Motion Backgrounds are used everywhere, from Corporate Slideshow videos to Instagram Stories, and with good reason. These fun and eye-catching graphics are a great way of adding branding, style, or themes to your video messages. Whether you need them as a part of a longer video, or the focus of a shorter one, learning how to create looping backgrounds in After Effects is a great skill to have.
Part 1: Colorful Shapes Looping Background
Motion backgrounds come in all shapes and sizes, and there are numerous ways to create these effects. We’re going to show you a quick and simple method, using the CC RepeTile and Offset effects, which can be customized to suit your needs.
Creating an impressive looping background requires more than one layer of movement or effects; a Sprinkles Layer, a Shapes Layer, and an Effects Layer.
Step 1: Creating Sprinkle Effect
The first layer you need to create is the Sprinkle Background. While the Sprinkle shape is popular, the background layer can include whatever shapes you want. It’s important to remember that this is just the background layer, so best to keep it simple.
- Create a New Comp, ensuring you choose 200x200px/24fps and duration for as long as you want your loop to be, call this Comp Sprinkles. It would help if you always made your Comp a round number that is easily invisible, such a 5, 8, or 10 seconds.
- Right-click on the Timeline and select New > Solid
- Using the Pen tool, create several short Sprinkle lines.
- Go to Effects > Generate > Stroke and add to your Solid Layer.
- Select the Mask All box and adjust the Stroke settings to the width, color, and style you would like.
Step 2: Add Movement to Your Sprinkle Effect Layer
- Create a New Composition; this time, set it to 1080p/24fps, with the same duration as your Sprinkles Comp. Call this one Main Comp.
- Drag your Sprinkle Comp to your Main Comp Timeline.
- With the Sprinkles Comp selected in the Timeline, go to Effects > Styalize > RepeTile.
- In the Effects Control Panel, increase the repetition of your Tile in all directions.
- For the loop background, the movement should finish in the Position it starts; this is where it gets a little bit technical. Go to Effect> Distort > Offset and place the Effect on your Sprinkles Comp.
- Place your Playhead at the beginning of your Timeline, set the Offset to 0, and create a Keyframe.
- Go to the end of your Timeline and place another Keyframe. Set the Offset to a number easily divisible by your Comp duration. In this case, the Comp is 5 seconds long, so we have set the Offset to 600.
A great thing about creating your Sprinkles background in this way is you can quickly go into the Sprinkle Comp and change the shape, color, and layout of your Sprinkles, and your Main Comp will automatically update.
Step 3: Create Colorful Shapes Comp
We want our Colorful Shapes to move independently of one another, so we will create two more Comps for this step.
- Create a New Comp using the same Frame Rate and Duration, only this time 400x400px.
- Create a new Solid and set it to 200x200px. Use the Align tools to place it in the top left of your Comp.
- Right Click on the Solid in the Timeline and choose Guide Layer; this means that the box won’t be viewable in the final Comp but can be used to judge how much space you have.
- Duplicate the box three times and place each in the Comp’s corners until it is filled with smaller containers. It might help to change the colors of each so you can see your work area.
- Next, in each of the 4 Boxes, create a unique shape using a New Shape Layer for each one.
- You can add some small repeating movements using the Scale and position tools. Be careful that your shapes’ action does not overlap another’s box or the Comp’s edge.
Step 4: Add Movement to Your Colorful Shapes Comp
The final part of the build is to add movement to your Colorful Shapes Comp. We do this using the same methods as the Sprinkles Comp, with a few additional steps.
- Go to the Project Browser and find your Shape comp. Right Click and select Duplicate, name the copy Shapes 2.
- In the Shapes 1 Comp, delete the elements on the left-hand side. In the Shapes 2 Comp, delete those on the right.
- Go back to your Main Comp and drag the two Shapes Comp to the Timeline. Add the RepeTile Effect to both Shape Comps, and extend to cover the screen.
- Add the Offset effect to your Shape Comps. Keyframe to Offset Values for both comps as you did for the Sprinkles layer, only this time use a negative number to reverse the direction of the movement for one of the Layers.
