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Cycore Path Tools For Type at the Edge

Who needs a Lamborghini when $199 lets you play with World-Class motion toys? By Jean Hauptman

Before we get to the "How To," I want to briefly discuss both new Path Tools. The two filters are simple for beginners, but include multiple levels for advanced users --so the options for custom effects seem limitless.

I especially commend Cycore for the innovative Bezier controls. Beziers can be tricky, but these are smooth as gossamer. Plus they can be keyframed. Both tools shave off days of time. You can get effects that were not even possible in 2-d animation.

The motion test below is the focus of our tutorial. It was done with WiggleStroke, from the new set of Cycore path tools.


WiggleStroke Path Tool

WiggleStroke sends sensuous, smokey pulses down a path. Or wildly gyrating spikes. Or geometric shapes, multiple lines, ribbons. . . You can randomize, taper, or whatever.

Rakka Path Tool

Rakka, is a fantasy come true.
Basically, it lets you use an image from another layer on your path. The results are astonishing:  Your path twists into 3-d rope. . . Your type outline bursts into images . . .Check out the Rakka movs at the Cycore website.  http://www.cycorefx.com/

Also download the Free AE project for each path tool. And don't forget to install the demo filters for this tutorial.

WiggleStroke Tutorial Starts Now

Open the After Effects text tool.

1.  Type a simple letter, number or dingbat. We used letter "C." for simplicity. A more complex letter, like "O" contains two paths. Keep it simple for now.

Since WiggleStroke works on a path, we must convert the text to a mask

2. Select your text layer. In the top menu, go to Layer>Auto Trace, Apply to New Layer. A new AutoTrace Layer is created.

3. You are finished with the original text layer, and can now delete it. Rename the AutoTrace layer (we named ours "C").

4. Precompose your "C" layer.

5. In the precomp, Apply WiggleStroke to the "C" Layer.

6. In the WiggleStroke filter:

 a)  Assign the Mask Path to Mask 1
 b) Click the Wiggle Position Twirlie, and change Wiggle Type (P) to Square Wave
 c)  Click the Wiggle Radius Twirlie, and change Wiggle Type (R) to Square Wave
 d)  For a color gradient, open Extras, at the bottom of the menu

7.  Sync your WiggleStroke settings to our settings in the menu below. Don't deal with  keyframes until the next step.

8. Under Wiggle Position:
 a)  At zero on the timeline, set Amount (P) to 215 and make a keyframe. Go to 1:03 on the timeline. Set the second Amount (P) Keyframe to 0.
 b)  At zero on the timeline, set Periods (P) to 10.0. Then go to :20 on the timeline and set a keyframe to 14.7. Finally, go to 1:03 and set a third keyframe to 102.8

9.  At zero on the timeline, click the Wiggle Radius twirlie, and set a keyframe for Offset % (R) to 0. Go to 1:06 on the timeline, and set Offset % (R) to 1.0.

10. At 1:00 on the Timeline, set a Brush Radius keyframe to 1.7. At 1:03, set the second keyframe to 3.2.

 At this point, your animation should look similar to the one below.

11. For edge, apply the AE filter, Roughen Edges. (This filter was actually developed by Cycore, and later acquired by Adobe.)
 The only Roughen Edges control you need to animate is Border.  At :21 on the timeline, set a Border keyframe at 7.74. At 1:00, set another keyframe to 6.64. And at 1:03 on the timeline, set a keyframe to 5.44. If the line is too thin, re-adjust your WiggleStroke Brush Radius keyframe.

12. If you own Trapcode Shine, apply it, pull the Ray Length to 0, and work with Boost Light.

 The hard part is over!

We've almost completed the basic animation, but there is one more important step. Once the "C" settles, it does not move. It is too still.

Play the first animation again. Notice how the "C" remains alive and pulsating like hot embers. To get this effect, we will now use a different aspect of WiggleStroke.

13. Go to 1:04 on the timeline. This is the point where the animation settles, and the "C" is  clearly visible.
 a)  Select the "C" layer, and split it in half (Shift+Cmd D)
 b)  Lock the the first layer half (starts at zero) - so you don't accidentally adjust the wrong layer.

14. On the new layer (starts at 1:04, just as the "C" settles):
 a) Open Wiggle Position, and change Wiggle Type (P) to Smooth Noise. (We make this change, because we can't animate "evolve" using Square Wave.)
 b) Set a keyframe for Evolve (P). Make it 1.0. Now, go to 3:20 on the timeline, and set a second Evolve (P) keyframe to 4.3.

 The Best Control for Last

15. We are going to make the C motion even more interesting by animating a bezier tool. Click on the Taper Path twirlie, then click on Editor (TP). Here, you will find a bezier graph.

16. Click on the Radius rectangle to the left of the bezier graph. Pull the first point at the top of the graph down one segment. (As in the illustration below)

17. Under the graph, notice the Radius (TP) control. Go to this control and set a keyframe.

18. Go to 3:20 on the timeline.  Set another Radius (TP) keyframe. While on this new  keyframe, Click on Radius, next to the bezier graph. Push the first point back up to the top  of the graph, then pull the third point down one segment. (As in the illustration below)

19. Later on the timeline, repeat the above steps with the last bezier point on the graph. Then  move further down the timeline, and make a keyframe with all of the bezier points back in  place.  These keyframes can be copy pasted on down the timeline for as long as you like.

20. Your type should now have an organic, undulating motion.

Now the Fun Part

Return to your Main Comp, and start experimenting. For edgier motion, I applied Posterize Time set at 24 fps.

  • Duplicate your C layer as many times as you like.
  • Work with blend modes like Add.
  • Put an effect on one layer, and strobe between that and another layer.
  • Chop a layer into a one second interval, and move it to another part of the timeline.
  • Go wild!

Addendum: How to WiggleStroke a Full Word

 At present, WiggleStroke won't let you to assign multiple paths at once (a feature to be
 implemented in an update).

 For now, if you plan to use this filter on a full word, or an object with more than one path, you need to:

 1.  Build and animate your effects on a layer with the all masks for the entire word. Assign the effects to one path of choice (say, Mask 1);

 2.  Duplicate the layer (Cmd D) for every mask in the word; then

 3.  Open the WiggleStroke menu on each layer, and re-assign the Mask Path (for example, on layer 2, designate Mask 2, etc.)

 4. You may also want to offset control settings on each layer to avoid uniformity.

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Jean Hauptman has worked with Adobe Effects for 12 years, and recently received Gold and Silver BDA awards. She has written for a number of industry magazines.
Related Keywords:after effects tutorial, motion graphics, Jean Hauptman


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