How To Create A Scribble Effect In After Effects


The last tutorial we did for After Effects was huge and ambitious! It was a 1hr 15 minute 3 part tutorial and if you want to check that out, it’s this video here:

But because the last one was so advanced, we thought we’d follow it up with a very simple project.  We’re going to go over this animated Scribble effect for your text.  It’s a pretty simple effect to pull off, so let’s dive into After Effects and check it out.

Adding The Basic Scribble Effect

The first thing you’re going to want to do is create your text.  Either select your text tool or use the shortcut key ctrl or command and T.  Drag over the area where you want to create your text and type in what you want it to say.  I’m just going to quickly size and center my text.  

The next thing you’re going to do is create a mask from your text, but thankfully this is a really simple process. Just right click your text layer and select create masks from text.  This will take each of your individual letters in your text and create a specific mask for each of them within this one layer.  

Next you’re going to add the effect that will pretty much do most of the leg work for you.  It’s called scribble, and you can find it in your effects tab.  Either search for it under generate, or type it in in the search bar.  Once you’ve found it, drag it onto your new mask layer.  

From here you should see just one letter pop up as being scribbled in.  This is because right now by default the effect is set to generate just for the first mask.  So go over to the scribble effect controls and where it says mask you can see that it’s set for the one letter and then you can choose any of the individual letters in this dropdown.  If that’s what you want then great! But chances are you want all of them to have the effect.  So under scribble, it should be set for single mask.  Choose all masks instead.  

Fine Tuning The Scribble Effect

Now all of your letters should be filled in and if you play it from here, you can see that it has the basics already down for the effect.  But we can certainly finesse it from here to make it better.

This is a matter of preference but one thing that I like to do is take my composite setting here and change it.   By default it will probably be set to “on transparent” which will basically use the original text as a starting point but will look messy.  That can totally be the look you’re going for but what I personally like to do is make it look a little neater by setting the composite to “reveal original image”  What this does is allow for the scribble to be contained within the boundaries of the original text but it can’t go outside of that imaginary border.  The end result is that you get a very messy scribble contained in a very neat border.  

Next, you can play around with a whole variety of different parameters to see what kind of look it gives you but we’ll go over some key ones.  Fill type will distinguish how your scribble interacts with your text based on the edge you specify.  

Inside, Center edge, inside edge, outside edge, left edge, right edge.  They each give a different look and each could be what you are looking to use in a different situation.

You can easily change the color of your scribble with the color swatch.  But unfortunately you can’t do this when your composite is set for “reveal original image”  when we try it now it doesn’t do anything.  But if we switch it back to “on transparent” we can change the color easily.  So what do we do for our other option?  Simply go to your effects, and add a fill effect under the generate section.  Now use this effect to change the color of your scribble.  

From here on some of the parameters are pretty straightforward.  Opacity will change the transparency of your text scribble, the angle will change the direction that each of the scribble lines is pointed towards.  The stroke width controls how thick or thin each individual pen stroke looks.  And all those options including color and fill type, can be keyframed to give you the ability to manipulate it over time.

Next the parameters start to get a little more complicated.  Your stroke options have a variety of features you can open up and play with, and they’re each pretty self explanatory.  Curviness controls how straight or curvy your scribble lines will look.  A lower number is more straight and a higher number is more curvy.  

Increasing the curviness variation will simply randomize how straight or curvy each of the lines are, making things a little more chaotic. Changing the spacing will either increase or decrease the distance between each scribble line.  You can spread them out a lot or make them so close it looks like the original text again. And spacing variation does exactly what you’d imagine.

Finally path overlap and path overlap variation work in the same ways as each of these other two parameters but only for the amount that each stroke will interact and overlap with each other.  Again you can make it so that there’s barely any lines at all, or that they are overlapping so much you almost get the original text again.   This last option can help give you text that appears normal only with some interesting stroke lines.

Next the parameters start to get a little more complicated. You have a start and end feature which allows you to control how the letters are revealed or hidden.  If this box is checked, the revealing will either happen left to right or right to left depending on whether you change the start or end parameter.  If you uncheck fill paths sequentially, each individual letter will act as its own unit and the path of each letter will start and end in a similar way to which you would draw it.  

Next is wiggle type.  You have three options.  Static causes your scribble animation to not move at all.  Jumpy gives you more of a stop-motion look as it jumps from one frame to the next in the scribble animation.  And smooth will connect the animation frames so that each frame is connected to the next through motion.  This gives more of the effect of a high frame rate.  It all comes down to what you want and what you need for your project, so try them all out and see what you like.  

Lastly the two we haven’t covered are wiggles per second and random seed.  Wiggles per second will simply act similarly to the framerate of your scribble animation.  A low number like 5 wiggles per second will give you a very sporadic, slow, and stuttery animation.  While thirty for example will give you a faster animation.  Thirty is our maximum number because that’s the framerate that our composition is set for.  You can’t take this number higher than your frame rate.  And finally random seed simply allows you to cycle through your animation and choose a unique starting point through the animation.  This primarily would be useful if you had an animation that had a lot of drastic changes and you wanted to control how your animation looks when you first see it start.   It does not in fact randomize the animation itself.

So now with that, you should have all the tools you need to create your own scribble animation for your text! 

We hope you found this video helpful.  If you did, we’ve got lots of other tutorials for Premiere Pro, After Effects, and filmmaking in general! If you have any questions, let us know in the comment section below.  Thank you so much for watching and we hope to see you in the next video!

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