Shape Parameters

The Shape tab in the Inspector appears when you select a shape in the Canvas, Layers tab, or Timeline. This tab contains the Style, Stroke, Advanced, and Geometry panes. These panes contain parameters that let you further customize the shape.

Style Pane Controls in the Inspector

The Shape tab’s Style pane contains controls to modify the fill and outline of a shape, including changing the brush type for an outline or paint stroke. The parameters are grouped into two main categories of controls: Fill and Outline.

Style Pane Parameters

The Style pane is available for all shapes and paint strokes.

  • Fill: By default, this checkbox is selected for new closed shapes, which are filled with the color specified in the Fill Color controls. The Fill parameters allow you to modify the fill of a shape. For complete instructions on using the Gradient editor, see Gradient Controls.
    • Fill Color: These controls, available when Fill Mode is set to color, let you pick a color fill for the shape. For more information on using the color controls, see Color Controls.
    • Fill Opacity: This slider, available when Fill Mode is set to Color, adjusts the opacity of the fill (independently of the outline, if enabled).
    • Feather: A slider that feathers (softens) the edges of a shape. Positive feathering values soften the edge of the shape from its edge outward. Negative feathering values soften the edge of a shape inward from the edge.

      Note: You cannot feather an object when the Outline checkbox is selected.

      Figure. Canvas window showing an object feathered out and feathered in.
  • Outline: When this checkbox is selected, the shape outline appears in the Canvas and the outline controls become available. By default, this checkbox is deselected for closed shapes and on for open shapes and paint strokes. When you select the Outline checkbox, the Brush Type, Brush Color, Brush Opacity, Width, First and Last Point Offsets, Order, and other controls become available.
    Figure. Canvas window showing an object with and without an outline.
    • Brush Color: Lets you pick a color to use for the outline or paint dabs. These color controls are identical to the shape Fill Color controls (and all color controls throughout Motion).

      Note: When Stroke Color Mode (in the Stroke pane) is set to Color Over Stroke or Pick From Color Range, Brush Color is not available.

    • Brush Opacity: Defines the opacity of the entire stroke, regardless of the Brush Type setting.

      Note: When Stroke Color Mode (in the Stroke pane) is set to Color Over Stroke or Pick From Color Range, the Brush Color and Brush Opacity parameters are unavailable. When Stroke Color Mode (in the Stroke pane) is set to Use Brush Color, you can adjust the opacity, in the Stroke pane, to change over the course of the stroke. For more information on using the Opacity Over Stroke parameter, see Stroke Pane Controls in the Inspector.

      The Brush Opacity control allows you to define a different opacity value for a shape and its outline.

      Figure. Canvas window showing an object with fill and outline set to different opacities.
    • Brush Source: When Image is the selected Brush Type, drag a layer into the Brush Source image well for use as the outline’s brush source. You can use images, image sequences, QuickTime movies, text, and shapes as the brush source.

      When a movie or image sequence is the brush source, additional parameters appear. For more about Movie or image sequence parameters, see Additional Parameters When Brush Source Is a QuickTime Movie or Image Sequence.

    • Brush Profile: Available when Airbrush is the selected Brush Type, this gradient editor allows you to create varying levels of opacity within the brush. The brush profile uses the same opacity controls as a standard gradient editor. For more information, see Gradient Controls.
      Figure. Inspector and Canvas window showing the default Brush Profile gradient.

      Modify the Brush Profile opacity gradient to create new brush looks.

      Figure. Inspector and Canvas window showing a customized Brush Profile gradient.
    • Width: A slider that changes the width of a shape’s outline or width of a paint stroke’s dabs. On paint strokes, width adjustments will alter the size of the dab while also maintaining the spacing between each dab.

      Note: If you used the pressure parameters in the Paint Stroke Tool HUD to create variations in the stroke when the stroke was created, adjusting the Width parameter affects the width of the stroke uniformly.

