Applying Retro Textures to Video in After Effects

Applying Retro Textures to Video in After Effects

The opportunities available for using retro effects and textures in your artwork are endless!

In this tutorial, I’ll explain the process of how to create a vintage screen-printed style looping texture in After Effects using RetroSupply Co. textures and assets.

Looping textures

First, we need to create a base looping pattern of paper textures that will animate every four frames.

Step 1. Setting up your project

Open After Effects and create a New Project. In your New Project, create a New Composition with the following settings

  • 1920x1080 pixels
  • Frame rate set to 24
  • Length equalling 8 seconds

Step 2. Importing textures

With your New Composition created, begin importing your desired paper textures. I used the RSCO-Aged-Gloss-Cover from ColorLab, but you can also use any of the textures from Phantom Paper Pack or the other RetroSupply Co. paper textures. This will become the base layer of the background.

Step 3. Creating a new composition

Create a New Composition and title it PAPER. Use the same settings as before (1920x1080 pixels, 24fps) but make the length 12 frames long. Drag the texture down into the timeline, then shorten the frame length to 1 frame by clicking on the right side of the timeline bar and dragging it to the left.

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Duplicate (CTRL or CMD+D) this texture 11 times creating a total of 12 layers. Sequence these layers by selecting all of them and then right-clicking. Go to Keyframe Assistance>Sequence Layers and select OK. This will now arrange all of your layers in sequential order along the timeline, filling in the 12 frames.

Next we'll go in and adjust each individual layer, by moving, rotating, flipping, or through any combination of the above, so that no two frames look alike.

STep 4. Color correcting

We'll need to brighten the paper texture slightly so we can better see our footage through it. Create an Adjustment Layer, then apply a Levels effect by going to Effect>Color Correction>Levels.

Adjust the Input White to 230 or so, and increase the Gamma to 1.5.

Step 5. importing the paper composition

Return to the original Composition by clicking on Comp 1 in the timeline. Import the PAPER Composition by dragging it into the timeline.

Step 6. time stretch

If we play back this singular loop, we'll notice that the texture is flashing by very quickly, rather than every four frames likes we want. To fix this we'll right-click on the PAPER layer in the timeline and go to Time>Time Stretch. When the menu pops up, we'll change the Stretch Factor to 400%, making each of our single frames now four frames long. Our original 12 frame loop is now two seconds long.

step 7. Duplicating the paper composition

Duplicate the PAPER Composition 3 times and arrange them so that they are in sequence. We are going to further adjust this loop so that it is longer and make the looping point less noticeable.

On each of the new layers adjust the Scale settings under Transform.

  • Change the first to -100,-100%
  • Change the second to -100,100%
  • Change the third to 100,-100%

Now select all PAPER layers and right-click, hitting Pre-Compose. Title this new Composition PAPER LOOP and hit OK.

Step 8. blend modes

We have now created our full paper texture loop. The last step is to change the blending mode to Multiply. Now any video that we place underneath this layer will have the paper texture loop applied to it.

Step 9. adjustment layers

It looks good, but the paper is a little too dark when overlaid with the animation clip. We can lighten this up slightly by going into the PAPER LOOP Composition and adding a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer.

Double-click on the PAPER LOOP Composition. Create an Adjustment Layer, then go to Effect>Color Correction>Hue/Saturation.

We'll make the paper tint slightly cooler by adjusting the settings as follows:

  • Hue to +15
  • Saturation to -16
  • Lightness to +12

Now the white of the paper that is supposed to be underneath the green and yellow ink layers is looking brighter and more like the target that we are trying to emulate.

step 10. distressing

With the looping paper base created, we need to create a loop that will add some distressing to the green and yellow ink layers above.

We'll follow the same steps as the looping texture background, but rather than using full-color range paper scans, we'll use various textures from the Authentic Screen Printer's Toolkit.

What works great with these assets is that they're already in black and white, and all we'll have to do is set the blending mode to Screen and the white scratches and brush markers will shine through acting as if they are poking through the ink.

Start by creating a New Composition with the same setting as in the Step Three, but this time title it TEXTURE. Import your paper scan texture into the project. I'm using RSCO-Classic-Newsprint and RSCO-Stained-Newsprint (available in ColorLab or separately as Paper Boy), but any texture will work as long as it's in black and white.

Duplicate (CTRL OR CMD+D) any combination of these two textures so that we have a total of 12 frames. Adjust the rotation, flip, or rearrange them so that each frame is unique.

step 11. inverting textures

With our loop created, we will need to invert the colors so only the little specks and dots poke through in the final version. To do this, we will create an Adjustment Layer like before, but then apply the Invert effect by going to Effect>Channel>Invert.

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Now that the colors have been corrected, we will repeat Steps Six and Seven to create the full loop. We'll title this new composition TEXTURE LOOP.

step 12. finishing touches

Place TEXTURE LOOP in the original Composition (Comp 1) and change the blending mode to Screen.

That's it! Now our looping texture is complete!

Final note

We can create any number of different texture loops using the above methods, and we can even layer multiple loops on top of each other for a more distressed look.

With the extensive amount of RetroSupply Co. textures available the possibilities are endless!

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Derek Dolechek is a freelance animator based out of Portland, Oregon. With his love of animation, history, and sports, Derek combines fun and vibrancy to his animation work. After working in the theme park industry as a designer, Derek moved to production design for animation, finally landing in the world of 2D animation where he remains today.

You can see more of his work on his website and follow him on Instagarm @derekdolechek..