Write-On Effect in After Effects

Well howdy, Joey here at School of Motion. And welcome to day one of 30 days of After
Effects. Over the next 30 days we’re going to learn
a ton about After Effects and I want to give a quick shout out to our sponsor for this
series, the Department of Motion Design at the Ringling College of Art and Design in
beautiful Sarasota, Florida. If a traditional brick and mortar school is
what you’re looking for, Ringling is an excellent place to get a motion design education. And I’m not just saying that because I taught
there. It’s an incredible place with some amazing
teachers, including our very own Morgan Williams. Be sure to check them out. Now on to the lesson. For this first lesson we are going to talk
about something every motion designer will have to do at some point in their career,
write ons. There are a lot of ways to achieve this effect
and I’m going to show you a few different techniques, including one really neat way
which takes a little more time but gives you an amazing result. Don’t forget to sign up for a free student
account so you can grab the project files from this lesson as well as assets from any
other lesson on the site. Now let’s hop into After Effects and get started. So before I show you guys how to create this
really nice painted write on effect, I’m going to show you a couple of really quick and dirty
ways to do it too because this technique here, while it looks great, it also takes a good
amount of time. And depending on the font you have and how
many different letters, it could take hours. So sometimes you don’t have hours and sometimes
you’re doing those jobs that really you’re just paying the bills and it’s gotta get done
quick and you can’t spend an entire day creating one write on effect for type. So first let me show you the quick and dirty
way. So I’m going to create a new composition here. And we’ll just call this quick, quick write
on. And I’m going to spell out my name. And you can spell out my name too if you want
or spell out your name and that’s okay too. So let me just size this up. Usually when I do write ons I’ll try to make
the type bigger than I know it’s going to need to be and that way I can always scale
it down. Obviously you don’t want to scale things up
because then you’re losing resolution. So I’m going to precomp this now. This is a type layer but I’m going to select
it and hit Shift + Command + C. And I’m going to name this Name PC for precomp. That’s my little abbreviation. And so now I’ve turned that type layer into
just a big layer that now I can put effects on. And the first way I’m going to show you to
do this write on effect is by using the After Effects paint system. The paint system in After Effects is old and
crappy, to be quite honest with you, but it actually works pretty well for this. So in order to paint on a layer, if I click
on this paintbrush and I try to paint on this, it’s not going to let me. And I’m going to get this warning saying use
the paint and blah, blah, blah in a layer panel. So here’s what it’s telling me. This is my composition panel right here. This is showing me the end result of all my
layers and everything that I’m comping together. If I want to paint on a layer, I have to do
it in a layer panel. So the way you get to that is you control
click or right click your layer. And you go down to open layer. And when you click that, you can see now After
Effects has opened another window here and it’s really small. So let me stretch it out like this. So I’m going to click over in this window
for a minute. And just zoom out. There we go. And then over here. So what I’m looking at is I have two windows
up. This is the end result of my composition. And this is just the layer, just this one
layer. And right now they’re going to look identical. You can see that now with my paintbrush selected
and my layer panel open, I can start painting on this. Now the goal is to basically mimic the way
you would write these letters. So I’m just going to do this for each letter. But first we have to make sure the settings
are right. So the first thing is the size of the brush
needs to be thick enough so that when I write down like this I’m covering up the entire
letter. A quick tip is you can just hold Command on
a Mac and you can click and drag like this and make the brush bigger and smaller. So if you have a thinner font, you should
use a thinner brush. And the main reason not to just use some gigantic
brush like this is because if all I want to do is write on the J, well I’m also writing
on part of the O right now. So we get that brush the right size. By the way, I’m using a Wacom tablet and that
allows you to have pressure sensitive paint strokes. So if I hold it lightly, I can be very thin
and then as I push harder, it gets fatter. And it’s a lot easier to do this with a tablet,
so I highly recommend one. So I have my paintbrush tool. And over here in the paint settings, and if
you don’t see this, just go to your window menu and make sure that you grab that and
that should open up this window for you. I want to make sure that the duration is set
to constant. Now there’s actually a write on duration. I don’t like to use that, and I’ll show you
why. If I use write on, this is what happens. I draw this paint stroke and as soon as I
let go, I can’t see the paint stroke anymore. And if I hate space bar, it will play back
my paint stroke for me, which is cool. But the problem with that is that I want to
fill up every single pixel of this font with paint and it’s hard to do that if I can’t
see the stroke that I just painted. So it’s easier to do this first with a constant
duration. And that’s it, you want to paint on the RGBA
channel. So that’s every single channel. The mode is set to normal. Opacity and flow are 100%. That’s what you want. For the brush, right now I’ve got pretty much
the default brush. The hardness is set to 0 so you can see that
the edges are kind of feathered, which is kind of nice. I don’t want it that feathered, so I’m going
