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Onion-Skinning in AE - possible solution

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Greg DiGenti
Onion-Skinning in AE - possible solution
on Mar 9, 2020 at 4:54:14 pm

This topic/question has come up several times in this group, but the response always seems to be "just do it in another program" or "buy the Paint & Stick plug-in for $100." However, for those of us who think we should be able to do this within AE, I think I may have solved the problem, provided someone can help me get around one annoying issue.

Here's the original problem: When you paint on a video layer using the Single Frame duration for the brush then go to the next frame, you can't see your previous lines, which makes it tough to do frame-by-frame animation, which is where onion-skinning would come in handy (being able to see a light preview of the previous frame).

But while messing around recently, I realized if you add the Echo effect to the layer that you've been painting on, then DRAG THE EFFECT BELOW THE PAINT EFFECT (important) and use these settings:

Echo Time: -0.033
Number Of Echoes: 1
Starting Intensity: 0.40
Echo Operator: Blend

If you then scrub through the timeline... Voila! Onion-skinning! Right? Well, yes and no. You can now see an onion-skin of your previously painted frames... HOWEVER: If you try to paint on the frame again, After Effects creates a NEW Paint effect and calls it Paint 2, and the Echo no longer works since the new Paint effect is now BELOW the Echo effect.

I don't understand why the heck After Effects doesn't just look to see if there's already a Paint effect effect on the layer, then simply continue painting on it (which is the way it seems things usually work in AE).

So my question is this: Is there a way to force AE to use the Paint effect that's already on the layer after you move the Echo effect below it??


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Michael Szalapski
Re: Onion-Skinning in AE - possible solution
on Mar 10, 2020 at 6:57:11 pm

Apply the echo effect on an adjustment layer.

- The Great Szalam
(The 'Great' stands for 'Not So Great, in fact, Extremely Humble')

No trees were harmed in the creation of this message, but several thousand electrons were mildly inconvenienced.


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Greg DiGenti
Re: Onion-Skinning in AE - possible solution
on Mar 10, 2020 at 7:16:36 pm

Except to use the roto brush feature in AE, you have to double-click on a footage layer, which opens it in its own window, and that's what you paint on. So I can't see any adjustment layers or any other layers for that matter, just the footage itself and any effects that have been applied directly to the layer.


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Michael Szalapski
Re: Onion-Skinning in AE - possible solution
on Mar 10, 2020 at 7:32:20 pm

You can have layer panels and composition panels open simultaneously next to each other. Heck, you can have multiple composition panels open next to each other. The only limitation is screen real estate.

- The Great Szalam
(The 'Great' stands for 'Not So Great, in fact, Extremely Humble')

No trees were harmed in the creation of this message, but several thousand electrons were mildly inconvenienced.


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Greg DiGenti
Re: Onion-Skinning in AE - possible solution
on Mar 10, 2020 at 11:31:00 pm

I appreciate your attempts to help, but onion skinning isn't the type of thing that works by looking over at another panel; you have to be able to TRACE over the previous image for it to be helpful. Jumping back and forth to the previous frame would be easier than trying to draw in one panel while looking at another.

Oh well... guess $100 for Paint & Stick is the only solution.


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