Graffiti Effect Help

The following article is based on the transcript of the Graffiti Effect video tutorial. Note that template instructions can also be found inside the Graffiti Effect template, in the "Instructions" comp, and in layer marker notes.

What is the Graffiti Effect template?
Graffiti Effect is an After Effects template for CS5 and up. The template allows users to transform their video footage into an animated graffiti painting over an urban wall backround. After dropping in your footage, photo, text, or logo, you can instantly export a finished graffiti look. Or, you can customize the look using slider controls. The template includes 80 wall images, spray can audio effects, authentic graffiti textures, and spray-on effects.

First Step - Importing and Preparing Footage
To import your footage into After Effects, go to the File menu, then choose Import, then choose File. Locate and open your footage. In the Project panel, drag your footage clip into the comp at the top of the Project panel named Your Footage. The Your Footage comp will open automatically, and you will see your clip. If your footage needs any brightness or color correction adjustments, do that in this comp.

Graffiti Effect (Normal)
In the Project panel, there are two Graffiti Effect comps. You can choose to export either one as your final effect. The Graffiti Effect (Normal) comp will play your footage as graffiti at 30 frames per second, over a single wall background with a handheld camera motion. Inside this comp, near the top, is a layer named CONTROL LAYER. Select this comp, then inside your Effect Controls panel, you will see a number of slider controls which can be used to customize the look of the effect. With the controls, you can make adjustments to the fill, outline, and detail level of your graffiti. To learn what any of the controls do, read the Instructions layer in the comp.

Below the Control Layer, is the Handheld Camera Motion layer, which uses simple wiggle expressions to add movement to the comp. To edit the amount of movement, increase or decrease the second number in the expressions on the Anchor Point property and Position property of the layer.

The Matte (Spray-On Paint Area) determines how the image is sprayed onto the wall, and where on the wall it will appear. You can edit the matte if you double-click the layer to open the comp. Inside the comp, there are several Spray-On layers to choose from. Unhide the one you want to use so it's visible. You can adjust the duration of the graffiti spray-on action by selecting the layer and revealing the keyframes by hitting the U-key, then adjusting the keyframes to make the animation quicker or slower. You can also open properties of the Paint effect on the layer and change the look of the spray strokes. To change the size of the paint area, adjust the Scale and/or Position properties of the layer. Ultimately, whatever is white in the Matte (Spray-On Paint Area) comp is where your footage will show up in the final effect.

This template has 80 different wall images in the Walls folder, found inside the Images folder in the Project panel. You can replace the wall background in your comp with any other wall image by selecting the Brick Wall layer in your comp. Next, select the wall image you would like to use inside the Project panel. Hold down the Alt/Option key, and with them both selected, click-and-drag the image file onto the layer. What this method accomplishes is it changes the source file of the layer while preserving all of the effects, expressions and settings.

Graffit Effect (Stop Motion)
The Graffiti Effect (Stop Motion) comp is similar to the Graffiti Effect (Normal) comp, but it has a low frame rate and a stop-motion quality built into it, while also using a random wall image with each frame change.

Warning: It's important to note that the Stop Motion Effect layer (layer #3) can cause slow processing times in After Effects Creative Cloud. If the comp is taking a long time to load, simply turn the layer off while you customize the look of your graffiti spray painting, and then turn it back on when you are ready to preview or render the final animation. It may take a long time to process the first frame, but after the first frame loads, the rest of the comp will render at a more normal speed.

Like the Graffit Effect (Normal) comp, this comp has a Control Layer at the top with all of the same customization options. Below the Control Layer is the Stop Motion Effect. This effect adds a low frame rate, while also adding subtle fluctuation to the position, scale, rotation, and exposure of the comp, making the final effect resemble a bunch of different snapshots of graffitied walls, edited together to look like an animation. You can edit the properties of the Stop Motion Effect with the controls that are on the layer itself. (Select the Stop Motion Effectlayer, and the controls will be visible in the Effect Controls panel.

The Matte (Dynamic Paint Area) layer determines where your footage will appear on the wall. To edit the matte, double-click the layer to open the comp. There are two layers of paint strokes – a thinner, harder stroke and a thicker, softer stroke. The strokes will randomly change position with each new frame in your final graffiti effect. To customize the paint strokes, you have many options in the Control Layer in the Matte (Dynamic Paint Area) comp. To change the size or position of the paint area, select either of the strokes layers, then edit the shape or position of the mask on the layer. Also note that Drips layer imitates the paint dripping down the wall. You may have to adjust the mask on the Drips layer so that the drips stay located under the paint strokes.

Further down in the comp there are two Graffiti Texture layers. These are authentic graffiti textures that show up in the areas around your footage. The graffiti will change on each frame in your final effect. You can decrease or increase how much of the graffiti you see by double-clicking the Graffiti Texture layers to open their comps. Select the Control Layer inside and note the many customization controls in the Effect Controls panel. At the bottom of the controls are the Layer Blinking controls. These allow you to set how often all the graffiti layers in the comp will turn on and off, determining how much graffiti is visible. Turn up or down the Maximum On Time control to adjust the graffiti amount.

Lastly, the Walls Texture layer at the bottom of the comp is a dynamic texture which features a new random wall image on each frame. If you would rather have a single wall image as your background, it's an easy edit. First, isolate the Walls Texture layer. Scrub through the timeline to find a new wall image. Stay on the frame with the wall image of your choice, then add a Freeze Frame effect, by going to the Layer menu, then selecting Time, then Freeze Frame. This will pause the layer at that specific frame while preserving the functionality that's programmed into the layer.