How To Create A Write-On Effect In After Effects


Hey everyone, this is Owen with Motion Array and in this tutorial I’ll show you how to make a write on animation with your own handwriting. In this example you’ll see the write on, but I’ll also go over speed ramping footage, and adding textures. Alright let’s get started.

Creating A Write-On Effect

This text has been transcribed from the video for optimal reading

Start by making a new composition that’s 1920x1080 29.97. Then import whatever footage you’ll be using. To color correct the footage I’lll add a Curves, Hue/Saturation, and Brightness/Contrast effects. In Curves I’ll add some contrast by dragging the bottom down a little more and the top up a little more. Then in Hue/Saturation I’ll boost the master saturation and then just the blues and cyans. In Brightness/Contrast I’ll just add a little more brightness. This is specific to the footage I’m using so make sure you adapt this to what looks good on your own footage! Next I’ll add a Time Warp effect to the footage. Time Warp allows you to animate footage based on speed rather than just time remapping. It’s a great way to get fluid speed ramps. In the Time Warp effect I’ll set the speed to 5000 at frame 0 and set a keyframe. Then at frame 25 I’ll change the value to 200 to set another keyframe. I’ll easy ease these keyframes and adjust the influence to my liking. Again, these Time Warp settings are specific to this footage and you’ll need to tailor them to your own footage. 

The next step is the write on effect. I’ll start by making a new solid that is comp sized. Double click on the solid to open it in the layer panel. You need to be in the layer panel, rather than the composition panel to make this work. When you’re in the layer panel you can select the Brush tool from the tool panel. In the Brush panel you can adjust the brush settings to get your desired look. In Brush Dynamics, I like to change Size from Pen Pressure to Off. Then in the Paint panel you can adjust the color and change the Duration to Write On. With Write On After Effects will record brush strokes and keyframe them in real time based on how you draw them. Pretty neat! Now, making sure the playhead is at 0, you can go in to the layer panel and brush away. The first thing you’ll notice is as soon as you lift your brush, the stroke disappears. No need to panic, scrub through the timeline and you’ll see the strokes animating in. Remember, After Effects automatically keyframes in Write On mode. This is great because it saves a step but it can be difficult to write out everything if all the other strokes keep disappearing. I’ve found the easiest way to work around this is to draw one brush stroke at a time and then move the playhead to where it finishes, and then draw my next stroke. That way I don’t have to draw blindly, and After Effects will record my drawing from that point in the timeline so it goes on sequentially. Using these steps, finish drawing out your type or whatever it is you are drawing. Don’t worry about it being perfect. Since these are animated using keyframes, you can always go back and adjust the keyframes to speed up or slow down later. 

In my case, I want the write on to go way faster than how long it actually takes me to draw. Hitting U on the keyboard will reveal all the keyframes on the selected layer(s). So with all the keyframes of the write on revealed, I’ll highlight all of them. Then I’ll hold Option (Alt) and click and drag the last keyframe in the time line. This allows me to “scale” the keyframes together so that they speed up or slow down universally. I’ll scale my keyframes down so that they speed up. After completing this step be sure to drag the handles of each brush stroke (it looks like a miniature layer bar right above the keyframes) so that it matches up with the keyframes’ new position. At this point it’s okay to switch back to the Composition panel. With the write on layer still selected, go to the Effect panel and check the box for Paint on Transparent. I also changed the blending mode of the write on layer to Overlay so that it had some transparency. When I changed the layer to Overlay it got a little too transparent so I duplicated the layer once to compensate. The overlay is personal preference and dependent on how it looks with your footage. 

The last step is to add some texture. Import a texture of your choosing (or don’t if you’re happy with the look without it) and then drag it into the composition. Set the blending mode to multiply and then apply a Levels effect. In Levels you can bring in the whites, blacks, and mids to fine tune the look of the texture. 

Well, that concludes this tutorial. I hope you found it helpful, if you did, please give us a thumbs up and if you’d like to see more tutorials please go ahead and subscribe because we’re making new ones all the time. Thanks for watching and see you in the next video.

Well, that concludes this tutorial. I hope you found it helpful, if you did, please give us a thumbs up and if you’d like to see more tutorials please go ahead and subscribe because we’re making new ones all the time.  I hope you guys found it helpful.  If you did, we’ve got lots of other tutorials for Premiere ProAfter Effects, and filmmaking in general!   

Thanks for watching and see you in the next video.

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