Studying ShapeExtruder

Studying ShapeExtruder

Posted on 19. Dec, 2007 by in After Effects

Learn how to create 3D logos, texts and packshots. ShapeExtruder does Tea Cups With Lids Amber Rings Wholesale Tea Trays Toddler Sleeping Bags it all. See it in action. Watch, learn, enjoy… and comment.

After publishing my ShapeExtruder I got tons and tons of emails, more comments than usual, even a few job offers and some calls via my Hotline service. Most of the emails and comments were about extruding a logo and other uses of the ShapeExtruder.

Even though I enjoy responding to your emails I got pretty tired of answering same questions over and over, so I decided to record this follow-up tutorial that will hopefully answer most commonly asked questions about ShapeExtruder.

I’d like to thank one of my viewers – AztecMonkey – for pointing me to a brilliant script for converting masks into shape layers. You saved me a lot of work, since I was going to develop it on my own. For those of you who don’t understand yet why this script is so great heres an explanation…

ShapeExtruder uses Shape Layers in After Effects CS3 to create the illusion of objects being extruded. The only problem was moving paths from Adobe Illustrator to After Effects as Shape Layers because when you copy them from Illustrator and paste them in After Effects… they are pasted as masks. The script I’ve mentioned above converts masks to Shape Layers allowing you to create 3D logos easily.

Click here to download rd_MasksToShapes script by Jeff Almasol. Make sure to check out the rest of his scripts. Very cool stuff. Used wisely may save you hours of work.

I’ve just uploaded a short mini follow-up tutorial to explain how to extrude PNG logos. This was requested in the comments by Posix. Look it up. You’ll know what I’m referring to. Click here to view this tutorial on YouTube, or click here to view my YouTube profile.
Rate, comment, enjoy.

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83 Responses to “Studying ShapeExtruder”

  1. sheathe

    19. Dec, 2007

    Awesome! :) Thanks a million.

  2. Peter

    20. Dec, 2007

    Hi there, great stuff again!

    I haven’t had the chance to try your shape extruder preset yet, but as I understand it, it works by stacking up a bunch of copies of the original shape along the Z axis.

    Well, if that’s the case, I think you could easily fix the problem with the object vanishing when orbiting around it for at least one axis.

    Let’s assume that the original shape is in the X-Y plane, i.e. facing the default camera. If you add a minimal alternating rotation around the Y axis to the copies your preset generates, the object should look solid from the side again. The first copy (not the front face, that should remain parallel to the view plane) would be rotated by a very low value like +0.25 degrees, the second by -0.25 degrees, the third by +0.25 degrees again, and so forth, resulting in something that would look like a zig-zag pattern when looked at from the top. The backmost copy would then be straight again, like the frontmost one. I don’t think the repeater lets you do alternating rotations, so you would probably have to use two repeaters, one for the positive rotations, and one for the negative rotations.

    You should choose the rotation angle so low that the layers do not intersect but only touch each other at the tips. Otherwise you will get shapes sticking out of the front or back cover layer.

    Of course the object would still go away when looked at from the top, but at least it should remain visible from the side, and you shouldn’t be able to tell any difference when looking at an object from the front.

    You could try to do the same thing with an additional alternating X rotation to get a 100% solid object that looks great from all sides, but I’m not really sure how well that would work. It would probably result in a lot of intersecting layers, which would most likely slow down rendering even more than the current version since AE internally might have to subdivide the planes onto which it maps the individual shapes into multiple non-intersecting polygons for rendering. But that’s all speculation.

    Again, thanks for your great tutorials, keep up the fantastic work!

  3. Nico

    20. Dec, 2007

    Great tut ! I now have to wait for the upgrading of AE, still with version 7…

  4. Tielman

    20. Dec, 2007

    Got to words for you: nice tut! :)

  5. Maltaannon

    20. Dec, 2007

    Peter… your solution to the problem is of course correct. Or it would be correct, it the ShapeExtruder worked the way you think it works. Unfortunately it doesn’t. The Repeater modyfier does not support Z axis, that’s why it’s so hard to get the side of the object to be visible. There is a solution that I’m working on, but it’s not perfect yet, and the results are not as superb as I’d like them to be. There for I think ShapeExtruder will be left as it is right now, unless I figure out something else.
    Thanks for great comment. Thank all of you boys and girls.
    Happy holidays and happy After Effecting.

