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After Effects - Animated Infographic Video & Data Visualisation

How to create a data visualization line graphs using Adobe After Effects

Daniel Walter Scott

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Hello everyone, we are going to make this. A nice little Line Chart. We’re going to use Illustrator to get the bits going, then we're going to animate it in After Effects. Let's go and learn how to make this.

The first thing we need to do, just like our Bar Graph, we're going to create a new document in Illustrator. We're going to make sure it's '920px x 1080px'. We're going to click 'Create'. Now I'm going to grab my 'Graph' tool. And I'm going to hold it down, grab the 'Bar Graph' tool, the 'Column Graph' tool, and then go down to here where it says 'Line Graph'. Click and drag out to that kind of size you're looking for. Go to 'Excel'. In your '04 Line Graph' file, open up 'YouTube Subscribers'. I'm going to grab everything except the word YouTube subscribers. There's all the column headings, grab all these, copy it. Back over to Illustrator.

In Illustrator, I'm just going to paste it into here. Click the little tick button. And we've got our Line Graph. This one here, because of the names of the columns here, the text doesn't quite fit, so we're going to address that. You might not have this problem. Now close that down. And the first thing we're going to do is break it apart. So we're going to ungroup it, 'Object', 'Ungroup'. We're going to break this data, we know that already, it's okay. So a couple of things, first of all, I want you guys gone. That's still grouped, so I'll right click, 'Ungroup'. You two guys are still connected, you're still connected, and 'Ungroup', so there's a bit of ungrouping to go in, still ungrouping. If you're getting lost in the ungrouping land, grab the White arrow. It's easier to select everything, then just go, bye.

So the text down here, they're all grouped. So we're going to right click them and ungroup it. Now they're all individual bits. I'm going to select them all. I'm going to move him down just to make it a little easier to work with. I'm going to rotate them. You can use 'Window', 'Transform' panel, but I'm just using the shortcuts. I'm moving it down here, because what I want you do is, grab you, you. I need to go out there. Grab the last one. He's meant to go in there. Then select them all, let's zoom out a little bit so I can see everything. Select them all, open up Align panel, 'Window', 'Align'. And I'm going to get them to align horizontally, and vertically. And then distribute the centers. That means they're all going to kind of align up together.

While I'm here I'm going to make it look a bit prettier. So I'm going to change all the fonts. I'm going to select all of you, and all of you. Go to 'Window', 'Type', 'Character'. In here, pick a font, any font. I'm using the 'Roboto' that we've used all the way through. But he's condensed in this case just so that everything fits in a little nicer. What I also might do is play around with these lines here. So with the Line selected I'm going to bring the Stroke to the front. And what color is this Line going to be? Actually let's do the size first. So with it selected, I'm going to open up my 'Stroke' panel, and increase it up to something a bit thicker. And what I'd like to do is change everything to be white because I'm just sick of doing it on a white background. So I'm going to make a colored background.

To do that what we're going to do is select any one of these lines. Then go to 'Select' the same 'Stroke Color'. So everything with the same Stroke color is going to be selected. I'm going to say, be this kind of off-white. And then I'm going to grab all the text, and do the same. Usually I only click on the text. Now those guys are joined. So all I need to do is, select them, 'Ungroup' them. Lot of ungrouping. Now if I click on this, let's bring a Stroke around the outside. So what I need to do is make sure the Fill is in the front. And click that same color. I'm going to leave the black dots because I don't really care. I'm going to go and change those out in After Effects.

So we need to do our Layers thing. Where everything's on one layer, what I need to do is get especially this Line on to its own Layer. You can see there, it's selected. We're going to have three in this case. We're going to have the axis, the line, and the dots. So, this one here, breaking my own rules, I'm actually naming these. This one here is going to be the 'Line'. This top one here is going to be 'Dots'. The Layer order is kind of important, we can change it in After Effects but I want this at the bottom, Line, and the dots on top. So you, line, need to go to that Line. And the dots, I don't know where the dots are. I'll turn the Line off. Where are you, dots? You are these guys, you go up to the top there. And him, back on.

So now we've got them all on their own Layers. The one thing we need to do for a Line Graph is that we're going to use the Trim Paths method we used earlier for some of the Infographics to get the Line to draw, remember that? But at the moment, I'll use the White arrow. You can see, they're actually separate pieces. They're easy to join, select them all. Go to 'Object', down to 'Path', and click 'Join'. Now, they're just one solid object, it's going to make it easier. Let's hit 'Save'. I'm going to put mine on my 'Desktop', in our 'After Effects' files. I'm going to call this one 'Line Chart'. Click 'OK'. Now let's jump over to After Effects.

So I've got a 'File', 'New', 'New Project' open. And I'm going to make a 'New Composition'. Actually I'm not, I'm going to bring in my Illustrator file and let that create it. So I'm going to double click the 'Project Window' to import. And I go to my 'Desktop', find my 'After Effects' files and there's the Illustrator file, where are you? 'Line Chart'. It's going to bring it as a Comp, make sure it's Layer size. I'm going to double click the 'Comp', zoom out, and there's my Graph. What I'd like to do is put a Background Layer in. So 'Layer', 'New', 'Solid'. Pick a color, I'm going to pick, don't even know, that color, click 'OK'. We're into the bottom, right click it, give it a name. Breaking all my rules. That's 'Background'. Let's lock it so we can't mess with it, and that is going to be actually the beginnings of my Chart.

So there's three Layers, these three. The axis, we can lock, we don't want to move that around. Actually, do we want to move them all at the moment? That's looking quite centered on my page, needs space for title. So I'm going to lock the axis, because I don't need to change that. The lines-- we're going to turn the dots off for the moment because you might not want to animate the dots. The line is pretty easy. The first thing we need to do is, at the moment we want to add Trim Paths, you notice we can't add it at the moment because it's still an Illustrator Layer. What we need to do is, with it selected, go to 'Layer', go to this one that says 'Create Shapes from Vector Layer'. It turns this one off and creates this other line that looks exactly the same, but that's usable as a Shape Layer in After Effects. I'm going to bin this guy here to make it nice and clean.

This one here, all we're going to do is twirl it down, and we're going to say 'Add', 'Trim Paths'. We did this in an earlier tutorial, I'm going to twirl this down. Start position is going to be set to 100. So my Playhead's right here at the beginning, it's important. It's a little hard to see, because that's like a preview of your line even though, if I click off, it's gone. So 100%, you can kind of see it growing there if I zoom in a little bit better. You can kind of see it growing across that line. So I've got it at 0 at the beginning, I'm going to start my Keyframes. I'm going to move it along some time. I'm going to drag it down to 0. And now, if I click off, we got a line. We're going to add some Easing to it, we'll actually add our Expression. And then we're going to go and add the little bursts where it comes along, when it hits the different quarters. This is totally up to you, if you want to continue on, but that's basically a Line Chart.

Same thing as a Bar Graph, separates it on its own Layers in Illustrator. And the difference now, instead of Scaling up the Bar Graph, we've used Trim Lines to get it to grow. In Illustrator you can create more than one line in one Graph. Just join the lines up and make them on their own separate layers. You can have lots of little lines doing their thing. So we're going to add our Expression to these two Keyframes. So I'm going to hold down the 'Option' key on my Mac or 'Alt' key on a PC. Click the stop watch, grab my Expression. Click in here, paste it, click off. That's not what I want, I don't want to use an Expression because it's going to bounce at the end.

So what I want to do is, I'm going to undo that… until I get rid of those, and actually I just put 'Keyframe Velocity'. Now I'm on auto pilot. How good is it? I'm actually going to slow it down a bit so we got time for the balls to appear. How long? It's up to you how you want to kind of present the data, how much time you've got to present it, let's go and do a PowerPoint presentation where there's lots of time, or whether it's an animation, like an intro for a website. Just wanted to fire around there. But anyway, we've got our Easing done now.

The next thing we're going to do is, we're going to get the little markers where they kind of cross the Q1, Q3, Q4 to kind of just pop up and do a little cool animation. You might be looking, and going, "Man, this is going to take forever." What happens is, once you've set this up, and you've got your Styles going, what you do in Illustrator is, go back to your original Illustrator file that still has the data sheet added to it, add your new details, do a 'Save As', break it apart, join the lines, and just bring the Line through. And you'll leave the Axis, and you'll leave the Dots. And you'll just play around with these lines here and just add your Trim Paths. You can even copy and paste this Trim Paths from this one to the next one so it does get a little quicker once you've set up your first version.

