In this video tutorial we'll create an animated ‘Happy Summer’ greeting card. We'll bring a sunny beach scene to life by applying the Parallax effect using After Effects. The workflow will help us understand the transition of our Illustrator design to an Animated Gif animation in After Effects. It's a step by step guide which can be comfortably followed by any beginner as well. So, Let’s get started!
Hello everyone, this is Nilabh! And in this tutorial I'll be showing you how to make this animated greeting. This animation is made using two of the most powerful softwares: Adobe Illustrator and After Effects. So, this animation is based on a simple principle called Parallax. It is a very fundamental camera technique in After Effects. Technically, parallax can be described as the difference between the displacement of any object according to exposition. I know it's too geeky but let me show you in a very simple way. For now, just open After Effects, and we'll create a new composition. You can keep any settings you want. Let's just keep some HD settings right now. We can create any two shapes just like Adobe Illustrator. So you can go into the comp window and right click and go to: New and Create Shape Layer. Create any two shapes or maybe three if you want, and give them different colors. While the object is selected you can go up in the toolbar and change its colour. I just created a background with the same process with a different colour. Let's just take white for the objects to stand out. We don't need to name the layers right now as this is just an example. Let us create a camera right click again on the comp window go to New and Select camera. You can keep any focal length 25 or 35 as you like. While the camera layer is selected you can hit B on the keyboard and the position values will be shown. Now let me show you how this works. We are actually looking through our active camera, which is this one, and we have two shapes in front of our camera. Now, if we move our camera nothing will actually happen. For this to work we have to make our layers 3D. We are right now in a 2D environment. And to make these layers 3D and let them move in a 3D space, we have to convert these layers into 3D. Right now you can see that there are only two position values, which are the x-axis and the y-axis. Now, if we make these layers 3D, for that to happen you have to click here, beneath this little cube, and the objects instantly become 3D. And now you can see that we have three axes to move our objects into, all right? And also in our position or rotation properties, we get these two extra values to manipulate. Ok, now you can move the object into the x-axis, the y-axis and this is the new one, the z depth, the z-axis. Alright, so now we know that we are into 3D space. Now, if we move our camera, you can see how this works, we can pan, rotate or pan our camera, zoom in and zoom out. All right? Now just press C to activate the unified camera tool and you'll be able to rotate the scene and see it in 3D space. OK? You can go to track and pan tool and see how this works. You can just go and click on this little tab and go to custom view. And now you can actually see what is happening here. So this is our camera and these are the objects which are on the same plane in relation to our camera. So if we move any object in z depth, like let's take, er, bring this one forward or maybe bring it backward and bring the other one forward. So now, we have a special difference between both the objects in relation to the camera just like 3D space. Now let's go back to our active view, and you can see that this object has come closer to the camera and that's why the scale is bigger. And the other one has been put way behind. And now when we move our camera you'll be able to see the parallax working perfectly. OK? Imagine that this is the tree beside the road and that is a mountain far away and you're moving in your car and looking through the window, OK? So the foreground object will move faster and the background object will stay longer in the frame, because of the spatial difference. So this is a simple fundamental principle of parallax that happens in real life. And based on this principle, we'll make that greeting card giving every object a spatial distance, and in relation to the camera, and make the scene alive. So let's jump right into it! So, before starting any animation or design, I usually sketch, draw and rework what I exactly want. Here are some of the sketches that I did. This is the final design that I came up with. I tried variations with the back camera. This is a crab that would be walking in and wishing you happy summer. The umbrella, the grass, OK? So this is the whole composition I have here, and then I took it into Illustrator and made this whole design. Now, here you have to take care that every object that you'd be separating out in space, and be putting some distance in between them, has to be on different layers, right inside Illustrator. You can see I have this grass. Grass 1, the plants, background grass. Ok? All of these objects in separate layers. This enables us to animate all the objects separately in after effects. Ok? So I have my crab in another layer. We have the mountains and the lighthouse and so on, ok? The cocktail, the girl, the umbrella. Ok? So just, any design that you make, any scene that you make, make sure that all the layers are separate before you take it into after effects. Otherwise in after effects it will come as one layer and you will not be able to manipulate them separately. So after the design is complete, let's import everything in After Effects. OK guys, so now here we are inside After Effects. So, usually