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Chapter 4. Compositions > Solids and Adjustment Layers

Solids and Adjustment Layers

In addition to creating layers from items in the Project window, you can also generate solid layers and adjustment layers within After Effects.

As you might expect, a solid is simply a layer in the size and color of your choice. Create a solid layer when you need an opaque background for a nested composition. A solid layer also comes in handy when you want to create text effects within After Effects. Or you can create graphic elements using solids and masks (Figure 4.43). For more about text effects, see Chapter 10; for more about masks, see Chapter 9.

Figure 4.43. You can add text or other effects to a solid, you can mask a solid to create graphical elements (shown here), or simply use it as a solid color background.


You can also create adjustment layers within After Effects. This comes as no surprise, considering that After Effects can import adjustment layers from Adobe Photoshop (see Chapter 2). Whether you import them or create them in After Effects, adjustment layers work just as they do in Photoshop.

An adjustment layer contains effects, not footage. The effects contained in an adjustment layer are applied to all the layers below it. You save time and effort by applying effects to a single layer, rather than multiple layers (Figure 4.44 and Figure 4.45). To cut down rendering time, simply hide the adjustment layer to temporarily disable its effects. You can even change an existing layer into an adjustment layer.

Figure 4.44. Ordinarily, you apply an effect to a single layer at a time.


Figure 4.45. Effects applied to an adjustment layer, however, are applied to all the layers below it. This can save you time, effort, and make it easier to manage rendering time.


To create a solid color layer:

1.
Open the Composition window or Time Layout window for the composition in which you want to add a solid layer, or make sure one is active.

2.
Choose Layer > New Solid, or press Command-y (Mac) or Ctrl-y (Windows) (Figure 4.46).

Figure 4.46. Choose Layer > New Solid, or use the keyboard shortcut.


The Solid Settings dialog box appears (Figure 4.47).

Figure 4.47. In the Solid Settings dialog box, enter a name for the solid layer. Simply click the Comp Size button to make the solid the same size as the composition, or enter a custom width and height.


3.
Enter a name for the new solid.

4.
Set the size by doing any of the following things:

To make the solid the same size as the composition, click the Comp Size button.

To enter a custom size, choose a unit of measure from the Units pull-down menu and enter a width and height (Figure 4.48).

Figure 4.48. Choose a unit of measure from the pull-down menu before you enter a custom size.


To maintain the aspect ratio of the current width and height, click the Lock Aspect Ratio button before you change the size.

5.
Set the color by doing one of the following things:

Click the color swatch to open the color picker and choose a color.

or

Click the eyedropper to select a color from the screen.

6.
Click OK to close the Solid Settings dialog box.

The solid appears as a layer in the composition. Like any layer, the solid layer starts at the current time, and uses the default duration of still images. (See "To set the default still image duration" in Chapter 2).

To create an adjustment layer:

1.
Open the Composition window or Time Layout window for the composition in which you want to add an adjustment layer, or make sure a Composition window or Time Layout window is active.

2.
Choose Layer > New Adjustment Layer (Figure 4.49).

Figure 4.49. Choose Layer > New Adjustment Layer.


An adjustment layer appears in the composition. The adjustment layer starts at the current time, and uses the default duration for still images.

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