The Solid Color Layer is one of several basic layer types in After Effects. Other layer types include Shape Layers, Adjustment Layers, Cameras, Lights, and Null Objects. Each has unique functions and parameters, some more advanced than others. If you’re relatively new to After Effects, keep it simple. Begin with understanding the Solid Color Layer first. Once you get the hang of using Solids in conjunction with images and video, you’ll be ready to start leveraging the full breadth of layer types.
So what exactly is a Solid Color Layer in After Effects? Simply put, it’s a plain single-color layer. More specifically, it’s a vector-based, two-dimensional object generated with minimal data — just a rectangle with color, height, and width values assigned to it.
Many effects are designed to alter and adjust an image or video you’ve imported into After Effects. However, some effects are made specifically to generate new imagery and render simulated objects, rather than simply manipulate an image. To utilize this sort of effect, you’ll need a layer on which to place it. That’s where Solids come in.
These are just a few of the many ways to use Solid Color Layers. There are so many more graphic effects and animations one can achieve with this layer type, precisely because of its simplicity. In fact, working with After Effects is an everlasting exercise in visual problem solving. Think of it as a creative logic problem, rooted in layers and values, and just waiting to be solved. Once you’ve mastered the logic, the possibilities are endless.
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CREATING A SOLID COLOR IN AFTER EFFECT
Creating a Solid Color Layer is simple. Go to the Layer drop-down menu and under New select Solid… or just use the key command (Command+Y on Mac, Control+Y on a PC).
Inside the Solid Settings panel, you can adjust the dimensions, aspect ratio, and color of your new Solid Color Layer. If you would like the dimensions of your Solid to match that of your Composition, simply click Make Comp Size. If later you need to adjust the dimensions or color of your Solid, use the key command Shift+Command+Y on a Mac and Shift+Control+Y on a PC.
HOW TO CHANGE SOLID COLOR IN AFTER EFFECT
- Go to the Effects & Presets panel. Type in Fill to find the Fill Effect. Take it and drag it onto the solid in the timeline. The color defaults to red. Don’t worry!
- Move the time position indicator in the timeline to where you want to transition to start. Select the layer of the solid and find the Effects Control panel. Change the color from red to whatever you want it to be. Click the Stopwatch icon next to Color.
- Move the time position indicator in the timeline to where you want the transition to end. Change the color in the Effects Control panel. Repeat these two steps as needed if you want to change the color more than one time.
- Scrub through the timeline to view the results.
- If you want to view where the key frames are on the timeline in case you want to adjust the timing or delete them then select the layer of the solid and hit the “U” key. This keyboard shortcut is the same on Macs and PCs. It shows the properties of a selected layer that have key frames on them.
If you’re a seasoned editor or designer still feeling lukewarm about jumping into After Effects, I encourage you to finally give it a go. Video editors may feel perfectly comfortable working entirely inside their preferred NLE, and designers may feel daunted by the technical side of video, and that’s perfectly understandable. However, After Effects provides a lot of powerful tools distinctly more advanced than those in Premiere Pro and Photoshop.