Friday, March 7, 2014

After Effects Editing Mask Path (moving individual points)

Alright, this was frustrating the hell out of me - especially considering most posts and forum responses had the right idea but were missing one key element.

The issue is in Adobe After Effects and Masks.

Here's the setup


  • You have some layer (shape, picture, footage, whatever)
  • You add a layer Mask
  • You edit the Mask over time by setting keyframes on the Mask Path property

The issue

  • Anytime you try to move a single point on the Mask Path - the entire mask path moves - regardless of if you have the Pen Tool or Selection Tool selected

So yes - most posts ands forum responses I've seen talk about - "Make sure you have the Pen Tool" selected - so that way you're in path editing mode and then you should be able to move the individual points. I tried ad nausea and I couldn't get this to work.

Solution

  • It all had to do with what was selected in the timeline. I had the Mask selected (that is, the Mask property that shows up when you twirl down the layer itself) - which is wrong. This was the issue.
  • Once I selected the layer itself and NOT the mask, I could then select the Pen Tool and edit the points individually.
Kind of strange - but yeah - select the Layer and not its mask if you want to edit the Mask points individually. And yes - use the Pen Tool.

(note this is in Adobe After Effects CS6 - not sure about other versions).

Hope this helps out some peeps.

33 comments:

Harley Pebley said...

Super! Thanks! It was driving me crazy why it'd work one way one time and another way another time. And I could never get it to work the way I wanted, when I wanted.

Oliver said...

This has literally rescued my morning, thanks!!

Anonymous said...

I'm using the pen tool to draw lines and am stuck in the same infinite loop. If I select the layer, I can only move the entire line, and if I select path I can still only move the entire line. It's insane.

Justina Yang said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justina Yang said...

I just figured it out. You need to use the selection tool to draw a box around the node(s) you want to edit, then you can move it(them) without moving the entire mask. Your way also works!

Anonymous said...

YES, THANK YOU SO MUCH! Select the layer, not the mask. Select the layer, not the mask.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much - saved my morning also! Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Found your post via Google. Thank you so much for taking the time to post it! I could not figure out why I was getting inconsistent behavior from the program and it was me :).

Jeff Salman said...

Yes, thanks much. Sometimes, you know the solution is simple, but it can be hard sifting through all the forums to find the explanation that fits your situation. Knowing what is selected - the layer or the mask - helped me with what I was trying to figure out. Thanks again!

Phil said...

thank you sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much ma

Anonymous said...

THANNNNK YOU!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you so much!!! I could not figure this out. I am so grateful you posted this. I have done many searches in the past few hours and yours was the first to address exactly what I was trying to figure out. You saved my computer screen's life, and probably the mouse's life, too.

PaV said...

OMG

One of the things bugging me for months now.. and never mentioned in the docs i've read

Thanks a million ;)

Anonymous said...

Select the layer, then Shift Click

Sarah Berry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Whiskas said...

I noticed if you have any expressions enabled, such as Ease and Wizz which i often do then this stops you being able to move mask points. Disable the expression, edit your mask, then re-enable :)

Anonymous said...

Oh, thank you very much. I think all of us are searching just for this easy help, but internet is full of that difficult nonhelping stuff. Thank you a lot

Ike said...

Oh god thank you, this was already driving me crazy, After Effects sometimes works in very very mysterious ways :P

Anonymous said...

Thank you very very much. I was having the exact same problem!!!!

Chris said...

Big thanks for this. This was driving me nuts too!

Robbo said...

Thank You! Spent two hours looking for this answer!!!

Anonymous said...

Can't thank you enough for this post. Awesomely explained and really important

Leanne Reynolds said...

oh my GOSH thank you SO MUCH. I was going crazy!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this. It was driving me crazy and you totally nailed the explanation. Shame on Adobe for not making this more obvious.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!! This was driving me nuts, especially since I've edited masks scores of times before in AE -- just not in quite a while.

Anonymous said...

This was also driving me crazy. Thank you for posting this!

Anonymous said...

Excellent! This was driving me mad! Thanks.

Bron said...

Thank you!
And shift-click to move multiple points
Opt-click (on a mac) to select a whole mask again - which was the problem I then had!

Anonymous said...

Hi did you guys find a way of rotating only a selected number of points in a more complex path?

cli23 said...

To the last Anonymous comment - I don't know how to rotate a selected number of points, but one of my staff at BiteSite does. Here's what he said:

"Hey thanks for the inquiry! Hopefully this addresses your scenario. You can in fact rotate a selected number of points in a path. Select the "path" property in the layer panel to select every single point of the path.
Then to select only the points you want, shift+click directly on any path points to deselect the ones you do not want to modify. Once you have only the points you want selected, double click on any one of them and a bounding box will appear around them. If you position your cursor just outside this bounding box, you can drag and rotate it. You can also scale up/down.

As well, take note of the new addition (since October 2017) to AE that allows you to have a whole lot more control over path points: the "create nulls from paths" script located in the Window dropdown menu.

We'll actually have a video out about that new feature soon on BiteSite's YouTube channel.

Cheers"

Chris the Hippie said...

THANK YOU! That one simple thing has been driving me nutzoid for years... I never caught the connection between selecting the layer and selecting the mask.

Anonymous said...

Thanks SO MUCH for posting this! I had no idea what was going on and was about to go crazy. :)

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU