How to Add Effects to a Scene

When creating a scene, rigging a character or once your animation is finished, you can add effects such as blurs, glows, shadows, colour filters and transparency filters and to enhance your project's quality. Effects change the way layers or groups of layers are rendered in your scene.

About Effects

Effects are special types of layers that you can add to your scene's structure. For an effect layer to work, it must be connected to a drawing or a group. Effects only alter the drawing or group they are connected to, which gives you flexibility in deciding precisely which parts of your scene is affected.

Some effects need to be linked to another layer referred to as the matte layer, which is used to define the area they should affect. The most basic example of this is the Cutter effect. Alone, a cutter effect does not have any effect on your drawing. Once combined with a matte layer, the Cutter effect cuts the shape of the matte out of the drawing.

A matte layer is simply a drawing layer that is connected to an effect as its matte. The effect takes the shape of the drawing in the matte layer, ignoring its colours and details.

In the Timeline view, an effect must be rigged as the child of the drawing layer or group it is meant to affect. If the effect requires a matte, it will have a Matte parameter, on which you can drag and drop the layer you wish to use as the effect's matte layer.

Once your effect is connected, you can adjust its parameters using the Layer Properties view. If desired, you can even animate the parameters of your effect by converting their values to functions.

Adding Effects

In Harmony, you can add effects by selecting the layer or group you wish to add an effect to, then adding the effect through the Timeline view's Add Layers menu. Then, you can achieve the intended effect by adjusting its parameters in the Layers Properties view, and connecting it to a matte layer if applicable.

Cutter Effect

The Cutter effect cuts out a portion of an image. To accomplish this, it needs to be connected to the drawing it is intended to cut as well as to a matte layer. The cutter will take the shape of the drawing in its matte layer and cut this shape out of the drawing layer. This is especially useful if you want to make a character disappear between a background element, or if you want to cut out a hole in the middle of a character.

The Cutter effect has an Inverted parameter, which is disabled by default. When enabled, the Cutter will have the revert effect: Instead of cutting the matte's shape out of the drawing, it will cut everything outside of the matte's shape out of the drawing, leaving only the parts of the drawing that are covered by the matte.

Animating an Effect

In some cases, you may want to have the intensity, color, or another parameter of an effect animated. For example, you may want an object to fade in or out, which would require making its transparency level animated so that it increases or decreases as your scene goes. You can animate an effect's parameters by creating a function curve for its parameter. You can then add keyframes to the function and set them to different values, hence making your effect's parameter change value as your scene plays out. To do this, you will need to use the Layer Properties view.