to increase that and you can see this little preview here. It tells you what you’re doing to your brush. There we go, that’s much better. The other thing, normally the spacing setting
I think is at like 50% or 25%. And you can see that when I draw a shape,
it actually just puts a bunch of little circles in a row and it can kind of start to look
lumpy. So I put the spacing down as low as it can
go, which I think is 1%. And that way you get nice, smooth curves when
you paint. So there you go. So the next thing to do is to draw this. And you have to be very careful. Draw it the way you actually write these letters. For example, the way I write a Y is this stroke
first, then this stroke. And so that’s why I wouldn’t go like this
and then do that, because that’s not going to look right if you’re doing hand writing. So first let’s do the J. Now, you’re going
to see a problem right away. I can pretty much cover up this entire J except
for the serif. So you have to make a creative call. Do I want that serif to be kind of knocked
out with a separate stroke or you can kind of cheat it and you can start it here and
then come down like this. And I think for this that’s what I’ll do. So I’ve got the J. Now I’ll do the O. And
if you mess up, you just hit undo. So let’s say I didn’t like that. So I hit undo and then I just do it again. Now I’ll do the E. Now, the E is going to
be a downstroke and three horizontal strokes. So for the downstroke, I want to try and catch
that serif, catch this one, and then here’s where you gotta be a little careful. And there’s not really, this is one of the
problems with this paint technique is it’s hard to be precise. And you’re going to end up hitting a little
bit of that Y and that’s gonna get revealed and you don’t really want that. The solution would be to separate all these
letters out onto their own layers and do this one by one for each letter, but of course
this client isn’t paying us enough for that. So now we’ll do the Y, so I’ll catch this
serif, come down here. And then I’ll catch this serif and do this. And there you go. Now, if you come down to this layer, and I
can close this layer window now. Let’s open this back up. If I hit E to bring up my effects, you see
here’s my paint effect. And if I open that up, you can see I actually
have these actual mini layers for every single brush. And brush one is the first stroke I did, the
J. Brush eight is the last stroke I did. So it goes in order. So that’s why it’s important to actually write
these letters in the right order too. And if I open up the settings for brush one,
you can see there’s a whole bunch of settings in here. And the one I want to get to is this end. So in the stroke options for each brush stroke,
you can animate the start and end and you’ll see if I animate the end, I can actually have
this thing draw on. It’s really nice. So I want to animate that ending property
for every single paint stroke. So here’s a little trick. I know that the property I’m looking for is
called end. So in the little search box I’m just going
to type end. And you’ll see it brings up all of those properties
for me. By the way, I don’t know, maybe you guys didn’t
know you could do this. If you hold the space bar and you click in
this little area that has nothing in it, you can scroll up and down on your timeline. It’s kind of handy. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to turn
on the stopwatch for all of these. And I’m going to set them all to zero to start
with. So what I’m going to do is select every single
end and I’m just holding Shift and clicking them all. Set them all to zero. And then I’ll go forward. Let’s say I go forward six frames and set
them to 100. Now if I hit U, and if you guys don’t know,
U is the hot key in After Effects that brings up every animated property on whatever layer
is selected. Now I just see those key frames. I’m going to make this window a little bit
smaller so I can see all of these. And we can still see this whole thing, great. So next thing I need to do is sequence these. So this J gets written first. And then the O. So I’m just going to drag these like this. So we get the J, then the O. And maybe I want
to have the O start a little bit maybe a one frame towards the end of the J, because I
want this to happen pretty quickly. And then here’s the E. So you get that first
line of the E. And then you know that these next three strokes are the little horizontal
parts of the E. And those are much shorter lines. So those maybe don’t take as many frames to
write on. And you just kind of sequence them. And really this is just sort of experimenting
and playing around with timing and seeing what feels right. So now what I’m going to do is I’m going to
move my play head over here. I’m going to hit the N key. And N, if you guys don’t know that hot key,
that just moves the out point, this little guy here. It moves this to wherever your play head is. So now I’m going to preview this. And let’s see what this looks like. So now you can see it’s writing on my name. Now obviously that’s not what we want. We want to reveal the font using this. So all we need to do, let’s rename this layer
here paint. And let’s duplicate it and call this font. And what we want to do is have this paint
layer be matted out by the original font. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to click
my font layer, I’m going to delete the paint effect off of it. I’m going to do this a lot and I want to make
sure I don’t lose anybody. What I’m looking for is my track matte column
so I can set the matte for this layer. But you can see it wasn’t there, so I’m hitting
F4. F4 toggles between these two sets of columns. There’s a button down here that does that
too but I always use F4. So I’m going to tell the paint layer, this
red layer, to use the font layer as the alpha matte. And there we go. Now, there’s one last thing that I forgot
to do. So what’s happening here is, let me undo this
