After Effects Apprentice Free Video: Using Masks to Create Vignettes

As we mentioned earlier, we're creating a video training series based on our popular beginner's book After Effects Apprentice, which progresses from “I haven't used it before” through core skills including keyframing, masking, text animation, and 3D space to advanced techniques such as motion tracking, green screen, and expressions. Each course has a selection of movies that are free for all to view; we're re-posting those videos here on PVC to make sure you don't miss them. This one demonstrates how to masks to quickly create vignettes.

The fifth Apprentice course focuses on ways to create transparency for layers, either to draw attention to a specific area of the frame or to reveal layers underneath. The primary focus of the course is masking, including different ways to create, combine, and animate masks. We also cover track mattes, where properties of one layer are used to create transparency for another. This course in particular includes a nice selection of Quizzlers, Idea Corners, and Sidebars as well.

In the movie above, we show how to mask a solid to create a vignette for the layer or layers underneath. Along the way, we show a nice shortcut to create a full-frame mask, plus how to balance Mask Feather and Mask Expansion off of each other. (If this movie piques your interest, we created an entire course on on how to create vignettes using masks, effects, paint strokes, and even 3D lights.)

As long as we're borrowing your eyeballs, we should also mention that our course on our favorite new features in After Effects CS5.5 also just went live on – this is the same material as you might have already seen on AdobeTV, but with slightly higher resolution (and in some cases, a higher frame rate as well). Enjoy!

The content contained in After Effects Apprentice – as well as the CMG Blogs and CMG Keyframes posts on ProVideoCoalition – are copyright Crish Design, except where otherwise attributed.


Chris and Trish Meyer

Chris & Trish Meyer founded Crish Design (formerly known as CyberMotion) in the very earliest days of the desktop motion graphics industry. Their design and animation work has appeared on shows and promos for CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, HBO, PBS, and TLC; in opening titles for several movies including Cold Mountain and The Talented Mr. Ripley; at trade shows and press events for corporate clients ranging from Apple to Xerox; and in special venues encompassing IMAX, CircleVision, the NBC AstroVision sign in Times Square, and the four-block-long Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas. They were among the original users of CoSA (now Adobe) After Effects, and have written the numerous books including “Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects” and “After Effects Apprentice” both published by Focal Press. Both Chris and Trish have backgrounds as musicians, and are currently fascinated with exploring fine art and mixed media in addition to their normal commercial design work. They have recently relocated from Los Angeles to the mountains near Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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