  6. posix

    20. Dec, 2007

    hey maltaannon, thanks for the aditional tutorial. it was a good watch. and yet i still can’t get 3dshapeextruder to work for me :(
    it must be because i’m too much of a noob. sorry if i’m bothering you. i am aware you take money for solving people’s problems via skype, so i don’t expect much of an answer, but a simple yes or no might do.
    i have a logo that i want to make 3d with your shape extruder.
    i have it as psd too. it took me long enough to figure out how to, in ps, make a path of it, then copy that path into ae, then add shape extruder, but then i noticed in this tutorial, you are adding the colours manually. when looking at the logo, you will see this is a “no can do” for my case.
    i’m very grateful for any kind of advice.

  7. sheathe

    21. Dec, 2007

    posix – a little hint since I don’t have much time and possibly to save Jerzy some time; the png won’t work with the extruder as is; you need to make a shape layer. You can put the png on a different layer on top of the shape layer. Just like Jerzy did with the CD cover and box. Hope this helps.

  8. Maltaannon

    21. Dec, 2007

    posix – I’m a nice guy. If you would take more time to read the information about the Hotlike you would notice that chatting (in instant messenger mode) is free.

    sheathe – thanks for explaining posix how to deal with his problem, although i think we could easily create the same colors on the shape layer. The only thing that is worrying me is the glow around the orange stroke, but I think we can deal with that.

  9. Chris

    21. Dec, 2007

    Maltaannon you really are awesome. Thanks for not only this tutorial but all of the ones you work on, giving experienced and non-experienced after effectors something to think about and problem solve. This Extruder is brilliant. Donation inc shortly. Merry Christmas mate, best wishes for the new yaer.

    Oh yeah, and let us know when you have a DVD coming out! lol.

  10. Maltaannon

    21. Dec, 2007

    Hey Chris. Thanks for the wishes! All the best to you and to all my viewers. I plan to release the DVD on March 18th 2008. That day will be a year since I started this website. The only thing I’m worried about is the lack of time. I’m involved in so many projects, plus running a company is not an easy thing, and I’m afraid that I might not make it till March. But I’ll do my best. It would be kinda cool to have a DVD release for an anniversary like that.

    By the way… Posix. I’ve just posted a mini follow-up tutorial for you and others to enjoy. Check it out on YouTube:

  11. posix

    21. Dec, 2007

    seriously, i’m just speechless. i just came home from uni to quickly check emails as i’m on my way to a friend’s place and then i see this. WOW!!
    i’ll try this out in-depth when i get home. also want to rewatch that other tutorial with the dvd. i did watch it, but for some reason i must have missed the part with the dvd cover that already solved my problem it seems. i’m sorry.

    maltaannon: THANK YOU :)

  12. serge rustin

    25. Dec, 2007

    Hi there,
    Congratulation, very simple and efficient tool specially for logo, may I suggest to add a new parameters link to the repeater: to day the generate extruded shape is linear (I do not talk about curvature), a great new feature will be to be able to rounded or expanded the generate shape ??
    Thanks for your great tutorials

  13. posix

    26. Dec, 2007

    so i’ve click by click recreated everything from that youtube tutorial. i even went as far as to properly implement the effect so that it would no longer say “missing” (i had believed maybe that was the error).
    no change.

    maybe if any of you have a little time to look at the project file and point me at my stupidity, i’d be glad, …

  14. Robin

    28. Dec, 2007

    I must say; I love your tutorials. At least the first half of them, cause they keep stoping in the middle every time I watch them. Got any idea why?
    Keep up the good work! :)

  15. Ariel

    29. Dec, 2007

    Hello ,

    Your tutorials makes my imaginaion fly. They are the most interesting tutrials for AE I review since there is a lot of humor and simplicity in the way you explain things.
    You are as important to the AE SW as AE SW is iportant to all of
    us. Please make more and more interensting stuff !!!!
    Ariel , ISRAEL

  16. Dustin McInnis

    08. Jan, 2008

    Awesome! There are so many times in the past when I could have used the extruder, and now I finally know how to use it! I am working on turning some vector graphics from Go Media into 3d vectors, and it looks awesome! I can’t wait to see more tutorials. Do you do any work with 3ds max or Cinema 4D?

