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Layer Mapping in Invigorator

Layer Mapping in Invigorator

A CreativeCOW Zaxwerks Invigorator Tutorial

Layer Mapping in  Zaxwerks Invigorator
Serge Hamad Serge Hamad,
New York City, New York, USA

Article Focus:
Serge Hamad demonstrates the technique of layer mapping in Zaxwerks Invigorator. This tutorial assumes that you have some previous exposure to the plug-in. If you don't have the plug-in, download the demo so that you can follow along. Serge uses the Pro Version, but you can accomplish the technique with the Classic Version as well.

Download Movie Project file Download Stuffit Expander for Windows
Download the project files linked in the green bar above. I named our 3D object The Messenger. To build our 3D object, we will need to create and assemble the five following objects together:
  1. “Body”
  2. “Visor”
  3. “Receiver”
  4. Two “Antennas”
  5. “Screen”

.Start by Creating a New Composition (360 x 240), Length (9 seconds) and naming it Messenger

.Import the files located in the subfolder named Maps, drop them on your comp and switch off the visibility (uncheck the small eye icon) to

.Creating a primitive

  • Create a new Solid Layer at the same size then your comp and name it Invigorator
  • Apply the Invigorator effect: Effect>Zaxwerks>3D Invigorator
  • Choose Create a New Scene when the popup window appears.
  • In the Scene Preview window click the red button to open the Set-Up window.
  • Choose Open Illustrator File from the Object popup menu.
  • Navigate to the File folder and chose Circle from the ai subfolder. This tiny circle will be transformed to a sphere.
  • Choose a Half Pipe edge from the OUTSIDE Edges popup window.
  • Change the Object Faceting settings to:
    • Draft = 0.1
    • Best = 0.01 this one by typing in the value.
  • Name your object Body
  • Click on the small Camera Mode button on the left in your Set-Up window
  • Choose now Front from the Views popup menu.

The sphere should now appear right in the middle of your Set-Up window. If you want your plane to appear below it all you need to do is to open the User Prefs popup menu while you are in Object Mode and change the Y Offset value to about (-20)


Let us now create a Texture Map for your first object or better said transform one as I already did the main graphic for you in PS. Invigorator uses two different methods to apply a map to your objects.You can import a still image in your Set-Up window by double clicking on the appropriate gray square in the Material Editor or you assign any layer or Comp as a Layer Map and then select and apply this one to your object within the Material Editor. I will explain all that later step by step.

  • Switch on the visibility of the Body_Map layer. Notice the black square in the middle of this map. To make this part transparent all you need to do is to apply later the file named Transparent_Map as a Transparency Map to your Body object and Invigorator will automatically make the black part transparent.
  • Notice now the VU Meter on your map. It needs a needle!
  • Create a new black Solid Layer (1x11) and place it just above the Body_Map layer in your TimeLine
  • Change now the Position and Anchor Point of your solid layer as following:
    • Position:
      • X-Axis = (177.5)
      • Y-Axis = (175.5)
    • Anchor:
      • Y-Axis = (0.5)
  • Now all you need to do is to set some Rotation keyframes to fake an oscillation movement then just duplicate and paste them at different places in time.
  • Once you are satisfied with your oscillation, select the two layers then choose: Layer > Pre-compose.
  • Name this pre-comp: Body
  • Switch off the visibility of this pre-comp in your TimeLine.


This object will be the pivoting lens that you can see in the movie.

  • Create a second sphere using the same method described above and name it Visor. As your second sphere will be created on top of the first one you should move it slightly to the side to better work with it. You need to assign the second object Visor to a separate set to be later able to move it independently from the first object Body.
  • Highlight the Visor object and chose Set 2 in the Set Assignment popup menu.(See Set Up window Screen Shot).
  • Click OK

Now we need to create a Transparency Map that will cut this sphere in half to create a kind of lens.

  • Create two Solid Layers, one in black: (360 x 240) and the other one in white: (165 x 240)
  • Place the white Solid layer now as shown in the Screen Shot to divide your window in a black & white area. The black area will be the transparent part of your sphere once mapped.
  • Highlight your two solid layers and make a Pre-Comp. Layer>Pre-compose and name it Divider
  • Switch off the visibility of this Pre-Comp in your Timeline.

You will use your Divider Pre-Comp as a Transparency Map and apply it to the Visor object.

.Map Assignment

In your Scene Preview window click on the small arrow left to Layer Maps to expand the Layer Map listing, then assign your Maps as following:

  • Divider Pre-Comp to Layer Map 1
  • Transparent_Map to Layer Map 2
  • Body Pre-Comp to Layer Map 3
  • Receiver_Map movie to Layer Map 4

Don’t worry about the Screen movie yet we will use it later.(Screen Shot: Layer Map) Return

  • Click on the red button to open the Set-Up window
  • Highlight your Visor object and click on the Materials tab. (See next Screen Shot)
  • Click on the Transparency’s Layer Map Selector arrow and chose Layer Map 1 (See next Screenshot)
  • Drag this new material from the Editor and drop it on your selected object.
  • Choose a light blue color.

Your Set up window should look like this by now:

  • Set the Depth to (26) to reduce the size of the Visor as we need to put it inside of the Body. You should leave the Transparency value set to (0) to make it easier for you to move the visor to its initial place.
  • Highlight now the Body object and choose New Material from the Material Commands popup (on top of the Material Editor).
  • Assign Layer Map 2 to the Transparency and Layer Map 3 to the Texture Map (the gray square at the top)

Note: Always drag your edited map from the Material editor to your selected object once you are done with it.