    • Preserve Width: When this checkbox is selected, the defined width of the outline/stroke does not change when the shape is scaled. This option is only available when Solid is the selected Brush Type.
    • Spacing: Available for the Airbrush and Image brush types, this parameter defines the space in between dabs. A lower number creates a more solid line, and a higher number creates a greater distance in between dabs.
    • Additive Blend: By default, dabs are composited together using the Normal blend mode. Select this checkbox to composite all overlapping dabs together using the Additive blend mode. This blend mode occurs in addition to whichever compositing method is already being used on the paint stroke. This checkbox is only available when Brush Type is set to Airbrush or Image.
    • Reverse Stacking: Available when Brush Type is set to Airbrush or Image, this parameter inverts the order in which the dabs are stacked. To see the effect of this parameter, dabs must be overlapping.
    • First Point Offset: This parameter allows you to offset and animate the start point of the outline. This is very useful for effects such as drawing a line across a map over time.

      You can also use the Shape Write On behaviors to draw a stroke or outline over time. For more information, see Write On.

    • Last Point Offset: This parameter allows you to offset and animate the end point of the outline.

Additional Parameters When Brush Source Is a QuickTime Movie or Image Sequence

A collection of additional settings appear when the Brush Source is set to a multi-frame object such as a QuickTime movie or Image sequence.

  • Play Frames: A checkbox that controls playback. If the checkbox is selected, it loops the playback of the animation or movie clip. If it’s deselected, the paint dabs use the still frame specified by either the Random Start Frame parameter or the Source Start Frame parameter.
  • Random Start Frame: A checkbox that introduces variation to image brush strokes using multi-frame source objects. If the checkbox is selected, each dab will pull from a random frame in the source. The dab will either start animating from this random frame or remain still depending on whether the Play Frames checkbox is selected or deselected. This pattern of randomness can be adjusted by using the Random Seed button under the Stroke Pane.
  • Source Start Frame: Click the Source Start Frame disclosure triangle to display a mini-curve editor that allows you to define the frame at which playback of the source clip begins in the paint dabs. The Source Start Frame default keyframe value is 0, at which playback starts from frame 1. You can simply change the start frame for all dabs, or you can create a curve so that start frames vary over the length of the stroke (different dabs use different start frames). For example, if the first Source Start Frame value is 50, each dab begins playback at frame 50. If you create an animation curve that begins at 50 and ends at 250, each dab begins clip playback at a progressively later frame.

    The Play Frames checkbox must be selected in order for playback to occur. If Play Frames is deselected, you can display different still frames over the length of the stroke. This parameter only appears if Random Start Frame is deselected.

    Note: For information on using the mini-curve editor, see Mini-Curve Editor.

    When you click the Source Start Frame disclosure triangle, the Stroke Length and Source Start Frame parameters become available.

    • Source Start: Use the sliders or enter a number into the value field to change the value of the selected keyframe in the mini-curve editor.
    • Stroke Length: Stroke Length is mapped horizontally on the mini-curve editor graph and provides a visual representation of the position of the changes in start frame value (keyframes) over the length of the stroke. Use the sliders or enter a number into the value field to change the value of the selected keyframe.
  • Hold Frames: Sets the number of times each frame of the source movie is repeated during playback. The larger the Hold Frames value, the slower your playback.
  • Hold Frames Randomness: Varies the number of frames to “hold.”

Stroke Pane Controls in the Inspector

Once an airbrush or image paint stroke has been created using the Paint Stroke tool, a set of paint stroke controls becomes available, combining controls similar to those of a particle system or replicator. Use these controls to set the Stroke Color Mode and Brush Scale parameters, and to adjust the Opacity, Spacing, Width, and Angle Over Stroke parameters.

Figure. Shape tab showing Stroke pane.

Stroke Pane Parameters

The Stroke pane becomes available when Airbrush or Image is selected from the Brush Type pop-up menu in the Style pane.

  • Opacity Over Stroke: An opacity control that appears when Stroke Color Mode is set to Use Brush Color. Use it to change the opacity of dabs based on their location on the stroke. This gradient control is limited to grayscale values, which are used to represent varying levels of transparency. White represents solid dabs, progressively darker levels of gray represent decreasing opacity, and black represents complete transparency. A simple white-to-black gradient represents a stroke that is solid at its start, but that fades out gradually over its length until finally vanishing at the end. For information on using the gradient editor, see Gradient Controls.
    Figure. Gradient preset pop-up menu in the Stroke pane.

    Use the gradient preset pop-up menu to load a custom opacity gradient into the gradient editor.

    Note: None of the default gradients have opacity gradients. If a color gradient preset is selected, it has no effect on the opacity gradient.

