Animated Polygon Tutorial

published on July 17, 2020

Hey what's up Andrew Kramer here for Video Copilot dotnet and welcome back to another very exciting tutorial today we're going to be taking a look at creating a really cool stylized polygon animation inside of After Effects so let's go and take a look at what we're

Going to be creating alright so you can see there's some really nice details here in the animation in the way that it comes in and it goes out and the cool thing about this is that it's actually really easy to do

So recently I've seen a lot of animation Styles like this and I thought it might be a fun thing to tackle for a tutorial and there's a really cool technique I want to show you that makes this really customizable now if you're watching this

Tutorial in the future like in three years from now and this style isn't really popular well in that case today we're going to be taking a look at creating a retro vintage polygon animation let's go ahead and get started

Now I have an alternate version alright let's go ahead and get started okay let's create a new composition and I want to make it a square so I'm going to do 1024 by 1024 call this polygon and we'll hit OK so we can see a square

Copier let's create a new solid don't call this rings and let's just change the color so we can see a little better blue hit okay then we'll come over here the effects and presets we're going to type in radio waves and we'll drop that

Onto our solid and if we scrub the timeline we can see that just kind of creates these rings almost like a particle system now I want to create some polygons we could come over here to the polygon editor and just type in six

Sides and there we go but instead I want to create a mask and that way we can customize it a little bit later so let's go and take the polygon tool and we'll zoom in here and I'll pull up the title action safe and we're going to create a

Polygon from the center here so click in here and we'll drag now if you use the up and down arrow keys you can change the sides and so what's going to make it six sides and that is the most amount of math that we're going to

Be doing so hold down alt and shift and that will align it like that then we'll come over here to the radiowaves effect and let's change it from polygon to the mask and then we'll select the mask number one so there we go so what's nice

About this is I can edit the mask and it will change my animation so that we can customize it a little bit more alright let's go and take a look at the animation settings we have the frequency so we can turn that up and you can see

That it increases the amount of radio waves we can also turn up the expansion so let's go to start customizing this so first let's set the expansion to ten then let's lower the life span so let's lower this down you can see that it kind

Of lowers the size of the Rings now I don't want them to fade out so if we scroll down to the stroke we set the fade out to zero and I'll go ahead and set my lifespan down to one and then for my frequency let's go up to about six

Now we do want the animation to stop so let's go to frame ten and set a keyframe on the frequency and then move forward a few frames and turn the frequency down to zero and that way our animation turns on and then it stops now let's go and

Play with the color so this blue is looking pretty good but let's try something a little bit more muted and because it's a particle system I'm actually going to keyframe the color over the life so let's go to about frame

Six set a keyframe for the color move forward a few and let's change this to sort of a more of a greenish color and you can actually see that the color changes now let's turn up the width to about fifty and that way we can see a

Little bit better hit you and then I'll show you the keyframes now I'm going to make one more keyframe for the color and let's just make this a bit brighter now I'm going to go ahead take my color keyframes and move them over a little

Bit and you can see how it affects the animation over time all right let's go and customize the colors you can see the color graph here we could double click on a keyframe and that will let us edit

It so maybe add a little bit more green into this I'll see something like that maybe take a little bit of the blue out of this and I think that looks pretty good the other thing that we can do is

Keyframe the end width so you can see it gets larger gets smaller well what we'll do is we'll go to about frame 10 set a keyframe for the end with move forward and then set it up to about 100 and that way the end of the Rings get larger now

I probably need to move these keyframes over and as I do that we'll see that more of the Rings are going to be larger at the end but because I want the animation to fade out let's go ahead and turn this back down to maybe 10 so that

Some of them get larger and then the very last one gets smaller so let's just move this over until it gets smaller so there we go okay so the way to think about it is that whatever the settings are when that ring is created those are

The settings that we'll use so similar to a particle system alright so this looks pretty good but how do we create the effect where it animates on over time like this well let's go and take a look at how to do that first I want to

Create a new solid and go ahead and name this gradient and hit okay then I'll right click and choose layer style we're going to choose gradient overlay now this creates a linear gradient but what I want to do is go down to the gradient

Settings and change it from linear to angle and so now we have a nice angle gradient and I can go ahead change the rotation flip it and you can see what that looks like now what I want to do is precompose our gradient so I'll

Right-click choose precompose move all attributes and called its gradient comp and hit OK then I'm just going to turn the eyeball switch off and then I'll come up here create a new adjustment layer and then

We'll come over here and we're going to be using a really cool effect called time displacement and so we'll drop this onto our adjustment layer and we'll hit return and we'll call this time displace and then we'll come up here to the

Displacement layer and we're going to select the gradient okay so right away it's going to be a little bit slow and a little bit wild looking but what I want to do is change the time resolution from 60 down to about 8 and