What we're going to do now is, I'm going to put a little bit of extra love into this one by getting the little things to explode as they go past the line there. So to do it, with this 'Dots' layer, the same thing as we did with the lines, I can't use it as is. I'm going to have to go to 'Create Shapes from Vector Layer'. You can see the little dots there. I'm going to bin the existing Illustrator file, we don't need him anymore. And if we twirl this down, we've got one Layer with the contents, and these are all the different holes. Now the first one is actually this, 'Group 10'. Can you kind of see there? Actually if I click off, see the little dots there. The 'Group 1' is the end there. You can kind of see them turning on and off. So we got where the dots are, I'm going to start with this first one. And I'm going to twirl it down. And what I'm going to do in here is—

Weirdly, at the moment we've got kind of this square thing. I don't want to use it, you could just use a bit of size and scale to exploit this out, it's in Easing, and make it look kind of cool but it's a square, and squares are dumb. So what I'm going to do is, actually with Group 9 selected, I'm going to add to it an Ellipse. Kind of goes inside this group. Ellipse, you can do with a star, you can do with anything. So now that we've got this big giant Ellipse I can get rid of that square, which is this thing called Path here. The square's gone. Cool thing about it, it's bang on where that square was. Now what I want to do is open up Ellipse and in here, go to 'Size', I'm going to start it off at 0. I get my Playhead back here, right at the beginning. I'm going to set my Keyframes going. For size, I'm going to go along. I'm not sure how long, and now I'm going to get it to go up to a size.

You can have-- that's probably too big. You can decide on how big these circles are. So we've got this little growing circle now. Other thing I want to get rid of, there's a Stroke around the outside. So all you need to do is, in here, under Ellipse there's one in here, Stroke. You can just delete the whole thing. Stroke's gone, now we've got this little board that appears. What I also want to do is give it a Fill color. Use the Eyedropper tool, and pick the off-white that I'm using. And the animation is not particularly exciting. So I'm going to use my trick, where, under Ellipse path on my two Keyframes here I'm going to hit the 'Option' key on my Mac, or 'Alt' on a PC, to add my script. This time, I'm actually going to need it. Hit 'Return', and in here, now I've got like a little bouncing ball.

Now you can play with your timing between these two to decide on how well it appears. It looks a bit nicer. So I've got this. Now, you're like, "Holy Molly, I'm going to do that for every single one?" and you say, 'No." Luckily, all you need to do is, under Group 9, grab-- make sure your Playhead's at the beginning, that's the first thing. Grab 'Ellipse' and 'Fill', holding 'Shift' to grab both of them. Hit 'Copy', I'm using 'Command C', or 'Control C' on a PC, and go to 'Group A'. There's some stuff we don't need, we don't need you. Actually we don't need anything except for this Transform. This Transform actually gives it its X and Y co-ordinates. We want to keep that, because that's going to make the dots appear in the right position, but I don't need any of this junk, that's the Square, that's the Line around the outside of the Square, and that's the Fill of the Square, I don't need any of that.

Click on 'Group A', and use 'Paste'. I'm using 'Command V' on my Mac, or 'Control V' on a PC. And now, the cool thing about it is, watch what happens. So they're both going. Now what we're going to do is, just play with the Timing. To play with the Timing, we're going to figure out where this-- we'll keep the Line in the background. Can you see my line? There he is. And when he gets to about there I want this other little circle to explode. So I'm going to drop down Ellipse. Grab this guy, just drag him along to somewhere close to that. So, we're going to just do that over and over again. Do the next one together? Actually no, let's just fast forward it because it's that same thing, you can rewind if you don't get it. But, get rid of you guys.

Big thing, make sure the Playhead's back at the beginning. Click on '7', 'Paste'. Then open up 'Ellipse Path'. Find these two Keyframes, and figure out in your Timeline when it hits Q3. Because we were Easing on this, it's not going to be evenly spaced. Now let's go and speed it up. All right, we're back. So that probably took me-- it was on fast forward, it probably took me two minutes to go through all of that. So, it is long, it's not like, make a Line Chart, and make it beautiful. There's a bit of jumping, and say these dots, you might decide, actually-- I've done it before, I've put loads of effort into one of these and there's lots of intricate stuff, and it does look really beautiful, but the problem is, it's turned into a nightmare for me because I'm like, "Oh Geez, it's week 2, and I've got to go and put that quarterly sales report together." And I've kind of designed something that they've expected, and they're like, "Why is it taking so long?" And I'm like, "Because I've set up this monster sort of things, so many bits going on." You might just decide, "Actually this is not worth."

Because it's going to be so repetitive let's keep it nice and simple. So, dots might not be cool. Let's have a little look. Awesome. I like that last one, it's kind of cool, kind of zooms along in the middle there, and then this last little one, kind of like gives it that finale. This is my actual YouTube subscribers per month. It's not my total, but it's like how many I get per month. You can see here, I'm just starting to get some big growth. Thanks to Tayla and Jason, good work, boys. That's our little launcher. Let's save it, and let's look at going on to Pie Charts.