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Using strokes from Illustrator as masks in After Effects

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Mark Rustem
Using strokes from Illustrator as masks in After Effects
on Jul 31, 2017 at 9:42:38 am

I've been trying to find a way to use stroke paths from a design in Illustrator, as masks in AE, and to be able to animate the paths as if I had drawn them in AE.

After importing a design file from Ai, I can draw a mask and animate a stroke to reveal, but I don't want to have to trace paths I've already drawn, especially if there's a lot or they're complex.

I found that you can copy and paste a path directly from Ai into AE and use it as a mask, this works great but the path seems to lose its drawn direction so the Start and End parameters animate from the same end of the path.

Is there a better way to use/import strokes as masks? Or, is there a way to set a direction for a copy/pasted stroke?

Thanks


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Steve Bentley
Re: Using strokes from Illustrator as masks in After Effects
on Jul 31, 2017 at 2:03:35 pm

In the layer menu under masks and shapes, select the vertex you want to be the start and hit choose "set first vertex."
Keep in mind to that strokes of any thickness have to outlined in AE for them to come in having thickness. Otherwise they just come in a single spline.



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Mark Rustem
Re: Using strokes from Illustrator as masks in After Effects
on Jul 31, 2017 at 2:27:05 pm

Thanks for replying.

This sort of works, while it does change the direction, Start and End on the stroke animation still seem to be locked together. The direction changes but they both create the same animation in the same direction.


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Steve Bentley
Re: Using strokes from Illustrator as masks in After Effects
on Jul 31, 2017 at 2:52:42 pm

two things:
Give that you do have both start and end on the stroke effect - does it matter which direction the spline goes?
Just animate start and end separately. Am I missing something? Can you post the look you are going for?

before we had the set start vertex buttons we used to just add a point on the mask and it would become the new end point. Depending on where you put it, the mask would reverse directions - so you could try that.



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Mark Rustem
Re: Using strokes from Illustrator as masks in After Effects
on Jul 31, 2017 at 4:27:45 pm

https://vimeo.com/227753652/90aafcd803

This is what I've done before when I've manually drawn over the top of the shapes in AE, Start and End will animate from each end of the stroke.

When I copy and paste a stroke in to use as a mask, and attempt the exact same animation with Start and End, this happens;



Start and End do the exact same animation from the same side, if I set the vertex to a different end, they both switch.


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Steve Bentley
Re: Using strokes from Illustrator as masks in After Effects
on Jul 31, 2017 at 5:51:50 pm

Are we seeing the whole screen in that video? It seems that the stroke goes away from one end and then comes back on the from the other.

I just pasted a square from AI into AE and I can have it go away from both ends with the stroke effect but not the other way around.
The point of the stroke effect was to draw something on and then follow it up with the stroke eating it's tale. You can get into negative space when the values of the start are overtaken by the values of the end and then the stroke eats itself until the numbers overtake each other and then the stroke builds from that point where the end over took the start.
So you can have it remove from both ends at once but I've never been able to (nor could I imagine it working given the effect parameters) to have the stroke build from both ends at the same time Do I have that right? Is this the goal?.

If this is your intent what about two strokes over top of each other and one starts at one end and the other at the opposite end and then screen or multiply them together into "1"?
You could also have it build from both ends as long as your "ends" are the middle of the stroke and the stroke is closed.

I just tried trapcode and I can't get to where I think you want to be with that more robust plug in either. In fact I can't even get it to do the overtake thing that the built in one can do.

Even going into 3D, you can't have a sweep "grow" from both ends at the same time and meet in the middle (at least with the sweep extrusion out of the box as it was indented to be used)
I've got a few more spline based strokers here I'll try it with.



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Mark Rustem
Re: Using strokes from Illustrator as masks in After Effects
on Aug 1, 2017 at 9:53:44 am

Sorry that is the whole screen, it would be a more complex web if I wasn't stuck!

Sorry I'm probably not explaining this well, don't want it to draw from both ends at the same time and meet in the middle, I want it to draw out then eat itself like in the top Vimeo video.

I'm just finding if I copy and paste a mask in, I can no longer create this 'draw in > eat out' animation, using the exact same parameters it will draw out, then rewind (Bottom Vimeo video), no matter which way around I'm trying, Start and End create the exact same animation.


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Mark Rustem
Re: Using strokes from Illustrator as masks in After Effects
on Aug 1, 2017 at 9:56:03 am

It's as if, instead of having Start and End, I have two Ends (or two Starts).


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Steve Bentley
Re: Using strokes from Illustrator as masks in After Effects
on Aug 1, 2017 at 10:11:54 am

Like this?
11557_eatingitself.aep.zip



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Mark Rustem
Re: Using strokes from Illustrator as masks in After Effects
on Aug 1, 2017 at 10:35:42 am

Exactly like that, but it doesn't work. I've always done this animation the same way, and it looks like it's the same as how you've done it.

11559_th.aep.zip


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Steve Bentley
Re: Using strokes from Illustrator as masks in After Effects
on Aug 1, 2017 at 10:38:14 am

trash your prefs and restart AE? Sounds like somethings corrupt. I just wanted to be sure I understood what you wanted to do.



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Steve Bentley
Re: Using strokes from Illustrator as masks in After Effects
on Aug 1, 2017 at 10:51:02 am

Thats not letting me open that file - I'm on a PC and it's saying it won't open because it was created on a Mac. I haven't swapped platforms in a while, I thought I could open mac versions. What rev are you running?



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Mark Rustem
Re: Using strokes from Illustrator as masks in After Effects
on Aug 9, 2017 at 9:39:28 am

Thanks for the help, I tried it again in a different project and it worked fine, so it was just a bug or something.


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