Learn How to Animate Vector Points

Free After Effects Video Tutorial & How-To Guide

Learn how to create Paths and Hooks to animate vector points in After Effects.

Download Project Files Here

Drawing the Path

  1. Double click the Fishing Rod and Hook Precomp to go inside of it. If it is not visible, turn on Visibility.
  2. Go to New > Layer > Shape Layer.
  3. Click the Pen tool.
  4. Draw out a line from the tip of the rod using only three points.
  5. Rename the Shape Layer to Fishing Line.

Points Follow Nulls

  1. Go to Windows > Create Nulls From Paths.
  2. Toggle open Fishing Line to Contents > Shape 1 > Path 1. 
  3. Click on the word Path next to the stopwatch.
  4. On the Create Nulls From Paths window, click Points Follow Nulls.
  5. Click through the new Null layers to see which Null controls which point.

Animate the Line

  1. Parent the topmost Null to Rod Outlines.
  2. Shift-click the bottom two Nulls to select them. 
  3. Hit P for Position.
  4. Hit the stopwatch on either selected layer to set keyframes.
  5. Right-click on either selected keyframe and go to Keyframe Assistant > Easy Ease.
  6. Move the Playhead to 0;00;00;22.
  7. Animate the line swinging over the rod. Change the Position on the middle Null to around 950,340.
  8. Change the Position on the bottom Null to around 950, 250.
  9. Move the Playhead to 0;00;01;13.
  10. Animate the line swinging into place. Change the Position on the middle Null to around 190,1170.
  11. Change the Position on the bottom Null to around 150,1235.
  12. Select both keyframes.
  13. Right-click on either selected keyframe and go to Keyframe Assistant > Easy Ease.
  14. For added realism, Shift-click on the bottom Null’s keyframes and move them over one or two frames.

Animate the Hook

  1. Make sure the Hook layer is on the top of the layer stack.
  2. Hit Y for the Anchor Point tool. Move the Hook’s Anchor Point to its base.
  3. Parent the Hook to the bottom-most Null. Move the Hook so it extends from the fishing line, like an actual line and hook.
  4. Move the Playhead to 0;00;00;03;
  5. Hit R for Rotation.
  6. Hit the stopwatch to start keyframing.
  7. Change the Hook’s Rotation to -45.
  8. Move the Playhead to 0;00;00;20.
  9. Change the Hook’s Rotation to -130.
  10. Move the Playhead to 0;00;01;13;
  11. Change the Hook’s Rotation -285.

Final Touches 

  1. Shift-click on all animated layers.
  2. If the Switches are not visible, hit Toggle Layers/ Modes on the bottom of the layer stack.
  3. In any selected layer, click the Motion Blur switch.
  4. Activate Motion Blur for the Precomp by hitting the Motion Blur icon on the top of the layer stack.

Video Transcription

Hey, everyone. This is Tziporah Zions from Noble desktop and this tutorial, I'm going to show you how to use a points. Follow nulls technique and Adobe after effects, so we're going to be drawing out a path for this fishing line.

Let me show you what it looks like and then using points funnels to create a few notes. These, though. Sorry, those nose control the path so we can animate those to make it look like the line is being cast.

Then we'll finish up with parenting the hook to the tip of the line in enabling motion blur. The crate knows from past menu offers a couple of different options. They all revolve around having NOLs interact with paths and different ways.

Trace Paths has a, you know, let me show you actually the window. We've got a window. Create Noels from past, so you know what I'm talking about. So trace paths have trace paths, has an all follow drawn path, knows follow points is what it sounds like.

Those will be created of all points on a path. And in this tutorial, we're going to go into how to use points follow. I'll probably go like trip over the term a few times, so bear with me. So, you know, here's what the project looks like when it's done.

There you go. And this is important because it allows for paths to be animated a lot more efficiently and organically than like the usual quote unquote methods. It's a lot easier to grab and move NOLs and to keep from individual points on a path.

Because of that, more organic and complex movements become easier to animate. So we're going to be. As for external assets, we're going to be using this background of a lake, but mainly focusing on this right here. And you can find this project file with those assets included in the video description below.

So let's get started. So for comparison's sake, let me show you how I think most people would typically animate a path. So, you know, you go over, you grab your pen tool. Sorry, one moment. No, you grab your pen tool by error.

So you go over, you grab your pen tool and I'm going to animate. I'm sorry, I'm going to draw like a single one like that. And you know, typically what people will be doing is animating, you know, each of the, you know, points individually, one by one, you know, like key from that.