we start with a new composition. But now let's just double click and import our Illustrator file, and we can change the size of the composition anytime later on. So this is the final Illustrator file. Make sure you select: composition> retain layer size. OK, so all the layer sizes and layers will be separated out for us to animate. OK, so this creates a composition by itself, and you can see that all the layers here are exactly the same in After Effects as we had kept it in Illustrator. This would give us control over the layers to animate or group them as we require. So first of all, let's just hide the crab, as we will be animating him separately. Here we go. So, let's start by grouping some layers which we think would be in the same line, the same distance from the camera. Like these three patches of grass and plant. These three would be equidistant from the camera. This would be a bit further away from the camera, but the sand dune and the umbrella would be one group. Then the girl and maybe her camera. Then behind her would be the cocktail glass. Then the sea, the ocean, and the mountains and the lighthouse. And these leaves, these coconut leaves, would be a bit towards the camera. So, before we move any object or animate, let's just import an image that we had exported from Adobe Illustrator, just as a reference. And just drag it on top of our composition here. You may have to fit the scaling, and match it according to the background composition. You can access the scale property by hitting S on your keyboard, so that only the scale value will be shown. And you can left-click and drag on it to adjust the scale of the object, as and how you require. Let's just put it in overlay mode by clicking the tab and selecting the layer property, blending mode. So we'll be able to match it. And, I think this much is enough as we just need it for reference. While the layer is selected, you can press T to bring down the opacity property for that layer. Let's just turn down the opacity a little bit. Ok it's maybe, maybe not that much. Yes. So let's just hide it for now, hide the layer. We'll be needing it to match it later on with the composition. Let's come to that later on. So before you change any layer, make sure that you have continuous rasterize button, the option on. What this does is, even if you scale the object up or scale it down, the resolution of it would be kept intact. So basically it will behave as a vector image and not as a bitmap. It will not abandon its sharpness, right? Like a vector in Illustrator. So once this is turned on, let's group these together. And by grouping I mean making a composition. So right-click on it, and say pre compose, and give it a name: "left foliage". OK, there we go. OK so this is one composition. As this "Happy Summer 09" is one composition inside which we have all these layers, so this would by itself be a composition inside which we have all these three layers. So this would be easier for us to control. Turn the rasterize option on. Or maybe we can turn it on later to save some ram space, you know. So I'll do it with the other layers elements as well. I'll just speed up the video so it's not too boring and make you sleep, right? OK, so here we go. Ok so now, here we have some... a reference layer from a sketch, and some color palettes that we don't need here. You could delete these layers right in Illustrator but in case you forget to do that, you can just shy guide them, which is a little cube button, here. These little alien eyes, you can click on it, for both of them. And if you hit this, it will hide the layers for which the shy switch is on. So the layers are hidden and gone. If you ever want to access them just click on it again and they'll be right back, but we don't need them right now. So let's just hide them, and clean up our workspace. So I guess what I've done here is, we have made a left foliage, a right one. Then we have the left tree leaves, the right tree leaves, the lighthouse... I've put the lighthouse and the mountain in one comp, because when we move the camera a little, they'll not be making much of a parallax difference between the three of them, because they're far away in the background, so they're one composition. The bag is one layer. The right sand dune and the left sand dune, I don't know if I'm calling them right, but it will have too for now. The umbrella which is comped with the base sand, because they'll be in one place. The camera itself, the girl, with her own sand dune and the shadow, the cocktail, which consists of the bubble the glass and the sand, and the sand itself. Wow it looks ugly if you hide it. And the ocean which will have all these elements inside. We will animate these elements right inside that comp composition itself. And of course the sky and the background. So now, we have all our compositions set ,so now we can move ahead to animate the camera. So first thing you need to do here, is create the camera of course, let's do that by clicking anywhere other than the layers. Go to New and create the camera. You can turn on the rasterize buttons now. For this to work, we need to make these layers 3D. They are right now 2D and to move them in 3D space we will have to convert them into 3D layers. To do that, just click on this little 3D cube. This will allow us to move the layer in three dimensions. So right now we can move the layer up, down and sideways, basically in 2D space. So we need to move the layers in z-depth, the third dimension. To do that, just turn on the 3D cube for every layer. By choice we will not make this reference layer 3D, because we need it in 2D plane. Because this is just a placement reference for our