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After Effects - Animated Infographic Video & Data Visualisation

How to animate the lines of an icon in After Effects

Daniel Walter Scott

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Hi there, in this tutorial we're going to look at actually animating the Icon itself. Like, you can see here, we're animating the lines. Up until now we've just been animating the Icon's Position and Scale. So let's go and learn how to do that now in this video.

The first thing we're going to do, is we're going to create a new Project. So 'File', 'New', 'Project'. Close any ones you have open. And we'll end up here. So second thing we need to do is create a 'Composition', 'New'. I'm going to make sure it's 'HDTV 1080p', '25 frames per second'. How long is it going to be? I'm going to make mine-- instead of trying to type it all in and fill out all the columns I'm just going to make mine about '5 seconds'. '500' And if I 'Tab' out, it's made it 5 seconds. Background color, we're going to leave it as black. And add our 'Fill', a 'Solid', like we should. So we got this, I'm going to 'Save' it. And this one here, I'm going to put on my 'Desktop'. I'm going to create a folder, and this is going to be my 'AFX Files'. I'm going to give this one a name, this one's going to be 'Animated Lines'. Let's add a 'Solid' to the background. 'Layer', 'New', 'Solid', we've done this. Pick a color, I can see these guys over here, I'm picking this one. I'm going to lock it, actually going to rename it. 'Background'. And let's lock it so I don't move it. Next up we need to draw some stuff here in After Effects. So we're going to draw in After Effects to get started because it's easy enough to do basic things like that clock. But you could bring it in from Illustrator. I'll show you how to do that a little later.

There's a couple of extra steps but I'm going to hold down the Rectangle tool. Grab the Ellipse tool. I'm going to click on the 'Fill'. Where it says the word 'Fill', I'm going to say 'No Fill'. And where it says 'Stroke', I'm going to click on the 'Color'. And I'm going to pick a Stroke Color, maybe just off-white, or I'll fill this kind of off-white that I'm using over here. It's actually gray, it's not off-white. Now, I'm going to start dragging. And while I'm dragging, hold 'Shift', it's going to be a perfect circle. So mine's going to be about that size. I'm going to go back to Selection tool, grab it, and kind of stick it there. We're going to draw the hands of the Clock.

Now, to make this a little easier for us, if I start drawing with the Pen tool now, while I had that Layer selected, what ends up happening is, this Ellipse which is the Circle around the outside, and this Line now, become part of the same Shape Layer. That can work out for you but it's a little complicated to get started with. So, to get around that, just have nothing selected. Click in this dark area down the bottom, then grab the Pen tool. And I'm going to click up here. Hold 'Shift', click once again, straight line. And you can see, it's the second Layer.

Now, in this case, the Stroke Width, we're going to leave it at '5'. Yes, '5 pixels'. Up to you. And we're going to draw the next part. The hands for the hours, so I'm going to click off, and I'm going to click once. Hold down 'Shift', I'm going to 3 o'clock. I'm not sure why. And I'm just going to rename these to make life easier. The Face. This one here is going to be the 'Minute'. This one here is going to be the Hours. The Hours. So, we've got our clock. What we got to do is get it to animate.

So first thing we need to do is something called Trim Paths. Trim Paths help us animate lines. So we'll do it to the Face first. Twirl this down, and you add it by clicking this little 'Add' button here. There's one in here called Trim Paths. We used Repeater earlier on in the tutorial, now it's Trim Paths time.

So we have our Play Head at the beginning. Open up Trim Paths, and you got the Start and the End. So I wanted to start, actually completely finished. To do that we're going to turn the stopwatch on. To make my Keyframe to start, I'm going to crank it up to 100%. Can you see, if I drag it to 100. So I'm going to go all the way, so it's completely finished, a 100%. Then after some time, I'm going for half a second. '13 frames'. And I'm going to go down to '0'. So I've got two Keyframes, one when it's 100, and one when it's down to 0. I'm going to hit 'space bar'. And we've got a Line.

