Your masks don't have the same number of points which whacks out things. Unlike more sophisticated morphing plug-ins like RE:Flex, the Reshape effect doesn't compensate for any of this and really just transitions directly. Clean up your curved mask and things will look a lot better and actualyl begin to work.
Thank you for commenting. I really appreciate it. So when I started this process, I noticed that there was only one point. I started by adding them to the tips and inner angle of each star. I was hoping that the morphing algorithm would be aware that the curved lines were curved. Yet, still I had weird shapes. So then I started adding new points to see if that would stretch it out. Got weirder.
1. I am wondering if one (of many) of my problems is establishing the alignment of the mask. When I created the respective masks they were, of course, exactly lined up over the two layers. As best I can tell the two layers have the same positon and achor points. When I copied them to their respective alternative layers, they were not. It seemed that some of the distortion might have come from this. Any thoughts on this?
2. Is the reshape effect the better tool to choose for this task in CS6?
3. Why is the first layer not responding at all when I adjust the reshape %? It sees like it should be doing something.
You will have to play with the settings. There's no general recipe. E.g. simply referencing the target as the boundary shape to pin edges may go a great way toward improving things. Your alignment problems could be due to different layer sizes. Otherwise this doesn't matetr as both masks and effects use coordinates relative to the layer, not the comp. And nothing happening at all really comes down to the point numbers not being the same. This whacks out the algorithm since it can't determine the start and end points of the paths properly.
Here is a version where I took the first sharp edged image and tried to morph it to the curved one. I made 16 pins. Moving the % to 100 does nothing.
If I set the Boundary mask option to the curved star mask (both the destination and the boundary OK?), I still get nothing.
The straight star with reshape highlighted looks like this. I snugged the point to the ends of each path.
Still nothing when I try the morph. If, as you say, the point numbers are not the same; how canI make them any more the same than they are currently? There is only one at each end point and inside corner. Suggestions?
BTW, I don't quite understand what I am looking at.here. When I touch on the star, I get this image with two apparent masks, one blue one pink:
Wnen I touch on the reshape effect I get four masks, the pink and blue ones and the two that I pin points on. They are red and yellow and appear to be different from the first two: Is this all working correctly?
I have tried throwing everything away and redrawing from scratch. Still nothing.
When I made the source mask on the curved star the curved star mask and the destination mask the straight star, it worked. Now however, the lack of alighnment is a problem: Even though the drawings line up when I overlay them, when I make the mask, each mask placed on the other layer seems to orient it self offset some. Any way to line up the masks?
As I said, you will just have to muddle through and double-and triple check everything. Based on your cropped screenshots it's difficult to make out any specific cause as everything indeed seems to be okay. Still, I'm not sure if e.g. your pre-comps are full comp size or cropped to square. This alone could be an issue when the empty areas around the star get too large and the interpolation is less precise. This might explain the wrinkling for instance. Also there could be all sorts of problems if you preview the comp at reduced resolutions since naturally the effect would use that lower res as well. I also wouldn't animate the layer directly with the effect on just to save my sanity. I'd do all this in its own neat pre-comp. This might in fact also help you to fix issues. distortion effects don't work too well with transparencies and you may be able to use filled layers and re-introduce transparency with a matte. It could also be good to draw a thin frame around the pre-com to "hold edges" for the distortion calculation and later crop it away again in the otehr pre-comp. There's really a million things that could be going on here in AE alone. Ultimately also consider refining the star by evenly subdividing it. Copy&paste it into Illustrator and then paste back. Your shape is, in mathematical terms, non-convex, so automatic alignemnt calculations especially in the indented areas will benefit from more reference points.
Thanks for all the input. FWIW, I finally figured out the following:
1. The absence of any response of the first morph was because I had depressed the "Collapse transformations"
The majority of the morphing mess up was from having the morph from and the morph to masks reversed.
Thank you for your very thoughtful replies. I am still trying to digest all of it.