Replicators and the Properties Tab

Like any other layer in Motion, a replicator’s properties (such as its position, scale, blend mode, shear, or drop shadow) can be modified in the Properties tab of the Inspector or by using the onscreen transform controls. These properties are separate from the replicator parameters in the Replicator and Replicator Cell tabs, which control the shape and size of the replicator, as well as all aspects of its pattern and cells. The following sections briefly discuss using the parameters in the Properties tab with a replicator. For more information on the Properties tab, see Parameters in the Properties Tab.

Note: When a replicator cell is selected (as opposed to the replicator itself), only the Timing parameter appears in the Properties tab of the Inspector. This allows you to control the In and Out points of the replicator cell.

Important: Some operations that can be performed in the Properties tab, such as turning on Crop or Drop Shadow, as well the application of certain filters or a mask, cause a group to be rasterized. When a group is rasterized, it is converted into a bitmap image. Because all replicators live in groups, this affects how replicators interact with other objects within your project. For more information, see About Rasterization.

The following sections cover replicator properties that can be adjusted in the Properties tab of the Inspector:

Position, Rotation, Shear, and Anchor Point

Because all elements are attached to the points of the replicator pattern, changing the replicator’s position, rotation, shear, or anchor point attributes using the controls in the Properties tab changes every element in the replicator. This results in the entire pattern being transformed at once. Modifying the anchor point moves the point for the entire pattern—it does not change the anchor point for the individual elements.

Figure. Canvas showing a replicator being sheared.


Using the Scale parameter resizes the replicator, affecting the size of the pattern elements in X, Y, or Z space. To modify the size of the pattern without changing the size of its elements, use the parameters in the Replicator tab. For example, to enlarge a rectangle replicator without increasing the size of its elements, use the Scale parameter in the Replicator tab; to lengthen a line replicator, use the Start Point and End Point parameters; to increase the size of a circle replicator, use the Radius parameter.

The following illustrations demonstrate the difference between scaling only the replicator pattern and scaling the replicator pattern and its elements. In the center illustration, the replicator is scaled using the Scale parameter in the Properties tab. The pattern and its elements are scaled. In the illustration on the right, the replicator is scaled using the Scale parameter in the Replicator tab. Only the pattern is scaled, not the pattern elements.

Figure. Canvas window showing replicator scaled using the Proerties tab and the Replicator tab.


Any changes you make to the opacity or blend-mode parameters for a replicator are applied to the replicator as a whole—the replicator pattern is blended into the scene. For more information about blend modes, see Using Blend Modes. For more information about the Preserve Opacity setting, see Preserve Opacity Option.

Note: Within the replicator, the pattern elements can be blended additively or normally (by selecting or deselecting the Additive Blend checkbox on or off in the Replicator tab).


This parameter group is available only for 3D projects. A 2D or 3D replicator can interact with lights in a 3D project. As with all layers, the Shading pop-up menu (in the Lighting section of the Properties tab) must be set to On or Inherited for the lights to affect the replicator. For more information on using lights, see Lighting.

Figure. Canvas window showing a replicator in a 3D project interacting with a light source.


This parameter group determines whether or not an object casts a shadow if positioned between a light source and another object; whether or not neighboring objects’ shadows affect the current object; and whether an object blocks light and casts a shadow while the object itself does not appear in the scene. For more information on shadows, see Shadows.

Note: This parameter does not affect drop shadows.


Available in 3D projects, allows objects to create simulated reflectivity based on the object’s “shininess,” the brightness and proximity of the reflected object, and the angle of view. For more information, see Reflections.

Note: The Reflection parameter group is not available for 3D particle emitters, 3D replicators, or nonflattened text.

Drop Shadow

A Drop shadow can be applied to a 2D replicator. The drop shadow of the replicator affects layers composited behind the replicator—if the pattern contains overlapping elements, the shadow does not appear on the individual elements. When the Drop Shadow parameter is enabled for the source layer (in the Properties tab in the Inspector), overlapping pattern elements appear with a drop shadow.

Figure. Canvas window showing a replicator with a drop shadow applied.

Note: This parameter is only available when a 2D replicator shape is selected.

For more information on working with drop shadows, see Drop Shadows.

Four Corner

The Four Corner controls in the Properties tab allow you to stretch a replicator into different polygonal shapes by moving one of the corner points, leaving the other three corners locked into place. Adjusting the corners of the replicator affects the entire pattern as a whole.

Note: This parameter is only available when a 2D replicator shape is selected.


The Crop controls in the Properties tab allow you to hide portions of a replicator pattern. You can also use the onscreen cropping controls by choosing the Adjust Crop tool from the Toolbar, then dragging any of the replicator object’s four edges or corners.

Note: This parameter is only available when a 2D replicator shape is selected.

For more information on cropping objects in Motion, see Parameters in the Properties Tab.


Once you create a replicator, its duration can be as long or short as necessary, regardless of the duration of the original sources used for the pattern cells. The duration of a replicator is defined by the duration of the replicator layer. Changing the In or Out points of a replicator in the Properties tab, Timeline, or mini-Timeline changes the duration of the replicator.

While the duration of the source layers has no affect on the replicator, the duration of each cell affects how long the elements created from that cell are visible in the project. You can change a cell’s duration by dragging either its position or its In and Out points in the Timeline. In this way, you can adjust the timing that defines when each cell type appears. For example, to create a pattern in which three different types of elements appear at different times in the animation, you could offset the cells in the Timeline. In the following image, the arc cells appear first. One second later, the star cells appear. One second after that, the circle cells appear.

Figure. Timeline tab showing a replicator with a cell for which the duration has been shortened.

Note: You can animate the opacity of each cell so that it fades in; you do this by keyframing the Opacity parameter in the Replicator tab or the Replicator Cell tab.

For more information on adjusting the timing of layers in the Timeline, see Using the Timeline.