Rotoscoping used to be done by hand — but those tedious days are over. These tutorials will show you how to efficiently rotoscope in After Effects.

Dating back to the early 1900s, rotoscoping has long been an essential part of the filmmaking process. If you’re not familiar with the term, rotoscoping is basically the process of cutting things out of your frame. While the process originally started as a hand-drawn technique, it has evolved with technology to the point where it can now be done entirely in After Effects. Let’s take a look at a few different ways to rotoscope in After Effects.

Rotoscope with Roto Brush

Introduced in CS5, the Roto Brush is one of the easiest tools available to rotoscope artists. The Roto Brush works in a similar fashion to a brush in Photoshop. Simply drag it over your desired rotoscoping areas and After Effects will make its best guess to cut out a perfect frame. The tool isn’t perfect, but if you have simple objects in your scene, you can easily remove them using this tool.

Rotoscoping with Mask Paths

Another way to rotoscope in After Effects is to manipulate a mask frame by frame. While this process isn’t ideal, it will often yield results far better than that of the Roto Brush. In the following tutorial from Lynda.com, we’ll take a look at how to rotoscope using masks and take a look at how to create custom feathered edges in After Effects.

Rotoscoping by Hand

You may not realize this, but masks will mold between keyframes in After Effects. So if you set a mask, move forward, and change the mask shape, the mask will slowly mesh into the new shape between keyframes. This is invaluable for rotoscoping, as it can prevent you from going frame by frame to get a perfect rotoscope. In this next tutorial, Studio Grade shows us how to use this feature to rotoscope a car out of a video.

Want to learn more about rotoscoping? Check out the complete history of rotoscoping here on RocketStock.

How do YOU approach rotoscoping in After Effects? Share your techniques in the comments below!