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.
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 as the child of a drawing, a group, or another effect. Effects only alter the element that they are connected to. This gives you flexibility in deciding which elements of your scene are affected by an effect.
Some effects need to be linked to another layer, referred to as a matte layer, which is used to define the area they should affect.
A matte layer is simply a regular 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, to determine the area of the image to affect.
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 can use a matte layer, it will have a Matte parameter when you expand its parameters list. You can drag and drop the layer you want to use a matte for your effect onto the Matte parameter of your effect to link them.
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 an Effect
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.
- In the Timeline view, select the layer on which you want to add an effect.
- Do one of the following:
- From the top menu, select Insert > Effects > effect.
- In the Layers toolbar, click the Add Layers button and select Effects > effect.
- Right-click on the layer, then select Insert > Effects > effect.
The effect appears in the Timeline view.
- In the Camera view, click the Render View button to see the scene's rendered current frame and effect. Note that most effects cannot be played back in real time. You need to use the Render and Playoption in the Playback toolbar.
NOTE: By default, your background will appear pitch black. To remedy this, you can add a Colour Card layer at the bottom of your layers list, and tweak its colour in the Layer Properties view.
- In the Timeline view, double-click on the effect layer to open the Layer Properties window. You can also select the effect layer and see its properties in the Layer Properties view.
The Layer Properties view opens, displaying the parameters available for the selected effect.
- In the Layer Properties view, adjust the effect’s parameters as needed. Each time you make a change, the Camera view will need to refresh the render, which may cause a little delay before you can observe its effect
—see Filter Nodes.
- To play back your scene with the final effects, in the Playback toolbar, click the Render and Play button.
Using the Cutter Effect
The Cutter effect cuts out a portion of an image. To do 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 the 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.
Like all effects that use a matte, the Cutter's effect has an Inverted parameter, which is disabled by default. When enabled, the Cutter will have the reverse 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.
- Select a drawing layer.
- Click the Add Layers button and select Effects > Cutter.
The Cutter effect is created as a child of the selected layer.
- In the Timeline view, create a new layer, which will be used as your Cutter effect's Matte layer.
- In your new Matte layer, draw the shape that you want to cut out from your drawing layer.
- In the Timeline view, click the Collapse/Expand button on the effect layer to display its Matte parameter.
- Drag and drop your matte layer next to your Cutter layer's Matte field, under the Parameters column.
- If you want to invert the Cutter's effect, double-click on your Cutter layer to open its Layer Properties dialog, then enable the Inverted option.
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. To do this, you would connect it to a Transparency effect, and make the effect's transparency level animated so that it increases or decreases as your scene plays. You can animate an effect's parameter by creating a function curve for that parameter. You can then add keyframes to the function and set them to different values, hence making your effect's parameter change value progressively as your scene plays. To create a function for an effect's parameter, you will need to use the Layer Properties view.
- In the Timeline view, select a layer and add an effect to it by doing one of the following:
- Click the Add Layer button and select Effects > desired effect.
- Right-click and select Insert > Effects > desired effect.
- From the top menu, select Insert > Effects > desired effect.
- Create the function curve by doing one of the following:
- Double-click on the effect layer to display the effect properties. Click the Function button of the parameter you want to animate and create a function curve.
- In the Timeline view, expand the effect layer's parameters by clicking the Collapse/Expand button. Then click the Function button of the parameter you want to animate and create a function curve.
- In the Timeline view, go to the frame on which you want to start animating the effect.
- In the Timeline toolbar, add a keyframe to your function by doing one of the following:
- In the Timeline toolbar, click the Add Keyframe button.
- Right-click and select Add Keyframe.
- Press F6.
- In the Value field of the parameter you want to animate, enter the value you want your parameter to have at this keyframe.
- Repeat these steps until your effect's animation is complete.
Creating an Effect Based on an Animated Character
The following tutorial demonstrates how to combine Effects with other Harmony functionalities to easily create a drop shadow for an animated character. By following these steps, you can create a drop shadow that will automatically follow your character's animation, even if you change the animation afterward.
- In the Timeline view, select all the layers making your character's rig. If your character is under a master peg, selecting the master peg will also work.
- Make sure your character's rig is in a group. If it is not, right-click on your selection, then select Group Selection.
- With your character selected in the Timeline view, create a Clone of your character by doing one of the following:
- Right click on your selection, then select Clone Selected Layers: Drawings and Timing
- From the Top menu, select Edit > Clone: Drawings and Timing
- Add a Shadow effect to your group by doing one of the following.
- In the Timeline view's layers toolbar, click on Add Layers and select Effects > Shadow
- Right-click on your selection, then select Insert > Effects > Shadow
- In the Timeline view, select the root layer of your character's clone.
- Create a parent peg for your clone by doing one of the following:
- From the Timeline View layers toolbar, click the Add Peg button.
- Press Ctrl + P (Windows/Linux) or ⌘ + P (macOS).
- In the Timeline view, select your clone's parent peg.
- In the Tools toolbar, select the Transform tool.
- In the Camera view, scale and skew your clone so that it looks like a drop-shadow.