  • Color Over Stroke: A gradient editor defining the range of color of the stroke, beginning with the leftmost color in the gradient, and progressing through the range of colors until reaching the rightmost color at the end of the stroke. Gradual color changes do not appear in each dab, only across the stroke as a whole. An opacity bar appears at the top of the gradient editor. For information on using gradient editors, see Gradient Controls.
    Figure. Stroke pane showing expanded gradient editor for Color Over Stroke parameter.
  • Color Range: A gradient editor that appears when the Stroke Color Mode is set to Pick From Color Range. Use it to define a range of colors used to randomly tint the stroke’s paint dabs. The direction of the gradient colors is not relevant, only the number of colors that appear within the gradient. The Color Range parameter has the same controls as the Color Over Stroke parameter. For information on using gradient editors, see Gradient Controls.
  • Color Repetitions: When you choose Color Over Stroke from the Stroke Color Mode pop-up menu, the Color Repetitions parameter becomes available. Drag this slider to increase the number of times the gradient is repeated over the stroke.
  • Spacing Over Stroke: This mini-curve editor allows you to customize the spacing of the dabs over the length of the stroke. You can create a curve that gradually increases the dabs’ spacing over the length of the stroke, create a curve that varies the dabs’ spacing over the length of the stroke, and so on. Select or add a keyframe in the graph to make changes to the Spacing Over Stroke and Stroke Length parameters.

    In the following illustrations, the default Spacing Over Stroke value of 100% in the mini-curve editor creates an even distribution of the dabs—based on the value set in the Spacing parameter in the Style pane. For more on using the mini-curve editor, see Mini-Curve Editor.

    Figure. Stroke pane and Canvas window showing the Spacing Over Stroke mini-curve editor displaying a continuous 100% value.

    In the following illustrations, the Spacing Over Stroke curve in the mini-curve editor is adjusted so that a greater value is used at the start of the stroke, and 100% is used at the end of the stroke. The dabs at the beginning of the stroke are spaced more widely apart and get closer at the end of the stroke.

    Figure. Stroke pane and Canvas window showing the Spacing Over Stroke mini-curve editor displaying a decreasing value.

    Two controls let you fine-tune the curve in the graph:

    • Spacing Over Stroke: Use the sliders or enter a number in the value field to change the value of the selected keyframe.
    • Stroke Length: Stroke Length is mapped horizontally on the mini-curve editor graph and provides a visual representation of the position of the changes in spacing value (keyframes) over the length of the stroke. Use the sliders or enter a number in the value field to change the value of the selected keyframe.

      Note: For information on using the mini-curve editor, see Mini-Curve Editor.

  • Fixed Brush Dabs: When animating brush strokes using behaviors or keyframes, selecting the Fixed Brush Dabs checkbox keeps the number and spacing of the dabs constant regardless of the changes in the stroke’s shape over time. The effect of this parameter is not visible when editing a paint stroke on a single frame.
  • Width Over Stroke: This mini-curve editor allows you to customize the width of the dabs over the length of the stroke. You can create a curve that gradually increases the dabs’ width over the length of the stroke, create a curve that varies the dabs’ width over the length of the stroke, and so on. Select or add a keyframe in the graph to make changes to the Width Over Stroke and Stroke Length parameters. The start value for the dab width is based on the value set in the Width parameter in the Style pane. For more on using the mini-curve editor, see Mini-Curve Editor.
    Figure. Shape Inspector showing Stroke pane with Width Over Stroke mini-curve editor expanded.

    Two controls let you fine-tune the curve in the graph:

    • Width Over Stroke: Use the sliders or enter a number in the value field to change the value of the selected keyframe.
    • Stroke Length: Stroke Length is mapped horizontally on the mini-curve editor graph and provides a visual representation of the position of the changes in width value (keyframes) over the length of the stroke. Use the sliders or enter a number in the value field to change the value of the selected keyframe.

      The Width Over Stroke parameter can be adjusted directly on the selected paint stroke in the Canvas. For more information, see Using the Width Over Stroke Onscreen Controls.

