Dots to lines to letters – Adobe After Effects tutorial

Dots to lines to letters – Adobe After Effects tutorial


– [Instructor] Hey,
everybody, this is Evan Abrams and in this After Effects tutorial, we’re gonna make some dots
that turn into more dots that turn into lines
that turn into letters and if that sounds
complicated, well, it can be but it’s actually a lot
simpler than it looks. Here in After Effects,
let’s just have a look at what is happening. What is this? Well, it’s some letters
but before it was letters, it’s these lines which
are really just paths and each of those paths
has a trim paths on it and that’s really all we’re
animating to make that happen but before it was paths, it was dots and before it was dots, it was one dot and that’s all one layer and
these are all just layers and this is all pretty easy
stuff once you break it down. It does have some limitations. This style here means you kinda have to draw the letters yourself. We can’t really use
other fonts in this way. That would be a different tutorial. In this one, I’m gonna show you how you can draw these
letters, make these paths. Super simple and we’re just
gonna do one of the letters. You can figure out doing
the other ones yourselves. You’re smart, you’ll do it. So we’re gonna do the h and you
do the rest, how about that? And to start, we don’t
start here in After Effects. We start in Illustrator. Whoa, what’s up with these colors? This is crazy. What is happening in here? This is, these are, that’s better, all of the paths that we are animating. This is all the stuff. And when we lay it out here visually, it’s easier to see sort of the balance of your composition over time. If we did it all right
here in After Effects, it might be a little bit
trickier to sorta figure out but in here, we can do a lot of planning and planning is important
even for dumb little gifs. To start off, we want to make a File, New, new kinda artboard. Let’s do it, Film and Video, yes please. Here we go. Let’s go View, Hide that Transparency Grid and let’s draw that h and I like to draw using
standard units we would say. So let’s say I make a circle
right here in the center and this is gonna start
off making the h for us and if it’s an h I don’t
need the bottom part of this but this is gonna be the curve of the h. Now, I’m gonna make a line that is as long as this curve is tall. Sweet and I’ll just take
this, put it down here, cool. Now, I think I will make a
line that is as long as this. Awesome and this will
be the stick of the h and it’ll go like that. So you can see the stick is
twice as high as the hump and then this is a quarter of this and everything is math and it’s wonderful and beautiful and I love it. That’s how we do this h. If you’re gonna do the whole alphabet, I would recommend you make a letter and then just start copying and
pasting the curves and lines from that letter to make other letters. If you’ll look back in this example, all the curves, all the lines are all fractions of each other even this little one here is half the size of the big one and that keeps everything nice
and uniform for this style. That’s just kinda how
you define this look. So now we’re gonna take these and we’re gonna go to the Stroke, get those rounded ends and
curves and joints and it’s great and we’ve got this h. It’s done so let’s call this letter H. Now, we’re gonna make a new layer and that layer is gonna be h path 1 and we can just go
ahead and duplicate that to get h path 2 and we label them in here so that when we import them
into After Effects later, it all makes sense. It’s important to set up your layers, set up these things for future success. So we have this h. I know in After Effects I want the paths to move in a certain way. I’m already thinking about
it when I started this. I want this h to be made of
two dots that become lines and the end state of
those can be this stick and this curved part here. Those are the two parts. I’m gonna take this curved part. I’m gonna copy those, gonna go to h path 1 and I’m going to Command +
Shift + V paste in place. I’m gonna change their color
to be pink, a nice bright pink, awesome, so that I can tell
that it’s very different. For the other part, I’m gonna copy this and paste in place on
this other layer, great and make its color blue and now, I think we need
to draw some more lines ’cause this is the ending state. We need to draw more on top of this so what I’m gonna do is
on this blue layer here, this h path 2, gonna draw another circle and make it exactly the size
and delete this much of it ’cause this is the only
amount of the circle I need and just bring it up to meet like this and I want it to start here so
let me just grab that again, hit the old p button, go like this. Just click out and this is
gonna be the whole journey of this stick. It’s gonna start here, go
whoosh down, come up, done. Good, let’s stop looking at path 2. Don’t wanna see that anymore. This one, I wanna have a little bit more of a playful manner to it. So I’m gonna grab the Pen Tool, click here and then just
do a couple clicks out here like this. Awesome and again, these
things don’t need fills. Make that go away, don’t
confuse yourself with fills. Fill is a very confusing person. And if we did a write-on
