Script Text Write-on in Motion

Someone in a forum asked how to do this, so I thought I’d take a stab. I figured it out, so here it goes.

Start with a text guide.

  1. Hit “t” to bring up the text tool, and write your text. I’m going to use the word “pretty”.
  2. You’ll want it to be a script font, and rather large for starters. You can scale it down later. I used Brush Script MT and 216 point font.
  3. Just a note- You’ll be only using this font as a guide, but you want something cursive and rather flowy.

Rewrite the word.

  1. Make a new Group layer by hitting “Cmd-Shift-N”.
  2. Now, think of how you would write the word. Instead of a pen, we’re going to create the line using Bezier Curves.
  3. So click “b” to pull up the bezier tool, and start where you would if you were writing it.
  4. I’ve found that a minimal number of points is best. Going from point to point on the letters will make the curves more smooth. When you’re placing the points, just do a quick rough draft.
  5. As you can see, the “r” is pretty messy, and what do we do about crossing the “t’s”? Clean up the “r” now, but leave any extra lines for later. Just focus on one line at a time. Also, feel free to take some liberties away from the font, as no one will see that. So if you want the tail on the “y” to go farther, do it.

Write it on

  1. To apply the bezier curve, click “a.” It now becomes a shape in the new group. Name the Shape “Pretty Text”
  2. Turn the group with the original text off, so you can see your line.
  3. Now with the Shape layer selected, go to Add behavior>Shape>Write on.
  4. Play it back.
  5. It writes on, but it’s kind of lacking.

Let’s pump it up!

  1. We could use one of the calligraphy brushes that come with Motion, but for the sake of learning, we’re going to make our own.
  2. Make a new group.
  3. With the bezier tool, make a calligraphy brush shape. It should be on about a 30-45 degree angle.
  4. Select the “Pretty Text” layer, and go to the inspector tab. Under “Shape”, then under “Outline”, change the Brush Shape to Image. Drag the layer for the brush you made into the handy dandy little Brush Source box that appears.
  5. Play it back. Eh. Kind of better. Not really. So pump up the brush width to say, 15. Also, it’s looking kind of jagged, so take the spacing down to about 5%.
  6. The edges of the text are still pretty jagged, so let’s apply a Gaussian blur to the calligraphy brush you made. Select the brush in the Layers tab, and go to Add Filet>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Set it to an amount of about 4. That should clean it up a bit. Now you can turn off the group for the brush, so all you’ll see is the text that will be written on.
  7. Play it back. It should look like this.
  8. As you can see, the text now has different thicknesses, depending on the curve, giving it a much more calligraphic style.


  1. It’s kind of lethargic- this effect looks better when done faster. Let’s make it happen in 5 seconds, half the time. This will also give us time to cross the t’s.
  2. In the layers tab, select the “Write On” behavior for the “Pretty Text Layer.” In the Mini timeline at the bottom of the canvas, you’ll see the the “Write On” behavior as a purple bar.
  3. Drag the right end of this to the left, to make the duration of the effect 5 seconds. (Warning: Drag the END, not the entire effect.)

Cross your t’s

  1. Position your playhead at 5 seconds, and hit “b” to bring up the bezier tool. We’ll be doing the same thing as before.
  2. Draw one slightly curved line across the t’s to cross them.
  3. Set up your brush for the T’s the same way you did for the whole word.
  4. Apply the “Write on” Behavior. In the MiniTimeline, shorten it until it has a 10 frame duration- you want it fast.
  5. And there you go- You have text written on.
  6. Here’s the project file for this so far (right click and Save As).

Spice it up

  1. It looks pretty good, but you can spice it up a bit.
  2. I changed the Speed attribute for the Write On behaviors from Constant to Natural to make it more almost erratic. I then used the whole layer with all the text on it as an image mask for a shape with a gradient on it with a ripple filter on it. But you can be more creative :-).
  3. To see the final project file, right click and save this Motion 3 file.
3 comments on “Script Text Write-on in Motion
  1. Joel Godin says:


  2. Mitch says:

    This is a well written non-video tutorial (hard to find: they’re usually either too convoluted or lacking in the right amount of detail). I appreciate it, thanks!

  3. Erika says:

    Please tell me how is called the program’s use, I just do text but fail

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