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Create an Elegantly Handwritten Text Reveal

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This post is part of a series called Logo Reveals.
Create a Stormy, Electric Type Reveal
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial you will learn how to animate a handwritten text sequence with ink bleeding through the paper to create an elegant old-world style title reveal.


  • Trapcode Particular (download the trial version here)
  • Trapcode 3D Stroke (download the trial version here)

Stock Photos:

We encourage you to use your own images but if you want to use these exact images you can get them here:

Step 1

First of all import the assets. Inside after effects go to File>Import>File. A window will open. Search for fountain-pen.psd, leave Import As: Footage and click Open. A new window will open. Flag Choose Layer and change Footage Dimensions to Layer Size. This will import the pen cropped so there is not much space around it and easier to work with later on. Do the same for paper.jpg except there will not open a second window because it is no psd file.

Step 2

Create three compositions. One called text, the other masks and the last final comp. Go to Composition>New Composition, name it and choose the settings you prefer. Below you can see which one I used. For the purpose of this tutorial it doesn't really matter which one you choose.

Step 3

In this case we want to write with black ink so change the backgroundcolor of the text composition to white if it isn't allready. Make sure you are inside the text composition. Go to Composition>Background Color and change the color to white. Do the same for the masks composition

Step 4

Inside the text composition go to Layer>New>Text to create a new text layer. Type some text and with the layer selected choose a font you like. The font I used in this example is Freebooter Script (you can download it here). If the Character window is not present go to Window>Character. A menu will appear where you can change the font, size, color, etc. Leave the color to black, because we want to mimic the look of ink. Size of the font depends on the size of the composition and text layer. In this example I used194 px.

Step 5

With the textlayer selected go to Edit>Duplicate and do this two times so you have three identical layers. Now add some effects to let the text look more like ink. With the top textlayer selected go to Effect>Color Correction>Tint. Map black to a dark gray.

Step 6

To the same layer ad another effect. Go to Effect>Matte>Matte Choker. Inside the effect controls panel use these settings:

Step 7

Add the last effect to the same textlayer. Go to Effect>Stylise>Roughen Edges. Change the settings to these:

The text from the top layer should look like this now:

Step 8

Now add a effect to the second textlayer. With the layer selected go to Effect>Matte>Matte Choker. Change the setting to match these:

The text from the middle layer should look like this now:

Step 9

No add some effects to the bottom textlayer. With the layer selected go to Effect>Matte>Matte Choker. To add the last effect go to Effect>Stylise>Roughen Edges. change the settings of these two effects to match these:

The text from the bottom layer should look like this now:

Step 10

Now you've added all the effects change the blendmode of the top and middle text layer to Color Burn:

With all three layers visible the text should look something like this:

Step 11

Now drag and drop fountain-pen.psd into the text composition. It comes in fairly big. Scale it down to about 83 percent. Move the anchorpoint from it's center position to the tip of the pen with the Pan behind Tool so the pen can rotate from it's tip:

Flag the fountain-pen.psd layer as a 3D layer and change the value of the X rotation to -10,0, because later on we create a shadow beneath the pen on the paper:

Step 12

Now it is time to trace the letters with the pen like it is writing. Go to the first frame in the timeline, set a key for position and Z rotation, go a couple frames further, change position and Z rotation if necessary, and so on.

Step 13

Copy a textlayer and paste it into the masks composition. Now we start drawing the masks to reveal the text with later on. Go to Layer>New>Solid. The color doesn't matter. Duplicate this solid untill you have seven of them. These are the layers where the masks are drawn on. Hide all the other mask layers but leave one visible. With the first solid selected go to Effect>Trapcode>3DStroke or you can use Stroke from inside after effects (Effect>Generate>Stroke). Do this for all the seven mask layers. The reason why I use 3DStroke is because it is possible to taper the ends of the stroke which is not possible with after effect's build in Stroke. Use the Pen Tool to draw the first mask for the first letter (after adding the Stroke effect, otherwise the solid will have the color it had when initially created and the text will not be seen underneath the solid). Make sure the textlayer is beneath all the solids/masks.

Just to see the mask good change it's color to a bright one. Make sure you can't see parts of the text when drawing the mask. So change it's thickness to when the letter is not seen anymore. Also make sure that a mask never crosses a part of the text when moving it's position. So when te pen is lifted make a new mask. For this example there are seven masks in totall. Go on untill you traced all the letters. When you're done delete the reference text layer. It won't be needed anymore.

Step 14

Copy the animated fountain-pen from within the text composition and paste it into the masks composition, because now it is time to animate the masks or better to say animate the (3D)strokes. The animated fountain-pen layer will be used as a reference to animate the strokes. With the fountain-pen layer on top of the masks Start animating the End positions of the masks so to match the position of the pen tip.

If you use Trapcode's 3DStroke instead of Stroke from after effects you may also animate the End Thickness to get a nice bleeding of the 'ink'.

When the masks are animated you can delete the fountain-pen reference layer from within the masks composition.


Drag and drop the masks composition into the text composition and change it's blendmode to Stencil Alpha.

Now, when you scroll through the timeline you see the text is revealed by the masks composition.

Step 16

Copy the fountain-pen layer from within the text composition and paste it into the final comp. Now delete the fountain-pen layer from within the text layer. Duplicate the fountain-pen layer and change the X rotation from the bottom layer to 0. This is the layer which will act as shadow layer.

Step 17

Drag and drop paper.jpg into the final comp beneath the pen layers. It should look like this:

Select the bottom pen layer and go to Effect>Color Correction>Levels and change Output White to 0.

Turn of the top pen layer and it will look like this:

Step 18

The edges from the shadow are a bit to scharp. Go to Effect>Blur&Sharpen>Gaussian Blur. Change it's Bluriness value to about 15. Set the opacity of the layer to 80%.

It will look like this now:

Step 19

Drag and drop the text composition into the final comp. Duplicate the text composition and change the blendmode from the top composition to multiply and the bottom one to classic color burn.

Step 20 (optional)

Go to Layer>New>Solid. With this layer selected go to Effect>Trapcode>Particular. Set it's blendmode to classic color burn. Below are the settings for Particular:

Step 21 (optional)

With the layer selected which holds the Particular effect go to Effect>Matte>Matte Choker. Add another effect. Go to Effect>Stylise>Roughen Edges. Below are the settings:

Animate Choke from the Matte Choker effect to let Particular 'bleed' through the paper. Set a keyframe at 3:22 for Choke at a value of 127. At 6:10 set a keyframe of value 65.

Step 22

At last turn on the motion blur for the two pen layers.

The final effect looks like this:

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