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Tutorial: Ray Dynamic Texture Review

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Texturing in After Effects can be tedious...

If you've ever worked on an After Effects project with a lot of textures you know what a pain it can be. You spend a TON of time clicking, duplicating, moving, copying, and matting. Those days are now over! The brilliant Sander Van Dijk has solved this problem with his latest tool, Ray Dynamic Texture.

Ray Dynamic Texture has a lot of hidden gems in it; from saving complex shapes and animated textures, to expressions, presets, and effects. It's a versatile multi-tool that will save you time and headaches.

In this episode of The Workflow Show, you'll learn how to unleash many of Ray Dynamic Texture's most powerful features, including some that aren't very obvious at first glance.

Get Ray Dynamic Texture here.

If you're looking for some textures to get you started grab the free sets by Ariel Costa at Sander's tool site Georegulus. You'll also be able to find more of his amazing tools like Ray Dynamic Color, along with tutorials on his tools and other great resources.

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Tutorial Full Transcript Below 👇:

Joey Korenman (00:08):

Hey, Joey, here for school of motion. And on this episode of workflow show, we are going to be checking out Ray dynamic texture, an incredible after effects script from the man, the myth and Saunder Vandyke available at eight scripts. Now let's dive in and take a look at this incredibly powerful tool. So here's a very common task that almost every after effects artists in the world has to tackle adding texture to some layers. The standard way to do this is to first add a texture to your comp, like this grungy scratchy one. Then you move that texture above the layer. You want to apply it to, then you duplicate your layer to create a matte layer, and you should probably rename that new layer so you can keep track. Then you move that layer above your texture. Tell your texture to use the new matte layer as an alphabet, then parrot the texture to the original layer.

Joey Korenman (00:56):

Remove any key frames from your matte layer and parent that to the original, just in case you changed the animation in some way. So the mat doesn't get out of sync with the original layer. Then we adjust the texture, scale it down, set the transfer mode to overlay, maybe adjust transparency to taste. And after all that, you've got one layer with a texture on it. Now just do that four more times. And you're done with Ray dynamic texture. That process looks like this way faster, right? Even better. You can select multiple layers and apply texture to all of them. At the same time, five seconds later, you're done. You've just saved yourself a bunch of time and avoided a very tedious process. And if that's all this script did, it would still be more than worth the price. However, this tool goes way deeper than just applying textures, but before we get to the really fancy stuff, let's talk about how this script actually works.

Joey Korenman (01:52):

It's very similar to Saunders, other script, Ray, dynamic color, another indispensable tool. You create texture pallets, which are really just after effects constant live inside your project. You then add textures to your palette and the script updates to show you swatches, which represent your various textures. You can arrange these textures, however you want in the palette comp it doesn't matter. The script is smart enough to grab the right texture, no matter what frame it's on or where in the comp it's positioned. Here's a palette that you can download for free. And it's been created by the amazing designer, Ariel Costa. And I hope I pronounce that, right? You can see that this pallet has been organized really well with helpful guide layers to tell you what each texture is. These guide layers don't show up as swatches. So you can create pallets that literally have instructions right inside them.

Joey Korenman (02:41):

You'll also notice that some of Ariel's textures are animated, which can give you some very complex looks with one click, but we'll get to that in a minute. Once you've built your palette, it's as simple as selecting a layer and clicking a swatch. And in seconds, your texture is applied. There's also plenty of settings in the script. If you'd like to use a different track mat setting like Luma matte instead of an alpha mat, you can hold shift when applying a texture to automatically parent it to the original layer, and you can select a texture hold option and click on other swatches to try out different looks quickly. You can also set properties on the textures inside your palette so that they come into your comp exactly the way you want. Here's the pallet I used in my original example, this texture here has a few properties preset on it.

Joey Korenman (03:26):

The way I want the scale is set to 40%. The transparency is 50% and it's set to overlay mode. One quick note by default, Ray dynamic texture will reset the transformation properties on textures when you apply them. So to do what I've done, you need to set key frames on your texture, which tells Ray to use the actual values on the layer. But let me show you some other amazing things. It can do looking at this animation. I'm thinking the texture might be cooler. If it was animated. I mentioned that Ray supports animated textures already, and maybe you're thinking you can load in some cool image sequence to use. Well, you can do that. And in fact, Ray will automatically loop the texture layer for you. Pretty cool, but there's also an easier way. Here's my original texture in Photoshop. I applied the offset effect to it.

Joey Korenman (04:13):

So I can see that the edges of the texture aren't seamless using the healing brush and the clone stamp. I can quickly paint out those seams and create a Tylenol texture. Now, back in after effects, I can use a neat trick to make this texture look like a series of frames. I'm going to apply the offset effect to the texture. Then put a simple expression on the shift center to property. The expression essentially tells after effects to offset this texture by a lot in a random way, but only eight times per second. You can see that this expression creates the illusion of a series of frames cycling. And by the way, if you have a free school of motion student account, you can grab this exact RDT pallet. As soon as you're done watching this and use this expression on your own textures. So by applying this expression to my texture, I now have an animated texture that I can apply in one click like this.

