Learn the basics of creating your first composition in Adobe After Effects, as well as adding animation, applying effects, and more.
What you'll need
Build your first composition
Create a composition with multiple layers.
What you learned: Build a composition
- In the menu bar, choose Composition > New Composition to create an empty composition. Use the preset drop-down menu in the Composition Settings dialog box to choose a preset resolution. You can customize a preset by typing in your own values, like width, height, frame rate & duration
- Drag footage onto the new composition icon in the bottom of the Project panel to automatically place it in a new composition, matching the footage settings exactly.
- Compositions can contain layers generated within After Effects and layers from external files such as files from Illustrator or Photoshop.
- Compositions are composed of a stack of layers in the Timeline panel.
- Layers can be moved vertically to change appearance in the stack, and horizontally to change the appearance of layers over time.
Position layers in a composition
Explore techniques to position layers in a composition.
What you learned: Position layers in a composition
There are many ways to position layers in a composition:
- Layer handles (in Composition panel with selected layer): Click and drag inside the handles to reposition a layer in the Composition panel. Click a handle to scale or distort a layer. Hold Shift when dragging handles to keep proportions.
- Tools (upper left under menu bar): Press W to select the Rotation tool to rotate layers in the Composition panel. Press V to choose the Selection tool.
- Layer parameters (triangle on the left side of a layer in the timeline): Click on triangle to open, then open Transform properties by clicking its triangle.
- Quick Access parameters (keyboard shortcuts): Press P for Position, R for Rotation, S for Scale, T for Opacity, A for Anchor Point
- Adjust Layers (using parameters in the timeline): Scrub on parameter values to change parameters. Hold Shift when scrubbing on a parameter to change values 10 times faster.
Create your first animation
Record multiple keyframes to create animation.
What you learned: Create an animation
- CTI (Current Time Indicator) shows what frame you’re viewing in the Composition panel. The CTI also determines where keyframes appear when they are added to a parameter.
- Stopwatch (appears to the left of a parameter): Click on a stopwatch to record a keyframe of that value at the location of the CTI in the timeline. Click on a stopwatch of a parameter with recorded keyframes to remove all keyframes from that parameter.
- Keyframe (typically displayed as a diamond in the timeline) is a method of recording the value of a parameter at a specific point in time on a timeline. Record two or more keyframes (with different values) on an individual parameter to create animation.
- Preview (spacebar): A green progress bar will indicate frames loaded into the cache at the top of the timeline as the preview begins to play back. Look at the Info panel in the upper right corner of the interface to check the playback framerate.
Animate layered Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop documents
Import assets for use in a project.
What you learned: Import layered files as compositions
- Double-click in the Project panel to open the Import dialog box, navigate to the files accessible to your system and choose a PSD or AI file to import.
- With a file selected, choose Import As > Composition – Retain Layer Sizes to create a layered composition comprised of the original layers created in Photoshop or Illustrator.
- The duration of a composition created from a layered PSD or AI file will always be the same duration as the most recent previously created composition.
- Layer transparency and blend mode settings will be maintained between After Effects and the originally created PSD or AI file.
Add detail with effects
Apply and adjust effects.
What you learned: Understand, apply and adjust effects
- Effects are extra customizable settings you can apply to any layer in a composition.
- Effects can be applied to a selected layer by choosing an effect from the Effect menu in the menu bar. You can search effects in the Effects and Presets panel, and you can drag and drop those effects from the panel directly onto any layer in a composition.
- Access effects in the timeline on a selected layer by pressing E on the keyboard.
- Effect settings are available in both the timeline and the Effect Controls panel.
- Toggle an effect on or off by clicking the fx button in the upper left corner of the Effect Controls panel, or by clicking the fx button in the switches section of the timeline.
- Delete an effect by clicking its name in the timeline, or in the Effect Controls panel, and pressing Delete on your keyboard.