  17. Ross

    17. Jan, 2008

    Hows it going Maltaannon?
    I just dropped by to thank you for the awesome tool you have given the world. I love the 3D shape extruder. I do have a problem tho. I have just taken on a job that I need to create a 3D logo so I was following along with your new tutorial and everything was going swimingly until I copied my shapes from Illustrator to AE. When I looked at the shape layers I noticed that the logo was very pixellated and I can seem to find a way to stop them from doin this. Have you any ideas why this might be happening?Please. The cleint is coming in soon to view the final product and I cant go any further until I sort out the quality issue.

    Thanks again.

  18. Dory

    18. Jan, 2008

    man ur tutorials are soo boring, u might do things right but im very bored when i watch ur tutorials! aaaaaaaaa i couldnt complete this one sorry even though im an after effect addict! MAKE IT More Exciting like Andrew Kramer!

  19. FromHolland

    20. Jan, 2008

    Superb Tutorial mister Maltaannon! I love the preset and it really saves time. Im glad u were willing to share this for free! Loving it! keep them tutorials coming!

  20. Thorsten Miess

    26. Jan, 2008

    Hey, pretty nice tutorials! I just want to say that. I learned very much useful tips for creating better compositions and thank you for your tutorials!!! Greetings from germany, neighbor :D

  21. David

    27. Jan, 2008

    Awesome post man thanks for this great info! Keep em comin

  22. fReezEr.

    05. Feb, 2008

    One of the best lessons for last year ! So to hold my friend ;)

  23. John Bullit

    05. Feb, 2008

    Hi maltaanon
    i just want to say that your shape extruder is a great great feature .. I’ve done amazing things with it which really looks like 3D
    But still i got a question :
    Can we do extrude our shape forward and not only backward ? i’m sorry i’m french i don’t even know if i use the right word but i think you get it
    Thanks again man, YOU ROCK !!

  24. Maltaannon

    05. Feb, 2008

    I think I know what you mean, and no, you cannot. Why would you want to do that? It looks the same on both sides. Anyway you might want to try extruding the object, and then using the Offset slider. It may create what you’re looking for. Good luck!

  25. John Bullit

    06. Feb, 2008

    This is only to animate the extrusion like my text or shape can …. hum .. have you seen the bionic unit’s logo animation ?
    This is on dtrukt website and you see a shape growing before the text arrive
    Things like this, but i’ll try your way to see if it works
    Thanks again maltaanon

  26. Maltaannon

    06. Feb, 2008

    Could you post some youtube link to what you’re referring to? Would be much easier to understand. But if I understand correctly you might want to try to animate Depth and/or Density parameters to achieve the “growing” look.

  27. John Bullit

    08. Feb, 2008
    The only way to do this effect is to play with the extrusion depth then play with the position to keep the base of text at the same place

  28. Kris

    15. Feb, 2008

    hey, nice tuorial :P but were can i buy the 3d shape extruder and what was the name of that plugin were you cut make the layer in full 3d.

  29. Mark

    18. Feb, 2008

    Awesome tut. Hey my Genius Maltaannon, still waiting for some new tut, checking daily but it seems ur vbusy.

    plz post some more tut when u get time. I daily visit ur page for some new updates. thankyou – Mark

  30. Maltaannon

    18. Feb, 2008

    Sure thing Mark. I promise myself every day that I will post something, but you know how it is… Busy busy busy, and since the site is totally free I need to do some work to make a living. But expect something exiting from me soon.

  31. Mark

    19. Feb, 2008

    oh thats gr8 to hear frm u,
    Thnx my Genius Maltaannon & I must say, Take ur Time. I’ll Wait no prob. I will check ur site daily as I do always.

    Bye n Take care

  32. Maltaannon

    19. Feb, 2008

    It would be easier for you to just get the RSS feed. You can get it at the bottom of the page. That way you will always get noticed if something new comes up. Take care.

