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Convert shape layer shapes like ellipse, rectangle, etc. to shapes with editable masks

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leif falk
Convert shape layer shapes like ellipse, rectangle, etc. to shapes with editable masks
on May 5, 2012 at 10:55:49 am

Hi everybody
Does anybody know if it is possible to convert a shape of an ellipse or rectangle for example to a shape with a editable path?
Of course there is the auto trace solution, but it is not always accurate and it converts the whole layer, not only a specific shape in one layer.
I hope I could make my issue clear?
Thanks for your help..


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Brian Charles
Re: Convert shape layer shapes like ellipse, rectangle, etc. to shapes with editable masks
on May 5, 2012 at 4:53:51 pm

If you are referring to shape layers, when you first draw the path hold down the option/alt key,

You can then morph the path by selecting any point with the pen tools and the convert vertex tool.



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leif falk
Re: Convert shape layer shapes like ellipse, rectangle, etc. to shapes with editable masks
on May 5, 2012 at 11:13:10 pm

Wow, that is really interesting, I ask myself if more than five per cent of every AE users know that. Not even the courser changes when you hold the alt key. There is no menu to choose that option manually. But it really works.
Thanks for your reply. But nevertheless, is there a way to convert the parametric shape to a path shape after you created it?


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Anthony Esquivel
Re: Convert shape layer shapes like ellipse, rectangle, etc. to shapes with editable masks
on Aug 18, 2012 at 9:48:25 pm

Yea I have the same problem. This is something really basic. After using Apple's motion on several projects, I realize that After Effects really needs to rethink the way it does things. Apple Motion requires no thought, where as AE requires lots of digging and revealing scrolling, rigging, and nerding to get something simple to work. I would switch to Motion in a heart beat if it was not for AE being the industry standard. They need to stop nerding out and wasting every one's time and develop an interface that is intuitive.

For example in motion, i can draw two elipse tolls, and within one click change the shape, and within two more clicks animate 1 of them, and within 1 more click add a behavior to the other to follow the other one. I can also change all it's parameter in 1 window without digging through a forever long scroll that takes up my entire 30" monitor. I can change the stroke width, color fil gradient, smoothness, add a wiggle to the path.... all in a 2X3" window.

The only reason I use Adobe's nerd fest of a program is to make money. Otherwise motion all day.


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Todd Kopriva
Re: Convert shape layer shapes like ellipse, rectangle, etc. to shapes with editable masks
on Dec 14, 2013 at 6:53:31 pm

The After Effects CC (12.2) update makes creating a Bezier path for a shape easier and more obvious.

option for creating shape layers based on Bezier paths:

When a shape tool (Rectangle, Rounded Rectangle, Polygon, Star, or Ellipse tool) is active, you can use the new Bezier Path option in the Tools panel to create a new shape based on a Bezier path, as opposed to the default of creating a new shape based on a parametric path. Holding the Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) key while drawing a shape causes the opposite behavior—i.e., if the Bezier Path option is enabled, holding the Alt or Option key causes the shape tool to create a parametric path; if the Bezier Path option is disabled, holding the Alt or Option key causes the shape tool to create a Bezier path.

command for converting a parametric shape layer path to a Bezier path:

You can convert a parametric path to a Bezier path after the parametric path has already been created by context-clicking (right-clicking or Control-clicking on Mac OS) the property group for the parametric path (e.g., Rectangle Path 1) and choosing the Convert To Bezier Path command from the context menu. If the parametric path is animated (keyframed), the converted Bezier path is a static path based on the parametric path at the current time; keyframes are lost.

IMPORTANT: When you use the Convert To Bezier Path command to convert a parametric shape path to a Bezier shape path, the Bezier path that is created does not animate well (i.e., interpolation between paths behaves strangely and unpredictably). This is related to path direction and how transformations are stored. For now, you should not use these converted paths for animated paths (interpolation between paths); but, if you do want to try, you may be able to work around the issues by reversing the path before conversion.

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Todd Kopriva, Adobe Systems Incorporated
After Effects quality engineering
After Effects team blog
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