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  1. 3D & Motion Graphics
  2. Motion Graphics

Set Up A Natural Unfolding Logo Reveal Or Transition


In this tutorial we are going to take a look on how to create a nice looking and easy to create unfolding effect in After Effects. We will begin dividing our vector logo using masks, then we will parent and animate the logo giving a realistic unfolding look using expressions.

Step 1

The first thing we have to do, is to divide the logo in triangles. As we have to be extremely precise, doing it in After Effects could be really hard. So we will design our unfolding system in Illustrator first.
Select the Rectangle tool by pressing M, then draw a square keeping the Shift button pressed.

Step 2

Change the color of the square.

Step 3

Select the “Delete anchor point tool" pressing -, and delete the bottom right anchor point. Now we have a triangle with a perfect 45 degree inclination.

Step 4

Double click on the Layer name and rename it in "Triangle".

Step 5

Then click on the cascade menu on the top right of the layer window, and click on “Duplicate Triangle".

Step 6

Rotate the new level you have just created of 180 degrees, change its color and its name in "Triangle 2".

Step 7

Now select the 2 triangles you have just created and duplicate them again and again, and feel free to play around with their rotation until you find a disposition that satisfies you. Consider that every triangle represents one of the sections of the logo that will unfold during the animation.
In this tutorial, I have chosen to divide the logo in 16 portions, but you can divide it in a higher number of triangles. Remember that each triangle must be placed on a different layer.

Save your project naming it Masks.ai

Step 8

Open After Effects, create a new composition 1920x1080, 25fps, and place your logo in the middle of the composition itself.

Step 9

Import the file Masks.ai, be sure to import it as a composition.

Step 10

After Effects will automatically create a new comp called Masks. Open it and select all layers pressing Cmd+A, and then copy them pressing Cmd+C.

Step 11

Switch back to your main composition and paste all the layers pressing Cmd+V, then turn down their opacity to have an idea of how the logo will be divided.

Step 12

Hide all the layers except the logo layer and the “Triangle 1" layer. Select the triangle and go to Layer>Auto-trace. Set the Tolerance value to 20, Minimum area to 10px, Threshold to 50 and Corner Roundness to 0%, and uncheck the "Apply to a new layer" box.

Press Ok and a new mask will appear, and it will have exactly the same shape of the triangle we drew in Illustrator.

Step 13

Select the layer Triangle, press the shortcut M, that will show you all the masks applied to that layer. Select Mask 1 we have just created and press Cmd+X to cut it, then delete the layer “Triangle".
Now select the Logo layer, and press Cmd+V. The mask will be pasted on our logo, select “Add" mode to obtain the portion of logo we will animate. Rename it “Portion 1".
Important! When you import the Logo in After Effects it must already have the right size, if you changed the scale of the logo in AE this method won’t work. If you need to change the size, change it in Illustrator before importing it in AE.

Step 14

Drag in the composition a new copy of the logo and repeat Step 12 and 13 for every of the 16 triangles. If you notice that there is some imprecision between a mask and the other, fix it manually.

Step 15

Once Step 14 is complete, we will have a new version of the logo formed by 16 triangular portions.

Step 16

Press Cmd+A and switch all the layers to 3D.

Step 17

Add a new light and change its Z position to "-1500".

Step 18

Our scene now is set up. What we have to do now is to parent each layer to the layer that is closest to it. There is not a specific rule to follow when you decide how to parent layers, just use your imagination and play around until you decide how you want your logo to unfold.

In my animation we'll start from Portion 2. In the following image I will show how I parented the layers and in which order the layers will unfold.

Step 19

Now we have to move the Anchor Point of each layer and put it along the side around which we want it to rotate. Press Y to use the Anchor Point tool and zoom as much as possible so you can be very precise in placing the new Anchor Point.

Step 20

All the portions that are going to rotate along the vertical or the horizontal side are ready to be animated. You just have to change the X rotation and if the Anchor Points have been placed on the horizontal side. Use the Y rotation if the Anchor Point is on the vertical side. As you can see in the example below, I changed X rotation value on portion 15 and it is rotating properly.

When the Anchor Point is along the diagonal side, if you change X or Y rotation it won’t rotate the right way, as you can see in the example below.

What you have to do is to change Z Orientation value to 45°, the Z rotation value to -45°, and you will notice that changing the Y rotation value our layer will behave like we want it to do.

Step 21

Our composition is completely set up!
Now you only have to keyframe the rotation, assigning a rotation value -180 or 180 (depending on if you want it to rotate from the front or from the back) to the first keyframe and 0 to the second. Remember, if the portion is moving along the vertical side, you have to put this keyframe on the Y value, if it is rotating along the horizontal side you have to put keyframes on the X value.
I started from Portion 2 that is rotating along the horizontal side, to give it a bouncy look I used this expression:

n = 0;
if (numKeys > 0) {
n = nearestKey(time).index;
if (key(n).time > time){
if (n == 0) {
t = 0;
} else {
t = time - key(n).time;
if (n > 0){
v = velocityAtTime(key(n).time - thisComp.frameDuration/10);
amp = 8;
freq = 1.0;
decay = 2.0;
value + (v/100)*amp*Math.sin(freq*t*2*Math.PI)/Math.exp(decay*t);

You can also put 2 keyframes on the opacity value from 0 to 100, so that the portion appears while it is rotating.

Step 22

Do the same for all the layers and once you have finished, move the rotation keyframes backward if you want them to unfold first, or forward if you want them to unfold later, until you obtain a nice looking unfolding effect.

Step 23

Press Cmd+A to select all layers and then Cmd+Shift+C to pre-compose them, rename the Pre-comp to “Logo", then apply a drop shadow to it, change the blending mode to multiply and import a paper texture to use it as background.

Step 24

Now we can use the unfold effect we have just created to add some cool background effects. We just have to duplicate the logo composition and add the "Fill" effect to every layer to make them appear completely white. Then rename the composition to “Background Unfold".

Step 25

Then drag the “Background Unfold" composition to your main comp, change the blending mode to multiply and increase the scale until the unfold effect fills the background of the composition. Duplicate it, rotate it of 180 degrees on the Y axis and move it a few frames forward.

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