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Tapered Shape Strokes | Adobe After Effects Tutorial

With the release of Adobe After Effects 17.1 in May 2020 Adobe released a new feature labeled Tapered Shape Strokes. This feature introduces new options for users to create round, wavy, and pointy strokes. Taper and Wave are introduced as new parameters for strokes thus allowing for more unique animations. Adobe’s explanation of this is confusing so let’s break it down simply.

How to Use

Taper

Create a taper on strokes by following these steps..

  1. Create a composition
  2. Create a shape with the Pen tool or other various methods.
  3. Next under the Timeline click the triangle icon to expand the options under Shape Layer > Contents > Stroke1 > Taper.
  4. Just like with any other property, controls can be adjusted using keyframes to create various animation effects.

Tapered Shape Strokes

Adjust Taper Beginning Point

Let’s begin with adjusting the beginning of the taper. This comes with three options; start of stroke, size of taper length, and the ease. If you want to start the tapering in the middle, set the Start Length option to 50%.

Taper the Stroke Ends

Tapering the stroke at either end can be adjusted with both the Start Length and End Length.

Adjust Roundness of Taper

Tapers may also have sharp or soft/round edges. Properties for this adjustment are labeled Start Ease and End Ease respectively.

Waves

Create waves on strokes by following these steps.

  1. To access the waves feature create a composition
  2. Create a shape with the Pen tool or other various methods.
  3. Next under the Timeline click the triangle icon to expand the options under Shape Layer > Contents > Stroke1 > Wave.
  4. Just like with any other property, controls can be adjusted using keyframes to create various animation effects.

Create Waves with Variable Thickness

Waves can be adjusted utilizing the Wave parameters.

Taper and Wave Controls

Taper

Use taper to adjust the width of a stroke along the path.

Length Units

This control determines whether or not the units are in pixels or in the percentage of the path. Pixels are best used when making tapers that are not relative to the path length. Percentage is best utilized when the taper length needs to be relative to the path length.

Start Length

Controls the length of the taper from the start of the stroke.

End Length

Controls the length of the taper from the end of the stroke.

Start Width

Stroke width adjustments starting at the beginning of the path.

End Width

Width adjustments of the stroke at the end of the path itself.

Start Ease

Adjusts the roundness of the taper beginning with the start of the path. Using a positive value creates a rounded taper while negative values lead to a pointy taper.

End Ease

Adjusts the roundness of the taper at the end of the path. Just like with the Start Ease control, a positive value creates a rounded taper while negative values lead to a pointy taper.

Wave

Use wave to add waves to a stroke along the path.

Amount

The amount control determines the amount and intensity of the waves added to the stroke. The higher the value the deeper the wave.

Units

Units for the wave property is defined by either pixels or cycles. Pixels work best with open shape strokes. Cycles work best with closed shapes as if you set the value to 1 there will be one wave in the stroke. 

Wavelength

Wavelength controls the distance between each wave. A high value leads to tighter waves with a small value creating a sparse distribution.

Phase

Phase adjusts the offset of the wave along the path. 

Conclusion

Tapering the stroke is a nice feature to add to the repertoire of tools within After Effects. This will allow many creators to create new animations in a straight-forward manner. In the spring update Adobe After Effects also added Concentric Shape Repeater as well as some other features that bear mention. These features include ProRes RAW import support, system default audio option in macOS, as well as Team Projects getting cloud collaboration and copying media to a shared location.

2021-06-19T19:06:27-04:00
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