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editing shape layer points

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Tristan Summers
editing shape layer points
on Sep 7, 2009 at 11:33:03 am

Am I going mad?
I have a 2 point line. It is a shape layer.
I want to edit one of the points
I don't want to move the shape
I don't want to scale the shape
I want to move the point
why have adobe made this impossible?

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Todd Kopriva
Re: editing shape layer points
on Sep 7, 2009 at 3:35:10 pm

> I want to move the point
> why have adobe made this impossible?

You can change a Bezier shape path.

You do have to select the vertices (path points) first.

One thing that might be tripping you up is confusion between shapes that are defined by Bezier paths (for which you can move and modify individual vertices) and parameteric paths.

from "About shapes and shape layers":
"Shape paths have two varieties: parametric shape paths and Bezier shape paths. Parametric shape paths are defined numerically, by properties that you can modify and animate after drawing, in the Timeline panel. Bezier shape paths are defined by a collection of vertices (path points) and segments that you can modify in the Composition panel. You work with Bezier shape paths in the same way that you work with mask paths. All mask paths are Bezier paths."

Todd Kopriva, Adobe Systems Incorporated
putting the 'T' back in 'RTFM' : After Effects Help on the Web
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Steve Roberts
Re: editing shape layer points
on Feb 26, 2011 at 9:48:13 pm

I feel your pain. The vertices of a two-vertex straight path are in the same location of the corners of the bounding box, making two-vertex linear paths something of a special case, one whose solution cannot be immediately divined by reading the help.

With nothing selected (F2):

1. double-click on the specific path you want to edit. (boldness is not for you, it's for my students, some of whom go clicking willy-nilly on anything) You should see a bounding box with dotted lines.

(If not, you clicked next to the path in a multiple-path shape layer, not on the path, and you should hit F2 to deselect everything and start again. )

2. double-click one of the corners of that box. The bounding box will change to a box with solid lines.
3. drag the corner of this bounding box at the desired vertex. Since your path has only two points, dragging a corner of this box is the same as dragging a vertex.
4. Hit Return.

(The dotted-line box was "group-selection" mode, and the solid-line box was "free-transform" mode.)

Now if you have a two-vertex bezier path:
1. double-click as above to get the dotted bounding box.
2. click once on the vertex you want to edit. Now you're in path edit mode. That was easier.

You may have to zoom in to make all this happen.

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Naomie Ross
Re: editing shape layer points
on Apr 18, 2011 at 7:33:44 pm

omg thank you for clearing that up.... this issue has been driving me nuts

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Nitin Gadia
Re: editing shape layer points
on Jan 17, 2013 at 10:35:56 pm

agreed. Thanks a lot, this was also driving me insane!
... isn't anything made with the pen tool a bezier path? The latter part of the instructions was confusing. I kept trying to click once, but realized eventually that I had to double click the vertex, as you described the first time.

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Greg C Neumayer
Re: editing shape layer points
on May 4, 2016 at 9:03:25 pm

Thank you.
Even after your guidance, it's still convoluted and not intuitive. Even in v. 2015.2 it takes multiple clicks that aren't productive to get what I need, and then I still need to stop and ask myself, "Let's see, which of the 3 bounding boxes that I've memorized is this?"

I'd rather make a skinny mask on a solid!

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David Cabestany
Re: editing shape layer points
on Jul 10, 2013 at 7:58:28 pm

Just click on the name of the path (i.e. Path 1) and the points are going to become hollow, after that you can select them as you would with any other path.

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Todd Kopriva
Re: editing shape layer points
on Dec 14, 2013 at 6:51:41 pm

The After Effects CC (12.2) update makes creating a Bezier path for a shape layer 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.

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

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Leon Earl
Re: editing shape layer points
on Feb 26, 2014 at 12:03:07 pm

I really don't get this... I have a shape layer or mask... I do something else (like create a text layer)... I go back to the shape layer/mask and want to move a specific vertex, but the whole thing moves when I try to do this... why is this so blooming difficult?



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Hannes Elltorp
Re: editing shape layer points
on Dec 18, 2014 at 11:03:00 am

You can just select the path layer, then press "G" and move the point with the "pen tool". Hold "alt" to bend it. :)

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Julian Crespi
Re: editing shape layer points
on Jun 24, 2015 at 10:10:58 pm

I found this also to be very confusing. Hannes is right though, with the pen tool active you can select the vertices as normal. Here's some more info:

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