  • Brush Scale: A slider and value field that allow you to change the size of the brush (the source of the dabs). Click the disclosure triangle to adjust the X and Y scale values independently. By default, Scale is set to 100%—the size of the dabs is equal to the size of the source brush. Unlike the width parameter in the style tab, brush scale adjustments only affect the size of the dabs and don’t preserve the spacing between dabs.
  • Brush Scale Randomness: Defines an amount of variance in the scale of the stroke’s brush. A value of 0 results in no variance—all dabs in the stroke are the same size. A value greater than 0 introduces a variance. The scale for an individual dab is defined by the Scale parameter, plus or minus a random value falling within the Brush Scale, Width Over Stroke, and Width (in the Style pane) parameters. Click the disclosure triangle to adjust the X and Y values independently.
    Figure. Canvas window showing an object with a high degree of Brush Scale Randomness.
  • Align Brush Angle: When this checkbox is selected, the stroke dabs automatically rotate to match the shape on which they are positioned.
  • Brush Angle: Specifies (in degrees) the rotation of the stroke dabs. Using the default dial or value slider modifies the Z angle. When the Local 3D checkbox is selected, additional Brush Angle Randomness controls become available. Click the disclosure triangle to expose X, Y, and Z rotation dials and the Animate pop-up menu.
  • Angle Over Stroke: This mini-curve editor allows you to customize the Z rotation (in degrees) of the dabs over the length of the stroke. You can create a curve that gradually increases the dabs’ angle over the length of the stroke, a curve that varies the dabs’ angle over the length of the stroke, and so on. Select or add a keyframe in the graph to make changes using the Angle Over Stroke and Stroke Length controls.
    • Angle Over Stroke: Use the dial or value slider to change the value of the selected keyframe.
    • Stroke Length: Stroke Length is mapped horizontally on the mini-curve editor graph and provides a visual representation of the position of the changes in angle value (keyframes) over the length of the stroke. Use the sliders or enter a number in the value field to change the value of the selected keyframe.
  • Brush Angle Randomness: Defines an amount of variance in the rotation of the stroke dabs. A value of 0 results in no variance—all dabs have the same rotational value. A value greater than 0 introduces a variance. The angle for an individual dab is defined by the Brush Angle and Angle Over Stroke parameters, plus or minus a random value falling within the Brush Angle Randomness.

    Using the default dial or value slider modifies the Z angle. To individually modify the rotation of the dabs in X, Y, and Z space, or to access the Animate parameter, click the disclosure triangle when the Local 3D checkbox is selected.

  • Local 3D: This checkbox allows you to take advantage of the Motion 3D workspace. When the Local 3D checkbox is selected, the following become possible:
    • When the Face Camera checkbox is selected, paint dabs actively face the camera when the camera or stroke is rotated and/or animated.

    • When the Dab Depth Ordered checkbox is deselected, dab ordering remains consistent when the paint stroke (or the camera) is rotated in X or Y space. When this checkbox is selected, the dabs jump in front of each other each time the stroke rotates 180 degrees. In other words, this checkbox draws the dabs in the stroke according to each dab’s actual 3D position in the project. Dabs that are closer to the camera appear closer; dabs that are farther away from the camera appear more distant.

    • When the Dynamics checkbox is selected in the Advanced pane, a paint stroke acts similarly to an emitter—the dabs become particles. When the Local 3D checkbox is selected, the dabs are animated in 3D space. When the Local 3D checkbox is deselected, the particles are animated in X and Y space only. For more information on Dynamics, see Advanced Pane Controls In the Inspector.

    • When the Dynamics checkbox is selected in the Advanced pane, dabs can be pulled out of their plane when certain Simulation behaviors are applied. For example, if a paint stroke has an applied Attracted To behavior (with the Affect Subobjects checkbox selected), and the target layer is in a different location in Z space, the dabs are pulled into Z space and move toward the target layer. The paint stroke must be a member of a 3D group to be pulled out of the X and Y planes by a behavior.

      Use the following guidelines when working in 3D with paint strokes:

      • Even in a 2D project, a paint stroke’s general properties can be adjusted in 3D space. For example, you can modify the Z parameter using the Position, Scale, Rotation, and Anchor Point controls in the Properties tab of the Inspector.

      • Paint strokes do not receive reflections (controlled in the Properties tab of the Inspector) unless the Local 3D checkbox is deselected.

      • Paint strokes do not cast shadows (controlled in the Properties tab of the Inspector) unless the Local 3D checkbox is deselected.

      • Lighting does not effect paint strokes unless the Local 3D checkbox is deselected.

