This script prepares a shape layer (or multiple) for a soft body simulation in Newton. It creates many small solids and places them at regular distance along the shape. It also connects the original shape path to the solids using expression.
After running the script, open Newton and add the appropriate joints to create a soft body. When you are back to AE, the original shape will be automatically modified to follow the animation of the small solids.
In this tutorial, I will show you how to unravel a shape in Adobe After Effects using Newton3 and ConnectLayersPRO.
Here’s the process:
-Track and stabilize with Mocha AE.
-Keying using Keylight
-Trace the shape in Adobe Illustrator and export to AE using Overlord
-Prepare the shape for Newton3 using the “Create Nulls from Path” script and ConnectLayersPRO
-Physics simulation with Newton3
-Apply glow with Deep Glow -Final compositing with Composite Brush
I will also use other tools such as: Overlord, MOBO_Utils, Deep Glow and Composite Brush (Note that you can do without these tools).
Joyce N. Ho is a Hong Kong born, Australian designer, based in New York City.
In 2019 she designed an animated poster for San Francisco Design Week using Newton
Here’s the final video:
“I created a motion poster for @sfdesignweek this year, on the theme of “CommUNITY”. My design is inspired from the idea that we come together to comfort, collaborate and communicate with each other – to be part of something bigger than ourselves.“
You may know that you can use Adobe Illustrator files with Newton for Adobe After Effects. You can do this by using different techniques like converting them into shape layers.
It’s important to know that the more your objects are complex, the slower your simulation will be.
Also, you won’t get better results if you use complex objects in your simulation. And by complex, we mean plenty of path vertices and detailed Bezier curves.
So, what are the best practices?
Use a mask
You can apply a mask to your Illustrator layer so Newton can interpret its outline correctly.
You can also use the auto-trace function of Adobe After Effects.
If you copy/paste the path from Illustrator, you should use before the “Simplify” and “Cleanup” function in Illustrator to have the most optimized shape.
Note that here, what’s inside the robot has been removed since we don’t need it for the simulation. The mask only cover the outline of the artwork.
Converting your Ai files to shape layers
You can convert your Ai file to shape layers.
But be sure to ONLY send to Newton what’s needed. You can simply hide the path or the groups that you don’t want to use in Newton and unhide them after the simulation is complete.
In this example, mouth and eyes are not needed for the simulation and will be unhidden after the simulation is complete.
Also, always try to simplify the transformation applied to your shapes. In most cases it is recommended to have the inner transform of a shape (transform properties of groups for example) set to the default values and use layer’s transform instead.
Watch for self-intersecting shapes!
Newton prevents to load shapes and masks that have self-intersecting path or orphan vertex. It will warn you if one of the paths cannot be correctly interpreted. You’ll then have to manually modify it.
Be careful when working with paths created using tools like the cutter tool in Ai!
Creating proxy version
of your objects
Best pratice to use complex Ai vectors is to replace them by a less complex version of them and simply parent them to the original ones.
Just like in this breakdown.
Need more tips and tutorials?
Check our Learn page!
Free script: Prepare Soft Bodies
Prepare Soft Bodies is a small companion script for Newton3 that prepares a shape layer (or multiple) for a soft body simulation in Newton.
Tutorial : Balloons with Newton2
In this example, I wanted to illustrate the “gravity scale” feature of Newton2 and also Connect Layers using balloons.
Reuben on Twitter was “Gutted to find out that Newton won’t allow me to make a Newton’s Cradle!”
Remember the amazing “Textless” short by Gareth Smith & Jenny Lee?
Well, here’s our own tutorial that recreates the workflow to achieve this amazing effect where the content of a sign is falling drove by physics.
We are going to use Adobe After Effects, Mocha AE to track the sign and Newton3 for the physic simulation. Adobe Illustrator to vectorize the artwork and Adobe Photoshop to clean up the sign using the content aware tool.
That’s a lot of tools for an amazing result. But don’t worry, everything is going to be quite easy to do.
“Textless” by Gareth Smith & Jenny
If you need more in depth about the tracking with Mocha AE, check the great tutorial of Mark Christiansen at School Of Motion:
Here’s a new tutorial for Newton3, the physics engine for Adobe After Effects!
In this classic case of animation which uses physics intensely, you’ll learn how to fill a shape, turn it to a washing machine then drain it.
Import animated objects into Newton3.
Add and remove objects from your simulation.
Fine tweak your simulation to get the best result!
We’ll also show you how to use our tool Solidity to colorize hundreds of objects easily!