for a minute and let me turn off this. So the font layer is off. It’s not visible right now. All we’re seeing is the paint layer. The paint layer, if you remember, is the precomp
that has my name in it with a paint effect on top of it. And the last step I need to do is once the
paint is working the way I want, I need to click on paint on transparent. What this is going to do is it’s going to
turn off the reference, basically, that I was painting over and it’s only going to show
me the paint strokes. So now when I set this to use the font layer
as the alpha matte, it will write on this type. And this red color makes it horrible to see,
so I’m going to use a fill effect on this paint. So I have my paint effect and then a fill
effect to just change the color of the layer to black. And there you go. You can see there’s your simple, quick and
dirty write on. Now if I wasn’t talking through this I probably
could have done that in two minutes. So if you have a ton of writing that you need
to write on, this is a fast way to do it. Now, it doesn’t look very good. And there’s a couple of tricks that can kind
of help it. You can see that one big problem is that you
have, there’s just a very soft unnatural edge. So one thing you can do, because you have
it set up this way, and you are basically filling in this font with this painted effect
that you’ve done, you can add more effects to the paint. And actually another way to do this too, maybe
this might even work better, is to just reverse the order of this. Take this font. Let me get rid of this fill effect for a moment. Take this font and use the paint as the alpha
matte. And this will kind of do the same thing for
you. And now what I can do is I can take this paint
effect, which is my matte, and I can put effects on it. So I’m going to grab the stylize roughen edges
effect. And this effect can be kind of cheesy if you
overdo it. But you can see what it does. Actually let me turn this layer on for a minute
and you can see exactly what it’s doing. It’s literally roughening the edges of that
paint. And so as it paints, it just kind of makes
it look a little bit more natural. And so now if I turn this off, you’ll see. It’s going to give that write on effect just
a little bit more of a grungy kind of look. And there’s a lot of settings. You can try different actual different types
of edges. You can turn the sharpness down if you want. It’ll make it a little bit softer. It can start to look really terrible if you
go too far with it, which I have. But if you use a light touch, it actually
can work out okay. And another trick that I like to do a lot
when I do stuff like this is let’s say I’m fairly happy with this. I can take this setup, precompose this, and
we can just call this Joey write on. And I’ll duplicate it. And I’ll offset one of these by one frame. The way I just did that, by the way, hold
Option and hit page down and it nudges your layer forward one frame. It’s just a quick way to offset things. And I’m going to take this bottom copy here
and I’m going to make the opacity 50%. So now what you get is you get this kind of
leading edge. And it can just help sort of visually soften
the effect of this super hard edge. Another thing you can do too is, I just line
these back up for a second, is you can select your layers and you can turn on time remapping. Right there. And then let me scrub forward. So the animation finishes here. So I’m going to put a key frame there. And then I’m going to move that key frame
way over here and what I’m doing is I’m making this animation take longer. And so it’s going to end up smoothing out
the animation a little bit by doing this. And this is something that when you’re doing
this with paint, sometimes you’ll get some weird artifacts when you do that. But there you go, you can see this is a quick,
super easy way to do this. Let me show you one more way that’s a little
bit more controllable and then I’m going to show you the cool way. Here’s one more way. So let’s go back into my font here. So we’ve got this. So this is my name precomp. So I’m just going to drag this into a new
comp here. And we’re going to call this write on stroke. And the reason I’m going to call it write
on stroke is because we’re going to use a different technique to do this. So the way we’re going to do it this time,
instead of using the paint effect, we’re going to use shape layers. Because shape layers are a little bit more
controllable. So I’m going to select the pen tool up here. Make sure you have no layers selected. That is very important. If you have a layer selected, it’s going to
put a mask on that layer, which is not what we want. We want a shape layer. So I’m going to just draw a shape and you
can tell I’ve already practiced this tutorial because of course it’s got the perfect little
thickness of the shape. And what I’m doing is I’m just drawing a shape. Now, what it’s doing is it’s creating a shape
layer with a stroke on it. And then I can adjust the width of that stroke
and I can adjust these points. And then I can add more points and I can move
things around and use this to cover up the letter. And I’m basically doing the exact same thing
with the shape layer that I would have done with paint. So this is for the J. And now what I would
do with this shape is I would open up this little arrow here. And on a shape layer, you can add a whole
bunch of modifiers to it. So one that I use all the time is called trim
paths. And the way you add it is you just open up
the arrow, click add, trim paths. And then you can open up the options for that. And if you animate the end property, it does
the exact same thing. You can see here though it’s very smooth. And you have so much control. And when you time remap this, it gets very,
very smooth. It never gets jerky the way paint can get
if you’re not careful. So what I would do is I would just set a key
frame here. I would go six frames forward. Do the same thing. And one thing that’s great about doing this
