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Focus on Blur

Evolution of a generic background By Miwa Hirano
In a few steps, a very straightfoward graphic created in Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator can be transformed into a fluid moving background for use in motion graphic designs.  When the client provides specific artwork, and requests it to be used, here's one way of blurring the boundaries of the "use" definition.

With the arrival of Fall comes the popular request of clients and creative directors to introduce thematic elements into graphics.  While there are so many icons that have been used, recycled and repeated, don't forget that there may be some excellent uses for even the most basic iconography that the client might supply.

In this tutorial, we can use a simple oval "corn" shape to demonstrate the difference that can be massaged out of the image.  Of course, you can use any image that you may want/need to use.

1. Make a corn image icon in Illustrator or Photoshop. Make 4 different color variations of this corn image and import into After Effects.

Click on images for larger views

2. Make a 5 second comp (175x250) and name it "corn group." Line up all 4 icons and animate them so it looks like a neon sign (switch positions) using "hold keyframes."

3. Make a new 5 second comp (NTSC D1 Square Pixel) and name it "neon." Put "corn group" comp in the timeline and duplicated it 7 times and line up so it fills out the screen.

4. Make another 5 second comp and name it "corn design." Put "neon" comp into the timeline and put Gaussian Blur on it to about 48.

5. Make an Adjustment Layer. Make a mask and animate it (ex. like a wave across screen) so you'll only see part of the "neon."  Mask Feather to about 50.

6. Put this Adjustment layer above the "neon" layer. On the "neon" layer, use Alpha Matt "Adjustment Layer" for TrackMatt.

7. Duplicate the "neon" and Adjustment Layer set and alter the animated mask for variation.

8. Use "Color Dodge" for transfer mode on the top "neon" layer.

9. Tweak position, opacity, scale and animated masks to your liking.


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Miwa Hirano is a motion graphic designer in Los Angeles area. She has a fine art background and studied graphic design at CalArts and Santa Monica College. She has over several years of experience in print graphic design. As a motion graphic designer, she worked at Form in W. Hollywood. There, she worked on projects for Motorola and NXcare which featured Carmen Elektra. Currently she is a member of Pixel Corps and working on projects with other artisans on the particle team. She is also a member of MGLA. Through her various experiences, she has knowledge of printing process, QuarkXpress, Illustrator, Photoshop and After Effects.
Related Keywords:Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop, Tutorial, Corn, Gaussian Blur, Miwa Hirano

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