I'm going to select them both, and add some Velocity to them. '75', '75'. I'm going to add Motion Blur to them to make them look a bit prettier. And that's all we’re going to do. So we're going to go through and do that for all of the different paths. It's not super hard, you can skip on now because it's pretty much repeat. So the minute's hand here, I'm going to get it to appear at the same time. Maybe kind of partially, so it's kind of started here. And you can see, it's kind of wispy bit, that's because of the Motion Blur. If I turn that off, Hard Line wispy bit. So it's going to start here, hold 'Shift' to get to the front of it. I'm going to twirl it down, and say 'Add', 'Trim Paths'. Open up Trim Paths. Start, make sure it's at 100% after some time, so just a bit further along than this. And I'm going to turn this to '0'. I have no idea about this timing. I'm just going to wing it, and then adjust it as I go.

Twirl it down, you are going to start still further over. Hold you down, add 'Trim Paths'. Open this up. Set the Keyframes going, go to 100. And then, after some time, maybe not as long, because it's a bit of a shorter line, I'm going to go down to '0'. Kick back, relax, is this going to look awesome, or… I'd say, or. I'm going to right click it. Go to 'Keyframe Velocity'. And change these to something a little bit more exciting. These lines are taking far too long to come on so I'm going to time them together. Twirl on this one, click on this, select you, just to see those guys a bit tidier. And grab these two. 'Keyframe Velocity'. '75' and '75'. Let's see what it looks like now. Too fast now. Cut one. And I might stagger them out a little bit more. Now I'm just messing about.

They go away, it takes way too long. The only problem with this one is that it comes from the other side. If you're finding that, it's because I drew it from this way in. So it will be where we started drawing a line. So I can fix that by going in to here. And we're going to be still using Start and End. I'm going to turn that off. Go back to the beginning. I'm going to turn that back to where it was, at 0. No, it was at 100 to start with, no, it was at 0. Cool, so we're going to use the End. We're going to work from the other side, so turn this on. We're going to start it at 0, and go along for some time, and then crank this up.

So you can see it getting on the other way. All right, you, you, done, done. You can spend ages messing around with these lines to figure out what it's going to look like. Awesome, we're going to hit 'Save'. So that's drawing from inside of After Effects.

Say we've already got some Icons drawn. So what we're going to do is, we're going to-- let's name this Comp. We'll name it, I'm going to call this one 'Clock'. We're going to make a 'New Composition'. It's going to be all the same as the last one. And what I'm going to do is, go back, rename it actually. This one's going to be the 'Lock'. I'm going to go back to the Clock, then I grab the background. Unlock it. Copy it, go to the Lock, paste it. Lock it. Right click it. We'll call it ‘Background’, I'm not going to even bother.

So what I want to do is, I want to bring in something that's made in Illustrator. The problem with that is-- I'll double click, let's bring in-- go to '02 Icon Grow', and bring in 'Trim Paths 1'. I'm going to bring it in, and I dump it in here. It's something I drew in Illustrator. Nothing super fancy, but the problem is, Trim Path's not going to work because it's actually just one object, it's not actually lots of separate little parts. But it's easy in a fixed. You can go up to 'Layer' and go to this one that says-- you have this Layer selected, so here's my Trim Paths, and say "Create Shapes from Vector Layer'. And it goes and redraws it. Weird thing is, it kind of leaves the original there and turns the Eyeball off, here it is. I don't need it, so I'm going to bin it. And this is the one I'm going to use. We don't need this either anymore, we could delete it. We're just going to leave it there though. There's no reason to delete it. And we're going to go down here. And we're going to go down to 'Add', 'Trim Paths'.

It got all these different groups but here's the Trim Path, it's controlling them all. And it's the same, Start and Finish, so I'm going to Keyframe at the beginning. Start it at 100% and then after some time, I'm going to get it to come down to 0. Add some Easing and some Motion Blur. And we'll be there. And you can play around with the timing, how long this thing takes. Awesome, so that's how to get these kind of Logos to grow.

