After Effects Tip: Maintain Scale When Parented

Parenting objects in Adobe After Effects is handy when we need to create an animation where elements in the scene interact with each other. It makes the work easier.

With parenting, you can have one layer take control of any other layer or a group of layers inside of our composition. Parenting allows us to link layers together and to copy parameters between them.

So in this quick tip, I will show you how to maintain the scale of a parented element in our composition with a simple expression from Dan Ebberts. Let’s dive in!

For this example, I have a straightforward set up in my After Effects.

Simple setup in Adobe After Effects

I have two elements inside of my composition. I have The text layer and the circular shape layer.

By the way, my text layer is also parented to the circular shape layer. What that means is that when I move the position of the circular shape layer on the x and y-axis, the text layer moves with it as well.

Moving the position of the circular shape layer in After Effects

The same thing goes for the scale and for the rotation properties, which is great!

Scaling property After Effects

However, what if I did not want our text later to scale up with my parent? How do I make that happen? Great question! That’s when Expressions come handy! Let me show you how.

Applying Dan Ebberts Expression Script

Step 1: Reveal the Scale Property

First, I am going to select the text layer, hit S to reveal the scale property.

Keyboard shortcut for scale property in Adobe After Effects

Step 2: Activating Expressions in After Effects

Next, ALT+LEFT CLICK on the stopwatch icon to activate the expression.

Click on the icon stopwatch to activate the Expression in Adobe After Effects

Step 3: Insert Dan Ebberts Expression Script

Lastly, copy and paste Dan Ebberts expression script below into the white box in After Effects:

s = [];
ps = parent.transform.scale.value;
for (i = 0; i < ps.length; i++){
s[i] = value[i]*100/ps[i];

Paste Dan Ebberts Expression in Adobe After Effects

This script has been created by Dan Ebberts from Motion Script is a great online resource for After Efter Effects Expressions and Scripting.

Now when you select the Logo Outlines shape layer and scale it, you will notice that our text layer will remain in the same spot.

Moving the position property of the object in Adobe After Effects

The same thing applies to the scale and the rotation properties. That simple!

Scaling property in Adobe After EffectsRotation Property in Adobe After Effects

I hope you found this After Effects Tip useful. I put together a 12+ hour course that covers the basics of After Effects Expressions.

Understanding the core of Expressions will give you a very strong foundation to build on. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be great at math and you don’t need to know everything about Expressions in order to be good at it. Just like you don’t need to know everything about a car to be a good driver. You just have to know the basics and for everything else, we have tools and resources to lean on. Check it out!

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About the author:

Sergei Prokhnevskiy

Sergei Prokhnevskiy is a Charlotte, NC based motion graphics designer, an online tutor, an entrepreneur, and Adobe MAX Master Speaker. Sergei is known for his quick and practical After Effects tips and tricks on YouTube, where he generated well over 6 million views on his tutorials. He has authored an online video course on After Effects Expressions and developed scripts for After Effects. He is also a former senior motion graphics designer at Fox Sports where he worked on graphics for NFL, Super Bowl, MLB, World Series, College Football, NASCAR, Women’s World Cup, and NASCAR Race Hub. He is very passionate about learning and teaching others.


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