11 Replies Latest reply on Sep 18, 2012 5:43 AM by km28

    need help animating line art/paths

    km28 Level 1

      Help please...


      I am trying to animate a line, to have it tween/morph between a line and a question mark and then back to a line. I've drawn my two shapes in Illustrator as line art (as paths, not as closed shapes), but I'm not seeing the paths as a mask when I paste them into my Solid Layer. The parts of my drawing that have closed shapes come in and form a mask, but not the individual lines/paths, not matter how thick I make them. I can see there is a path in AE if I click on the shape, but it does not come up as a masked area.


      Is there a better way to do this, than to animate a mask? Animating masks seems to be the consensus how to do a lot of animation, but I'm stuck trying to get my line appear as part of my mask.


      Happy to try another way; I have yet to see a tutorial that does what I'm trying to do, can't be a reveal, since the final shape needs to morph a few times. I am sure this is do-able (and probably not that hard!), but I can't figure it out; in Flash I would just tween between the two shapes, but not seeing how to do that effect in AE.


      Thank you!

        • 1. Re: need help animating line art/paths
          Mylenium Most Valuable Participant

          Masks must be closed areas. If you want separate open paths contribute to your layer, you will have to render them visibly with a Stroke effect or whatever and due to how it may interfere with the normal masks, this may require duplicate layers. The rest will depend on how your stuff actualyl looks. There may be otehr ways, but without seeing the design nobody can advise specifically. Generally, though, you should get away from thinking that you need to do this all in one layer/ mask/ shape. If you need a hundred layers in a pre-comp to create your animation, then so be it. Nobody will see the difference...



          • 2. Re: need help animating line art/paths
            km28 Level 1

            So I literally want to achieve a straight line morphing into a question mark, then back to a straight line again.


            My next question is this: is there any way to automatically morph from one shape to another, using two vector drawings (a line, and a question mark) from Illustrator? Just trying to avoid re-drawing artwork in AE, prefer to use it's pre-existing vector-ness, if you will, without starting from scratch or having to draw those 100 illustrations in-between to create movement.  Do I draw my artwork, then down the timeline draw the next shape, etc? Is that the only or best way? Thanks!

            • 3. Re: need help animating line art/paths
              Mylenium Most Valuable Participant

              No, AE does not do mask morphing. It's all tedious hand keyframing with a little help of the Smart Mask Interpolation keyframe assistant or scripts where applicable. And of course copy&paste of shapes into an animated mask will create a keyframe for that mask, assuming the contours are based on teh same geometry. Other than that, just as I said already, without seeing teh design, nobody can be more specific. There may be a million otehr ways from using distortion filters to patching together the shapes from multiple layers. Again, just don't assume that you need to do this based on vectors at any cost.



              • 4. Re: need help animating line art/paths
                km28 Level 1

                i can get a closed shape as a mask to morph/tween, but my issue is that i can't get a line to become a mask, so that way doesn't work for me thanks for trying to help me out.

                • 5. Re: need help animating line art/paths
                  Mylenium Most Valuable Participant

                  Again, third time 's a charm: Provide screenshots and we may be able to help. Not much point discussing graphical design problems without reference.



                  • 6. Re: need help animating line art/paths
                    Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                    Take the pen tool, select none for fill and anything for stroke. Click in the comp window with nothing selected and you'll create a new shape layer with a single point as a path. Reveal the path in the Contents section of the Shape layer and set a keyframe. Select the keyframe. Go to Illustrator and copy your path. Go back to AE and, with the keyframe selected, paste.


                    There you go, your open Illustrator path is now a line you can work with in After Effects. Move down the timeline and repeat the process by selecting your question mark in AI and then, with the path selected in the shape layer, paste. There you go.


                    It's important to understand that paths animate from one position to another in straigh lines by default. This presents some unusual movement sometimes.


                    Another option for morphing one shape into another is to set up a blend in Illustrator between two objects. Specify the number of steps, expand the artwork, release to layers, move the layers to the top of the Layer Panel in AI, then open as a comp and sequence the layers. Here's a million year old tutorial I did using about ten years ago. It may give you some ideas.

                    • 7. Re: need help animating line art/paths
                      km28 Level 1

                      Hi Rick,

                      I still have the same issue when I follow your first set of instructions, that I can't see the pasted shapes, from Illustrator, in AE that are just lines/open paths; they are there as highlighted paths in AE when I select all on the layer, but when i deselect the layer, those lines/that part of my artwork is not visible/appear not stroked in AE. The closed shape parts are fine/visable/editable, but not the open lines that I pasted. AE lets me draw lines, so I guess for now I'm just going to recreate my artwork in AE, or give your second method a try. So frustrating though, that I can't  paste editable lines into AE from Illustrator.

                      Thanks very much!

                      • 8. Re: need help animating line art/paths
                        Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                        You are not seeing anything because you are trying to paste a mask that is open. If you want to see an open path in after effects apply a stroke. Otherwise you must carefully follow my instructions, and use a shape layer.


                        If you set a keyframe for your shape layer path, select the keyframe, then paste you should see the illustrator path now as a shape. That is the only way this is going to work and less you apply a stroke to the path.

                        • 9. Re: need help animating line art/paths
                          km28 Level 1

                          i swear (cross my heart) i am following your directions, got my shape layer, got a keyframe in the "path" attribute, keyframe is yellow, i paste, and artwork still not editable. i just see the outline of my shape if i select all, and no matter what stroke i give it, it is not visible. is there anything else you could suggest please? thank you!

                          • 10. Re: need help animating line art/paths
                            Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                            Select your shape layer in the timeline. Press U twice. You should see something like this:


                            Screen Shot 2012-09-17 at 4.45.07 PM.png


                            If you don't see a stroke then select the path and apply one by clicking Stroke in the tool bar. Make sure you give the stroke some width.


                            If you are seeing this instead you didn't get a path on your shape layer, you got a mask.Screen Shot 2012-09-17 at 4.49.24 PM.png

                            • 11. Re: need help animating line art/paths
                              km28 Level 1

                              hi, i took some screengrabs also, so that you can perhaps see what i might be doing wrong...i inlcuded the original shape, from Illustrator, as well as what happens when I paste in AE. for my shape, blends won't work from Illustrator, I need the line to move in a certain way that Illustrator won't do using that feature. thanks very much . A Screen shot 2012-09-18 at 8.31.28 AM.jpgScreen shot 2012-09-18 at 8.30.58 AM.jpgB Screen shot 2012-09-18 at 8.31.49 AM.jpgC Screen shot 2012-09-18 at 8.31.58 AM.jpg