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Tutorial: Free Super Stroker Preset For After Effects

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Complex stroke effects with the click of a button.

Jake Bartlett (School of Motion Contributor and Skillshare Instructor) is back with another free preset for you. This time he's put together Super Stroker, the tool that makes complex stroke effects easy.

To pull off what this tool does you would normally need a TON of layers, keyframes, and time to set it all up. Now you can use this effect preset to easily pull off everything from complex looking write-ons to easy alpha-matte wipe transitions, and so much more.

BONUS: Because it's built as an effect you can customize it however you please and save it to your Ray Dynmaic Texture palette for easy access!

Love this preset?

In case you missed it Jake has another free preset for you that will give you a tapered stroke in one click! Grab the free Tapered Stroke preset here.We want to see what do with Super Stroker. Get creative then Tweet us @schoolofmotion and show us what you've got!



Tutorial Full Transcript Below 👇:

Jake Bartlett (00:11):

Hey, this is Jake Bartlett for school of motion. And I am super excited to be walking you through super stroker, which is a tool that I made for after effects that can take really complex animations and make them extremely easy to make. You can download this tool for free as a preset through school of motion rate on this page, all you need is a free school of motion student account, and then you'll be able to download this preset as well as get access to tons of other great stuff on school of motion. So once you've logged into your student account and downloaded, the preset you'll need to install it. So let's jump right in. I have my preset right here on the desktop, so I'm just going to select it and copy. And then I'm going to come into my animation presets inside of after effects and select any existing preset in this list.

Jake Bartlett (00:53):

Come to this menu right here and go down to reveal in finder. And that will open up the presets folder for the version of after effects. You have open. And then right here in the presets route, I will paste and there we have super stroker. Then I'll come back to after effects, go to that same menu and go down to the very bottom where it says refresh list after effects will refresh all my presets. And then if I come back into my animation presets, there it is super stroker and we're good to go. All you have to do to use it is make sure you don't have any layer selected. And then double-click after effects will generate that shape layer with all the super stroker controls applied. And you're ready to go first. I'll just show you how quickly I can make a pretty complex animation. So I'll go forward to maybe one second, open up my trim pads control under super stroker. And these are the exact same controls that you would have if you would apply trim paths to irregular shape layer. So I'll just set a key frame on the end value, go back to the beginning and drop that down to zero. Then I'll press you to bring up my key frames, easy, ease them, go into my graph editor and adjust the curves just a little bit and then preview.

Jake Bartlett (02:00):

All right. So there's already a lot happening. First thing I want to do is adjust my color. So I already have my color palette set up over here on a shape layer. All I have to do is come over to my color pickers and adjust them. So I'll just grab all the colors that I've already made in my palette.

Jake Bartlett (02:16):

And I'll play that back again. And now my colors are updated, but let's say I don't want it to end on this pink color will. All I have to do is rearrange these colors and the order automatically updates. So now instead of ending on pink, it ends on yellow. So the order of these colors determine what order the colors of the superstructure layer appear in it's very quickly. I was able to rearrange that color palette. All right, let's take a look at some other things that we can do down here. We have some delay controls in all. I have animated right now as the end value. So we're going to look at the delay and all the delay values are measured in frames. And this is how you control the offset for each one of the duplicates. Right now, each one is offset by two frames.

Jake Bartlett (02:55):

So if I come to beginning and go one to the two frames are just white, then we've got one, two frames of pink, one, two frames of green and so on. If I increase this to say five, now these are going to be more spread out. There's five frames between each one of them. I'll play that back. You seen, we have a more gradual animation. Now the cool thing about this value is that you can key frame it. So let's say that I want it to start out at five frames delay, but then by the time it reaches the end, I only want it to be set to one. So I'll bring up my key frames and set the delay down to one easy, ease those, and then preview again. Now you see that at the start. It's very spread out five frames at a time, but by the time it gets to the end, they're all much closer together. Then let's say, I want it to animate out. All I have to do is go to where the animation is finished. And that is important. You need to make sure that all of your colors have finished animating and then go to the start value at a key frame. Go forward in time a little bit, set that to 100% again, I'll adjust the value curve just to make it a little more dynamic and play that back.