    Important: Although the Local 3D checkbox is selected, paint strokes do not intersect with the “global” 3D world. This means that paint strokes can exist in 3D space, but do not intersect with objects that exist inside their own group, or objects in other groups. A 3D paint stroke is composited with the rest of the objects in the project based on layer order.

  • Face Camera: Available only when the Local 3D checkbox is selected, the stroke dabs actively face the camera if the camera is rotated or if the paint stroke is rotated and/or animated when this checkbox is selected. When the Face Camera checkbox is deselected, the elements face forward in the replicator pattern and appear flat (unless the source layer or paint dabs are rotated in 3D space).

    Because paint source dabs are 2D (flat) objects, the pattern elements are not visible when you use the orthogonal camera views, such as Left, Right, and Top (unless the source layer or dabs are rotated in 3D space). This is because orthogonal views are at right angles (perpendicular) to the elements. For more information on using cameras, see Cameras.

  • Dab Depth Ordered: Available only when the Local 3D checkbox is selected, paint dab ordering remains consistent when the paint stroke is rotated in X or Y space when this checkbox is selected. When not selected, the dabs jump in front of each other each time the stroke rotates 180 degrees.
  • Jitter: This slider and value field allow you to create a little chaos in your paint dabs. The higher the value, the more dispersed the dabs. Click the disclosure triangle to display the individual X and Y controls. Jitter can be animated so that the dabs behave like particles.
    • Jitter: Moves the dabs both parallel and perpendicular to the stroke’s curves at its control points.
    • X: Moves the dabs parallel to the stroke’s curves at its control points.
    • Y: Moves the dabs perpendicular to the stroke’s curves at its control points.
  • Jitter Over Stroke: This mini-curve editor allows you to customize the scatter of the dabs over the length of the stroke. You can create a curve that gradually increases the dabs’ jitter over the length of the stroke, a curve that varies the dabs’ jitter over the length of the stroke, and so on. Select or add a keyframe in the graph to make changes using the Jitter Over Stroke and Stroke Length controls.
    • Jitter Over Stroke: This parameter is divided into two channels. Click the disclosure triangle to display the individual X and Y controls. Use the X parameter to adjust keyframes that define the amount of dab movement parallel to the stroke’s curve at certain points along the stroke (red curve). Use the Y parameter to adjust keyframes that define the amount of dab movement perpendicular to the stroke’s curve at certain points along the stroke (green curve). Use the Jitter Over Stroke parameter to adjust the amount of dab movement in both directions at certain points along the curve (adjusts red and green curve simultaneously).
    • Stroke Length: Stroke Length is mapped horizontally on the mini-curve editor graph and provides a visual representation of the position of the changes in jitter value (keyframes) over the length of the stroke. Use the sliders or enter a number in the value field to change the value of the selected keyframe. For more on using the mini-curve editor, see Mini-Curve Editor.
      Figure. Stroke pane showing Jitter Over Stroke mini-curve editor where a green line represents the stroke length.
  • Random Seed: The variation of the Jitter, Brush Angle Randomness, and Brush Scale Randomness parameters (in the Stroke pane) and the Life, Speed, and Spin Randomness parameters (in the Advanced pane) are based on the number shown here. If you don’t like the current random distribution of the dabs, you can change the seed number by typing a new number or clicking Generate. The Jitter value must be 1 or more for this parameter to have any effect.

Using the Width Over Stroke Onscreen Controls

The Width Over Stroke control can be manipulated using the mini-curve editor, or you can adjust its keyframe values directly in the Canvas. An editable control appears at each keyframe in the stroke.

To use the onscreen Width Over Stroke controls
  1. In the Canvas, Control-click the paint stroke, then choose Stroke from the shortcut menu.

    Small control points (+) appear at each keyframe along the red spline.

  2. Click the control point that represents the keyframe you want to adjust.

    Control handles appear on either side of the control point.

  3. To increase the width of the dabs, drag away from the point; to decrease the width of the dabs, drag toward the point.

    Figure. Canvas window showing onscreen Width Over Stroke controls.
  4. To change the position of a width keyframe, drag the control point left or right to move it along the length of the stroke. (Keyframes can be dragged over one another.)

    The mini-curve editor is updated as you make your onscreen adjustments.

