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Variable width stroke, without write-on effect

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Spencer SmithVariable width stroke, without write-on effect
by on Oct 13, 2015 at 7:23:50 pm

Hi,

I'm trying to create an animation of a path that is variably stroked along its length. I'm animating the path anchor points and handles to move in the animation, but not animating the completion of the stroke - the path is stroked 100% of its length for the entire duration. This is different from using the write-on effect, as far as I understand it.

In Illustrator, it's relatively easy to control the width of the stroke along the path. One option is to create my artwork in Illustrator and then expand and bring it into AE, but that makes the animation of the lines very difficult, since maintaining the width of the stroke would depend on very precise control of the anchor points and handles along both sides of the closed shape. Ideally, I could animate an open path, and have the stroke move appropriately. Puppet warp creates bad results, with kinking and the like.

Is there any tool, plugin, or technique that would make the task easier? Thanks for any help.


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Kevin CampRe: Variable width stroke, without write-on effect
by on Oct 13, 2015 at 9:44:30 pm

an effect called 3D stroke by trapped (available at redgiant.com) has a taper control, among other improvements to the stoke effect.

Kevin Camp
Art Director
KCPQ, KZJO & KRCW


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Dave LaRondeRe: Variable width stroke, without write-on effect
by on Oct 13, 2015 at 9:50:19 pm

It's not as tough as you think. Make the path in illustrator and put it in a layer. Most Illustrator folks forget about Illustrator layers. Make it as big as you think you'll need to keep the AE work simple.

Import it into AE. You how have two choices: you can animate a mask to reveal the stroke, or you can do the same thing on a solid and use it as a track matte.

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Spencer SmithRe: Variable width stroke, without write-on effect
by on Oct 14, 2015 at 8:29:43 pm

Thanks for the ideas. Trapcode's 3D stroke is too limited, I think, for the need. I'm also not trying to reveal segments of a stroke, but rather animate the motion of a line.

Imagine trying to animate movement of this line. For this example, say I wanted to animate the the left anchor to move up and down in an arc to make it look like the "tail" of the shape was wagging. The stroke would need to follow the path.

The overall goal is to animate something like this without having to control the anchor points on both sides of a solid shape, because that would be extremely tedious.


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Dave LaRondeRe: Variable width stroke, without write-on effect
by on Oct 14, 2015 at 10:18:47 pm

Oh.

Well, animating that hair waving realistically in AE WOULD be very tedious. If that is your aim, grab a pot of coffee. You'll need it.

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Spencer SmithRe: Variable width stroke, without write-on effect
by on Oct 14, 2015 at 10:23:43 pm

...This is my fear. Puppet warp would be good in principle if it would only behave. Are there and plugins that do it better?


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Spencer SmithRe: Variable width stroke, without write-on effect
by on Oct 14, 2015 at 10:43:40 pm

On a related noted, is it possible to keyframe individual anchors? Path animation is not very flexible when you only have one keyframe for the entire path.


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Dave LaRondeRe: Variable width stroke, without write-on effect
by on Oct 15, 2015 at 4:46:27 pm

This question leads me to believe that you have more experience with Illustrator than with AE.

AE will treat your imported Illustrator layers like it was any other piece of still footage. You lose access to the path you created in Illustrator.

You re-gain access to the path if you create a shape layer from it. At which point you can then animate the individual points of the path.

-- OR --

You can use one of AE's Distort classification of effects to animate Illustrator layers.

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Kevin CampRe: Variable width stroke, without write-on effect
by on Oct 15, 2015 at 4:02:02 pm

you might try cc bend it. create a straightened version of your shape, then add cc bend it, adjust the start/end points to where the ends of the shape are and animate the bend property it to make it wag. you can even add mulitple bend its with end points aligning with other start points.

you could also try turbulent displace, adjusting the various properties may be able to produce a waving motion that you desire... less control, but easier application.

Kevin Camp
Art Director
KCPQ, KZJO & KRCW


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Spencer SmithRe: Variable width stroke, without write-on effect
by on Oct 15, 2015 at 5:03:56 pm

Thanks for the suggestions guys, I really appreciate the ideas. Distort effects aren't going to give me enough freedom to control the motions. 3D stroke isn't really that flexible either, imo, since it's essentially distort effects in 3d space.

I've got a fair amount of experience working with the vector/shape tools in AE and am probably around upper-intermediate level in general. The vector tools simply aren't that powerful from what I can tell and was wondering if a 3rd party tool or an expression-based approach could yield more control in animation and stroke width.

I guess my best option is to use 3d stroke to create tapered lines and restrict the artwork to paths that are stroked with linear increases and decreases in width. Still, there will be little control over the path/anchor point transformations over time...


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Kevin CampRe: Variable width stroke, without write-on effect
by on Oct 15, 2015 at 5:18:43 pm

yep... there isn't any built in control for varying a strokes width along a path/mask.

also, a path's/mask's shape cannot use expressions (there is a script that can link a vertex to a null/layer position, take a look at the scripts on crgreen.com)

Kevin Camp
Art Director
KCPQ, KZJO & KRCW


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Spencer SmithRe: Variable width stroke, without write-on effect
by on Oct 15, 2015 at 7:06:14 pm

Some rigging/IK tools may be useful for this. I'm going to try DUIK. Thanks again for the help!


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Joseph W. BourkeRe: Variable width stroke, without write-on effect
by on Oct 16, 2015 at 2:21:44 pm

You might want to give this a try - it's free, so you have nothing to lose but time. Omino Snake will let you distort a graphic along a path, so you should be able to animate just the path nodes to get the flowing hair:

http://omino.com/store/

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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