In this article we will introduce you to the Dynamic Gear options presented in the VectorScribe plug-in. You will also learn how to create the perfect gearing which can be animated using Adobe After Effects. Accurate meshing of teeth will be provided by the ColliderScribe plug-in and thanks to the tools and options in both this and VectorScribe, we will create this animated Gear Infographic…


Dynamic Gear options

The latest release of the VectorScribe v3 Dynamic Shapes panel was supplemented by seven new basic shapes, with Dynamic Gear among them.

This shape has many individual options. Obviously, we can set the number of teeth, the outside diameter and the diameter of the hole in the toothed wheel. Specific parameters include the options found at the bottom of the panel. Let’s create a toothed wheel and see what these options match with.

Tooth Ht corresponds to the height of the tooth:

Tip is a relative size of tooth tip:

Root size is the root height of the gear tooth:

Base is a relative size of tooth base:

Tip Fillet is a relative filleting (rounding) at the outer corners of gear teeth:

Base Fillet is a filleting at inner corners of gear teeth:

Bowing is an outward bowing of gear teeth:

You can also change the diameter of the toothed wheel by moving one of the red markers.

Red square markers are designed to change the height of the teeth manually.

Creating realistic gearing for animation in After Effects

There is another way of creating toothed wheels using VectorScribe. We can create more technically correct “spur gears” using the “Create Standard Spur Gear” option in the Dynamic Shapes panel fly-out menu (or Alt-click on the gear icon). This is the method I used when creating the Gear Infographics. This infographic is to be animated later in After Effects, so a number of technical requirements should be ticked-off; in particular, the teeth must mesh perfectly.

After you select the “Create Standard Spur Gear” option, a dialog box appears in which you specify the number of teeth and Circular Pitch.

In order for the gears to mesh properly, you need to keep the Circular Pitch value the same and just change the number of teeth. VectorScribe will then automatically calculate all the necessary relative values to make it work.

Create two spur gears using this mechanism and check the gearing. As you can see, everything meshes fine.

Accurate contact of objects in Adobe Illustrator can be achieved only through ColliderScribe plug-in.

Depending on your process in After Effects (or other packages), including optional physics simulation plug-ins, it may be preferable to engineer-in a slight uniform gap between the meshing teeth. This is possible in ColliderScribe’s Snap to Collisions Tool by opening the tool’s preferences and setting a Collision Spacing gap (in this example we chose 0.088px)…

Now, using ColliderScribe’s Snap to Collisions Tool, we can easily mesh the spur gears. Collision annotations appear as the gears mesh correctly.

Finally the last technical requirement for animating the gearing: all toothed wheels must complete rotation at one point. To do this, the number of teeth should be multiples e.g. 6, 12, 30. Therefore, for my toothed gear, I’ll use spur gears with the following amount of teeth: 12, 18, 24, 30, 36 (all of which are multiples of 6). Using everything mentioned above, we just have to create gears quickly mesh using ColliderScribe.

I finished creating the 2D vector infographic in Illustrator by adding icons and text blocks. The artwork can now be animated in After Effects.

Animating in Adobe After Effects

This task of animating the infographic was taken on by animation master Lee Daniels. Lee’s masterful use of After Effects – resulting in work broadcast on national TV and more – demonstrates the quick nature of converting the static 2D vectors into an eye-catching looping GIF…

Watch Lee’s video here…

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