The order of superposition has been an underlying theme throughout the tutorials on layers and visual effects. Indeed, it impacts both the superposition in the work area and the output.

This tutorial is a quick overview of what you can expect to see in the output. It acts as a technical cheat sheet if you have an interrogation on the rendering order, but the best way to understand these concepts is to experiment directly in the software and see what happens!

 

Recap

In the layer panel, you can arrange players, faces and groups. The layer at the bottom of the list is the one at the back in the projection and the work area.

→  In the work area, if you click on a pile of shapes, the highest one in the layer list will be selected. If you wish to reach an object that is behind, you have to select it directly from the list.

→  In the output, it depends if we’re talking about groups or objects inside a group:

  • All elements in a group (players, shapes with group effects) are displayed in front of the elements in the groups below in the list. Inversely, they are rendered behind elements from groups above in the list. Don’t forget there are also output effects, which are rendered above everything.
  • Inside a group however, let’s say the rendering order of group effects has “more impact” than the order of faces inside the group. Also, players that are clipped to a group are also at the bottom of this group, behind its faces and effects.

Note: players have specific display modes, they are not always contained in groups and can be clipped, but they follow the general principle that if a player is above another, it will be displayed in front of the latter. 

 

Rendering order in the output

Let’s see how the rendering order affects the visuals in the output. Here, we’ll first give some examples with only faces (not masks) and group effects, so as not to overcrowd the visuals.

If you wish to see the full table with the rendering order of all elements, you can skip to the last section. To get a specific explanation on the behavior of players, check out the display modes.

 

Example inside a group

Firstly, inside a group, you can order shapes, but players will always be behind faces. As mentioned previously, the superposition of faces inside a group is clear in the work area. However, there’s a trick in the output: the rendering works effect by effect, then face by face.

For example, if face 1 is in front of face 2 in a group with a color filling and border, the color effect is rendered first (for face 1 then face 2), then ahead it will be the border effect (for face 1 then face 2).

Therefore, the outline of face 1 will be in front of the filling of face 2, even if the latter is above in the layer list. This is better illustrated in the following GIF.

rendering inside a group

In the work area, you can see that Face 3 is in front. In the output, the rendering is done effect by effect first.

 

Example between groups

Let’s take the previous example: all faces were in the same group so they necessarily had the same effects. Now we’re going to put them in 3 different groups, each with the same effects.

rendering order between groups with same effects

In the list, Group 1 (white) is at the bottom, Group 2 (blue) in the middle and Group 3 (green) on top.

Notice the difference? Here, there’s a clear superposition in the output, because all effects of group 1 are rendered behind group 2, with group 3 on top.

Here’s another example, this time with different effects in the three groups:

rendering order between groups

All effects of a group are rendered behind the effects of groups above in the layer pile.

 

Complete rendering order table

Now, there aren’t only faces and group effects in HeavyM. Here’s an example with a mask, a post shader and players with different display modes added:

Here, you can see that the Mask face is unaffected by the Cut Slider post shader, as it is rendered last.

Since it would be difficult to understand if we put everything in the same mapping, we’ve made table for reference. In the table below, the rendering order is given for a mapping with 3 faces, placed in two groups: Group A contains Face 1 and is below Group B. Face 3 is in front of Face 2 in Group B.

RENDERING ORDER
Group A Group B
Face 1 Face 2 Face 3
Masks
Transitions
Post Shaders
    Line effect 3 (+Repeat)
    Border effect 3 (+Repeat)
    Structure effect 3
    Special effect 3
    Color effect 3
    “Solo Group 3” players
  Line effect 2 (+Repeat)  
Line effect 1 (+Repeat)    
  Border effect 2 (+Repeat)  
Border effect 1 (+Repeat)    
  Structure effect 2  
Structure effect 1    
  Special effect 2  
Special effect 1    
  Color effect 2  
Color effect 1    
“Solo Group 1” players  
“All Groups” players
“Background” players

Obviously, all this can be hard to grasp on paper, so the best advice we can give you is to experiment live!