.

Interestingly, this technique is actually closer to my original tutorial in approach. Forget the stroke, set matte, simple choker, and fill. We don't need them, so you can now color your shapes directly. After your merge paths, add an offset paths. Then we link it to a slider. Once that's done, we duplicate the offset paths and in the second one we multiply the expression linking to the slider by -1. So we end up back where we started. But since the effects are applied in a stack, rather than simultaneously, they expand and blob together. Then that blob is brought back to its original size. So depending upon how much you "stretch" it, it will attract at and stretch to farther distances. Again, check the project file for more information.

Sweet. I'm glad this community is growing enough that we can even pass the limits of what I know and find ways to improve my techniques! Workbench is all about helping you to work better and faster. And this improvement does just that. If you're a Francophone, check out Motion Café. They look to have some great content. I've come across them, but my French is limited to ordering food and finding my way around a city. Haha.

Hopefully this helps you, have a great day!

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Tutorial 54: Easy Looping

Joe Clay | Jan 20, 2017

If you want to make a looping GIF or just any loop to use in your animations, this After Effects tutorial is for you. It's an easy technique but it allows for complex loops. If you have any questions, throw them in the comments!

This makes a full year of weekly tutorials. Thank you for joining us on this ride. And thank you to everyone who's written me with support. I'm still amazed by it all. 2017 is going to be quite interesting!

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Tutorial 53: Quick Tips 03

Joe Clay | Jan 13, 2017

This week we look at volume three of our quick tips. Here's timecode for the various tips:

I hope these help you to work faster!

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Tutorial 52: Understanding Paths

Joe Clay | Jan 6, 2017

This week we explore how understanding the way EPS paths work can lead us to some interesting effects within shape layers without even using merge paths.

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Tutorial 51: Flavor Text

Joe Clay | Dec 30, 2016

In this week's tutorial, we look at a cool way to use an expression to make "flavor text" or loading text, like when your computer is searching or installing something.

Here's the expression code used in the tutorial:

//Apply to position
t = time-inPoint;
offset = Math.floor((t/thisComp.frameDuration)/7)*37;
[value[0],value[1]-offset];

This technique is foundational for a couple of ideas regarding expressions—it shows you how to make things happen every few frames, rather than every frame, and it shows you how to use an offset to move things depending upon which block of time you're in. So this technique can be applied to many other things if you're willing to experiment!

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Tutorial 50: Fake Shadows

Joe Clay | Dec 23, 2016

This week we go over a tip sent to me by a friend to use in this tutorial. Learn how to use an expression to fake a 3D shadow on a ground plane or wall. #CinemaFauxD

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