Joey Korenman (05:04):

That is a ridiculously powerful tool to have. And now that I've set it up once I don't ever have to set it up again, I can reuse this palette in any project I work on in the future. So this animation looks pretty good already, but I'd like to beat it up a little more. So it feels less vectoring in perfect. There's a couple of go-to tricks I like to do for stuff like this. And here's where Ray dynamic texture really shows its potential. See these two swatches here that look different. I'll click this first one. Then this one, and in two seconds, I've added two adjustment layers with very specific roles. The first one, which out of respect, I've named the Cub effect applies a subtle turbulent, displace to my whole comp and changes that displacement eight times per second. This second layer is my standard vignette that I frankly overuse on almost everything.

Joey Korenman (05:53):

I actually have a little bit of vignette shame. Anyway, Ray can actually these adjustment layers inside of a pallet and you can then apply them in one click. So with a few more clicks, we now have this. Let's talk about some other insanely useful things you can do with Ray dynamic texture and see just how fancy we can get earlier. I went into Photoshop and made a bunch of textures using some Kyle Webster brushes, which are also amazing by the way, I made eight textures each on their own layer. Then I imported the layered Photoshop file and to after effects as a composition, I selected all the layers, click the plus button in the right interface to create a new pallet, which automatically contain the selected textures. So in no time, I have a cool set of textures for this project. Let's say I have a bunch of shapes.

Joey Korenman (06:37):

I want a texture. I can select each one, find a texture. I like then move on to the next one. It's not really much of a problem, but if I have a bunch of shapes like this, even this cool workflow can be a little tedious. Now, remember the script supports expressions on your textures. And this opens up some really crazy ways of working. If I go back into the palette, I can duplicate all of my textures, then pre compose them. If I go into the pre-camp scale it up so that it retains the resolution of my textures, set the duration of each texture to one frame, sequence them and trim the comp to the length of this sequence. Eight frames. I now have what Sonder calls a smart comp. This smart comp contains a different texture on every frame. And by using this really slick expression that Sonder provided, I now have a secret weapon.

Joey Korenman (07:24):

Don't worry if you don't understand this expression, by the way, you can just download my pallet and copy it. If you want to or look on Saundra's YouTube channel for instructions on how to do this yourself. Now I can select as many shapes as I want apply these smart contacts here and get an automatic, random assignment of textures. And of course I can replace any textures. I don't like with the static textures I already had in my palette. And if that's not cool enough, I can also save shapes in my palette. There's no button. And after effects to create a triangle, you have to create a polygon, set it to have three sides, scale it down a little bit, move the anchor point where you want it. But once you've done that, you can add that shape to your palette and have it on demand with one click.

Joey Korenman (08:07):

And if you create an effect stack that you find yourself using over and over again, like a subtle bevel with a drop shadow, to create some depth, you can save those effects as a swatch in your palette. By applying it to an adjustment layer, then select your layer or layers in your comp and add the effects by clicking the swatch. Another crazy trick with this is to go into your palette and select any properties in those effects that you may want to change globally. In your comp Ray dynamic texture has a feature that adds a simple expression to those properties. And now when you apply those effects to multiple layers, you can change the effects globally just by tweaking the settings on the master effect inside your palette. It takes a little time to build these pallets up, but once they're done, they become these custom look development toolkits that you never have to make again.

Joey Korenman (08:53):

And here's why the script makes it super easy to save and share these pallets. All you need to do is collect a project that only contains the RDT pallet comp that becomes its own aftereffects project. Now, when you start a new project, all you need to do is import your pallets after flex project refresh REA, and now you have all the same textures effects and shapes ready to go. I've imported both pallets from this demo into a new animation comp. And I'd like to apply that handmade look to the sequence. So I select my squares and the background apply the animated texture to everything, tweak the opacity and transfer modes on the background just a little bit, then apply the Cub effect. And my vignette, it took about 30 seconds in total, and it would have taken maybe five to 10 minutes to build from scratch and do the old fashioned way.

Joey Korenman (09:44):

But when you're a professional motion designer, time spent fiddling around with software is time that you're not spending on the important stuff like design and animation. That's it for this episode of workflow show. I hope you enjoy learning a bit about Ray dynamic texture, and hopefully it can fit into your workflow and speed up your process tremendously. And you can find out a lot more about this tool by going to the links in the show notes of this episode, to check out the plugin on AAE scripts or on Saunders, YouTube channel Saunders site also has a resources page, which will eventually turn into a massive texture library for Ray dynamic texture and willing to that in our show notes as well. If you haven't already grab a free school of motion student account so that you can download the RDT pallets that I used in this demo and use them however you want. And if you happen to think we should feature any other tools on this show, please let us know by hitting us up on [email protected] Thanks for watching. And I hope you're as excited as I clearly am about Ray dynamic texture.