Jake Bartlett (04:15):

And again, we have delay controls for the start value. This is set to two, but I could adjust this to say four, and it will very quickly update for me. And just like that, we have a pretty complex animation that without super stroker would take a lot more layers and a whole lot more key frames, but super stroker is great for a lot more than just circles. So let's take a look at a more complex example. I have some paths here that I've already created, and this is not a font. It's just something that I drew by hand using the pen tool. And I want to copy all of these paths into my super stroker layer to quickly do that. I'll just switch to the pen tool, select one point, then hold down command to make a selection around all of the paths copy. And I'll turn off this layer and go into the contents of this super stroker layer and then into the paths folder.

Jake Bartlett (05:05):

And you see that I put some notes. This is where you want to put your custom paths. I'll go in there and delete the circle. That's already there. Then select that group and paste. And only part of my pads are being styled right now because there's one more thing I need to do. I'll close up my paths and go into my strokes group. And right now there are four color groups and we'll get into how to handle these groups in just a little bit for now. I want to delete all, but the first color group open that up. And there's a whole bunch of stuff in this folder, but all you need to worry about is what's sprayed up here at the top. There's a group named path one. I need the same number of paths in here as I have in my master paths group.

Jake Bartlett (05:45):

So there's eight different paths. So I need to duplicate this until I have eight. And as I do that, you can see that all of my pads are now being styled. Then I'll collapse that folder and reduplicate it until I four colors again. Awesome. Now my pads are on the super stroker layer. I'll get rid of my old layer and I still have the same key frames from before. So let's just preview and see what it looks like. Now, obviously this animation is a little fast and the reason it looks so fast is because there's a lot more paths to be trimmed in that span of time. So I could just stretch this out a little bit and preview that again.

Jake Bartlett (06:26):

And there we go. Another very complex animation being driven by a single layer. Now another great feature is super stroker. Is this delay pads property. Even though I have eight separate pads on this layer, they're being trimmed as if it was just one long continuous path. But if I changed my trim multiple paths from sequentially to simultaneously, and then speed on my animation just a little bit, I'll preview one more time. Now all of my pads are being trimmed at the same time, but if I come down to the delay, pan is value and increase this to save five. I'm just going to move my star key frames out of the way for now. And I'll get rid of the animation on delay end and set that to say three, because I increase the delay paths value. Each path is going to be trimmed as if it was its own layer offset by the number of frames that you set this property to. So in this case five frames. So the first part of the rectangle animates than five frames goes by the next one starts all the way through the order of my paths, but let's say I wanted the numbers to animate. First in the frame last, all you have to do is go into your contents into your master Pat's group and then rearrange the paths. So these first four paths are the rectangle. I'll just select those and drag them down to the bottom. Now the numbers will animate on first, followed by the frame.

Jake Bartlett (07:54):

Then I'll bring my start key frames back again. I need to make sure that the entire animation is completed before those star key frames. Then we'll play this back. And I have an extremely complex animation, all being animated on a single shape layer with just four key frames. And that is a really powerful without super stroker. This animation would take at least four layers, one for every color times, the number of paths, which is eight. So I would need 32 layers plus a whole lot more key frames. And let's say you wanted to add another color. That would be really complex without super stroker. But all I have to do is duplicate one of my color effects, change the color to whatever I want. So let's say orange, then go back into my contents, into my strokes group and then duplicate one of these color groups, super stroker automatically generates another stroke based on the color that you set in your effects controls.

Jake Bartlett (08:52):

All you need to do is make sure that you have the same number of groups as you do color effects and that easily you're able to update the look of your animation. I'm just going to take that last color out. And then let's take a look at some of the other controls after trim pads. We have the stroke style with the stroke width, and this is where you can control the global width of all of your strokes. And I say global, because I could drop this down to say 10, but then I'll go into my contents and select any one of my colors. So let's say the second one. And I'll back this up to where we can see all of our colors and then with color to selected, I'll come up to the pixel value of that stroke and increase it as I do that.

Jake Bartlett (09:31):

You see that I'm adjusting the width of just that color. So the global width is 10, but then you can add with, to any one of these strokes individually. So let's say I want the last one to be 50. Well, I've got the global width of 10. I'll add 40 to that. And now my last stroke is 50. I play that back now. I've got a totally different look and to quickly get back to a uniform stroke with I'll just select the layer, go up to the pixel width and set it to zero. And then I'm back to controlling it all with just that stroke width. We've also got controls for the stroke opacity, which adjust everything at once. And then we've got another very powerful little shortcut here, which has caps and joins. If I open up this list, I have access to every combination of cap and join.