That will actually make things render a little bit faster because instead of creating 60 copies it's only creating 8 copies so what is this effect doing well basically it's using the gradient to time remap a section of the clip so if

We play this we could basically see that each slice is creating a different point in time now I want this to look a little bit more choppy so what we can do is turn the max displacement time down and that will just create fewer slices all

Right let's going to take a look alright so that looks really cool now this effect is completely live so we could go in and make changes to the look of it and it'll all update automatically and that's what makes the time displacement

Effect so powerful now the key to the time displacement map is the gradient comp so if we open that up we have a simple gradient now the way to think about it is that the colors represent time so white is the beginning and black

Is the end so if we were to change this to say instead of an angle let's just do a radial and now if we look at our final comp so it's really cool radial effect could be like a stylistic snowflake for like a holiday JCPenney commercial lot

Of options let's set it to linear and check that out so it's very cool we could even create an adjustment layer and on top of this adjustment layer we could do something like a turbulent displace and

What this does is add some like distortion noise and let's take a look all right let's going to delete that and we'll come back to our main comp now I want to add a few more details so we'll come up here we'll take the polygon tool

And instead of selecting a layer I'm going to create a shape layer by clicking in here holding down shift and alt and just dragging out so I've created a shape layer now we'll go into the contents poly star click on the fill

I'll delete that I only want to use an outline stroke I'm going to hide the mask then I'll come over here solo the shape layer open up the contents I'll go down to the poly star stroke make some room here and what I want to do is

Change it from a solid line to a dashed line so we'll scroll down city says dashes here we'll click the plus sign and so now we have some dashes but instead of dashes I want to create circles so the way to do that is change

The line cap mode to round and then come down to dashes hit the plus and now we can have the gap control then turn the – size down to zero and turn up the gap and then all we have to do is turn up the stroke width and now we've created

Some dots so if we want to create fewer dots we can just turn up the gap amount and what I want to do is basically animate the size of the stroke so we'll turn it down to 0 set a keyframe move forward turn it up to 20 and then back

Down to 0 so it's basically on and then off but because we're using our time displacement we can get it to animate on so let's put this down below our time displacement turn off the solo control all right so we can see it animating in

A circle but what I want to do is is hit you and I'm going to move the keyframes over so I want them to come on after the animation begin so that looks pretty good now what's nice about shape layers is that they're vectors so we can

Scale them up really large and we won't lose quality but in this case I want to actually hit s scale it down just a little bit and that way we've added a little bit of detail in fact I'll duplicate it edit duplicate and it'll

Scroll forward hit you and let's move the keyframes over later in time and then scale this down so we're going to kind of create an effect where the dots are sort of the last thing that we see or one of the last things that we see

All right so that's looking pretty good it's looking really good actually sometimes when I make a tutorial it doesn't quite look the way that my original example looks and I usually say something like well just keep tweaking

It until it looks good obviously because I have no idea what I'm doing and I just shift that responsibility onto you all right so one other thing I want to do is create another ring so I'm going to duplicate the Ring that we created

Originally and I'm going to come down here to the width settings I'm going to turn these down to smaller values and I'm also going to take the color switch it over to white and so that we're just creating a nice ring effect now I'm also

Going to turn the frequency down so we'll go over here set that first keyframe instead of six let's do like four I'll turn the lifespan down even a bit and I might even turn the fade out time up just a bit like point two all

Right so I'm going to take the Rings we'll unsolo it now instead of this being down here where the time displacement effect is changing it let's put this copy above the time displacement effect and that way these

Rings won't be affected by the time displacement so cool let's go ahead turn the expansion down a bit maybe turn the size up to begin with nice so just trying to add a little bit more detail to our design alright so now

That we have our design element let's go ahead and create our output comp so we'll create a new composition we'll do 720p 1280 by 720 I'm gonna call this a polygon comp and we'll hit OK

We'll come over here the project and then we'll take our polygon design and drop it into the comp so here we have it looking good alright so let's go ahead and create a background so I'll make a new solid and we'll do like a dark

Grayish blue I'll hit OK background and then what I want to do is take my polygon hit s and we'll scale it down just a little bit and then we're going to create a fake shadow so let's duplicate the polygon ctrl D all right

So because it's a shadow I'm going to come over here get the tint effect and we'll drop that onto our solid and we'll change both colors to black then we're going to come over here and add an effect called scale wipe it's a really

Cool effect that's going to help us create our shadow so if we come over here we can take the stretch amount and you can see it kind of stretches the clip so if we just do a little bit of a negative stretch kind of creates a

Little bit of a shadow and that just gives a little bit more dimension to our design and then we'll add another effect called linear wipe and this is basically going to be a transitional effect to fade out the edge so we'll set that to

50 degrees also and turn up the transition amount and you can see it just kind of cuts it out and we'll go to about here and then turn up the feather it's kind of like adding a mask we go

