User Guide Cancel

After Effects Workflows

  1. After Effects User Guide
  2. Beta releases
    1. Beta Program Overview
    2. After Effects Beta Home
  3. Getting started
    1. Get started with After Effects
    2. What's new in After Effects 
    3. Release Notes | After Effects
    4. After Effects system requirements
    5. Keyboard shortcuts in After Effects
    6. Supported File formats | After Effects
    7. Hardware recommendations
    8. After Effects for Apple silicon
    9. Planning and setup
  4. Workspaces
    1. General user interface items
    2. Get to know After Effects interface
    3. Workflows
    4. Workspaces, panels, and viewers
  5. Projects and compositions
    1. Projects
    2. Composition basics
    3. Precomposing, nesting, and pre-rendering
    4. View detailed performance information with the Composition Profiler
    5. CINEMA 4D Composition Renderer
  6. Importing footage
    1. Preparing and importing still images
    2. Importing from After Effects and Adobe Premiere Pro
    3. Importing and interpreting video and audio
    4. Preparing and importing 3D image files
    5. Importing and interpreting footage items
    6. Working with footage items
    7. Detect edit points using Scene Edit Detection
    8. XMP metadata
  7. Text and Graphics
    1. Text
      1. Formatting characters and the Character panel
      2. Text effects
      3. Creating and editing text layers
      4. Formatting paragraphs and the Paragraph panel
      5. Extruding text and shape layers
      6. Animating text
      7. Examples and resources for text animation
      8. Live Text Templates
    2. Motion Graphics
      1. Work with Motion Graphics templates in After Effects
      2. Use expressions to create drop-down lists in Motion Graphics templates
      3. Work with Essential Properties to create Motion Graphics templates
      4. Replace images and videos in Motion Graphics templates and Essential Properties
      5. Animate faster and easier using the Properties panel
  8. Drawing, Painting, and Paths
    1. Overview of shape layers, paths, and vector graphics
    2. Paint tools: Brush, Clone Stamp, and Eraser
    3. Taper shape strokes
    4. Shape attributes, paint operations, and path operations for shape layers
    5. Use Offset Paths shape effect to alter shapes
    6. Creating shapes
    7. Create masks
    8. Remove objects from your videos with the Content-Aware Fill panel
    9. Roto Brush and Refine Matte
  9. Layers, Markers, and Camera
    1. Selecting and arranging layers
    2. Blending modes and layer styles
    3. 3D layers
    4. Layer properties
    5. Creating layers
    6. Managing layers
    7. Layer markers and composition markers
    8. Cameras, lights, and points of interest
  10. Animation, Keyframes, Motion Tracking, and Keying
    1. Animation
      1. Animation basics
      2. Animating with Puppet tools
      3. Managing and animating shape paths and masks
      4. Animating Sketch and Capture shapes using After Effects
      5. Assorted animation tools
      6. Work with Data-driven animation
    2. Keyframe
      1. Keyframe interpolation
      2. Setting, selecting, and deleting keyframes
      3. Editing, moving, and copying keyframes
    3. Motion tracking
      1. Tracking and stabilizing motion
      2. Face Tracking
      3. Mask Tracking
      4. Mask Reference
      5. Speed
      6. Time-stretching and time-remapping
      7. Timecode and time display units
    4. Keying
      1. Keying
      2. Keying effects
  11. Transparency and Compositing
    1. Compositing and transparency overview and resources
    2. Alpha channels and masks
    3. Track Mattes and Traveling Mattes
  12. Adjusting color
    1. Color basics
    2. Color management
    3. Color Correction effects
    4. OpenColorIO and ACES color management
  13. Effects and Animation Presets
    1. Effects and animation presets overview
    2. Effect list
    3. Effect Manager
    4. Simulation effects
    5. Stylize effects
    6. Audio effects
    7. Distort effects
    8. Perspective effects
    9. Channel effects
    10. Generate effects
    11. Transition effects
    12. The Rolling Shutter Repair effect
    13. Blur and Sharpen effects
    14. 3D Channel effects
    15. Utility effects
    16. Matte effects
    17. Noise and Grain effects
    18. Detail-preserving Upscale effect
    19. Obsolete effects
  14. Expressions and Automation
    1. Expressions
      1. Expression basics
      2. Understanding the expression language
      3. Using expression controls
      4. Syntax differences between the JavaScript and Legacy ExtendScript expression engines
      5. Editing expressions
      6. Expression errors
      7. Using the Expressions editor
      8. Use expressions to edit and access text properties
      9. Expression language reference
      10. Expression examples
    2. Automation
      1. Automation
      2. Scripts
  15. Immersive video, VR, and 3D
    1. Construct VR environments in After Effects
    2. Apply immersive video effects
    3. Compositing tools for VR/360 videos
    4. Advanced 3D Renderer
    5. Import and add 3D models to your composition
    6. Import 3D models from Creative Cloud Libraries
    7. Image-Based Lighting
    8. Extract and animate lights and cameras from 3D models
    9. Tracking 3D camera movement
    10. Cast and accept shadows
    11. Embedded 3D model animations
    12. Shadow Catcher
    13. 3D depth data extraction
    14. Modify materials properties of a 3D layer
    15. Work in 3D Design Space
    16. 3D Transform Gizmos
    17. Do more with 3D animation
    18. Preview changes to 3D designs real time with the Mercury 3D engine
    19. Add responsive design to your graphics 
  16. Views and Previews
    1. Previewing
    2. Video preview with Mercury Transmit
    3. Modifying and using views
  17. Rendering and Exporting
    1. Basics of rendering and exporting
    2. H.264 Encoding in After Effects
    3. Export an After Effects project as an Adobe Premiere Pro project
    4. Converting movies
    5. Multi-frame rendering
    6. Automated rendering and network rendering
    7. Rendering and exporting still images and still-image sequences
    8. Using the GoPro CineForm codec in After Effects
  18. Working with other applications
    1. Dynamic Link and After Effects
    2. Working with After Effects and other applications
    3. Sync Settings in After Effects
    4. Creative Cloud Libraries in After Effects
    5. Plug-ins
    6. Cinema 4D and Cineware
  19. Collaboration:, and Team Projects
    1. Collaboration in Premiere Pro and After Effects
      1. Install and activate
      2. Use with Premiere Pro and After Effects
      3. Frequently asked questions
    3. Team Projects
      1. Get Started with Team Projects
      2. Create a Team Project
      3. Collaborate with Team Projects
  20. Memory, storage, performance
    1. Memory and storage
    2. How After Effects handles low memory issues while previewing    
    3. Improve performance
    4. Preferences
    5. GPU and GPU driver requirements for After Effects
  21. Knowledge Base
    1. Known issues
    2. Fixed issues
    3. Frequently asked questions
    4. After Effects and macOS Ventura
    5. How After Effects handles low memory issues while previewing