- Finally, select both Shape Comps in the Timeline and hit R on your keyboard. Change the rotation of each comp layer to 45º.
Step 5: Additional Effects
Our animation looks excellent so far, but there are several additional effects and flourishes we can add to pull it together; why not try some of these out.
Add A Drop Shadow
Adding a Drop Shadow to your Shape Layers can help them stand out from the Sprinkles background. Drop Shadow effects work best on lighter colored backgrounds, but you can create a range of styles by playing with the Distance, Opacity, and Feathering of your shadows.
Add some glow
Using the Glow Effect can help create a Neon feel to your background. The Glow Effect works best on darker scenes, with bright colored shapes for a genuinely 90s feel.
Search for CC Kaleida in the Effects Browser and add it to your Shape Layers; you will immediately see the Kaleidoscope style effect take over your repeating tiles.
Part 2: Looping Tunnel Background
A Looping Tunnel Background might seem a little more complicated, but this 3D style effect is actually very straight forward and only requires one Effect.
Step 1: Create Shape Tunnel
- Create a New Comp and add a Shape Layer.
- Using the Shape tool, create the basic Shape from which you want your tunnel to be constructed.
- In the Timeline, go to the Shape Layer Add menu and choose Repeater. When you add the Effect you the default setting is for three repeats.
- In the Repeater settings, adjust the Position so that both axis are at 0.00.
- Go to the Scale setting and adjust the Scale to create space between your three repeated shapes.
- Adjust the Copies setting to create a tunnel of shapes going into the distance.
- Finally, place your Player Head at the start of your Timeline and go to the Offset setting.
- Adjust the setting to the first Position of your tunnel and create a Keyframe.
- Move the Player Head to the end of the Timeline and adjust the Offset to create movement. Use negative numbers if you want the tunnel to come toward you and positive numbers if you want it to move away from you.
Step 2: Add Cool Effects
You can use your Shape Tunnel with no additional effects, and it will look pretty cool, but for a truly eye-catching look, try layering up Effects in a different way.
- Add a Glow Effect to your Tunnel Layer. Use soft settings to create a neon effect.
- Right-click in your Timeline and choose New > Adjustment Layer.
- Find the Noise and Dust & Scratches effects in the Effects Browser and add them to your Adjustment Layer.
- Add the Camera Lens Blur Effect to create a little focal distance in your composition.
- Finally, add the Optics Compensation effect to give your Shape a slight warp as it moves toward the edge of your screen.
- You can even go further by adding the Motion Array Light Leaks Template.
- Adjust all of the settings until you are happy with your Retro Neon look.
Part 3: Over 100 Amazing Looping Backgrounds for After Effects
The 40 Loop Backgrounds pack contains a stunning set of dynamically animated backdrops for your videos. With a big, bold cartoon style, these backgrounds are ideal for typography and motion graphics videos.
This set of 75 beautifully detailed backgrounds offer flower, spot, heart, and grid-based designs with a retro twist. With customizable color controls, the muted vintage feeling graphics are perfect for craft, art, and photography-based projects.
The Organic Patterns Pack contains six hand-drawn style motion backgrounds, with an organic movement twist. The dynamic animation feels little stop-motion in its jitteriness, ideal for whiteboard videos and fashion-based videos.
This minimalist background set contains 18 line-based motion graphics, ideal for corporate slide shows, sales presentations, and short social messages. The elegant and structured design feels professional and can be used across a range of video types.
The Gradient Waves pack contains 11 looping backgrounds with beautiful color wave motion. The gradient colors and movements are relaxing and subtle, perfect for typography and infographic based videos.
Creating fantastic motion backgrounds is a lot of fun and is sure to engage your viewers. We’ve shown you two completely different methods to creating eye-catching looping backgrounds in After Effects, which you can build up to create infinite looping background designs. If you’ve enjoyed this tutorial, why not check out our guide to After Effects Expressions to take your looping backgrounds to the next level.