Text Objects

Let's mess with text.

Placing (and Moving) Text Along a Path

Adhering a line of text to a path is fairly simple in Adobe After Effects.

Placing text along a path

In Adobe After Effects the "paths" that text use are actually masking paths so that they can make use of the same pen tool easily. To make a path for your text first go ahead and make the text object, fill it with the desired text, and the follow these steps.

  1. Select the text layer you wish to modify.
  2. Use the "Pen Tool (G)" to create a new path. It will create a masking group under the text layer but should not actually hide the text as long as you don't close the loop.
  3. Expand the text layer down through Text > Path Options > Path.
  4. For the "Path" dropdown select the newly created mask path. The text should automatically adhere to the new path.

If you have already made a path that you wish to use (or want to take the path from another shape it's as simple as selecting the desired masking path, pressing "CTRL-C" to copy the path, selecting the new masking path in your text layer and pressing "CTRL-V" to paste it into the new layer.

Moving text along a path

Once you've placed text along a path you can move it easily by animating the "First Margin" and "Last Margin" properties under the "Path Options" group under the text layer.

I'm not sure this explanation even needs its own title...

Animated strokes

Animating strokes in After Effects is easy with the Stroke effect included with the program.

If you want multiple lines that start and end at different times, you will need to repeat these steps for each line, though they can be on the same layer.

  1. Right click in the layer window and create a new "Solid" object. This will be our color. Or if you have an image you want the strokes to reveal, just drag and drop the asset from the project bin into the layer window / timeline.
  2. On this layer, use the pen tool to draw out the needed line shapes. Multiple masks are needed for multiple lines.
  3. From the effects pane search for and add the "Stroke" effect. One for each mask.
  4. Under the new layer > effects > stroke in the layer browser, change "Paint Style" to "on transparent" unless you want the original image to show through. Also change "Path" to the mask / line shape you made on the same layer.
  5. Move the current time to the point you want the stroke to begin animating.
  6. Within the stroke effect, turn on the keyframe / stop watch for both the start and stop properties.
  7. Move the the current time to where the animation should end.
  8. Change the "Stop" property to 100%.

As of the version included with CS6 it is not possible to key frame the stroke to be different widths at different points, at least not that I know of. If you want to have varied widths in a line you may need to draw the image seperately and then reveal the image instead of letting the stroke effect use its own color.

Also, if you want to animated text, then make the text, select it, and select "create masks from text" from the right click menu. Add the stroke effect and turn on the "all masks" property instead of selecting one from the drop down.

Animated Typewriter effect

To add a so called "typewriter effect" where letters within a sentence are revealed one at a time, first create a text layer if you haven't already, then make sure the text layer is actually selected.

Add a new animation via "Animation > Animate Text > Fill Color > Opacity".

Within this new effect on the text layer (found under the "Text" section of the layer), there are only 2 properties you need to set and then 1 to actually keyframe for animation.

  1. Set "Fill Opacity" to 0%.
  2. Set "Smoothness" to 0% (Smoothness defines whether or not the text "fades" out or if each character simply blinks in and out of visibility).

At this point the only property that needs to be keyframed to create animation is "Start". You can also do "End" if you wish the text to fade from front to back. A value of 0% in "Start" will completely hide all text. As you increase it towards 100% it will reveal one letter at a time until the entire sentence is revealed at 100%.