Sometimes, moving fast just isn’t enough. Make your next project pop by creating some anime-style speed lines in After Effects.

If you’re a fan of anime or other similarly styled cartoons, you’ve seen speed lines before. They’re the moving lines in the background (or foreground) that make the character appear to be moving very quickly. They’re a trope that is pretty familiar in the comics  and anime genres, and you can see them in projects all over the world.

So, why not spice up your next live action project with some of your own speed lines? In this video by Jason Boone of PremiumBeat, we see how to whip up your very own in After Effects.


Step 1: Creating the Shape

How to Create Anime-Style Speed Lines In After Effects — Creating the Shape

To start off, create a line using a shape layer, and then create a small, thin triangle going from the bottom of the frame to the middle. Remember, you can use the Rulers and Guides tab in AE to get precise measurements. After creating a rough shape, you can make it as big or as thin as you like.


Step 2: Add a Repeater

How to Create Anime-Style Speed Lines In After Effects — Add a Repeater

One of my favorite tools in the AE repertoire, the repeater tool is something you use to, well . . . repeat. It copies a shape and multiplies it so you don’t have to create 20-odd layers to get multiples. You can find this tool by clicking the Add button to the right of Contents. (Make sure that the repeater tool is under the shape layer in the timeline, not inside of it). Next, go into the transformation attributes for the repeater.

To line up the shapes, bring the X position from 100 to 0. This will layer all of your repeated copies on top of each other. From there, you can adjust the rotation of the repeater tool to get the lines in a perfect circle.


Step 3: Position the Lines

How to Create Anime-Style Speed Lines In After Effects — Position the Lines

To position these lines correctly, you want them directly over your subject’s face — or the moving object you want to focus on. Your circle as it stands is going to be pretty tight, so go ahead and spread it out using the transformation tab in the individual shape element by adjusting the Y position. Once you’ve spread it out enough, you can change the actual position of the lines to match up with your subject.


Step 4: Bringing the Lines to Life

How to Create Anime-Style Speed Lines In After Effects — Bringing the Lines to Life

To bring these lines some much-needed motion, you simply add some motion keyframes to the Y position of the individual shape element. Just make sure to time it along with a crash zoom — or the action you want it to match. To give it an even more dynamic feel, you can add a Wiggle Path and Wiggle Transform to the shape layer. Play around with the Y position in the Wiggle settings in your composition to make it move along with your motion.


Looking for more After Effects tutorials? Check these out.