And then you'd have to like move it over and cue from that and, you know, move it over again. And then if you want to, you know, change the position of like your key, you know, your your points, then you're going to have to like, fight with it in order to let it, you know, change the the

position of the points. It's tedious. It's not the most fun thing to do, you know, but you can see like, this is just the single line and you can see how like if I were to do something more complex like, you know, text shape, for instance, like this would not be enjoyable.

So let's show how to make this more efficient. So double clicking into my fishing rod and hook player over here. So the first thing that I'm going to be doing is let's draw a path with three points. Layer new shape layer going to grab the pen tool and I'm going to draw a path with about three points. So what? I'm going to curve this one like that too. I'm going to curve this from a bit like this three and curve that and let me. Error. OK, so now I'm in my fishing rod and hook. I'm going to make a new shape layer and I'm going to grab my pen tool and I'm going to make

sure my stroke is like a similar color of my other shapes using eyedropper tool. I'll stroke to be fairly thin, maybe like three pixels. And the first thing we're going to do is get our solar path. So let's draw it out.

So I'm going to draw one point criminal a bit, another point curving out the other way. Another point curved out. This way, we're going to work with just three points for the sake of this tutorial, and let's open up the path contents.

Go. You know, toggle it open, toggle open to contents, talk open shape, and then we want to open to path. Now this is important because we've got to have this thing select right here the path with the stopwatch next to it selected in order for this technique to work.

And the the there we're going to be working with. If you find it under windows, create Knowles from Pao's over here and then it pops up. This typically won't appear unless you access it in the Windows panel. And then with this path selected, let's hit points.

Follow and what this does. It creates these three orange layers and they are three notes. Actually, I'm going to rename this to fishing line, so I'm organized. But like, if I were to grab one of these things, check it out.

I can manipulate the path just like that. So I think you see where I'm heading with this is that I could keyframe from these novels, and that's so much easier than keyframe keeping keep framing these individual, you know, points on the path.

So the first thing that I'm going to be doing is let's find the very first novel to be this one. I'm actually going to rename each of these. So no one, No. two, No. three and I grabbed this one.

And I am going to parent it to the fishing line just because that way, it'll follow the path of the fishing line as it arcs over, and I don't actually have to keyframe that one too much. So honestly, all I got to do is keep from these two bottom ones.

So with both of those I am going to with my plate, the origin suck, both of them p for position, and I'm going to put down a key frame for both. And because this is fishing around now, this is more like animation technique.

I want to arc overhead and I want it to end up over here. So I'm going to, you know, move down a little bit and then I'm going to just, you know, grab each of these into position. And what's really nice about these is they're they, you know, they very much are intuitive.

I apologize, by the way, I realize that I, instead of right outlines. I had it said to fishing line. I meant to say parent. The No. one to Rod outlines in particular that, you know, I even though I named all my my layers, I still mess up that a little bit.

But yeah, you can see that it's already like moving along with the animation. And then over here, I'm going to grab null three. Pull it over here, and I'm going to get it to animate upwards a bit, you know?

So it's at the it's following the motion of the line as it's being cast, you know, just like that, I'm sorry for that. And then it goes on a little further and you know, no three is going to follow arc over here.

You know that my computer is being finicky, but you know, no three is going to follow the arc over there, and no two is also going to follow the arc over there. And then you could do a bit of animation cleanup, which I will do myself and we'll cut to the next part.

All right. So after doing some animation cleanup, here's what I have so far. You could see, you know, the line being cast and that was done with the nose animating the panels. And I also did it on my first and last key frames by going, you know, selecting both right?

Clicking cue from Assistant is easy to give it a bit more life. And then the last thing we're going to be doing is grab hook outlines that layer over there, bring it all the way to the top, and we're going to parent that one to the last known over here.

And then we're going to end with the rotation, so it was the play had its origin, let's hit, you know, rotation to keep from it. And then at the very apex of the the Oracle, let's have it, you know, go in a bit up like that.

You know, we don't want it to clip out of the frame, something like that. And then as it lands, it's going to be facing the other way. Like that? There go. All right. So now with that, let's turn on motion blur.

If you haven't done so already. So we're going to control all the layers and this column is called motion blur and we're going to hit, you know, motion blur in this column. And what that does is that as things move around, it does give it a bit of blur and we do this at the edges because it

can cost, you know, some resources from the machine that you're working on. So it's one of those effects that you just got to do at the end. Otherwise, it can slow things down quite a bit. All right. So here, back in the main column, you can see our finished product.

So you can use this technique also to animate things like the string and pull the ping pong ball. Paddle hanging wire is one of those wavy inflatable two men spaghetti or even convert text into shapes and animate those.

Anything that moves in complex or curving motions can really benefit from this technique. So, yeah, that's all for this tutorial. I hope you've enjoyed learning how to use the points. Phone old technique in Adobe After Effects This has been super designs for novel desktop.

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