effect of this line and we go up, down and over the curve, which is perfect, it’s
exactly what we want but we want this to be
all on top of itself so we’re just gonna move
the path to be like that and how high up do I want this to go? Well, I actually want it to go halfway but I’m not very exact so
I’m just gonna grab this, copy, paste and it’s gonna help me define where the top of this needs to go by lining up using the power
of magic and there we go. So everything is now
perfectly proportioned. Very happy with this. I’m gonna stop looking
at the h in the back and I’m gonna twirl these open and you can see here this line is made of some disconnected paths so I need to connect them. I’m gonna go hit a. I’m gonna just grab
these things over here. I know that these are the
two paths I need to connect. Command + J, stick ’em together. Now, I just have one path, alright? Now, you’re gonna wanna repeat the process over on the blue one here. So just make sure that
these are joined up perfect so I got giant j and we are
ready to go into After Effects to make this happen for ourselves. So save this, save it as, I don’t what, h or h or however you say that word and we’re good to go and maximum compatibility, please. So let’s open up After Effects. Let’s go File, New, New Project. I mean, if you just
opened up After Effects, you don’t have to do that and we’re gonna import,
double clicking over here. Import the H. Boom, bring it in as a composition. Layer size please. Okay, double click on this
and now we’re looking at it. We’ve got everything from
that Illustrator file. We got the h. We got path 1. We got path 2. Take these two paths, right click, Create Shapes From Vector Layer. Hopefully, you can do that. What might happen in yours though is that your stroke won’t be the same. So I’m just gonna go in
here, look into the contents, look into the contents of this group, look at the stroke and if you don’t have
rounded caps and joints, just turn that on, turn it on for yours. Do it up, make it happen and though everything we need is in here, one thing that’s not
in there is a trim path so you’ll add trim paths, add it in and on the trim paths, what we’ll do is we’ll take the start and the end, start them both at zero and we will make sure to keyframe them. They will move ahead to say two seconds. Two seconds is long enough and let’s have the end go to 100% and the start is gonna be just enough to cover up that black layer, right? Just like that. So if we watch that, it’s gonna go whee. That’s pretty lame but once
we mess with these curves, it might look less lame. We can take these, easy
ease them by hitting F9 or you can right click the
Keyframe Assistant, Easy Ease and then we’ll go into the
graph editor right here and right now we’re
looking at a value graph so let’s look at a speed graph and take all of these and
just push ’em like this. So now, that’s a little
bit more exciting I think. I like a nice, nice quick
start for these layers. I think that’s much more exciting. So we’re just pushing our graph to be a little bit more exciting. It’s important and that’s good. So now, select that trim paths, copy it, put your playhead back to the beginning, go to the other path, twirl this down, get into the contents, get into the group, paste it in there and see what you did? Not so good. Let’s isolate this and what’s happening is it’s going on backwards. That’s not what I wanted. So just flip the script, flip it around. This will change the
direction, this right here. So now, it’s at least going
in the direction we want so that’s good but we need to add some
keyframes into here. We need to add a little bit to get this thing to
really show off that bounce at the start that I’m looking for and we need to figure out what percentage is that peak up at the top. So if we just look here, it looks like it’s around 25%. I think that’s when it kinda happens and let’s move this keyframe ahead. So if it’s at 25 and it’s
gonna hang out up here, let’s have this one be at 24 maybe and now, let’s go into
the graph editor of these, grab these points and we
are going to easy ease those which creates this hump here. So if we easy ease all of them, we’re saying speed starts at zero then comes to a rest at zero speed and then continues on in that pattern. So that’s pretty good. What I’d like to do though is take these and again, have that kind of
squishiness so whee, boom. That looks a little bit better. It’s like a ball’s getting
shot up and then bouncing. Maybe we could have a little
bit more of a tail on this by, maybe we just have it be a hump like that. Boom, kinda like that. I think that’s pretty nice. So it’s gonna go up,
bounce and that’s that. So now, let’s have a look
at both of them together. See what that looks like. Boom, kinda like that. When we take both of these and we change their stroke
to be the same sort of color, you’ll notice this gets a little muddied so once they overlap,
we lose that fun bounce. We just need that fun bounce. So I’m gonna call up their keyframes and I’m gonna try to adjust
these just a little bit so that we’re kinda able to
show off that little impact. I think. It’s kinda what I’m hoping to do so maybe, is that gonna do it where