trick, so now let’s do the O. So I have to make sure nothing is selected. If I have this layer selected and I try and
draw the shape of the O, it’s gonna put that O shape on the same layer as the J, which
is not what I want. I want a separate layer. So nothing is selected. And I just quickly fill in O here. And you don’t have to be super duper precise
because, again, you’re not going to see this stroke at all. You’re just gonna see the layer that’s using
that stroke as a matte. Now this O needs to be a little thicker. So I can make that stroke thicker. And this is why I like to hae things on different
layers, because now it’s very easy. This stroke can be thicker than the J. We’ll
call this O. And now I can actually click on this trim path that I added and it’s got
key frames on it. And I can copy and then just move this O to
where I want to start and hit paste. I did that wrong. Let’s try that, copy, paste. There we go. And so now if I hit U to reveal the key frames,
you’ll see it copied that trim path and those key frames on there. And what’s cool about this is you can do easy
ease and you can make, you know, if you really want to slow this down, what you could do
is move these key frames further apart, like maybe a second, so it takes a longer time
to write these letters out. And then you can select your key frames. Go to your curves editor. And really amplify the ease. So now you can get a little bit more. And what’s cool about this as opposed to the
paint is it’s super duper smooth, it’s super duper controllable. It just has a different feel to it. So I’m not going to do every letter. I don’t want you guys to have to sit and watch
me do that. So let me just precomp this real quick, the
J and the O. And it’s the same trick, so this is going to be our matte. And we’re just gonna tell the font underneath
use the matte as our alpha matte. And there you go. Now you have a much smoother write on. And you can still do the exact same tricks. If you want to put roughen edges on that,
you can. And now here’s a problem with roughen edges. It actually erodes away some of your image. So if you have it set too high, the edge looks
really nice here, but the problem is we’re actually eating away at some of this type
here. So a good trick to fix that is to use an effect
called a simple choker. And you’re going to want this before the roughen
edges. And what the simple choker does, if I turn
the matte back on and turn roughen edges off, the simple choker, it just erodes or creates
more matte. It’s called eroding or dilating. So what I’m going to do is dilate it just
a little bit. I’m just dragging this choke matte backwards
into negative numbers, and so that way when we roughen the edges, you still get those
nice rough edges, but you’re not losing any of the matte that you need to fill in the
letters. Cool, so that’s another cool way. Now, this is actually the way I do it most
of the time, because it takes a little bit more time than painting, but it’s very controllable
and you have a lot of flexibility and precision with it. And then you can add texture to it really
easily. If you look in the description of this tutorial,
I’ve linked to a bunch of resources that I used, which are all free to use, and I’ve
given credit to the right people. SO there are some really cool resources out
there if you just want to get some nice textures and make things feel a little bit more organic. I can basically put a texture over this whole
setup and click the transparency button, which a lot of people don’t know about, but it’s
a nice little trick. It basically just lets you use everything
underneath it in the composition as a matte. It’s really a slick way to do it. And there you go. And so now you’ve got this nice paint effect. There’s a nice texture on there. It’s obviously too bright. We need to push that a little cooler, desaturate
it, darken it a little bit, there we go. So now what you all came for. Let’s talk about the big fancy write on here. Now, this has a lot going on. And I’m going to try, in true School of Motion
fashion, to let you see in my brain how I figured out how to do this, because it’s great. I can show you exactly what to do and you
can copy it. But it’s better if you can start to think
this way and figure this stuff out on your own and make up your own cool effects. So what has always bothered me about the write
on effects that I’ve done is they don’t really look like a paintbrush, because that’s what
we’re trying to mimic here. It’s either a paintbrush or a marker or a
pencil. It doesn’t really look like the actual brush
is following the contours and making those letters move. Sorry, or making the ink move to fill in the
letters. And if you see what we’ve achieved here, it
really does look like there’s little brushes painting these things on. And by the way, this is not the only way to
do it. There may even be better ways. But this way seemed to work pretty well for
me. So here we go. So to start with, I created in Illustrator,
I just took this kind of nifty thick font, and thick fonts are good for this because
they give you a lot of chunky areas of type to reveal. And I just split them up into each letter
and I kind of offset them a little bit. So what I want to do is one at a time create
the brush strokes that are going to reveal each letter. And I won’t do them all in this tutorial. I’ll do one or two and then you’ll get it. So let’s start with the R. What I’m going
to do is precomp this R. And I’m just going to call this R-PC. We’re going to dive in here. Now, what I was thinking was I want to be
able to use a real brush stroke to be able to reveal this. The internet is just filled with brush stroke
video, brush stroke stills. You can go to the art store and make your
own brush strokes and take a picture and scan it. There’s a million ways to get great brush
strokes. I found a free resource on the internet, which
I have linked to, so you are free to grab these if you want to. And these are just high contrast paint stroke