Jake Bartlett (10:17):

So if I wanted round caps and round joins, I just select that. Now I have round caps and round joins. Let's say that I wanted to keep the flat caps. I'll set this to, but, and round. And this is just an easy way to quickly adjust the look of my stroke without having to go digging through the shape layer for now. I'm just going to set that to round on both cap and joins the next up. We have operators here. You have easy access to a handful of shape layer operators. I'll set the stroke with down to say 15 and then enable the repeater. So I'll just open it up. Click on the enable repeater checkbox, set the copies to maybe 10. Then I'll open up the transform for that repeater. And all these controls should look very familiar because they're exactly the same as if you would add in an operator into the shape layer and I'll change the scale X and Y down to say 90, and then I'll turn the end opacity down to zero, and then maybe I'll adjust the position down a little bit.

Jake Bartlett (11:14):

And then just for fun, I'll increase the rotation to say five degrees. And we've got a very crazy looking animation very quickly. I really liked playing around with operators and I think that you can get some very unique looking stuff just from messing around with them. So hopefully having access to a handful of these can help you play around with some cool looking animations. Now, if there's an operator that you want to use and it's not in this list, that's not a problem. You can absolutely add your own. Just come down to the contents of your shape layer, go to add and say offset paths. And this will behave just like normal. So let me increase the offset a little bit, turn it to a round join. And again, we've created something completely unique, but you can use super stroker in other ways than just on custom drawn paths.

Jake Bartlett (11:57):

Let me show you a couple more examples. Here's a write on animation using an actual text layer. So if I turn off super stroker, you see that this is a normal text layer, but I laid it out. And then I traced pads on top of it so that they would reveal that text when I set it to an alpha matte. So these are the paths that I traced on top of this text. And you'll notice that I lined them up a rate on the center of each one of the shapes of every letter. Once I had all the letters traced, I copied and pasted the pads to a super stroker layer, just like we do with the first example, then I put it underneath the text, set it to an alpha mat so that nothing outside of that text layer would be visible. And then I just increase the stroke with, until it filled the entire text.

Jake Bartlett (12:41):

So if this were any lower, you wouldn't see all of the texts because it's going beyond the stroke with, of the super stroker layer. But once it fills the entire text, I set up the trim paths to trim multiple shapes, sequentially added a five frame delay. And I also key frame. The delay ends that it starts out more spaced out and ends up very close together. And that's how you can use super stroker to do a write on, but you can also reveal texts in other ways that don't require tracing here. I have another text layer, just a long line of text. That would be a lot of tracing if I were to do a write on, but that would also take a lot of time to animate on if you need longer lines of texts to animate on more quickly, you can still use that text as a mat, but then make your original path much simpler.

Jake Bartlett (13:25):

So if I turn off the track mat, you see that this is just a single line going directly across the screen. And I angled it to match the italics of the text just by going into the contents, into my paths, into the transformed controls. And you'll notice that I added a skew to my paths group. So now when an animates those lines, aren't perfectly up and down, they're at a slant. Then when I set that to an alpha mat, all that I see is the text. And I've got a very cool multi-colored wipe. That's super easy to animate and customize super stroker can be used with more than just text though. You can use a graphic and this is set up exactly the same way instead of a text layer. I have an illustrator file and my super stroker layer is just a circle with a really wide stroke that creates this kind of radial wipe.

Jake Bartlett (14:12):

When I set that to be an alpha mat, I've got this multi-colored radial reveal, super simple to set up, but it can produce some pretty cool looking animations. And that is super stroker. This tool was a lot of fun for me to make, and I'm really excited to see what you can do with it. I hope that you get a lot of use out of it. And if you do use it in any of your work, be sure to share that on social media and tweet us at school of motion so that we can see it, be sure that you're signed up for that free school of motion student account so that you can download this tool and get access to all of the project files for all the lessons that are on school of motion, plus a whole bunch of other great stuff. And if you liked super stroker, please share it on social media. It really helps get the word out about school of motion, and we greatly appreciate it. Thanks again so much for watching this video and I'll see you next time.

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free download incominG!
Now, check your email for the download link!
If you've already confirmed your email with us, you'll receive the link instantly. If not, you'll first need to click a button in a confirmation email. It takes about two seconds and is relatively painless :)
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.