  33. Mark

    20. Feb, 2008

    oh gr8 thnx maltaannon. I think from today I will call u “Genius-M” hehehhe

    Take care – Regards – Mark

  34. Brandon

    21. Feb, 2008

    Hey Maltaannon,

    This is great! I’m trying your technique, and the snag I can’t seem to figure out is simply filling the outlines with color after i run the script from I don’t know if anyone else has this problem? Everything seems to be the same as your tutorial. I followed you closely on your example, and for whatever reason it’s just not adding the color.

    I’ll continue trying, but I thought I’d ask if anyone had a solution. (I am running CS3)

    Thanks so much man, this is amazing stuff.

  35. Brandon

    21. Feb, 2008

    Hello Again,

    You can ignore the previous issue I was having. I just tried it again with a different illustrator file, and I have no problem with it. I don’t know what that was all about, but I’m going to be just fine.

    Again, thanks so much for all you do!

  36. Al

    28. Feb, 2008

    Hi Maltaannon, Im am a big fan…. and I’ve learned so much form watching your tutorials.I have a huge question…. If there is a way to deform a 2d mesh in z space. in after effects buy way of an expression. If so please do tell…. Big fan
    Al …….

  37. Tyler

    06. Mar, 2008

    Greetings.. I just wanted to say that your shape extruder is a LIFE SAVER. I’m a motion graphic designer/promotions producer for a local television station and was asked to make a stillstore graphic that contains a 3D object in the shape of Texas. Now, I am fluent in Maya and 3ds Max and could have used those, BUT I was on a serious deadline (a ridiculous deadline really) without shape extruder I would have been dead in the water. Awesome job and thanks again!

  38. johnnnnny5

    07. Mar, 2008

    Your shape extruder looks very good, would it not be better to use the shatter plugin and create actual 3d text or shapes, by using the custom shatter map?

  39. Maltaannon

    08. Mar, 2008

    As explained in the CE ShapeExtruder tutorial, Shatter plugin works good, but sometimes it behaves weird and I don’t like that. See… all that I’m sharing with you are tools what I build for myself, because I find them useful and better than others for some reasons that you might or might not understand. I believe that if something is worth doing once, it is as well worth building a tool to do it for you, as it is worth to share it with the rest of the world.

  40. rockwell

    09. Mar, 2008

    when will you make anither tutorials?

    im waiting for it! hehe


  41. aDriAn

    23. Mar, 2008

    Hey! Please help!! I have a big question…Im woorry about what can happen if I pasted the file “3D ShapeExtruder” in the “PresetEffects.xml” it can affect the program AE CS3????

  42. Benyam Berhanu

    31. Mar, 2008

    Hello MATAANNON Sir
    10Q so much to give us this tutorials, just don’t talk to them if they are say what ever that are say, you are helping people like me living in Africa Ethiopian, we are not buy the tutorials in the web you know DVD but we are try find free tutorials and so much help full, Sir or i can call you my Hero, I love to tell you if you see my Comment… Just do what you have to do you are helping all over the world more than Africans coz you know the coz i hope, my Hero Maltaannon, I’m try work Animation thing in Maya 3D Software so i don’t know how to use Maya and After Effect CS3 so My hero Maltaannon if you have time to help US Africans sorry already you are helping start Peoples, can you give some about it is you web sit 10Q for each every thing Sir.

  43. Mark

    10. Apr, 2008

    Hey my Genius-M, long time no see, still waiting 2 c u soon.


  44. Maltaannon

    10. Apr, 2008

    Soon my friend, soon.

  45. RC Flash

    12. May, 2008

    Simplesmente demais!!!
    Muito Obrigado, Bom trabalho.

  46. Shumarkarknein

    28. May, 2008


  47. Joshua Kim

    07. Jul, 2008 joshua kim. and i saw ur video on youtube. im really amaze on how u made a simple logo to a 3d shape..i got goosebumps on watching dat vid.cuz dat was really something.. its really fantastic man… i wanna learn those things.. from simple shapes to a 3d image…if ill rate ur job its im one of ur fans…ur really great.. i hope i could learn that to..u have to learn dat..thanks for inspiring me again in design…thanks.. :)

  48. lili

    24. Jul, 2008

    great tutorial… i’m having some trouble with the bevel & emboss on the “flat” layer above the logo i extruded. i make the logo, extrude it, add the bevel to the masked solid above the shape layer, and then add that composition into my main composition.
    when i do that, and try to bring down the opacity to zero, everything dissapears BUT the beveled layer! i.e., the extruded part responds, but the beveled layer doesn’t.
    any ideas?