images. And I said I want to be able to make this
paint stroke animate and come down this way and then curve around this way and I want
it to feel like a paint stroke. So I come from After Effects and Cinema 4D
background primarily, so in Cinema 4D you’ve got this great tool where you can sweep a
shape along a spline. So if I have this paint stroke, which is just
a horizontal paint stroke, but I want to curve it around this shape, in Cinema 4D that’s
really easy to do. In After Effects there’s no built in way to
do that. But I have to thank EJ over at iDesign because
I can’t even remember when I saw this, but I saw a tutorial of his. He mentioned this plugin called Omino Snake. And it is free. And I’ve linked to that as well. So I’m going to use that plugin for this and
it’s amazing, so watch this. First thing I need to do is I need to precomp
these brush strokes. So I’m going to precomp them. Shift + Command + C. And I’m going to just
call this brush. And I’m going to call it brush-R because this
is going to be specifically the brush stroke for the R. It may also be the brush stroke
for every other letter, but I just like to name things carefully just in case. And you can see my composition. It’s getting a little sloppy here. My project’s getting sloppy. I normally wouldn’t stand for that, but I’m
trying to be a little briefer with these things. So here’s our brush precomp. Now all I want is this stoke. You could use any of these, but I like this
one. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to click
this little guy here, this little button. This is the region of interest button in After
Effects. And what it does, it lets you draw a window. And the first thing it does is it tells After
Effects this is the only part of the composition I want you to render. So it’s really useful if you have a very complicated
comp. It takes a long time to render and you just
want to work on this piece of this and it’ll render faster for you. You can also crop your composition with it. So if you click that button, drag a box around
here, and then go up to edit. Sorry, composition. Crop comp to region of interest. And it will crop your composition for you. So that’s step one. You crop this paintbrush. So now let’s go back into our R-PC. Now, the first thing I need to do is I actually
need to turn this black and white image into something that has transparency. So let’s go back into that precomp real quick. There’s an easy way to do it and there’s a
slightly harder way, which is what I’m going to show you because I like it better this
way. Here’s the easy way. You take a white solid, Command + Y, create
a new white solid, and you put it underneath the brush stoke, and you say track matte,
luma inverted matte. If I turn on the transparency grid, you can
see that now I’ve got a nice transparent white paint stroke here. The reason I don’t love doing it this way
is because now if I scale this brush stroke like this, I’m seeing the white behind it. So that can create problems if you have to
stretch this thing. So the way I like to do it. Let me delete that, turn this back on. And let me scale this back up to 100%. I’m going to use two effects. One is the, it’s in the channel menu here,
it’s called set matte. And set matte is an effect that lets you use
either a different channel within an image or a different layer as an alpha channel. And so when I put it on this layer, the options
are, which layer am I taking the matte from? And by default it’s looking at itself, at
the image. Use for matte alpha channel. Well, this image doesn’t have an alpha channel. That’s my problem. So I’m going to change that to luminance. Now I’m going to turn on my transparency grid. And you can see what it’s done here. What it’s doing now is it’s actually knocking
out the paint stroke, it’s doing the opposite of what I want. So you can just click this invert matte button. And now there we go, now I’ve got transparency. Now, I don’t want a black paint stroke. I want a white paint stroke. So then I’ll go to my old buddy generate fill. And we’ll just make it white. And there you go. So now we go back into this R-PC. I now have this nice paint stroke. And this is great because now, let me turn
this grid off, if I scale or stretch this, I don’t get an of those weird artifacts. Nice little tip. So now I need this brush stroke to follow
the contours of this letter. Now, obviously that’s not going to be that
hard to do for this part of the R, but it’s going to be a little bit harder for the curvy
part. Now this is where this amazing plugin comes
in. So first thing we do is we turn off this layer. You don’t need to see it. We make a new solid and I’m going to call
this solid R matte 01. And let’s make this a different color. Just so that we can see the paint stroke over
it if we need to. And I’m going to apply the effect. The effect is in the Omino group. And these are all free plugins. Whoever made this, this guy is amazing. Pay him, give him money, throw money at him. So Omino Snake. And the way this plugin works is you have
to tell it first which layer is going to be the source of the image that you want it to
wrap. And I want it to use this paintbrush image. So I’m going to tell it to use brush-R. The
second thing it needs is a path. So if I click on, I’m going to click on this
adjustment layer icon for a minute. This is a trick I use a lot. The only reason I did that is so I can see
through the layer. I don’t actually need it to be an adjustment
layer. What I do need to do is put a mask on this
layer in the shape that I want the Omino Snake effect to warp that paintbrush image. So the first stroke of the R is going to be
this down stroke. So now what I can do is I can turn this adjustment
layer off and I’m going to tell the effect the source layer is brush-R, the path is mask
1. And you can see I’m going to turn the mask
