Using Layer Maps in Trapcode Form

The Trapcode Form is a strong product concept that aims to provide an all-purpose, three-dimensional surface generator that can perform multiple integrations among various elements (such as turning a man to sand and 3D surface interaction). The plug-in features full integration with the Adobe After Effects software package, and boasts of a number of preset functions that you can start to work on immediately. One of the most talked about features is the ability of surfaces to react to audio signals and vibrations.

This discussion will focus on using layer maps in Trapcode Form. You will need After Effects and Trapcode Form

Step 1: Building a Base Map

You will start by creating a solid and applying form to it using the Trapcode Form plug-in options. Start by using only one layer of particles, 400 x 400, and follow up by adding a camera. You will now have a big layer of particles on your hands. Now, you will add a layer map. However, keep in mind that the layer map should be the same size as the particle grid that was just prepared. You will do this by creating a new composition sized as 400 x 400 and adding in some simple text. Try to make the map fill in as much space as possible on the layer.

Step 2: Creating Layer Maps

Now, drag in the map layer from the main compositions window and use it as a color map. Choose the color map settings and axis according to your preferences, and set the layer property under color and Alpha to use only the alpha channel. You can now experiment and go on a mix and match spree with various options such as audio react, disperse and twist, fractal field and spherical field. Try out various combinations and settle for the ones that you like. You can also control each of these properties individually by creating a new layer map corresponding to each one of them.

Step 3: Understanding Displacement Maps

You will now turn off all the layer maps and revert the composition to its original form to understand displacement maps. This will remove noise from other map options and will help in a clear illustration. Add a new map and call it ‘displacement’. You will generate a ramp by clicking on effects > generate and clicking on Ramp, and modify it according to your preferences. Now simply bring in the other map and use the displacement settings under the displacement tree in the Trapcode form plug-in settings. Try your hand at the other modes present and use these to come to the right kind of settings and mode mixture that will address your needs. It is advisable that all modes be tried to get you more familiar with them.