final scene composition, so we'll get to it later on, we'll just hide it for now. So, next we need to go into the custom view, and now you can see that our camera is here and the composition is in front of it. Let's start with the sky we can keep it further away. And now you can see that there are three- I'll just zoom in. There are three axes: Y, X and Z, with the 3D depth, let's move our sky. You can select the z axis and drag, and move the sky back. Or you can go to the little drop down menu here, and in the transform options. Well, usually you see that there are only two values for each property but now there is a third one, which suggests that we have converted the object into 3D. We have got another dimension for the object to move into, so let's push it far back. Now there's a little tool here, called the unified camera tool. You can select that, and move the scene around in 3D space. So, this is one of the best thing that after effects does. It enables us to move the 2D objects in 3D space and lets us manipulate it as and how we want. You can turn the scene around and know where your objects are. Let's just push our sky further back.OK so the sky has to be far, far back. All right? While the unified tool is selected, you can press C on your keyboard to toggle between various manipulation options for the camera tool. So this is a unified tool and this would rotate, and this would move and pan, your camera, your active view. And this will zoom in and zoom out. So experiment with these and you'll get familiar with it in no time. OK so the sky is there, and now we will need our lighthouse, yeah, lighthouse, and the mountains just near to that. So let's go into the position values and move it far back. Now, if you go to our active view, you will see... OK there's a bit of a problem, I guess. Oh, so this has not moved but I guess something did. OK, all right, so I guess the problem is we have not converted the layers inside that composition into 3D. So it's important to do so, otherwise you're moving your composition but not your layers. It is weird but, yeah. So let's do that first for all our compositions. OK so let's go back to our custom view. OK now, we are able to see all the layers now which were not visible at first, alright. So now let's just move our mountains back. Now you can see that they are moving real time. Yay! So I have shifted the layers as I needed, just rotate the camera and see how it goes. OK, so looks pretty good. So now let's go back to our active view. And if we pan the camera here, you can now already see what I was talking about, all right? The parallax is visible. So now when you turn on the reference...turn on the reference layer you'll see the importance of it. You will see the size relation of where the objects scale and where the position was. So now you can match the scale of the object according to the reference layer that we have got here. OK, so now let's turn our reference layer on and go one by one matching the scale of the object to the image that we have got. For this to work you will just have to hit this and change the scale values of the object, and it will automatically go back to the place the reference image has, because the anchor point is the same for all the objects, which is in the middle. So do that. This is very easy, and you'll not have to do too much fine-tuning, just go as close as possible. Hit S and you'll get the scale values and adjust it accordingly. OK guys, so I think we have got a composition right, and scaled up everything. So now we just have to crop our scene as per our requirement. You'll notice that we have made some extra length to our object, so when we crop them or move them, it will not be cut off. This is a composition that we directly took from After Effects. And now, we can go into the composition tab>composition settings. You will notice that the width and height ratio is shown. I'll just uncheck the log aspect ratio and put the preview on. So when I change the width, you'll be able to see it gets affected live in the scene. You can change the height as per you like. And you can see that, our scene is now cropped. You can change the height of it as you like and match the composition. I'll keep it a suitable number. Now, you'll notice that our scene has gone a little bit towards the top, upwards, and we'll need to bring it down. To do that, just grab everything, including your reference and move it down in y axis. Maybe a little bit up, a little bit more... OK yes. So, I think this looks good enough. We can always reposition our leaves or any other object as we like. OK, so now you'll notice that our scene is fairly well balanced and composed. I'll just move the coconut leaves a little bit upwards. OK. So when you go to camera and, move around, you can see the parallax working. I'll just key this, and preview render it, so you'll notice it better. Here it is. OK. You can see how the depth and parallax is working. Alright, so this is exactly what I wanted to show you in this tutorial, the amazing 3D. thin that After Effects does to 2D layers. And you can have fun with it you know, you can drastically zoom in and out the camera and pan, add much more effects to it. So I hope you guys enjoyed this tutorial, and I hope that it's not too lengthy. Yes, it has a lot of things but I think it is very interesting. And After Effects gives a lot of control for you, for any motion graphics or 2D animation that you would like to do with it. So yes, there we have it. Now, in the next part we will bring our crab animation into it. The crab will walk in from the screen right, wish you happy summer and walk out.
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