  49. Maltaannon

    24. Jul, 2008

    is the bevel made using an effect or a layer style? if it’s layer style than thats probably the problem, but still – it doesn’t make sense to me at this point. do you collapse transformations?

  50. zhaocge

    27. Jul, 2008

    YES!I LIKE IT!!I come from china.I use AE CS3,Download your presets,In accordance with the above tips to install CUSTOMEFFECTS,Always unsuccessful….

    CS3 Tips:”Undefined value used in expression.Could be an rang array subscript? Expression disabled.”

    Oh~~My God!!Help me plzzzzzzz~~

    Sorry,My poor English….谢谢您了,帮一下我吧.

    And LINK:

  51. Craig Hellen

    02. Aug, 2008

    hi maltaannon, i am trying to put the shape extruder to use. and i followed your tutorial and all was going well till i applied the preset. for some reason it says “Missing” next tot he PS shape extruder preset box. Here is what i have

    any ideas, did i install the preset wrong?
    Thanks for all your stuff its at the top of my rss feed!

  52. Maltaannon

    02. Aug, 2008

  53. zhaocge

    08. Aug, 2008

    Hi maltaannon,I have to do as you say, but still there this tip:”Undefined value used in expression.Could be an rang array subscript? Expression disabled.”
    In the end how to solve ah, pain now, and seek your help ~~~

  54. Maltaannon

    08. Aug, 2008

    read the comments here and in the oryginal 3# Shape Extruder post. someone solved that problem. It had something to do with OS language version.

  55. CristalCube

    21. Aug, 2008

    Thanks George for this cool tutorial.

    Greetings. CC³.

  56. Seth

    21. Aug, 2008

    Very nice idea,
    only problem is it takes a long time to render…

  57. Jason

    26. Aug, 2008

    Hi Maltaan,

    I would like to make a 3D box and put video or pictures on each side of the box, and use it in 3d space? Is this possible with your preset?

    please please help!!

    Thakns lots!!


  58. Nicolas

    13. Sep, 2008

    I don’t know how execute the script. When I execute it says that i need a mask

    please help !

  59. Maltaannon

    13. Sep, 2008

    Did you watch the tutorial?

  60. Nicolas

    14. Sep, 2008

    Yes but just now lol thanks

  61. Nicolas

    14. Sep, 2008

    The only problem is I don’t have the 3D shape extruder preset so i can’t use it.

  62. Eric

    17. Oct, 2008

    Why dont i see the link to download the script anywhere? theres nothing there where in your custom script installing tutorial shows where to download it?

  63. illd

    23. Oct, 2008

    @ Eric. hit this link:

    there is the stuff.

  64. Paton MacD

    11. Nov, 2008

    Great Tutorial… But a bit teased on the Discoveries logo.. What was the font used for that? Thanks!

  65. skitty

    14. Nov, 2008

    hi. your tutorials are awesome, i installed the 3dshapeextruder, i did it same way as you show in the video, installed successfully but when i apply it to text, following your tutorial as you show it, there’s extrusion or 3d effect showing, just the flat text, not sure what is the problem, i have after effects cs3

  66. Boreale

    26. Nov, 2008

    Hi Maltaannon ! :-)

    I’ve just finished your tutorial, and it was a great great pleasure ! Thank you so much !

    I wanted to use it a few days ago for a work I had to make, but I couldn’t, because I had to work on a computer with the 6.5 version… (!!!). I used instead the shutter method, and it was very, very painful.
    I had to make appear a picture into the extrusion, and the shutter method allowed me to do it.
    At the end of your tutorial (a few minutes ago), I tried to do the same : having a picture appearing into the extrusion. And I couldn’t find a way to do it.

    I’m now finished with my work, but being very curious, I’d like to know : would you have an idea to make it work ?

