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Are you painting in on a layer in the Layer panel as described in the "Work with paint tools and paint strokes" section of After Effects Help?
In general, you'll get better answers to questions about what you might be doing wrong if you tell us what you're doing.
Paint works as follows. Select layer, Apply Effect/Paint, double click layer (go in layer view), ctrl-b (change to paintbrush), paint away.
If you want to see the entire comp to paint on, you need to precomp the layers, and paint on the precomp. Doesn't work in comp view.
ctrl+b = beware.
it also changes to other brush options...maybe the clone tool or eraser is invoked?
my guess = layer window.
thanks for replying. I don't know how to select the layer in the bottom window. I have selected the composition in the project menu and the main window in the middle. after I select the paint brush and press on the screen the colour doesn't appear. Sorry if I sound daft, I don't have much confidence with this program.
Thanks for your input. I managed to master the paint tool,I think where I was going wrong was selecting the wrong panel. I have learned that for the paint brush to work, I must drag a solid layer into the layers panel, make sure the layers panel is selected then select the paint brush then double click on the composition panel to make it active for painting. Painting can be made into an animation using the timeline which is what I did. Using the arrow tool after this can alter the brush properties.
I don't know about "dragging" - I suppose you could do that. Usually the easiest way to get to the layer window is to double click the layer in the timeline.
Double-clicking the layer in the timeline (or using ENTER (not "Return")) will open the layer window for you automatically if you don't already have it open.