Create visual effects from a galaxy far, far away with these fun After Effects tutorials.

Star Wars undoubtedly features some of the most iconic visual effects in cinematic history, and while they were groundbreaking initially, many of them have become easier to replicate than you might think. In fact, with these After Effects tutorials, you can have all the skills you need to put yourself in the Star Wars universe.


1. Title Crawl by Nick Khoo

Where better to start than the signature title crawl that kicks off each Star Wars film? One of the simpler tutorials on this list,  this effective introduction to creating a 3D text crawl through space is useful beyond the context of Star Wars – it is also a good way to introduce beginners to text layers and how to use them in 3D space.


2. Lightsabers by Flawless Films

This wouldn’t be a complete list of Star Wars visual effects without the inclusion of the lightsaber. Easily the most recognizable effect of the franchise, the lightsaber is an extremely enjoyable visual to create, making the learning process of rotoscoping in After Effects much less tedious. This also doubles as a great excuse to get silly with your friends and bring your own duels to life!


3. Holograms by Ramone Hulet

This effect is a bit more universally applicable than those previously mentioned. While holograms are now featured in most science fiction films, Star Wars was among the first to bring them to life on screen. There are presets and plugins available to instantly create this effect, but you can generally achieve similar results with vanilla After Effects, as seen in this detailed tutorial.


4. Light Speed by Graymachine

Jumping from one part of the galaxy to the next would not be nearly as enthralling without the signature visual effect that Star Wars showcases in each film. Even now, it still provides a sense of wonder and anticipation every time. There are a number of tutorials that can walk you through this process, but this one is especially cool in that it even shows you how to replicate the stunning revamped hyperdrive jump shown in the trailer for The Force Awakens.


5. Planets by PremiumBeat

What is Star Wars without its stunning outer space visuals? With this tutorial, you can create a custom 3D planet scene without any plugins! It even demonstrates a technique that allows the camera to animate in 3D space relative to the planet created by CC Sphere.


6. Matte Painting by Krisco Art Productions

We’ll conclude with a tutorial that, funnily enough, isn’t actually focused on Star Wars. This introduction to 3D matte painting does require a prerequisite of basic After Effects competency, but it does a great job explaining the logic and basic techniques behind creating a virtual 3D environment. You can even implement the previous space scene technique here by adding background planets and other atmospheric details to the sky.


With your newfound skills, you can bring your own creativity to the Star Wars universe just in time for The Force Awakens — and learn some things while you’re at it!

What visual effects from a film do you want to learn in After Effects? Let us know in the comments below.