  5. To add width keyframes, double click or option-click on the red spline.

  6. To delete width keyframes, select the keyframe and press Delete.

Advanced Pane Controls In the Inspector

The Advanced pane of the Shape tab contains controls that allow the dabs of a paint stroke to be animated like particles. Unlike particles, dabs are only “born” one time; but they can age and die like particles. Dynamic dabs share several controls with particles, such as Emission Angle, Life, Speed, and Spin. When the Dynamics checkbox is deselected, dabs are immortal.

When you select a shape created with the Paint Stroke tool, Pen Pressure and Pen Speed controls appear in the Advanced pane.

Note: All of the Dynamics controls can be animated using keyframes or by applying Parameter behaviors to the individual parameters.

Advanced Pane Parameters

The Advanced pane becomes available when Airbrush or Image is selected from the Brush Type pop-up menu in the Style pane.

  • Dynamics: When this checkbox is selected, the dabs of a paint stroke become particles.

    Note: When a Simulation behavior is applied to a paint stroke, the Affect Subobjects parameter only appears in the behavior if Dynamics is selected for the paint stroke. Click the disclosure triangle to reveal the following additional Dynamics controls:

  • Emission Angle: A dial and value slider that set the direction in which the paint dabs travel. This parameter works in conjunction with the Emission Range parameter.
  • Emission Range: A dial and value slider that restrict the area in which the dabs travel, in the direction of the Emission Angle. Setting the Emission Range parameter to 0 degrees keeps dabs perpendicular to the paint stroke.
  • Life: A slider that defines the duration of each dab, in seconds. This specifies how long each dab lasts before disappearing—similar to how sparks disappear after flying away from a sparkler.
  • Life Randomness: A slider and value field that define an amount of variance in the life of the paint dabs. A value of 0 results in no variance—all dabs from the selected stroke share the same life span. A value greater than 0 introduces a variance defined by the Life parameter, plus or minus a random value falling within the Life Randomness value.
  • Speed: A slider and value field that defines initial speed, determining how quickly each dab flies away from the stroke.
  • Speed Randomness: A slider and value field that define an amount of variance in the speed of the paint dabs. A value of 0 results in no variance—all dabs from the selected stroke move with the same speed. A value greater than 0 introduces a variance defined by the Speed parameter, plus or minus a predetermined random value falling within the Speed Randomness value.
  • Spin: A dial and value slider that animate the dabs of a paint stroke by initially spinning each individual dab around its center. Adjustments to this control are in degrees per second.
  • Spin Randomness: A dial and value slider that define an amount of variance in the spin of the paint dabs. A value of 0 results in no variance—all dabs from the selected stroke spin at the same rate. A value greater than 0 introduces a variance defined by the Spin parameter, plus or minus a random value falling within the Spin Randomness value.

Geometry Pane Controls in the Inspector

The Shape Inspector’s Geometry pane controls allow you to change the shape type, to close or open a shape, and to individually adjust the position of a shape’s control points using value sliders.

Geometry Pane Parameters

The Geometry pane controls are available for all shapes regardless of what is selected in the Brush Type pop-up menu in the Style pane.

You can change a shape’s type at any time. Changing a shape’s type changes its form. For example, a single set of control points produces the following three shapes, depending on the selected Shape Type.

Figure. Canvas window showing a linear shape, a Bezier shape, and a B-Spline shape.
  • Closed: If you select an open shape, this checkbox is deselected. Turning this checkbox on connects the first and last points of an open shape. If you select a closed shape, this checkbox is selected. Turning this checkbox off disconnects the first and last points, converting the object into an open shape.
  • Roundness: Controls the roundness of the corners of a shape. This facilitates the creation of round rectangles, as well as generally smoothing the edges of any shape.
  • Preserve Scale: This checkbox controls whether the Roundness setting is absolute, or relative to the overall shape size. When this parameter is enabled, the roundness will remain at the same approximate percentage of curvature as the object is scaled. When it is disabled, the curvature will vary as the overall shape changes size.
  • Control Points: Click the disclosure triangle to display the position parameters for the shape control points. Use the value sliders to adjust the position of a control point.

    The Control Points parameter also contains an Animation menu, which allows you to add keyframes, reset the shape’s animation, display the animation curve in the Keyframe Editor, and so on. For more information on using the Animation menu, see Animation Menu.