Shape Layer – a tool for creation and vector graphics animation – in a compositing program Adobe After Effects (CS3 and higher versions).

Creating a Shape Layer looks like that:
Layer > New > Shape Layer
There are no hotkeys for creating a Shape Layer.

Choose a Pen Tool by pressing G for creating a Shape Layer and draw a free path.

In case there are no selected layers on a timeline, draw directly at the WorkSpace.

In order to close or open a path by adding or removing one of editing form segments, it is necessary to select a pair of vertices to make an operation between them; open a Mask and Shape Path menu and put a check against ‘Closed’, if you want a closed path.
To continue drawing an open form, select one of the Path edges and choose a Pen Tool.

A layer named ‘Shape Layer 1’ will be created automatically, and a newly drawn shape will be placed in a ‘Contents’ tab in a form of a GROUP named ‘Shape 1’

and will have standart Fill and Stroke properties, that can be added via an ‘Add’ menu:

If you open all tabsof a Shape Layer, you can find Skew and Skew Axis properties among Transform settings of the ‘Shape 1’ GROUP.

You can remove Path, Stroke, and Fill properties from the ‘Shape 1’ GROUP.
When deleting a Transform tab, the Group inside the ‘Shape Layer 1’ will be also deleted.

To use a curve drawn in Adobe Illustrator as a Path in a Shape Layer:
open a ‘Path 1’ tab and click once on a Path near the stopwatch icon.

Then, using a combination Ctrl+V, paste the path copied from Illustrator into a ‘Path 1’ tab, superseding the previous content (a vertex, a segment or a closed curve). Also, a Path copied from a ‘Path 1’ tab can be placed in a workspace of Adobe Illustrator, if needed.

Make sure you have an English keyboard layout.
Close programs working with clipboards as After Effects may ignore your actions.

2. In order to create a parametric shape in a Shape Layer, choose one of 5 shown forms by pressing Q repeatedly:
Rectangle Tool
Rounded Rectangle Tool
Ellipse Tool
Polygon Tool
Star Tool

Notice that Rectangle Tool and Rounded Rectangle Tool, along with Polygon Tool and Star Tool (Q), are the Presets made in a particular way for creating Rectangle and Polystar shapes, respectively, which we can find in an ‘Add’ menu.

3. In order to create a non-parametrical shape with a Path editing enabled, after choosing a preset by pressing Q, hold Alt to create a shape, and, holding the left mouse button, roll the mouse wheel to set corner rounding of a rectangle and a point quantity of a star.
Instead of mouse srcolling you can use the Up/Down Arrow keys; the Left/Right Arrow keys also can be used for star corner rounding and for enabling/disabling rectangle corner rounding mode.

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