Shapes are graphical objects that can be useful, especially if, besides being an After Effects user, you work with other Adobe vector software such as Illustrator. You can scale them to any size, apply effects and layer styles to them, and for that, Shapes are incredibly handy when creating animations.
There are two ways to make shapes in After Effects. The first one allows you to create them with five preset options, while the second one lets you draw them freely.
After Effects offers five default figure options when creating shapes. These are the rectangle, the rounded rectangle, the ellipse, the polygon, and the star. Follow these steps to start using any of them:
Once you have drawn a shape, you will notice a new layer on your Timeline. Meet the Shape Layers: you will recognize them because they have a star icon on them.
The star feature can also be found on the Toolbar just before the Fill and Stroke buttons. If you click on it, it will also serve as a kind of shortcut to creating shapes.
The Pen tool is one of the handiest tools in After Effects since it allows you to create the most elaborate shapes and masks. It works by outlining, so the software will automatically join the points a user generates on the canvas. Follow three simple steps to use this feature:
Tip: Remember you can create both Masks and Shapes with the same Rectangle and Pen Tool functions. This means that you must be focused when drawing objects.
To make a Shape correctly in After Effects, instead of ending up creating a mask, make sure you use these tools without selecting any layers on your Timeline.