Public BETA Mask and Shape Cursor Indicators: Please add a keyboard shortcut to switch between “Tool creates Shapes/Masks”
It would be great if users could change the behavior to create shapes or masks with the pen or shape tools selected on the fly with a keyboard shortcut instead of moving the cursor up to the tool bar. Maybe with the ALT/OPT key as a modifier. Thank you!
Scott Crozier commented
This is somewhat edge case-y but when you do want to draw a mask on shape layer some sort key to toggle between mask and shape mode would save a LOT of clicks.
For example. I am creating a write on effect and need to draw a lot of masks on letters that are shape layers for the stroke effect to trace. This process becomes a huge chore having to toggle off shape creation every mask.
Nicholas Young commented
Would using X to toggle between modes while on the Composition Panel with a shape layer selected work?
My work currently uses the the 16.1 build of AE and I am constantly drawing the wrong thing on shape layers. The newer version (that I have been using at home) with the shape indicators is incredibly helpful but a toggle to select the right tool while on the Composition panel would be of benefit specifically when both are available to switch between.
Currently if I have to mask a few regular layers that's fine. But if it is a series of separate shape layers, I have to toggle every time to switch to mask each time I switch to a different shape layer. That's doable but I'm already selecting layers in the timeline to go all the way up to the tool bar to make my selection to then have to go back to the timeline and start the process over. But what would be easier is if I could just use a hotkey.
Basically there is no inherited memory with shape layers of what tool was used last, just create shapes. Even so, sometimes I am bouncing back and forth between making shapes and making masks and a simple keyboard shortcut would save a bit of mouse work.
Rene Andritsch commented
Dear Tim thank you for your detailed question which helped me to refine my request.
The ALT/OPT key – I realized later – as you outlined has already functionality tied to it. Experimenting with the Shortcuts I know what you mean now depending which Shape tool is active. Yes this makes the SHIFT and CMD modifiers useless, too. What about the ESC key? To make this really helpful it should only be a single key that should be customizable for users.
Your intuition is right and it would be a quality of life improvement to have the possibility to quickly change between drawing a mask and a shape. I don’t think that it is necessary to separate those two tools because users over the years got so used to this workflow. Now with the helping indicator you could just quickly see – “Ah, I don’t want to create another shape – I’d like to mask out my shape now.“
I had to draw masks on shape layers quite often for instance to punch out a hole – it is quicker than using boolean operators with another shape layer or creating a setup with Track Mattes or the Set Matte Effect. Also the Mask gives me the opportunity to morph the mask shape into whatever shape I like and with the “Create Nulls from Path” script it is easy to control this mask shape, too.
Conversely it happened quite often that when I had a footage layer selected and activated one of the Shape Tools (Q) it would draw a mask. Instead I wanted to draw a shape layer. Of course deselecting everything with CMD+SHIFT+A would do it. But I think it would be a little workflow enhancement if I just had to hold let’s say the ESC key (my hand is next to it all the time anyway and trying it hypothetically just hitting the ESC key felt so much more intuitive than hitting a keyboard short cut combination to get to that) and it would draw a new shape layer despite having a footage layer selected.
In case the Pen Tool is active it would toggle to the currently selected Shape Tool and draw this new shape layer despite having a mask active (and not adding another mask shape to the footage layer).
I don’t know how much effort this would make to implement such a toggle and if it is worth the precious development time as it can be done in the ways outlined but just not as efficiently.
I hope this makes sense. Thanks, René
This is an interesting idea. I'm not personally convinced at the moment. Things this makes me think about:
1. Holding Option/Alt while drawing with the shape tools is already in use: it toggles between drawing a parametric shape and a Bezier path. (For the Pen tool, holding Opt/Alt enables the Convert Vertex Tool.) Command/Control and Shift are similarly occupied. What keyboard shortcut alternative would you recommend?
2. This only seems useful when the selected layer is a shape layer, and the only action it would engage is drawing a mask on that shape layer. How commonly do you draw masks on shape layers?
My intuition is that what you're asking for is a way to quickly switch between drawing a shape layer vs. drawing a mask. That is not solely dependent on the single switch in the toolbar, it is dependent on what type of layer you have selected. (The switch doesn't even appear if a non-shape layer is selected.)
Other proposals have been to separate drawing masks and shapes into separate tools, which could be a way to go although I have concerns about bloating out the toolbar with nearly identical functionality.
Rather than work on solutions for the moment, let's focus on this: what problem are you trying to solve?
Zoran Jovanovic commented
Stephen Fine commented
YES! Please add this QOL improvement