Starting with After Effects

Afternoon! So if you've read some of my previous blogs or seen my exasperated tweets, you'll know I've been making an effort to learn the basics of After Effects.

Before I even jumped into the program, I had the idea that I'd go back through some of my old illustrations and try to animate something. After reading about how to set up Illustrator files for After Effects, I quickly realised I wasn't going to be able to whack an old illustration into AE with lots of bits on it without sorting the layers out. As each object needs to be on its own layer, it's probably best to keep this in mind and do it as you go along if there's loads of different elements, rather than using the release to layers function. That said, if you're working with something pretty simple, then release to layers is the bomb and will put every element on its own layer for you to rename.

My biggest struggle has been trying to get used to the AE interface. When I first started out teaching myself design software, I started with Illustrator. Then I found Photoshop and InDesign relatively easy to pick up because they were similar. After Effects is a whole different kettle of fish.

WTF indeed. Not only is there a complex looking interface, but motion graphics comes with a new vocabulary too. 

I've probably mentioned this before but Skillshare is a brilliant resource. So far, I've taken advantage of the 3 months for $0.99 deal and there's just SO MUCH to learn. It's been really useful for getting to grips with After Effects and I'm mostly likely going to keep my subscription after the 3 months. For animation in particular, there's a wide range of videos to go through for all skill levels.

When I think about it, the actual animation part was the easiest bit. Trying to figure out where stuff is and how to save it out for web were really frustrating! (Side note: how irritating is it that Dribbble needs a GIF format and Instagram needs video?!)

Here are the only examples I feel ok about sharing. Everything else so far has been either quite terrible or just abandoned. 

Just extremely simple stuff at the moment, I know! But it's a work in progress. I'd like to be able to animate a character, but even that seems too advanced for me right now!

I've got a bit of spare time before I start some freelance work and inbetween brushing up on InDesign, I've sort of started a new little personal project. I did a couple of illustrations last week of wildlife/coastal birds inspired by Skomer Island. 

I was originally thinking about using them for a map but now I'm looking into some sort of data visualisation. I had an interview ages ago and they told me my work would really suit infographics. To be honest, it's not something I ever even considered before but I think I'd like to get involved in that area of work. My brother got me a book on infographics for Christmas which I totally forgot about and have just unearthed to have a flick through (sorry!). If you haven't noticed already, I'm an absolute sucker for learning new things so data vis sounds like a good fit. And I guess if you eventually want someone to pay you for it, the only way to get noticed and considered is to start doing it yourself and show it off! So watch this space!