I’m Sorry Shape Layers! I love you!

I must confess… I was never a big fan of shape layers…  we just didn’t get along.  I was used to using masks but suddenly (around AE CS3) the same mask tool began creating Red vector shapes.

At first, they seemed cool enough but after accidentally adding shape layers to my comps, instead of masks, I lashed out! I even made a few jokes at the expense of them. It was wrong and I apologize

Since working on a few space movies, I really took the time to learn the tools better and began to realize how cool and powerful they are.

There are some extremely cool things that can be done with layering and ways to randomize path position with a wiggle settings and other cool things that would be impossible to do with masks.

I’m nearly finished with an unrelated tutorial (See below) but I’m looking forward to incorporating some interesting tips about shape layer creation!

Refining this Technique! I plan on making plenty of crappy tutorials but this next one is gonna be alright!

A post shared by Video Copilot (@andrewkramer) on

POSTED:
1 week ago
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35 Comments

18 hours ago
tank you.
gooooood.
Richard
1 day ago
There is no way that is 100% after effects...plus footage gotta be some kind of footage in there right
djounad
2 days ago
the Tutorial pls
Fatmir
2 days ago
Richard
2 days ago
Those are 2d shape layers? they look like element 3d?
TokyoJames
3 days ago
Ooookay. I have no idea how you are doing that. I can usually figure it out a bit before hand, but this is leaving me clueless. Can't wait for the tut.
3 days ago
it's great! i cant'' wait for new tutorial from MASTER...pleaseeee..
Elefant
4 days ago
Better later than never. I've been always wandering about your trolling about shapes.. ;)
Adam
5 days ago
Shaping up to be a good tutorial...too corny? I think so! You rock as always!
Kevin
5 days ago
I too have discovered that shape layers are good for more that just 2d motion graphs. Looking forward to your crappy tutorials re: them.
    Simon Thorley
    5 days ago
    Crappy tutorials?
    yeah right
Audric
5 days ago
Pretty impressive.
Matt
5 days ago
This looks so tight!
Simon Thorley
5 days ago
Taking shape
6 days ago
Indeed, Shapes layers can be very powerful for motion design !
It is especially useful for maps: http://aescripts.com/aemap/ after effects script draw world map using something like 300 components (one vector shape per country) inside ONE shape layer only :)
Demo: http://aescripts.com/aemap/
    5 days ago
    Oops, I thought the form handled html links. I can't edit my post to fix this. (you can delete this post if you make the edit :P )
    5 days ago
    ALso, just found this After Effects Map plugin based on shape layers:
    GeoLayers. http://aescripts.com/geolayers/
    Very impressive !
Kevin
6 days ago
For me shape layers has always been that mistake when you wanted to create a mask but the footage was not selected first. That is my only experience with them, I am looking forward to learning what they can really do.
6 days ago
Great! Never really understood why you preferred to use a more or less roughly created and fixed mask path over the flexibility of having precise, animatable parametric controls for the shapes as well as the option to add repeater, wiggle paths and other cool modifiers. Would be really great to see some shape layer support in Element 3D soon!
6 days ago
Same here... not a big fan of vectors and that "Red Vector" 😂😂😂
6 days ago
Hi Andrew, i think you have been wrong the whole time indeed. I consider shape layers to be the most powerful tool in AE. And I can demonstrate it! if you give me an email, i can send you a sample of what shape layers can do.
7 days ago
I've always hated shape layers, so it's gonna be funny if you change my mind about those... At least you can try!
Sanoop
7 days ago
make a tutorial
andy
7 days ago
hah I do remember the jokes you made about the shape layers
Picklejones
1 week ago
They render very fast, must be very optimized behind the scenes. My main complaint is the expression handling/naming convention with "index()" nonsense. A complex animation can be done within a single layer. It's almost like a mini composition but less user friendly.
Dr_Stef
1 week ago
The only time I ever used them is to create backgrounds for futuristic UI looking thingies, and then even only the backgrounds for those. would be great to find a new use for them again
Chris
1 week ago
I had always wondered why you seemed to go out of your way to avoid them. I've loved them ever since I saw Aharon Rabinowitz did a tutorial on his old website, and described them as "Illustrator on steroids." Which they are.
R-CANE
1 week ago
I use shapelayers and turn them into masks with a free plugin I found online http://www.redefinery.com/ae/rd_scripts/
shapes to masks: That way I can use them with Element 3D.
1 week ago
I'm right there with you regarding shape layers vs masks. The Adobe Live streams have been showing me what I've been missing and I can't wait to see what you've uncovered!
Ian Sanderson
1 week ago
Fbx update for element 3d would be cool? Any word on an update for it or even E3d V3?
1 week ago
Osm going Andrew.. Please make sure to check my works on YouTube search for Ztronex Film..!
Thnk u!
1 week ago
I've been having to use shape layers so much lately, probably the best thing is using "Trim Paths" and messing with the outline settings, this something I can't wait to see more about.
Damien Felix
1 week ago
Great
1 week ago
Gotta say, I've always felt the same way about shape layers. I'm definitely open to it though!