visibility off for a minute and you can see what’s going on. There’s a little white line there. By default, the source scale is set to 5%. So you generally need that to be a lot bigger. Now if you just scale it like this, you’ll
be able to see right there it starts to clip the image. So I need to bring it back and that is the
ideal scale for this stroke at this kind of scale, basically. There’s an option here that I’m going to turn
on called clear background, which now gets rid of the background. So now I can see the paint stroke over the
R. It’s not thick enough. And so there’s a few options you have to make
sure are set correctly. The source Y center. Let me zoom in here and go to full res for
a minute so you guys can see this. The source Y center you can see it kind of
shifts the image around. So you can see. Let me turn the mask visibility back on here. It shifts the center of that image on the
mask. And so you want to make sure that that’s centered
so you get both the left and the right side of the image. You’ve also got the Y width, which if it’s
too thin, you need to expand that out. But that’s not the problem. And then you’ve got the X length, which is
set correctly. That’s why you’re not seeing any problems. But if it’s no set correctly, it will actually
get rid of some of the image there. And there you go. Now the main settings you use on this when
you’re animating it, you use the advance setting here and this lets you move the image along
the path. This is amazing. This should be built into After Effects. Adobe should just buy this from this guy. Oh, this is great. But it’s obviously not thick enough right
now. So what I’m going to do is I need to thicken
that stroke up quite a bit. So what I actually want to do is thicken it
up in this precomp. But I want to be able to see the result of
it here. So I’m going to use two comp viewers to do
that. What I’m going to do is I’m going to come
up here and click this lock and lock this comp viewer. Then I’m going to double click my brush-R
and I’m going to lock this comp viewer. So now I’ve got two comp viewers. And I can grab the little left side of here. You see there’s these little tiny almost invisible
divots in this tab. And you can click and drag and move this window
to the left side here. And now I can see both. The results and the comp. So I’m going to move the anchor point of this
layer. You can see right now it’s here, so I’m going
to hit Y and move it right in the middle. And then I’m going to scale it up vertically
like this. So now it’s thicker. So now I can come back into this comp and
I can adjust this mask. Like this. And now just to get this out of the way, you
are not going to be able to obviously fill in this font perfectly just with a paint stroke. There’s holes in the paint stroke. That’s what makes it look natural and makes
it look like a paint stroke. So we’re going to have to do something else
to actually get this to fill in. So that’ll be another trick I’ll show you
in a few minutes. But first let’s just try to get this as close
as we can. And what’s cool is you can kind of just interactively
adjust this mask. So now we’ve got one paint stroke. And what I’m going to do is, oh here’s another
setting I want to talk about. You see these little lines? It almost looks like there’s an error happening. Well, the way this plugin works is it actually
divides this image up into a bunch of little triangles so it can move them around and that’s
why you can see little triangles here. The default setting is designed to make the
plugin render faster. It’s not designed for quality. And so that is a problem and that’s easy to
fix. There’s a setting here called draw step. And the smaller that number is, the more detail
you get. So if you set that down to one, now you get
maximum detail. And so what I’m going to do is I’m going to
start, I’m going to animate this advance parameter here. I’m going to start here. And you can see that this isn’t actually doing
exactly what I want. I want that to start here like that. There we go. That’s what I want. And end about there. So we’ll start here. Put a key frame on advance. Let’s go forward maybe one second. We’re working at 24 frames a second, so that
was 24 frames. Go like this. Wonderful. I’m going to go into the curve editor here. I’m going to select those key frames, hit
F9 to make them easy ease key frames. Come into the curve editor. And I’m going to stretch out these Bezier
handles so I get a nice ease in, ease out. If you’re not familiar with the curve editor,
go back and watch my tutorial called introduction to animation curves. That will explain everything you need to know
about what that is doing. So that’s one stroke. Now I need to do another stroke and then there’s
obviously this little serif here we need to fix. So what I’m going to do is just duplicate
this layer. And then I’m just going to turn off the effect
for a minute. Delete that mask. Make this into adjustment layer. And I’m just gonna draw a new shape. And before I turn this effect back on, I’m
going to set the path to this new mask. And then turn the effect back on. And we’re good to go. Now, here’s something. Look, this plugin, it was written by this
guy and he even says on the website that this was written in like one night for this project
he was doing. So it’s a little bit buggy. So I have to warn you if you ever turn the
effect on and you don’t have a mask set, it will lock up your computer for 30 seconds
and it may make you think that it’s going to crash. So you just gotta be careful. Obviously save your work a lot when you’re
doing this kind of stuff. And there’s also this strange bug where now
the clear background actually seems to be doing the opposite of what I need it to do. So let me turn that off now. So again, I’m sorry that this isn’t a little
bit more polished, but sometimes motion design is messy. But now we’ve got our second stroke. And you can see that the mask goes all the
way down to the tip of the R but the paint stroke doesn’t. So what I’m going to go is I’m going to go
