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Ok, I have some custom effects that I need to paint a mask for in an animation - my idea was either to use After Effects or Premiere.

I'd prefer AE. Basically what I need is to be able to paint with a soft brush, like in Photoshop, and apply a black mask:

enter image description here

How can I do this?

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Create a new layer (ctrl+y or layer -> new -> solid) and choose brush tool in tools panel at the top of your UI(ctrl+b). After selecting brush tool usually opens a panel with brushes options, if in some way you don't have this panel you always can find it in a 'Window' dropdown menu(or ctrl+9) at the very bottom if UI.

brush tool

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