Overview of general workflow in After Effects

Whether you use Adobe After Effects to animate a simple title, create complex motion graphics, or composite realistic visual effects, you generally follow the same basic workflow, though you may repeat or skip some steps. For example, you may repeat the cycle of modifying layer properties, animating, and previewing until everything looks right. You may skip the step of importing footage if you intend to create graphical elements entirely in After Effects.

1. Import and organize footage

After you create a project, import your footage into the project in the Project panel. After Effects automatically interprets many common media formats, but you can also specify how you want After Effects to interpret attributes such as frame rate and pixel aspect ratio. You can view each item in a Footage panel and set its start and end times to fit your composition. For more information, see Importing and interpreting footage items.

2. Create, arrange, and composite layers in a composition

Create one or more compositions. Any footage item can be the source for one or more layers in a composition. You can arrange the layers spatially in the Composition panel or arrange them in time using the Timeline panel. You can stack layers in two dimensions or arrange them in three dimensions. You can use masks, blending modes, and keying tools to composite (combine) images of multiple layers. You can even use shape layers, text layers, and paint tools to create your visual elements.

For more information, see:

3. Modify and animate layer properties

You can modify any property of a layer, such as size, position, and opacity. You can make any combination of layer properties change over time using keyframes and expressions. Use motion tracking to stabilize motion or to animate one layer so that it follows the motion in another layer.

For more information, see:

4. Add effects and modify effect properties

You can add any combination of effects to alter the look and feel or sound of a layer, and even generate visual elements from scratch. You can apply any of the hundreds of effects, animation presets, and layer styles. You can even create and save your own animation presets. You can animate effect properties, too, which are simply layer properties within an effect property group. For more information, see Effects and animation presets overview.

5. Preview

Previewing compositions on your computer monitor or an external video monitor is fast and convenient, even for complex projects. You can change the speed and quality of previews by specifying their resolution and frame rate and by limiting the area and duration of the composition that you preview. You can use color management features to preview how your movie will look on another output device.

