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Creating an outline of an animal using paw-prints

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Gareth Randall
Creating an outline of an animal using paw-prints
on Feb 6, 2017 at 11:13:02 am
Last Edited By Gareth Randall on Feb 6, 2017 at 12:23:14 pm

Hi guys, I'm very new to AE, although I have some experience using Apple Motion.

I have images of various animals with alpha channels. I want to be able to create outlines of each of those animals using their relevant paw-prints (which I also have as images with transparency), and also animate the prints so that they draw the outline over time.

I'd know how to do this in Motion, but I'm at a complete loss in AE. Do I need to create a stroke first, or use Auto-Trace? Or something else?

EDIT - having done a bit more Googling, it would seem that the most logical thing would be to use Auto-Trace to create the outline of the animal, then convert that to a stroke, then animate the stroke using a paw-print graphic as a custom brush... but there doesn't seem to be a way of assinging custom brushes to strokes.

Any pointers gratefully received!


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Daniel Waldron
Re: Creating an outline of an animal using paw-prints
on Feb 6, 2017 at 1:37:18 pm

Auto-trace is definitely the way to go. In order to use custom brushes in AE, you need a third-party plugin or script.


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Gareth Randall
Re: Creating an outline of an animal using paw-prints
on Feb 6, 2017 at 2:19:33 pm

Thanks for replying! Unfortunately this is just a speculative proof-of-concept piece, so there's no money for buying plugins - although I can see how powerful that BAO Mask Brush is.

I'm genuinely surprised that AE doesn't allow the use of custom brushes for strokes as standard. I may have to go back to Motion on my personal machine just so that I can get this done, and then if management like it, we can probably buy the plugin so we can get the proper animation done in AE on a company machine.

I did try an alternative method - using a particle generator to follow a null object moving along the mask shape path - but out of the three particle generators I have on this machine, only CC Particle World seems to allow custom particle shapes, and as soon as I pickwhip the position of the producer to the null object, all the particles disappear. The other generators work correctly when pickwhipped to the null, but they don't allow custom particle shapes.



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Daniel Waldron
Re: Creating an outline of an animal using paw-prints
on Feb 6, 2017 at 2:45:18 pm

It's lacking feature for sure... See this tutorial for how to parent CC Particle World to a Null Object (skip to around the 4:30 minute mark).


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Gareth Randall
Re: Creating an outline of an animal using paw-prints
on Feb 6, 2017 at 3:33:10 pm

Thanks for the tutorial link - Andrew Kramer is frighteningly clever...



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