How to Simplify Your After Effects Timeline

Using shy layers to simplify the timeline

As your timeline starts to fill up, you might want to get rid of some layers.Not permanently, but rather hide them from view. Let's say, for example, we know that these blood cells don't need to be animated, and this locked layer, as well. So, I can minimize these. What I'm doing is clicking on this small icon,which is based on the historical Kilroy icon. It's a little guy peeping over a wall. This means that you can hide objects that you don't need to change.

Maybe the solids for the background, and some of the graphic elements.Well, I'd like to see the text. Now, in the normal timeline, it's very difficult to see those text layers side by side. I'd have to keep scrolling up and down in the timeline. But, by marking some of the layers as shy, I can click the icon up here to hide shy layers. And you'll notice that the little guy peeping over the wall goes and hides. And all those layers that were marked shy are going to be hidden from view.

Now, all of the elements are still in play. You'll notice that the numbers go one, 11, 14, and 15. That means that layers two through 10, and 12 and 13, were marked as shy. They still appear up here in the composition, and they'll still render. But, the ability to control what's displayed in the timeline's quite useful. And then, if needed, you can click that button again, and all the shy layers are made visible.

The use of the shy switch can make it much easier to control a cluttered timeline.

The Inverse Command

There is a really good trick to using the inverse command effectively in Photoshop.  In certain instances it’s easier to select the area that you don’t want affected and then select the inverse command.  This is a good method to use when you’re working with more simplified backgrounds or bright blue skies.  I’ll walk you through this method using Photoshop.

Refining a Selection: The Inverse Command

To learn more I've created an exciting course called Practical Photoshop Selections with

Take charge of Photoshop and make better, more targeted image adjustments with selections—including hard-to-select objects like hair, fuzzy edges, and color ranges. Rich Harrington reveals the importance of precise selections, whether you're masking, changing color and tone, or even storing transparency, and shows you how to make them with the tools in Adobe Photoshop CC. Dive into the Select menu commands and the Marquee, Lasso, and Magic Wand tools, and then learn how to refine your selections with Expand and Contract, Smooth and Feather, Quick Mask, and other controls. Photoshop power users will also enjoy advanced techniques involving the Color Range command and alpha channel selections.

Topics in this course include:

  • What are selections?
  • Creating masks from selections
  • Moving a selection
  • Selecting with the Quick Selection tool
  • Transforming a selection
  • Using the Refine Edge command
  • Selecting a color or tonal range throughout the image
  • Making a selection with the Pen tool
  • Saving a selection as an alpha channel
  • Creating a selection from multiple channels with the Calculations command

You can check out the class here -