QuickDraw v1.0.1

Can you make it write on?

It is a seemingly simple request from the client and, while it can be fiddly and time consuming, is often worth the value added to an animated logo which will undoubtedly return on the investment as it appears in each subsequent corporate video produced for your client.

But what if the write-on effect is the core of your creative concept – or more likely the art directors creative concept?

It was a project such as this – with a strong creative influence from RSA Animate informational videos – that presented a need to figure out the fastest method of producing a write-on effect while maintaining the flexibility to tweak the animation to match a voice over recording.

While pretty much every tutorial I could find pointed to using the Stroke Effect or Write On Effect to mask a layer, I decided early on that I needed the flexibility of animating the individual brush strokes in the Paint Effect, rather than setting a global start and end time for the Stroke Effect or even duplicating the Stroke Effect for every mask path. So I pushed on, tracing dozens of illustrations with the Paint tool, knowing I could fall back on cut-n-paste to lay in the keyframes if I couldn’t figure out the Adobe ExtendScript language.

Evenings and weekends became my scripting time – I really didn’t want to have to cut-n-paste – and by the end of the project I had written a rudimentary script that would loop through the strokes, applying a simple 5-frame duration and sequencing the keyframes for each stroke back to back. Tweaking, retiming and resequencing these keyframes by hand just made me wish for a helper tool – something similar to the excellent keyframing scripts by Michael Delaney, but specific to the Paint Effect.

Another month of evenings and weekends and I had created a neat little palette for After Effects with a bunch of different ways to set and manipulate Paint Effect keyframes. After user testing, OS testing, version testing, branding, pitching to aescripts, and the final hurdle of producing a how-to video, QuickDraw launched on aescripts.com in September, 2013.

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