How To Give Your Strokes Style In After Effects


Hey everyone, this is Owen with Motion Array and in this tutorial I’ll be showing you some techniques for styling strokes in After Effects. Alright let’s get started.

How To Give Your Strokes Style In Adobe After Effects

This text has been transcribed from the video for optimal reading

The first one we’ll work on is the dotted line. This one is pretty straight forward to create but can be tricky to animate. Make a new composition that’s 1920x1080, 29.97. Then create a new shape layer and add a rectangle and fill to it. Rename it “X”. Change the size of the rectangle to 60, 200. Add a repeater and change the copies to 2 and inside the transform properties of the repeater switch the position to 0, 0 and rotation to 90 degrees. Rotate the whole layer 45 degrees. This creates the “X” for the map. Place it in the bottom left corner. Then duplicate the “X” layer and move the duplicate to the top right. With no layer selected use the pen tool to draw out the path for the map (this will create a new shape layer). Rename the new shape layer “Path”. Inside the path layer delete the fill and then open up the stroke settings. Adjust color and stroke width to taste. At the bottom of the stroke options there is “Dashes” and there is a plus and minus button. If you hit plus it creates the default dash setting which is a dash 10 pixels long and a gap 10 pixels long. By increasing the dash value you are increasing both the dash length and the gap. Hitting plus again will give you a separate setting for gap. You can also keep hitting the plus button for more and more dash and gap settings. After Effects will just cycle through them for the length of the stroke. For this example I used a dash of 50 and a gap of 30. Add a trim paths to the path layer. Set a keyframe for End at frame 0 with a value of 0, and at frame 60 with a value of 100. Add a keyframe for Start at frame 45 with a value of 0, and at frame 105 with a value of 100. Easy ease all the keyframes. When you look at this animation you’ll see that it animates on just fine but it animates off strangely. The whole stroke moves off which isn’t what I’m looking for. The easiest way I’ve found to combat this problem is to use an alpha matte. Duplicate the path layer and name the new layer “Path Matte". Delete all the dashes off the path matte by using the minus button. On the original path layer, delete the trim paths and make sure it is below the path matte in the layer stack. Set the path’s track matte to Alpha Matte. This will let it animate off with the dashes remaining static. 

The next style will be a neon looking stroke. For this one I'm using a lightbulb I drew in Illustrator for my path but you can do this with any path. Set the stroke width on your path to 20 and then color them to your liking. When choosing colors lean towards bright, less saturated colors, since this will be the color of the “core” of the neon. With the path selected go to Layer > Layer Styles > Inner Glow. In the Inner Glow settings change the blend mode to Multiply, opacity to 100%, choke to 3%, size to 10, and range to 25%. In the color, change it to a darker, more saturated version of the stroke’s color. This completes the neon look. If you are working with different stroke widths then you’ll need to adjust your settings. Add a trim paths to the neon layer and set a keyframe for End with a value of 50% at frame 0. Right click on the keyframe and select Toggle Hold Keyframe. Then move to frame 20 and set the End value to 100%. Go another 20 frames and switch back to 50%. Option + Click on the the stopwatch by End to bring up the expression menu. Click on the arrow with the circle around it and go to Property > loopOutDuration. This eliminates the need to keep adding keyframes every 20 frames. So now “on/off” animation is done, all that’s left is to add in a dark, unlit version of the neon tube. Duplicate the neon layer and drag it below the original. Rename it “Dark Neon”. In the dark neon layer delete the trim paths. Change the stroke color to a dark grey. Then open up the Inner Glow and change it’s color to dark grey as well. Now you’ll have a dark unlit version of the neon tube when it’s only half way on. 

The last style we’ll cover is a blobby, hand drawn look with some shading. With no layers selected, use the pen tool to draw a path. Rename the new shape layer “Line”. Inside the line layer delete the fill. Set the stroke width to 30, line cap to round cap, and the color to whatever you like. Add a trim paths to the line layer. At frame 0 set a keyframe for the trim paths end with a value of 0%, and at frame 25 with a value of 100%. At frame 7 set a value for the trim paths start with a value of 0%, and at frame 28 with a value of 100%. Easy ease the End keyframes and the first Start keyframe. Now the stroke is animated on and off. With the line layer still selected go to Effect > Stylize > Roughen Edges. In the Roughen Edges settings change Border to 30 and Scale to 300. Option + Click on the stopwatch by Evolution and type in the expression “time*300”. With the line layer still selected go to Layer > Layer Styles > Inner Shadow. In the Inner Shadow settings set the opacity to 25% and the distance to 12. That completes the look. 

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 Premiere Pro tutorialsAfter Effects tutorials and filmmaking tutorials!

Thanks for watching and see you in the next video.

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