Animate a progress bar or loading indicator displaying the percentage of completeness in Adobe After Effects.

Close-up of a smart watch on a wrist showing a loading progress bar at 75 percent

Progress bars or loading indicators can take many forms. They commonly proceed from left to right as the operation runs its course, but they can also move in a circle, making a complete round as the counter reaches 100%.

To begin, create a square composition and add a black solid of the same size. This is the background. Duplicate the solid (Command/Control+D) and change its color; this will become the progress bar. With that layer selected, make the Ellipse tool active. Now double-click the tool to automatically add a circular mask to the layer, centered within the composition. Double-click the mask path to reveal its handles. Hold Command/Control+Shift while dragging a corner handle to keep the mask centered as you scale it inward by about one-third. This mask marks the outer edge of the progress bar.

Adobe After Effects shows a blue solid in the Composition panel with a circular mask applied to it

Duplicate the mask; this will mark the inner edge of the progress bar. Press MM to reveal both masks’ properties. For the bottom, inner mask, set the Blend mode to Subtract and set a negative Mask Expansion until there’s a noticeable thickness to the progress bar.

Timeline panel shows a second circular mask applied and adjusted so the Composition panel shows a blue ring

Add the Radial Wipe effect to the layer and give Wipe a Counterclockwise direction. Keyframe Transition Completion from 100% to zero over the duration of the composition — or somewhat less so there’s time at the end to see that we’ve reached 100% completeness. Play the composition and see the progress bar make its way around the circle.

Composition panel shows a blue progress bar

Add a new solid (any color) to the top of the composition and apply the Numbers effect to it. In the Numbers dialog box, choose a narrow font (we used DIN Condensed from Adobe Fonts) and make sure Alignment is set to Right. In the Effect Controls panel, set Decimal Places to 0 so it shows only whole numbers. Choose a Fill Color, Size, and Tracking value that suits the design, and turn Proportional Spacing off. To increment the numbers, keyframe Value from 0–99 across the duration of the loader, minus one frame.

Numbers layer appears at the top of the Timeline and Numbers effect dialog box on top

To finesse the numeric display, add a new text layer to the composition and type a percent symbol using the same font, color, size, and tracking value as the numbers. Position the percent and numbers layers so they look centered as a group in the composition. Duplicate the percent layer and change it to read “100%.” Trim that layer so it starts only after the loader display reaches “99%.” Play the composition and see the numbers count up smoothly to 100%.

Additional layers showing ‘%’ and ‘100%’ appear at the top of the Timeline panel and final design appears in the Comp panel

Fine-tune your design by adding the Glow effect to an adjustment layer. You could also create some kind of “completed” reaction at the end like a quick size bump. Examine some loading indicator embellishments in our practice file.

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