How to create a write on text effect in Adobe After Effects.

Intro

The write-on text Effect is a fun and quick technique used widely in motion graphics. It makes it look as if an invisible hand is “writing” words onto the screen, giving a neat human touch to any AE project.

It’s really quite simple, and comes out looking great with just a few tweaks. While the use of the Pen tool might seem daunting, once we can get over that hill, it’s a quick Effect to apply and adjust.

Overview

The first thing we’ll do is navigate the layers to find the text we’re working with. We’ll be relying on the Pen tool initially to trace the outline of our text layer to create a Mask. That will be the majority of this technique actually, so once that’s done, we’ll be applying an Add Stroke Effect to the layer. With that single Effect, we can keyframe the handwriting Effect. Of course we’ll be adjusting some settings to make it look just the way we want it. After that, it’s turning on some texture layers to add some “oomph” to the project and we’ll be done!

The Mask

  1. Upon opening the file, there will be a few layers already in the layer stack. Double click on the one marked Text.
  2. Once inside this precomp layer, click on the layer called OUTSIDE written.
  3. Okay, now we’ll go to the Pen tool in the top toolbar. Click on the Pen icon.
  4. Now let’s draw a Mask! This will guide the handwriting Effect. Click just outside the top left of the letter O to start with, and drag out the point so that two handles appear.
  5. Then click within the O on the top left of the letter. Again, drag out each point so that handles appear. These will let us adjust the Mask shape later on.
  6. Click on the bottom curve of the O. Remember to keep dragging out each point to get those bezier handles!
  7. Let’s finish up this letter by clicking on the top of the letter, right next to the initial point on the letter. 
  8. Click on the top left of the letter U.
  9. Click on the bottom curve of the U.
  10. Finish up this letter by clicking on the top right of the U. Let’s keep going!
  11. Onto the T. Click on the top left of the letter.
  12. Add another point just to the right of that first T point.
  13. Click on the bottom of the T.
  14. Now click on the top right of the T shape, and remember to click and drag to the right to create those bezier handles.
  15. Ok, now click on the topmost right point on the S.
  16. Click on the first curve in the letter, and click and drag to the right.
  17. Click on the bottom of the letter S, and click and drag to the left.
  18. Now head over to the letter I by clicking on the top of the letter. Drag up to extend the bezier handles.
  19. Click on the bottom of the letter I and drag down for another set of handles.
  20. Onto the letter D! Click on the top left of the letter.
  21. Click on the bottom left of the D, down the straight edge of the shape.
  22. Okay! Almost done. Click and drag on the middle of the D’s curve for another point.
  23. Click on the top of the D, next to the first point we set there.
  24. Last letter! Onto the E. This last one is a little weird but let’s go for it. Click on the far right of the letter on the top line.
  25. Click on the top left of the letter, a bit lower down then the first point.
  26. Now click out on the edge of the middle line.
  27. Back to the “spine” of the E, click on the straight edge of the letter, right in the middle.
  28. Click below that point, on the bottom left of the E.
  29. Click on the far right of the bottom line. Done with the Mask! If we want to, we can grab and move those bezier handles around to change the curves, but for the most part, we’re done!

Stroke Effect

  1. Go up to Effects > Generate > Stroke.
  2. In the Effects Panel, change the Brush Size to 65.
  3. Make sure the Playhead is at the start of the Timeline, and click the stopwatch next to End to set a keyframe.
  4. Change the End value to 0.
  5. Move the Playhead to two seconds in, at 0;00;02;00.
  6. Change the End value to 100.
  7. Change the Paint Style to Reveal Original Image. That’s it! That’s the write on Effect!
  8. For the final touches, turn on the Visibility of the OUTSIDE layer to have a cool transition Effect bloom over the letters. And that’s all!

Conclusion

So that’s it! With just two tools, we managed to create a really cool handwriting Effect! The Pen tool might be a bit tricky but with patience and perseverance, it can become the basis for a pretty simple and great looking Effect

Try this technique with different fonts! Don’t feel compelled to stick to script ones; try serif, sans serif, different types and families, and layer it with cool colors and other Effects!

Happy animating!

Credits

Video by Kelly Lacy from Pexels
Logo vector created by rawpixel.com - www.freepik.com
Watercolor vector created by starline - www.freepik.com