It just makes it look like more of a fall off of a shadow tweak the settings there alright so that looks really nice now the other effect that we did in the final example was this kind of like stretched out shadow so what I can do

For that is take my original copy so here's our shadow what I'll do is duplicate it ctrl D and then I'm going to pre-compose it so I'll right-click or hit ctrl shift C to precompose I'll move all the attributes and we'll call it

Polygon long shadow go ahead ok so then what I'm going to do is take that scale wipe effect drop that onto the polygon and what we can do is move it back a bit and turn the stretch value up and you can see it just kind of stretches out if

We keep going until we have perfectly straight parallel lines then what we'll do is we'll put it in the background here and maybe add that same tint effect and maybe we'll actually give it like a dark blue tint and then we'll set it to

Multiply then if we hit T we can lower the opacity now the angles not quiet lining up so let's change it I think to about 60 degrees and then that will be parallel with the edge of the polygon just like that but you know you can play

Around we could do a 90 degree you know design and just kind of mix it up or we could do you know like a vertical one and actually make it look like a really long shadow so you know this is just an abstract kind of design element so now

Another fun thing we can do is let's take our design and our design shadow and let's move those over and that way just the long shadow starts before and what we could do is even scale it up just a bit so let's see

Well scale it up maybe one oh you know 110 percent or so so that it's actually larger than our design and now it kind of frames the design a little bit it's a little bit larger all right so that looks really nice

Nice the other thing we could do is we open up the polygon design we could take that ring layer and copy it and let's put it into this larger comp so I'll hit control V paste it and maybe we'll do is put it at the very end Center it up here

Maybe scale it down to about 50% so just adding a little bit of extra detail to our final design now the other thing we have is a texture so we'll come over here to the plaster texture and what we could do is throw this down onto the

Background set it to multiply and that just gives it a little bit more life the other thing I like to do set it to screen and then let's invert it so we'll do channel invert and then we'll go over here add a curves or like a levels

Adjustment and we'll just crush it so that we just see some of these like white specks and that just keeps it nice and clean even though it's a bit of a grungy effect now the other thing we could do is add an adjustment layer and

We'll put it down here and we'll type in vignette and we'll choose effect color correction curves and we'll just kind of darken it a bit and then it will create a ellipse mask we'll double click on that so it creates the full size and

Then we'll come down here to the mask hit m and set it to subtract and then hit F and we'll feather it out a lot and so this way we just kind of focus our attention on the design a little bit maybe we could add a little bit of blue

Just to complement the color of the interior and we can even take the background and go back to the solid settings and just add a touch blue back into that gray color so it's all up to you guys you play around with this and

The key to this effect is customizing it playing around with different color schemes and coming up with different arrangements and that's basically what I did in a few of these examples can kind of see I've just got a few

Copies that are arranged in different ways and offset and you know we can take a look at this example here all right so you can see that actually transitions right into the OCP logo that's perfect does anyone note OCP is Robocop it's the

Police department when I was playing around with the early design I was thinking hey that would be perfect animation for OCP and Nintendo 64 so anyway you know definitely want to play around with this you know there's simple

Things you could do with it like this have it kind of fade on now in this example I've actually just used circles so instead of a polygon I'm just using a circle and using all the same effects so there really is some fun

Things you can do with various geometric shapes and you can probably just use it as a really really nice loading bar like I would watch this loading bar even if I didn't have to wait for something the other nice thing is that you can

Actually time remap the effect so here you can see it plays fast and it slows down then it goes fast again and the way you can do that is if you just take the comp of your animation put it into a new comp and then right click and choose

Time enable time remap and then what you can do is set a keyframe so go forward to a point in time you want to freeze it like right around here set a keyframe go forward just a couple of frames and then go to the end of the animation when it's

All gone and set another keyframe and then basically what you do is take these two keyframes and just shift them over so that way it plays real-time and then it slows down here and then goes back to real time so let's just set up a couple

Of keyframes so right click on this key frame and choose keyframe easy ease out and then right click on this easy ease in and that way when we look at it it'll just have a Bezier curve and then what we'll do is we'll just flip this up so

That it goes into a straight line and then same thing here is make sure that we have a straight line here and that way it'll ease into the slow motion and then ease out all right so I'll go ahead and play this

Back alright guys I hope you enjoyed the tutorial I'll be sure to post a project file at Video Copilot dotnet now today we created a really cool 2d effect but if you're looking to create some 3d graphics inside of After Effects be sure

To check out our plugin element 3d version 2 a lot of cool stuff shadows three objects and just a bunch of really cool things for doing motion graphics titles so definitely check that out as well and if you're wondering

About the sound effects those are from our motion pulse collection a bunch of really really cool sound design tools just for motion graphics users and of course be sure to check us out on Twitter we try to keep things up to date

And of course our blog alright guys thanks for watching I'm Andrew Kramer and we will see you next time

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