How to animate strokes in After Effects

This tutorial will show you how to make this from scratch....

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After you have opened up a new project in After Effects open up a new composition by doing the following...


1. Open a new composition

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Set PRESET to: HDTV 1080 25

You can set the Duration to whatever time you want but I set mine to 0:00:10:00 (10 secs)  

Now click OK

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2. Create a solid (background)

To create a solid right-click under the window that says "Source Name" in the timeline panel. (Usually the bottom left panel  of the screen.

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Change colour of solid to a dark grey or black (or another colour if you prefer) click OK

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3.  Create a Text layer

Create a text layer by again right-clicking under the "Source Name" part of the timeline window and selecting Text from the pull down menu.

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Type out any word in your preference of font/typeface (something in bold will probably work best for this)

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4. Convert Text to Shape

Right-click on the text layer and click "Create Shapes from Text"

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5. Add Stroke to Layer

Now that your text layer has been converted to a shape, you can add a stroke. 

You can do this by following the below steps.  

  1. Click the arrow to the left side of the shape layer
  2. Click the arrow beside Add
  3. Select  "Stroke" from the pull down menu

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6. Remove Fill

Under the contents tab, go through each letter and make sure the visibility icon (the eye) is not selected or shown. You want to remove each fill from every letter.

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Your composition should now look something like this...

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7. Thicken Stroke

Now go to the Stroke you added which should be located in a tab under all the letters, and increase the stroke width to 7.

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8. Add Trim Paths

With Contents tab selected go to the arrow beside Add and select Trim Paths from the dropdown menu.

(You shouldn't see any difference to your composition)


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9. Add Keyframes to Trim paths

  1. Move Time Scrubber to far left of Timeline
  2. Change the value of the End from 100% to 0.0%
  3. Click the Stopwatch so it turns Blue (on)

A blue diamond (keyframe) should now appear on the timeline to the right.

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  1. Now move the the timeline scrubber to the right, somewhere further on in the timeline (maybe 2 seconds)
  2. Change the End value back to 100%

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Now Right-click the first keyframe and go to > Keyframe Assistant > Easy Ease Out

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Your keyframe should now look like this...

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Now do the same with the other Keyframe on Select Easy Ease In

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10. Add Start Keyframes for Trim Paths

  1. Move Time Scrubber to roughly middle (3/4) between the End Keyframes
  2. Click to stopwatch beside Start to turn it blue (on)

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Now move the Time Scrubber to the right about second after the right End keyframe. 

Change the Start value to 100%

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Now make sure both of these new keyframes are Easy Ease Out and Easy Easy in by following the steps in the previous step. They should now look like this.

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And that is it!

11. Render (export)

Go to Composition > Add to Render Queue

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After picking a file name by clicking on the option that says your comp name.mov simply hit Render.  This should take several minutes to render and should appear as a .mov in the file that you chose.

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And that is it!

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If you would like to enquire about an animation or an explainer animation for your company, give us a call on: 028 9507 2030. Or you can fill out a contact form and we will get back to you as soon as possible!