back to this last key frame here on the advance property and I’m going to move it. And now you can see what’s happening here. The paint stroke is no longer long enough
to reach and so the way you can fix that is by turning up the source scale. So I need to adjust the advance property back
like this and then turn the source scale up until we get the result we’re looking for. And now I think that X length needs to be
longer too. There we go. So now you can see you get this really nice
brush stroke here. This is great. And I want this brush stroke to start back
here just so there’s no weird overlaps. So now I can offset this in time. Let’s move this forward 12 frames. Now you get first that stroke. And then this stroke. And the advance needs to be adjusted here. Here we go. There we go. So now you’ve got most of the R filled in. And I’m going to try to make this work a little
bit better, I’m going to up the source scale a little bit more. I don’t want it to go too far because I don’t
want to distort the paint stroke too much. But you can also mess with the actual shape
of the mask and try to cover up a little bit more of the shape there. That’s great. Now I need to do the serif part here. I definitely need that to be filled in. So maybe what I’ll do is I’ll just duplicate
this R matte 01. We’re going to call this layer R matte 03. We’ll offset it in time a little bit. And I’m just going to manually, I’m going
to delete a bunch of these points on this mask so there’s only two left. And then I’m just going to move this mask
down here like this and I’m going to adjust the source scale until it’s the right size
for me. There we go. And then I can adjust the advance amount until
it gets right to edge there. And then that’s going to be a quicker stroke. So these key frames will happen faster in
time. And now you’ve got this happening. Now you’re probably starting to see where
this is going. This is going to start looking cool. So now that we’ve got that set up, there’s
a little bit more to it. And so what I’m going to do is I’m going to
take this R and I’m going to move it up to the top of this comp. I’m going to hit F4 and I’m going to set the
transfer mode to stencil alpha. Now because of my screen capture software,
you can’t actually see where my mouse is going. But I’m going down to stencil alpha. And what that does is it tells this layer
to become the matte for every single layer below it. So now you can kind of see the paint stroke
drawing on. And it’s working fairly well. Pretty cool. Now I’m going to duplicate this R. Turn the
mode back to normal. And I’m going to turn the stencil off, because
I still need to work on this a little bit more. Now, one of the things that I found was that
I’m getting a little bit too much of the sense that this is not a paintbrush actually creating
a paint stroke, but that it’s a picture of a paint stroke being moved through a font. If that makes sense. It just looked a little bit too synthetic
for me. So what I did was. Let me go back to my initial setup here. And let me turn off the last two paint strokes
so we just have one paint stroke here. So what I decided to do was to duplicate this
layer here. Let me open up my key frames. And on this top copy here, which I’m going
to make into a different color just so it’s differentiated, instead of having it advance
all the way through the letter, I’m going to set the initial key frame to zero so it
moves, but just a little bit. And it’s actually moving backwards. So let me scoot it back a little bit. I just want it to move a little bit forward,
just a little bit. And then I’m going to tell the bottom copy
to use the top copy as the alpha matte. And it’s a subtle, subtle, subtle little difference. But basically what it’s doing is it’s revealing
the paint stroke with the paint stroke but the two paint strokes are ever so slightly
offset. And you can offset them even a little bit
more if you want to. But what it ends up doing is it just gives
a little bit of a shimmer to it. As parts of the paint stroke pass through
a copy of itself that’s offset, you get these nice little kind of natural touches. So I want to do that with every paint stroke
I’ve done. So here’s an easy way to do it. Let me reset this, get rid of this. So I’ve got three paint strokes. Select them all. Duplicate them. With the duplicates still selected, click
on the color swatch over here and make them a different color so I can tell that they’re
different. Hit U to bring up the animated properties. And then just select all three of the initial
key frames and double click them. And now I can just type in a value for them. So they’re going from negative 500, negative
28 to all the way to this one almost goes to zero, this one goes to negative 100. So the values are increasing. So that’s key. So I just want them to increase a little bit
less. So I’m just going to click on this and instead
of having these numbers be so far in the negative, I’ll just set them all to zero. And then I’m going to select the bottom layers
and tell them use the top layers as alpha mattes. And now if we play this. So there’s our paint strokes. So now I’ll turn the bottom R off, turn the
top one back on so we can see how we’re doing. Cool. All right, os we’re getting there. So now the next thing we need to do is we
need to fill in some more of these letters. So an easy way to do it is to just duplicate
these paint strokes you’ve already got working and just scoot them over a little bit. So I’m going to take these bottom two. And those bottom two layers are the first
vertical paint stroke. I’m going to duplicate them and then I’m just
going to use my arrow keys and I’m just going to nudge them over a little bit. Over and up a little bit and just fill in
a little bit more of that R. And I’m going to offset them two frames forward in time. Just so it’s not perfectly lined up. So now you see more of that R is filled in. I’ll do the same thing with this big curvy
paint stroke. I’ll select these two layers, duplicate them,