  • Hit OK
  • Switch your Invigorator layer to best quality to be able to see your mapped objects.
    From to


  • Now click on the Set Mode button in your Scene Preview window to be able to move every object independently with the Manipulator Tools.

Note you can arrange your objects by using the Manipulator Tools or you could expend your sets listing, choose a set and then change the values numerically… All those settings are also in your Timeline: Effect>3DInvigorator>Sets…

NOTE: Set 2 (Visor) is the only object you need to keyframe as you will have to animate it independently from the rest of your objects.

  • See the next Screenshot to set the values for Set 1
  • Set the first Key Frames for Set 2 at (0; 00; 02; 26) as shown below:

  • Set the second keyframes for Set 2 at (0; 00; 04; 26) as following:

You should now have a similar picture when you switch your Scene Preview window to: Right view.


  • Go now back to the Set-Up window and create a third object by importing the circle ai file again.
  • If you don’t see your new object in the Set-Up window, do the following:
    • Switch to Camera Mode and dolly back until you see your new object
    • Switch back to Object Mode and use your Manipulator tools to move your highlighted object near to the others.
  • Name your object Receiver and assign it to Set 3
  • Choose from the OUTSIDE Edges popup menu Pipes and Half Pipes >Half Pipe, Grooved
  • Change the Depth to (8)
  • Choose New Material from the Material Commands popup.
  • Assign Layer Map 4 as a Texture Map
  • Move the Highlight Brightness to about (80)
  • Hit OK
  • In the Scene Preview window place your Receiver on the top of the Body

Note: changing between Top and Front View would help you to place this object quite quickly.

  • Set the values as following:


  • Create a new object by importing the “Circle” ai file again.
  • Name it Antenna and assign it to Set 4
  • Change the Depth to about (20)
  • Duplicate this object by highlighting it and clicking on the Duplicate button in your Set-Up window.
  • Name the duplicated object Antenna2 and assign it to Set5
  • Hit Ok to move to your Scene Preview window and place your Antennas on top of the Receiver.
  • Set the values as following:

Once you are done go back to your Set-Up window and create your last object.


  • Import the Rectangle ai file and place it in front of your Messenger
  • Choose from the OUTSIDE Edges popup menu: Inserts Face> Outline
  • Change the Depth to (1)
  • Name this last object Screen and assign it to Set 6
  • Uncheck the Outside Edges box as we don’t want to map those.

  • Name your object Screen and hit OK.

Now before placing your screen inside of the Messenger you need to put a movie in it.

  • Switch on the visibility of the TV_Frame and Screen movie layer,
  • Place the Screen movie underneath the TV_Frame layer
  • You need also to scale the Width of TV_Frame to (112.5) Sorry!
  • Select both layers and make a Pre-Comp
  • Name it Screen and assign it to Layer Map 5 (See Layer Map Assignment and Screen Shot: Layer Map -- above.)
  • Go back to the Invigorator Material Editor and use your new Layer Map as a Texture Map for your Screen object.

Let us now use this Map as a Reflection Map for the “Visor” also.

  • Select your Visor object
  • Click on the Material Set-Up button (above the Scene Preview window) and double click on the material swatch to open it in the Material Editor. (See Screen Shot below)
  • Choose Layer Map 5 as a Reflection Map.
  • Chose Layer Map 1 for the Transparency.
  • Change the Reflectivity values to (100) and the Transparency to (82)

  • Place your Screen now inside of the Messenger by setting the following values:

.Camera Animation

  • Click on the camera icon in your Scene preview window to change to Camera Mode
  • Scrub your Timeline to the beginning.
  • Open the Camera Properties in your Timeline or in the Scene Preview window and set the following keyframes:

Note you could also make those changes by using the Manipulator tools.

  • Scrub your TimeLine to (0; 00; 02; 28) and set the following keyframes:

Note you could use Easy ease to smooth your animation.
Your Messenger should look by now like the one in my movie but before making a long preview, I would advise you to set your lighting first. You could check the included .AEP if you want to reproduce my lighting but I would advise you to make your own using one of the following methods:


To set your lights just click on the light Mode icon in your Scene Preview window or in your Set-Up window and change the position of your lights using the following methods:

  • Use the Tumble Manipulator Tool (works in both Set-Up and Scene Preview windows) or change the values numerically in the Lights listing or in your Timeline.
  • You could also use the Lighting Ball Manipulator (only in the Set-Up window) Choose your lights from the Lights List popup and change their position by moving the respective arrows.
  • If you are lazy like me then just double click on a light Swatch of your choice from the Lights Bin.

After you're finished, check out some of the other features like Shadow Casting, Save Light To Bin in the Lights Command menu…

Sometimes I wonder why this program is called a plug-in!

Lastly, instead of animating your Set 2 Positions to tilt your Visor, you could animate the position of the white layer in the Divider Pre-Comp from its original position to the left. This will have the same effect.

I hope this tutorial was useful for some of you to better understand the basic of Layer Mapping in this wonderful program and I promise to get in deeper things in the next one.

Serge Hamad

Discuss this technique in the Zaxwerks forum at CreativeCOW.

Please visit our forums and view other articles at if you found this page from a direct link.

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