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There is no automatic way to generate a path that is centered on the outline of a character, even in Illustrator. The detailed, yes this really looks like the character is being drawn on the screen by hand method requires you to create a centered path on a character that fairly closely follows the path of the strokes you want to recreate. This is a lot easier to do if the characters have uniform width to all of the strokes. Most fonts that simulate hand writing have widely varying widths.
The procedure is to either use a shape layer path and trim paths or apply the mask to a solid and use Effects>Gererate>Stroke with write on transparent and then use that layer as a track matte for the characters. This all takes some time.
Most hand writing is very fast so you can get away with a lot simpler approach. Just applying a linear wipe effect to a character can simulate writing by hand if it goes fast enough. You have to judge what's going on. A lot of the explainer videos you see where a hand is writing on a white board use a very simple masking effect to simplify the production of the animation. They get away with this because the animation moves very fast.
It's up to you do decide how much work you want to go through to get the effect you want. I've spend as much as a half hour animating just a single signature because of all the masking and animating it took to avoid problems with overlapping lines and have the animation play slowly. I've also done animated signatures using nothing more than a gradient wipe that looked just fine. It's up to you.
There are a ton of resources on the techniques in the Adobe Community. Just type animating a signature in the search help field at the top right corner of AE and you'll find some pretty good information in the Adobe Community. It will be more effective than using Google.
Yeah I'm not up for tweaking curves as anything under a minute of video per hour of work really starts to blow up my profit. I've learned the hard way that exceeding expectations is not rewarded where I work.
What I was going to try was using some text as a visual template to record my brush strokes over, however it seemed impossible as I was forced to paint in a separate window (I have almost zero experience at painting in AE). Also every time I start a new stroke the previous stroke gets hidden which seems slightly retarded. Maybe I just don't know what I'm doing. Likely. I'll research it more when I have some down time between projects.
Appreciate your time very much.