    Thanks for all ! :-)

  67. Maltaannon

    26. Nov, 2008

    If i got the idea right the solution would be simply animating the Depth parameter in the 3dShapeExtruder.

  68. Boreale

    28. Nov, 2008

    Thanks for your answer, Maltaannon. I think I need to be more accurate.
    In your tutorial, you give a texture to the faces, and that works perfectly. But what about giving a texture to the depth, to the extruded part ?
    That’s what I needed to do in my work : a video had to been played into the depth of the letters : seeing the letter from the left of the right, in from of its depth, you could see the video playing.
    I made some attempts based on your tutorial, like duplicating the and using it with the “extrusion”-layer as you did with the “faces”-layer… but it doesn’t work.
    Some idea ? ;-)

  69. Charles

    30. Dec, 2008

    Big thanks, thanks to the extruder and some expressions I was able to make a fully animated 3d pie chart that doesn’t look cheap ;).
    Coudn’t imagine after effects without the preset.

  70. Maltaannon

    30. Dec, 2008

    thanks a lot. care to share a video?

  71. Alexwebmaster

    03. Mar, 2009

    Hello webmaster
    I would like to share with you a link to your site
    write me here

  72. raoof

    17. Aug, 2009

    الف شكر على هذا الشرح الراائع كروعة الاسلام

  73. tian heng

    11. Mar, 2010

    I`m a chinese .writing English is not good ,but ,I`really want to greeting don`t konw that so I admired with you when i had perviewed this tutorials.
    I will work hard together with you

  74. freekeyamazingsome

    19. Aug, 2010

    this tut is great.. but.. i have cs5…

    hey maltaanon i have a quiestion…

    is there any chance to get the preset to cs5 please?

  75. Peter Knude

    22. Sep, 2010

    just discovered the maltaannon empire last night and must admit and share my respect! – this is better than open university and chocolate.

    I have a question on the ‘continous rasterizing’ of paths imported from illustrator to AE. Mine doesn’t seem to respond to this command, leaving me without the crisper than crisp outlines that i love so.

    Thanks a bunch, donations is on its way!

  76. Cory

    25. Sep, 2010


    Your work is amazing! One quick roadblock with this one that I can’t seem to figure out. Every time I use ShapeExtruder I get this:

    After Effects warning: Class ‘Effect’ has no property or method named ‘Depth’
    Expression disabled.

    Error occurred at line 1.
    Comp: ‘public_enemy_1’
    Layer: 1 (‘Shape Layer 1’)
    Property: ‘Copies’

    Any ideas what might be wrong? I’m using CS5, so maybe it just doesn’t play well with that.

    • Mike

      30. Aug, 2011

      Any updates for to the Shape Extruder for CS5 yet?

  77. Brian Henderlong

    16. Mar, 2011

    When I tried this, I noticed that CS5 doesn’t allow masks to be ‘grouped’ as shown in the tutorial… so the plugin may need to be revamped to work with CS5.

    I did successfully use this plugin prior to upgrading After Effects, and the results are beautiful!

  78. Eric

    17. Mar, 2011

    Its look amazing but.. I got the same problem than Cory. Im using CS5 on MAC. any… hints to fix that problem.
    sorry for my bad english.

  79. Gerrit

    27. Jun, 2011

    Wicked Tutorial. Love it. Can’t for the life of me get this to work on a logo. Got an illustrator vector file, but i add the effect and nothing happens. Help!

  80. Alisia

    01. Jul, 2011

    this is the first tutorial I’ve done from your site and i’m hooked! simple, straightfoward, awesome results. thanks!!

  81. Mark

    24. Jul, 2011

    How do i calculate the exact depth of an extruded object? Cause I want to place a 3D-plane underneath / intersecting the last generated layer.

    A depth of 30 means for example 30 pixels? But the density also affects the depth

    • Jerzy Drozda Jr

      27. Jul, 2011

      Ha. Good question. Actually to answer it I would have to deep through the code of the Extruder, and I haven’t looked at it since I made it. There of course is a formula, but honestly I have no recollection of what it might be at the moment. I just remember that the Depth and Density work together to create the visual depth you want in the most time efficient way.