Creating Solid Layers

As you might expect, a solid layer is a layer in the size and color of your choice. You create a solid layer when you need an opaque background for a nested composition. You can also use solids with masks to create graphic elements (Figure 4.28). You can even use this type of layer to create text effects within After Effects. (For more about masks, see Chapter 10, “Mask Essentials.”)


Figure 4.28 You can add text or other effects to a solid; you can mask a solid to create graphical elements (shown here); or you can use a solid as a solid-color background.

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Creating a solid doesn’t produce an actual media file on your hard drive. But in other respects, a solid layer works like any other footage item: It has specified dimensions and PAR, as well as a color. (This is notable because older versions of After Effects didn’t allow you to set a solid’s PAR, forcing you to treat it a little differently than other footage items.) However, this doesn’t mean the solid’s settings are fixed; you can change its attributes at any time.

To create a solid-color layer:

Open the Composition panel or Timeline panel for the composition in which you want to add a solid layer, or make sure one is active.

Enter a name for the new solid.

After Effects uses the solid’s current color as the basis for the default name: for example, Gray Solid 1.

Set the size by doing any of the following:

To make the solid the same size as the composition, click the Make Comp Size button. To maintain the aspect ratio of the current width and height, click the Lock Aspect Ratio button before you change the size.

Set the color by doing one of the following:

Click the color swatch to open the color picker, then choose a color. Click the eyedropper, then click anywhere on the screen to select a color.

Click OK to close the Solid Settings dialog.

The solid appears as a layer in the composition. Like any layer, the solid layer starts at the current time and uses the default duration of still images. In the Project panel, After Effects creates a folder called Solids that contains all the solid footage items you create.

To change a solid’s settings:

Do either of the following:

In the Project panel, select a solid footage item.

Do either of the following:

Press Shift-Command-Y (Shift-Ctrl-Y).

The Solid Settings dialog appears.

Click OK.

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Depending on your choices, the changes you specified are applied to the selected solid layer, solid footage item, or both.


You can continuously rasterize a solid layer. That way, its edges remain crisp and smooth when you scale it up. This is especially noticeable when you’ve applied a mask to the solid. See “Continuously Rasterizing a Layer,” in Chapter 5; also see Chapter 10, “Mask Essentials.” To create graphic objects, you might want to consider using a shape layer instead of using a solid with a mask; see “Using Shape Layers” in Chapter 14 for details.