Animate a logo design letter by letter using a write-on effect in Adobe After Effects.

Teenager holds a mobile phone displaying a skateboarder with the word “SKATEFEST”

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This sample file is an Adobe Stock asset you can use to practice what you learn in this tutorial. If you want to use the sample file beyond this tutorial, you can purchase a license on Adobe Stock. Check out the ReadMe file in the folder for the terms that apply to your use of this sample file. Any reference to “Skatefest” is for demonstration purposes only and is not intended to refer to any actual organization, products, services, or creative work.

This project starts with a layered logo created in Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. Each letter or graphical element in the logo design is on its own layer, and the layers are stacked from top to bottom in the order that they’ll appear when animated onscreen.

Starting in the Standard workspace, import your logo as Composition – Retain Layer Sizes. Set the Fill and Stroke colors of the Pen tool to white (#FFFFFF) and increase the Stroke Width value substantially so the pen strokes will easily cover the letters or shapes in your logo. Click the Fill label and lower Opacity to zero in the Fill Options dialog box. 

SKATEFEST logo is imported from Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator with each letter on its own layer

Select the first layer and choose Layer > New > Shape Layer. Rename the new layer so it’s clear what element it applies to. With the shape layer selected, activate the Pen tool and click across your letter or shape in the Composition panel to trace a path over it.

A new layer is created with the letter “S”, and the Pen tool is used to trace a path over it.

To animate that path, expand the shape layer in the Timeline panel and select the Contents row. Click Add to the right and choose Trim Paths from the menu. With the playhead at zero, expand the Trim Paths row, click the stopwatch next to End to set a keyframe, and zero out the value. Move the playhead ahead about a dozen frames — depending on how rapidly or slowly you want the write-on animation to appear — and set an End keyframe at 100%. (Since you’ll be repeatedly advancing the playhead by frames, it may be helpful for you to switch from timecode to absolute frames by Command/Control-clicking the time display.) Collapse the shape layer when you’re done.

The letter “S” is animated by choosing Trim Paths and setting keyframes at 0% and 100%.

To reveal the animated trim path through the letterform, select its layer and choose the Alpha Matte option in the TrkMat column, targeting the shape layer above it. (If you don’t see TrkMat, toggle the Switches/Modes button at the bottom of the Timeline panel.)

Alpha Matte “Shape Layer S” is selected to reveal the animated trim path.

Repeat the previous steps to create a shape layer, trace a path, animate the path, and reveal it through each remaining letter in your logo. Set the first keyframe of a letter’s trim path to be the same frame as the previous letter’s trim path ending value. That way, the letter will start animating into view as soon as the previous letter has been fully drawn onscreen. When you’re all done, add an adjustment layer at the top of the Timeline panel and apply the Fill effect to it. Choose a fill color in the Effect Controls panel.

The remaining letters are animated to begin when the previous letter’s animation stops.

Finally, import your background footage. Select both the logo comp and the footage item in the Project panel, right-click, and choose New Comp from Selection in the menu. Click OK in the New Composition from Selection dialog box. Preview the animation in your new comp.

Background footage is imported. Logo composition and footage are selected, New Comp from Selection is chosen.

Experiment with various blend modes to achieve a more creative way of integrating your logo animation with the footage. Any changes you make to the fill color in the first comp will automatically update the text color in the final comp. Drag the logo layer in the timeline slightly to the right to add a delay between when the video starts and the animation appears.

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