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How to Animate Handwritten Text in After Effects

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Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this lesson, you'll learn about the write-on technique to animate handwritten text in Adobe After Effects.

hand written text in After Effectshand written text in After Effectshand written text in After Effects

To get started, go to the text layer of your project and pre-compose it by using the mouse and choosing Right Click > Pre-Compose, or by using the keyboard shortcut Control - Shift - C.

pre-compose textpre-compose textpre-compose text

Double-click the text pre-comp layer to open it up.

open text compopen text compopen text comp

Make any adjustments to the text here if needed and then pre-compose it again (here we are calling the new layer 'Text Fixed'). Make sure that you don't have anything selected and then select the Pen Tool.

select pen toolselect pen toolselect pen tool

Change the Pen Tool properties at the top by removing the fill color and choosing a nominal stroke width.

pen tool propertiespen tool propertiespen tool properties

Now use the Pen Tool by starting where you would start if you were to actually draw out the handwritten text by hand on paper. The key to getting a very convincing-looking write-on effect is to draw the line how you would go about drawing this with a pen.

use pen tooluse pen tooluse pen tool

Click and drag using the Pen Tool and trace out the text. The idea is to use the shape layer to completely cover the text layer, but only just barely. It's very easy to cover if you increase the stroke value to an absurd amount, but you really just want it to be just barely covering it. Doing so will give you the best results.

trace the texttrace the texttrace the text

Now sometimes when you get a break in the text here, what you can do is create a new shape or you can draw a line up very quickly to join it to the next letter. You want to do it at an angle, so that it starts at the top and it doesn't jump in at the middle of the line.

gap in the textgap in the textgap in the text

Continue tracing until you reach the end of your text. If you have any additional lines such as the cross of the letter 't' or the letter 'i' you can do so by creating a new shape and using the Pen Tool again to trace over it.

cross the t and dot the icross the t and dot the icross the t and dot the i

Next you will need to order these shapes. Under Contents make sure that they are in the right numerical order with the first number at the top and the last number at the bottom.

order the shapesorder the shapesorder the shapes

Select Contents and go over to the Add button and select Trim Paths.

trim pathstrim pathstrim paths

Set it so that it animates Individually.

animate individuallyanimate individuallyanimate individually

Open up each Shape Layer and change the following:

  • Line Cap: Round Cap
  • Line Join: Round Join
change to round cap and round joinchange to round cap and round joinchange to round cap and round join

Once that's done, we can look over the shapes and make any small adjustments that we might need.

Select Trim Paths and move to somewhere around the three second mark in the timeline. Drop an end keyframe and set it to 100%.

end keyframeend keyframeend keyframe

Use the timeline to go back to the beginning and set the end keyframe to 0%.

end keyframeend keyframeend keyframe

Now set the Text Layer or the 'Text Fixed' Layer to Alpha Matte. Click on the Play Preview Button to see your handwritten animation.

alpha mattealpha mattealpha matte

From here we can start to make further adjustments to the animation to make it look better. First let's adjust the timing of the animation to two seconds to make it faster.

decrease the timedecrease the timedecrease the time

Then let's Easy Ease the keyframes (Right Click > Keyframe Assistant > Easy Ease).

easy easeeasy easeeasy ease

Add Motion Blur to the Shapes Layer.

motion blurmotion blurmotion blur

Now finally if you really want to perfect the look of your animation, you can create a small mask using the Pen Tool and cover over any imperfections of the animation on the text layer. As you close up the mask hit the S key on your keyboard to make the mask Subtract.

mask areasmask areasmask areas

Move forward in the timeline to just before the mask is no longer needed, set a keyframe for the mask. Move forward one keyframe again and then move it away.

move mask move mask move mask

Do this for all the imperfections to create a perfect looking handwritten animation.

handwritten texthandwritten texthandwritten text

And Done!

Congratulations! And that's how you can animate handwritten text in Adobe After Effects. Now that you've learned the basics, check out some of the other tutorials we have on Adobe After Effects below.

I hope you've found this tutorial useful and I'll see you next time on Envato Tuts+!

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