Now this one was a particularly easy one because it was actually just lines out of Illustrator. Not all Icons will animate the same. Especially when this fills in it, so let's look at doing that now. First thing is to go up to 'Composition', 'New Composition'. And we're going to call this one 'Girl'. And we're going to paste in the background. Lock it again. We're going to try and bring it in so I'm going to double click the background and hit 'Import'. And I'm going to try and bring in this other thing. I've downloaded it from the Adobe Market, right? And it's comes down as this SVG. At the moment, After Effects won't deal with SVGs. They're awesome Vector files but After Effects can't use them at the moment, but Illustrator can. So what I'm going to do is jump into my Exercise Files, open up '02 Icon Grow, and open this up in Illustrator.

So in Illustrator, all I need to do is go to 'File', 'Save As'. And instead of SVG, save it as an 'ai' file. Click 'Save', click 'OK'. And I can close it down now. Now, in After Effects, I'll double click in here. And here she is, I can bring it in, fine. Same problem as before though, it's kind of this object I can't add Trim Paths to. So I need to go to 'Layer', and go to 'Create Shapes from Layer'. Nothing really changes, except remember, this thing I don't need. And that's the bit.

The Shape Layer here, I'm going to add 'Trim Layer'. And it's going to be a little bit different. It's a little hard to control, Trim Paths. So don't get too caught up if you want it perfect, it's going to be a little hard to do when you haven't built it, and it's got lots of fills instead of lines. This is meant to be Trim Paths, the edges. So we're going to start it off at '0'. And after some time, it's going to be down. Where is it going to track? Actually we've got to set the Keyframes first. So, at '0' after some time, back down to '100'. Got that backwards, but anyway, we got it right. So it's kind of an easy cheap way, Trim Paths, to actually build a little animated Logo nice and easy.

One of the last little things, I'll jump back to the Clock, remember, this animation? Is that when they actually appear in, the lines draw on. It looks good if they're kind of falling a little bit. So let's do that little trick. And at the same time we're going to learn what a Null Object is because at the moment, these are on three lines so I can animate them all separately and just try and get them to come down together by lining up the Keyframes, and that would work. But a nice a little trick is, I'm going to create this thing called a Null Object. And it's an empty layer. All that means is, I'm going to say, you guys follow this Null Object. And then I'll move the Null Object down a little bit. And because these guys are all tagged to it, and not following it, they will move down as well. The Null Object is something we're going to use quite a few times in this course especially when we get into Camera Tracking.

So we're going to use a nice, easy version here. To create a Null Object, we're going up to 'Layer' we're going to 'New', 'Null Object'. And what we're going to say is, we're going to touch all these guys so you guys are Parenting to this. We do it by saying-- okay, they got no Parents at the moment. You guys are Parenting to the Null Object, so we're going to follow him around. If you can't see this one here, where it says Parenting, you probably-- this Toggle switches the Modes. So switch to this one here where we can see the Parenting. All we need to do is move the Null Object. Cautious, if I move the Null Object, if I go to 'P' for Position, I just move it around, see if it comes with me. But I'll turn that off, and I say the Clock face is not going to follow everything but him. They come along, so watch, see, just the inside guys come along. So I'm going to 'undo' that. And let's get them all to Parent.

So, back here at the beginning, I'm going to turn on my Position. And then after some time, as it's coming down, maybe like that, we're just going to get it to actually at the beginning here, we'll get it to start up a bit higher. Not super high, not like a full descent, like we did earlier on, just a nice little subtle one. So, first Keyframe, he's up a little higher, and then kind of half way through this, I'm going to get it to move down into the center, about there. And let's turn the Easing on. And let's try to impress you with it looking marginally better. So look, too fast, but you get the idea. It just adds an extra dimension when you are doing these drawing lines.

All right, that's it for animating lines for an Infographic. Let's move on to the next video.