Looking to build upon your After Effects skills? Check out these fun tutorials with something for both beginners and experienced users.
With most of the Adobe Creative Suite, there is always more to learn — and After Effects is hardly an exception. Whether you’re just now getting the hang of the interface, or have been using the program for a few years, you should be able to learn something useful from these great tutorials.
1. All About Keyframes & the Graph Editor by ECAbrams
This After Effects tutorial is geared a bit more toward beginners, but it breaks down and visualizes the way the graph editor works in a way that may still be helpful to those already familiar with it. With a proper understanding of the graph editor, you can bring the quality and complexity of your animations to the next level. Otherwise, you’ll be left extremely limited in terms of the motion you can apply to layers.
2. Star Wars Lightsaber Tutorial by Flawless Films
The best tutorials make learning an entertaining and creative experience, even when the technique being explained is rather boring. This tutorial is especially meaningful to me, as I first ventured into After Effects in hopes of creating realistic lightsaber visual effects. Rotoscoping is an essential, yet generally tedious technique in After Effects, but with this tutorial you can have some fun learning it, and even involve a friend or two!
3. 3D Camera Tracker by KriscoartProductions
Do you ever wonder how to place elements in a live-action 3D environment? Look no further. While there isn’t much to the 3D Camera Tracker included with the more recent versions of After Effects, it’s still worth taking the time to learn everything you can about it. Once you understand the way the effect works, and therefore understand its weaknesses, you can better set up your shots to achieve better results.
4. Shockwave Tutorial by Video Copilot
This classic Andrew Kramer tutorial guides you through the process of making a really cool, iris-like shockwave design without the use of plugins. While this effect itself isn’t necessarily relevant for future projects, the techniques applied to create it demonstrate the possibilities that vanilla After Effects can offer with just a little creative push.
5. After Effects Shape Layers by Mikey Borup
Shape layers are a fundamental tool of After Effects, with a myriad of adjustable options that can quickly produce interesting designs and animations. While solid layers generally work fine in most cases, shape layers are generally much more flexible and more efficient. Shape layers aren’t the most exciting subject, but luckily Mikey Borup doesn’t leave you empty-handed, demonstrating the use of shape layers with this neat customizable dial design.
6. Animating Still Images to Look Like Video by Mikey Borup
After Effects, while a great platform for motion graphics and visual effects, also excels in live-action post-production. Here, Mikey Borup walks you through the animation of a still image to create the illusion of actual video. Even in situations where realistic fake video isn’t possible, this is a cool method with which to add some dynamic flair to an otherwise stagnant image.
7. How to Color Correct/Grade in After Effects by braproductions
This tutorial is again focused on post-production, though it is helpful beyond color correcting and grading. Even within motion graphics and visual effects, you’ll eventually find yourself needing to work with AE’s color effects. This tutorial covers the most useful color manipulation effects, providing you with the tools you need to adjust the specific color properties of any layer.
8. Advanced 3D Light Rays in After Effects by Video Copilot
Arguably the most interesting thing about this Andrew Kramer tutorial is the fact that it largely renders Trapcode’s Shine plugin useless. Once again surprising viewers with what is possible in barebones After Effects, this tutorial showcases some awesome volumetric lighting simulations, both in live-action scenarios and motion graphics scenarios.
9. Sub Surface Skin Tutorial by Video Copilot
It’s difficult to compile any list of notable After Effects tutorials without repeatedly including Andrew Kramer, so alas, here is another of his wonderful tutorials. Like most of his tutorials, this covers a very specific effect, yet also explains the techniques required to create it in a way that will leave you with a better understanding of how After Effects works. Moreover, this is extremely helpful in learning how to composite visual effects seamlessly into live-action footage.
Regardless of your experience, hopefully at least one of these tutorials provided you with something new. Even if not, I’ve certainly caught myself noticing more specific tidbits of information upon a second viewing of a tutorial that I had skimmed the first time.
What are your favorite After Effects tutorials of all time? Let us know in the comments below.