move them forward two frames, and then I’m just going to nudge them up and to the right
with my keyboard. And I’m just trying to find the sweet spot
where they fill in the most R. And then I’ll do the same thing with this last paint stroke,
select them, duplicate, forward two frames in time. And I’m just going to move this around until
it’s filling in most of the R. So by doing that we filled in even more of the R. There’s
still a big chunk here that’s missing. So let me grab the copy of my first stroke,
duplicate it one more time, and scoot it over to the right so it fills that in. Cool. All right, so you can see now we’re pretty
close but there’s still these little holes. So this is where the last trick comes in. I’m going to add an adjustment layer. And I’m going to put it right above all these
paint strokes that we’ve made. And on that adjustment layer, I’m going to
call this adjustment layer dilate. And I’m going to use an effect in the channel
menu called mini max. Now let me turn this R off. Let me turn this stencil alpha layer off for
a minute. What mini max does is it kind of works like
a matte choker. But it does it a little bit differently. It’s a little bit sort of, I don’t know, smoother,
more organic, whatever. It works a little bit better for this effect. The only reason I know that is because I tried
the matte choker, I didn’t like how it looked. Mini max, it does a different thing. So first thing I need to do is tell it to
do this effect on not just the color but also the alpha. So alpha and color. And you can see what it does. It basically takes each pixel and it blooms
it a little bit. So I want it to start out with the effect
zero and as the paint begins to finish drawing the letter, I’m going to put a key frame there. And then I’m going to go forward maybe 12
frames and I’ going to dilate it. Now I don’t know how much to dilate it yet,
so let me turn the R back on. Let’s go back to zero here. All I want to do is dilate it until all the
holes have been filled. And so when I get to three, everything’s been
filled now. If I hit U on this dilate layer, I’m just
going to easy ease these key frames just so that the transition’s a little bit smoother. And so now when I ran preview this, you’ll
see as the paint is finishing, it’s actually thickening up those strokes at the same time. Cool? All right so now is there anything else that’s
still bothering me. Well, one thing that’s still bothering me
is this stuff here in that first vertical stroke of the R because I’m just noticing
it, it’s drawing my eye. So what I want to do is maybe make one more
copy and maybe offset these even a little bit and just try to just do my best here to
try and there we go. Cool. So now what I’m going to do. Now I’ve got this R precomp. So let’s go back to our little letters precomp
here. And I can close this. I don’t need to see this anymore. Get a better look at this. So my other letters, we haven’t done anything
with yet. And I still have this composition viewer locked,
so let me unlock that. So now I’ve got the R painting on. Cool? I would just do that to every single letter. And that’s exactly what I did. If we go into my comp here. And we go into the letters. You can see that I just did that to every
letter. I offset them in time. And that’s pretty much, that’s the big trick. The rest of it was just compositing. Adding a little texture. I will show you one cool trick that I did
think was pretty neat. I wanted to have a little bit of a leading
edge to this, so here’s my animated letters. Letters animated is the name of that. So if I take all of these and I precomp them
and I duplicate my precomp and I take the copy and I move it forward one frame, I tell
the bottom copy to use the top as an alpha inverted matte. You see what it makes? It makes this interesting sort of leading
edge animation which even on its own is pretty cool. One problem is it does give you this one or
two pixel stroke here. So I do need to get rid of that. So what I would do is just take the top copy,
apply simple choker to it, and just erode it a little bit until that goes away. There we go. And now you get this interesting leading edge
comp that you could do, you could layer that on top of your write on and get an interesting
kind of looking like a glowing leading edge or something. So yeah, so in my comp I used that leading
edge. That leading edge is, let’s see. That leading edge is right there. But that leading edge really can just help
add another little visual cue that makes it look neater. So there you go. That was a ton of information. As a motion designer, you will be asked to
make something write on at some point in your career, probably multiple times. And now you know not only two easy ways to
do it that can be done very quickly, but now you know a pretty slick way to get a really
very natural painterly looking write on effect. So thank you guys. I hope this was helpful and I look forward
to seeing you on the next episode of 30 days of After Effects. Thank you guys. Thank you so much for watching. I want to give one more quick thank you to
the Department of Motion Design at the Ringling College of Art and Design for sponsoring the
30 days of After Effects. I really hope this lesson gives you some new
ideas on how to do write ons that you can make on the fly or spend some time on and
really wow your clients. If you have any questions or thoughts, please
let us know, an we’d love to hear from you if you use this technique on a project. So give us a shout on Twitter @schoolofmotion
and show us your work. And if you learned something valuable from
this video, please share it around. It really helps us spread the word about School
of Motion and we truly appreciate it. Don’t forget, sign up for a free student account
to access project files for the lesson you just watched plus a whole bunch of other cool
stuff. Thanks again and I’ll see you next time.

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