Compositing Workflow

Once you import the objects you need for your project, the first step is to arrange the objects within the Canvas to come up with the general design of your piece. Even before you animate anything, you should decide what size each object should be, where everything should be positioned, if any objects need to be rotated to fit where they need to be, and so on. You can also make more extreme manipulations to create other effects. For example, you could crop out unwanted parts of a particular object.

You can use different transform tools, each of which allow you to perform basic compositing tasks such as selecting, moving, rotating, scaling, shearing, corner-pinning, cropping, changing an object’s anchor point, and manipulating drop shadows. The transform tools are available in the View section of the Toolbar. When you switch among the transform tools, different onscreen controls appear in the Canvas. Drag these controls to perform the selected transform action.

The onscreen transform controls for shapes include an additional roundness handle. For more information, see Creating and Editing Shapes.

Figure. Canvas window showing an object being resized by dragging its corner handle.

Additional controls in the HUD let you change each selected object’s opacity, blend mode, and drop shadow settings.

Figure. HUD showing common controls.

The onscreen controls and the HUD controls all correspond to parameters that appear in the Properties tab of the Inspector. Each parameter corresponds to a different Canvas control, and adjustments made in the Canvas are simultaneously updated in the Inspector. For example, if you’re using the Select/Transform tool and you change an object’s scale by dragging its corner handles in the Canvas, the object’s Scale parameter is updated in the Properties tab of the Inspector.

When you begin to lay out a composition, it’s a good idea to start by creating a static layout of your project that represents how it looks at the beginning, end, or at a particular moment in time. In addition to manipulating the geometry of objects in your project, you can also alter their opacity. This gives you additional control over how overlapping elements of your layout merge together. Blend modes provide further control over the appearance of overlapping objects, accentuating or stylizing the colors of the topmost objects based on the objects underneath.

After you create an initial layout, you can animate any of the objects you’ve added to set your project in motion. For more information about animating objects and their properties, see Animation in Motion.