Learn Every Day: Animated Typefaces

Proof Branding

One of our core values at Proof is to “learn something new every day”. Becoming a better creative requires practice and the continuous pursuit of knowledge. With that in mind, I recently went through a Skillshare class to improve my skills in motion graphics and animation using After Effects (AE).

At Proof we’ve often been faced with illustrative projects that require something a bit more dynamic, and animation is the perfect (albeit time-intensive and surprisingly challenging) solution to telling a brand’s story in a compelling way. I’ve hardly scratched the surface of After Effects, but this class was a good way to jump in head-first and get my hands dirty.

The class opens by teaching you how to setup files and organize assets. A critically important, yet often overlooked step in any design project. Setting up correct document dimensions, color controllers, and pre-comps for each letter isn’t the most thrilling, but it gave me a strong foundation for the good, creative stuff to come. From there, through the development of animated typography, there were a few key takeaways:

  • Using color controllers/expressions to easily change color: By far one of the most useful tricks is setting up color controllers through expressions for objects that are live in AE. This allows you to quickly change colors without having to reanimate or replace objects. Incredibly useful when going back to tweak or make changes.
  • Converting text into a shape layer: Before this class, I wasn’t aware you could turn live text into a shape layer within After Effects. This allows you to manipulate points and apply effects to the text.
  • Using the “rove across time” feature: This allows you to select multiple keyframes at once and “scale” your animation to increase/decrease speed without affecting the overall animation. Super handy when needing to make tweaks or adjust the speed of things without having to reanimate everything.

The outcome of my “class project” is below. A simple animated “Finely Crafted” typeface. I chose to make “crafted” the word that would be most dynamic, while keeping the rest of the words and Proof logo simple and less overwhelming.

This class taught me how to better manage by overall workflow within AE, introduced me to the graph editor, and made me think critically about the way in which I chose to animate the letterforms. I’ll be able to use these skills on a multitude of projects, and am looking forward to using my new-found knowledge on future projects. Committing time each day (or most days) to working in AE will be critical, as there’s so much to learn within what is a very robust creative program. Onward!

Finely Crafted


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