Week 2: Rotobezier & Shape Layers Revisited

Rotobezier and Shape Layers



The Pen Tool (G)

The Pen Tool (G) in After Effects is used to draw arbitrary path. Paths drawn with the Pen tool are either manual Bezier paths or RotoBezier paths. The main difference between RotoBezier and manual Bezier paths is that direction lines are calculated automatically for RotoBezier paths, making them easier and faster to draw.

  • To toggle between Bezier and RotoBezier, click on the Pen Tool, then check or uncheck RotoBezier
  • To adjust the tension of RotoBezier paths, changing a smooth point to a corner point, hold down the Option/Alt key and drag the tension left or right
  • To select multiple vertices at once, to transform or to adjust tension, hold Option/Alt and draw a selection rectangle around the vertices you want to affect


    The Shape Layer

    Shape layers contain vector graphics objects called shapes. By default, a shape consists of a path, a stroke, and a fill. You create shape layers by drawing in the Composition panel with the shape tools or the Pen tool. For this class, we will use the Pen Tool to create organic shapes.

  • If no Layer is selected in the Timeline, applying the Pen Tool will create a new Shape Layer
  • If a Shape Layer is selected in the Timeline, applying the Pen Tool will add a new Shape to the Layer
  • Each Shape can have its own stroke and fill, regardless of whether or not it is on its own Shape Layer or if it shares a Shape Layer with other shapes
  • Shape Layers can be transformed at the Layer level (i.e. on the Anchor, Position, Scale, Rotation, Opacity) or at the Shape Level (i.e. all of the aforementioned plus Skew and Skew Axis)
  • Almost all Shape Layer attributes are keyframe-able


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