For more information, see:

6. Render and export

Add one or more compositions to the render queue to render them at the quality settings you choose and to create movies in the formats that you specify. You can use File > Export or Composition > Add to Render Queue.

For more information, see Basics of rendering and exporting section in Adobe Media Encoder.

Basic workflow tutorial: Create a simple movie

This tutorial assumes that you have already started After Effects and have not modified the empty default project. This example skips the step of importing footage and shows you instead how to create your own synthetic visual elements. After you have rendered a final movie, you can import it into After Effects to view it and use it as you would any other footage item.

Some people prefer to use the mouse and menus to interact with After Effects, whereas others prefer to use keyboard shortcuts for common tasks. For several steps in this example, two alternative commands are shown that produce the same result—the first demonstrating the discoverability of menu commands and the second demonstrating the speed and convenience of keyboard shortcuts. You’ll likely find that you use some combination of keyboard shortcuts and menu commands in your work.

  1. Choose Composition > New Composition to create a composition.

    You can also use Ctrl+N (Windows) or Command+N (macOS) keyboard shortcuts to create a composition.

  2. Change the Duration value in the Composition Settings dialog box by entering 5.00 (5 seconds), choose desired preset from the Preset menu, and select OK.

  3. Choose Layer > New > Text to create a text layer.

    You can also use Ctrl+Alt+Shift+T (Windows) or Command+Option+Shift+T (macOS) to create a text layer.

  4. Type your name. Press Enter on the numeric keypad or press Ctrl+Enter (Windows) or Command+Return (macOS) on the main keyboard to exit text-editing mode.

  5. To set an initial keyframe for the Position property, select the triangle to the left of the layer name in the Timeline panel.

  6. Select the triangle to the left of the Transform group name, and then select the stopwatch button  to the left of the Position property name.

    You can also use Alt+Shift+P (Windows) or Option+Shift+P (macOS) to open the Position property for a layer.

  7. Select the Selection Tool button in the Tools panel.

    You can also press V to activate the Selection tool.

  8. Using the Selection tool, drag your text to the lower-left corner of the frame in the Composition panel.

  9. Move the current-time indicator to the last frame of the composition by dragging the current-time indicator in the Timeline panel to the far right of the timeline.

    You can also press End to move the current-time indicator to the last frame of the composition.

  10. Using the Selection tool, drag your text to the upper-right corner of the frame in the Composition panel.

    A new keyframe is created at this time for the Position property. Motion is interpolated between keyframe values.

  11. Select the Play button  in the Preview panel to preview your animation using preview. Select Play again to stop the preview.

    You can also use the Spacebar to start and stop the preview.

  12. Choose Effect > Stylize > Glow to apply the Glow effect.

    You can also type glow in the search field of the Effects & Presets panel to find the Glow effect. Double-click the effect name.

  13. Choose File > Export > Add to Render Queue to add the composition to the Render Queue.

  14. In the Render Queue panel, select the underlined text to the right of Output To. In the Output Movie To dialog box, choose a name and location for the output movie file, and then select Save. For the location, choose something easy to find, like your desktop.

  15. Select the Render button to process all items in the render queue. The Render Queue panel shows the progress of the rendering operation. A sound is generated when rendering is complete.

You’ve created, rendered, and exported a movie.

You can import the movie that you’ve created and preview it in After Effects, or you can navigate to the movie and play it using a movie player such as QuickTime Player or Windows Media Player.

Using gestures in touch-enabled devices

You can use multi-touch gestures (for example, zoom and pan) in the following panels:

  • Composition
  • Layer
  • Footage
  • Timeline

Use the gestures in any touch-enabled device (for example, Microsoft Surface or Wacom Cintiq Touch) or multi-touch trackpad.

Use two fingers, pinch your fingers closer together to zoom out or move your fingers farther apart to zoom in.

Use two fingers and move them in unison to pan in all four directions in a panel's current view.


Get help faster and easier

New user?

Adobe MAX 2024

Adobe MAX
The Creativity Conference

Oct 14–16 Miami Beach and online

Adobe MAX

The Creativity Conference

Oct 14–16 Miami Beach and online

Adobe MAX 2024

Adobe MAX
The Creativity Conference

Oct 14–16 Miami Beach and online

Adobe MAX

The Creativity Conference

Oct 14–16 Miami Beach and online