The following article is based on the trascript of the Ink Bleeds & Blots video tutorial. Note that template instructions can also be found inside the Ink Bleeds & Blots template – in the "Instructions" comp, and in layer marker notes.
Ink Bleeds & Blots is an After Effects template for version CS5 and up. The template allows you to easily and quickly imitate ink or watercolor paint spreading on paper, and even create designs resembling a rorschach or ink blot test. These designs can be used as overlays over your footage, as background animations, or for ink reveals of your footage. Included are many customization options, allowing you to make an endless number of ink bleed animations with the exact color and qualities that you like.
When you open the project file, inside the Project panel, you'll see three Ink Bleed comps - Ink Bleed Fast, Ink Bleed Medium, and Ink Bleed Slow. The only difference between these comps is the speed at which the ink spreads. The ink bleed effect is made of basic shape layers which are animated to expand – quickly at first, and then slowing down. The layers have multiple effects applied to them to give them the shape and qualities of ink on paper. Note that there are two shape layers (essentially two ink bleeds composited over each other). The inner blot is the black part of the ink bleed, and the outer blot is the blue part.
To customize the ink bleed, select the Control Layer near the top. Then, in your Effect Controls panel you'll see a number of slider controls, which you can adjust to customize the look of the animation. Note there are separate controls for both the inner and outer blots.
The slider controls are divided into two main categories – controls which affect the qualities of the ink, and controls which affect the properties of the shape layer. To learn what any of the controls do, unhide and read the Instructions comp at the top of the comp.
Since the ink bleeds are constructed from shape layers, they're made from paths, which you can edit to make your ink bleeds into complex shapes. Select either shape layer and you will see a basic circle path in the Composition panel. Choose the Pen Tool, then click anywhere on the path to add a vertex. Drag the vertex or its handles to change the shape of the path.
The fourth comp ink bleed comp, Ink Bleeds Continuous, has over 50 of the ink bleed effects, one right after the other. These effects last for the duration of the minute-long comp. Use this comp if your project requires a continuously-moving ink bleed texture. Note that each ink bleed has it's own control layer, so you can still customize the individual ink bleeds. Also note that each ink bleed has one shape layer instead of two, in order to keep the comp running fast. You can always duplicate a layer, scale it up or down, and change the color if needed.
Open the Ink Reveal folder. You can use this effect to make your footage appear with the ink as the ink spreads. First, import your footage into the project and drag it into the comp in the Ink Reveal folder named Your Footage. Next, open the Ink Reveal comp. Note that this comp uses the Ink Bleed Fast comp. To use a different speed, delete the Ink Bleed Fast layer and drag one of the other comps in to take its place. Make sure it is above the Your Footage layer. Also, makes sure that the Track Matte for the Your Footage layer is set to Luma Inverted Matte. Change the blending mode of the Ink Bleed layer to Screen or Lighten, and make sure the layer is turned on (unhidden). Keeping this layer visible with a blending mode will allow you to see some of the color from your ink bleed.
The final step is to drag in a paper texture. Open the Paper Textures folder to see 34 different paper texture images. Drag and drop the texture of your choice into the comp, above the other layers. Change the blending mode of the layer to Multiply.