they kinda meet and bounce? Boom, I like that. Boom. Alright, good. Cool, I’m into that, I’m into this. This is doing it for me. Let’s just synchronize these up like this. The last thing that we want to have happen is for this to all go away which we can do by just
taking the start here and going like this pushing it up to 100% and it just goes away then you can go into the speed graph. You can grab these handles. Give these handles a nice push like this. Grab these ending handles,
pull ’em a little bit like that so they just quickly exfiltrate themselves and offset them a little
bit so that one goes away and then the other one goes away. That just makes it a little
bit more appealing for people, I find anyway, more appealing to me. If it’s not appealing
to you, don’t do that. We’ve got sort of the ending. Congratulations, you did the ending first which is what you wanna do
when you plan things out. You know the ending, you work backwards. We can take these layers,
push them forward in time so they kinda start at like one second. That would be helpful. Now, we have to bring in those dots, bring in those little dots that we started off this thing with and to do that, we’re gonna
grab the circle up here, double click on it and go into
the ellipse, ellipse path. Set the path to be the same
size as the stroke, 20 by 20. Good, this does not need
a stroke, get rid of it and we need to change
the position of that path to be much more in line
with where this thing bees which I guess is around 115. Perfect, now, let’s go back
to when this layer starts. Alright, so we know at one second, this circle needs to be there. Keyframe it, it’s size needs to be this. Keyframe it. Go back to 15 seconds,
link these together. Make the size bigger,
maybe 30, 40, 30 I guess and now its position needs to be zero so it needs to start in the center and if we go way back to the beginning, the size needs to be zero and if we look at the size, let’s easy ease all these keyframes, look at the size and look at its graph. If we look at its speed graph, I wanna pull the speed
of those last keyframes to be like this and I wanna
look at the value graph and I’m gonna pull this top
keyframe here to go like this and push this one up like this so that it goes boing and then like that. So it’s gonna go, it’s gonna pop on and then move over here and the position, let’s go to the speed
graph for the position, give it the same treatment as
the size during that period so it goes like that and then it kinda sprouts
off into many directions. Cool, now, something else that’s important is gonna be the last frame
in which we see the circle so trim it away here so we
don’t have to see it anymore and if we play that back,
comes on, moves and it’s gone. Now, we can take this ellipse
path, we can duplicate it. We can go into its keyframes and just change the position
from 115 to negative 115 so it’s over there and what do we got? Circles separating. Lines coming, going. That’s it, you did it. That’s the whole thing. And it’s all just a
subtle little trick here. Pop, separate, now it’s a
different layer entirely and I think that’s where a lot of the confusion comes on this is that some people think, well, how do I turn this dot into a line? We could have this trim path trimmed down to just the smallest amount and then move that circle
around if you wanted to. I don’t want to. I want to simplify and
not simulate these things. I’m gonna say that a lot. It’s gonna be my new catchphrase. We’re gonna simplify, not simulate. So yeah, if you play that back, you can enjoy a look of
that happening a lot. If you wanna put this
over a solid of some kind, you go New, Solid, make a background. Whee, that could be fun. You could put a video layer back here. You could save this composition and bring it into Premiere and
put it over footage in there. Do whatever, do whatever you want. When you’re done doing whatever you want, please share it with me. Share a link in the comments. Tweet it at me on Twitter at
ECAbrams, all that good stuff but i’ll say if you had trouble with this, if this is difficult,
please ask me questions in the comments of this video. I’ll get back to you when I’m able and if you enjoyed what you’re seeing, if you love learning about this stuff, subscribe to this channel but like I said, if you
like this kinda thing, if you like motion graphics,
if you like After Effects then hit me up on Twitter at ECAbrams, ask me questions there
or on the Facebook group. There’s a Facebook page
for this, check that out. Link’s in the description. If you wanna get your mitts on the file that created the intro
for this particular thing, check that out at ecabrams.com. Links to the specific file
are in the description. Maybe you’ll enjoy that and yeah, this is the
last time I’m gonna plug subscribe to this channel. We put out new content on
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hopefully you dig that. If you like learning about shape layers, check out other things in the back catalog and that’s about it. Subscribe to the channel and if you do, I will see you around the internet. Thanks for watching and have a great day.

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