Hello everyone!

I’m Ayana, a Vtuber!

Today, I will explain on the concept of layers and the types of layer.


Let’s begin!

Let’s start!

In After Effects, layers represent hierarchies between objects. Understanding the layers is very important for editing videos in After Effects. First of all, we will understand the concept of layers and then explain various types of layers!

Concept of layer

All imported and self-created materials will be displayed on the Project panel. When you place the project panel material in the timeline of the composition, it becomes a layer within the composition. Layers are the elements that make up the composition.

To sum up, a project consists of compositions and a composition consists of layers.

Now, let’s see how the layers are displayed!

This is the Timeline Panel display. There are two layers within the composition: the layer containing the After Effects Logo is placed on top, and the layer with the Tiny Waterfall is placed on the bottom.

I will try previewing the contents of the composition in the Composition Panel.

You can see that the After Effects Logo is displayed above the Tiny Waterfall image.

In other words, the upper layer is displayed with priority over the lower layer.

Low-opaque or alpha-channel layers are transparent, so the lower layer is shown. Because the After Effects Logo layer has alpha-channel, the lower layer Tiny Waterfall is shown.

With After Effects, we can create a video by piling up the layers.

How to create new layer

There are many types of layers in After Effects other than those created from these files. We have to newly create these layers.

Now , let’s create a new layer!

You can select the type of layer you want to create by selecting [Layer] > [New] from the menu.

Besides, you can also select the type of layer you want to create by right-clicking on a blank part of the Timeline panel and selecting New.

NNType of layers

I will introduce you a few types of layers.

Solid Layer

When you create a solid layer, a single-color layer is created in the timeline panel.

We can change the properties, add effects or masks to the solid layer.

When you create a solid layer, a window appears that describes the settings for creating the solid layer.

In this window, you can set the name, vertical and horizontal sizes, and paint colors for the solid layer.

The name of the layer is automatically set to the color description of the paint.

As for the size, it is initially set to the same size as the composition to create the layer. Basically, there is no problem with keeping it the same size as the composition.

I’ve added a solid layer to the timeline of the composition!

When a new layer is created, it is placed as the highest layer in the composition.

The newly created layers will appear in the Project Panel in the same way as when the composition was newly created.

Please note that the [Solid] folder is created and contains a solid layer.

Adjustment Layer

The Adjustment layer is similar to the Solid layer, but it is transparent.

Please note that it is transparent even when previewed on the composition panel.

The Adjustment layer is used to apply effects to the lower layers all together.

When you apply an effect to the Adjustment layer, the effect is applied to all the layers below it

Here is the display of the Adjustment layer on the timeline panel.

This is the [Project Panel]. Please note that the Adjustment layer is also stored in the Solid folder.

Null Object Layer

Next I will explain the Null Object Layer.

The Null Object layer, as its name suggests, is a layer of non-realistic objects, which have a “parent-child” relationship with the other layers.

Because the Null objects layers are a layer of non-realistic objects, they are not rendered of course! If you add animation to the Null Object layer and set it as the parent of other layers, it is easier to set animation to the child layers.

I will briefly explain how to create parent-child relationships.

  1. Drag and drop this spiral icon onto the layer you want to be the child of the [Null Object] layer that will act as the parent.
  2. The parent layer appears like this.

In the Project Panel, just like the Solid layer and Adjustment layer, the Null Object is also added to Solid folder.

The Null Object layer is not rendered, but in the Composition Panel it is displayed as a red square like this.

Shape Layer

You can create a Shape layer by creating a new layer as before. But in the case of Shape layer, you must add attributes to it.

There is another convenient way to create a Shape layer.

Without selecting a layer, use [Mask tool] or [Pen tool] to create a graphic on the Composition Panel. This itself becomes a Shape layer.

Please note that if you create a graphic on the Composition Panel with the layer selected, it will be the mask of the selected layer.

Also, please remember that the shape layer is not stored in the [Project Panel]!

Let’s add attributes to the Shape layer!

  1. Click on this button
  2. Click the button to the right of “Add”

The list of attributes appears.

Basically, the attributes of the Shape layer are divided into three categories.

  1. This category allows you to choose what kind of figures or paths you would like to create. If the Shape layer is created directly in the Composition panel, such attributes have already been added.
  2. This category allows you to the choose fill and stroke for the layer
  3. This category allows you to add effects to the layer

With the Shape layer selected on the Timeline panel, you can also add various styles from Layer > Layer Style in the upper menu.

I have created a new shape layer and added a [Rectangle], [Fill], and [Round corners]. When you add an attribute, it appears in the Shape layer on the Timeline panel like this.

You can delete attributes with the Delete key. If you want to hide an attribute, click the eye-shaped button of the attribute on the Timeline panel.

Text Layer

Finally, let me introduce the Text layer!

This layer acts the same as the Photoshop text layer. You can enter characters, change fonts and sizes, and color your characters.

With the text layer selected on the Timeline panel, you can also add various styles from Layer > Layer Style in the menu.

The general layer is called a raster data layer, and it consists of a collection of points.On the other hand, the text layer is called a vector data layer, and it consists of a number of paths. Therefore, in the case of the text layer, we can change the size of the text or enlarge the scale without breaking the image.

Also, please note that this layer does not appear on the Project Panel as well as the Shape layer.

A text layer called <Blank Text Layer> has been created in the Timeline panel like this.

Just like the Shape layer, you can type text directly into the Composition Panel with the Text tool selected in the tool panel.

When you create a new text layer, we can enter characters directly. If not, try double-clicking the text layer in the Timeline Panel.

Try entering Hello!

If you want to fine-tune the text in the text layer, you can use the [Paragraph panel] or [Character panel], but the details on how to do this are explained in a separate lecture.

This concludes my explanation on the concept of layers and types of layers!


How is everyone doing?

Did you understand today’s lecture?

See you again for the next lecture!

See you soon! Bye bye!