After Effects Photo Carousel Tutorial (9 Templates)

After Effects 28/06/2021 5 min read

Photo carousels are a brilliant way of showing off your still images engagingly and speedily. There are plenty of After Effect carousel templates available to download at Motion Array, but if you want to create your own from scratch, it’s pretty simple. Follow our step-by-step guide to creating a photo carousel in After Effects to create stunning compositions in minutes.

Part 1: How to create a Photo Carousel in After Effects

Step1: Create Your Photo Precomps

The first step in creating a Photo Carousel is to work out which images you want to use. You can create a photo carousel directly using your images, but by containing them in Precomps, you can swap and edit images easily without changing the animation.

  1. Create a new comp (Cmd+N or Ctrl+N) in the size you want all your images to be. For this tutorial, we will select 1080×1080.
  2. Drag your image to the comp and position it to your liking.
  3. In the Project browser, find the comp, select it, and press Cmd+C or Ctrl+C to copy it.
  4. Press Cmd+V or Ctrl+V to paste the comp. Do this 9 times until you have 10 image comps.
  5. Go through each of the image compositions, replacing the photo with a new one until all 10 of your images have their own pre-comp.

Step 2: Set Up Your Space

The next step is to get your workspace set up. As we will be creating a 3D photo carousel, we will need to use the 3D functions and After Effects Camera.

  1. Set up a new comp using your final video dimensions. We are using 1080×1920.
  2. Drag all of the image comps to the timeline so they are stacked on top of one another.
  3. Go to the Layer menu and choose New > Null. Set the Null layer to 3D.
  4. Return to the Layer menu and select New > Camera. In the Camera setting box, choose 35mm and hit OK.
  5. Use the Pick Whip to parent the camera to your null.
  6. Using the Null layer properties, adjust the Position to move the camera further from the images.

Step 3: Set Up Your Carousel

Now that your space is ready, it is time to start creating the carousel with your image comps. We’ve used 10 images in this tutorial, so the calculations might be slightly different if you have used more or less than 10.

  1. Select all of your image comps and move them to the left-hand side of the screen.
  2. Go to Layer > New > Null and name your new null image controller. Next, move the Null layer below your camera and make it 3D.
  3. Grab the Pick Whip for Image comp 1 and parent it to the null image controller.
  4. Go to the image controller Rotation properties and look for the Y-Axis (this is the setting you will be changing).
  5. The next step involves rotating the null layer and attaching the image comps to it at set increments. We know there are 360 degrees in a circle, so to find your rotation increments divide 360 by the number of images you want to show (in our walkthrough, we’re using 10 images, one every 36 degrees).
  6. Change the Rotation setting of the null Y-Axis to 36.
  7. Grab the Pick Whip for Image comp 2 and parent it to the null.
  8. Go back to the Rotation settings and add another 36 degrees. 

Top Tip: After Effects is really cool; you can simply type +36 after your current figure, and it will update.

  1. Do this for all 10 images until they are spread evenly around the Null Layer.
  2. Once done, you can drag the Rotation Properties for the Null to see the Images turn.

Step 4: Turn Your Images

The carousel already looks pretty cool, but we can’t see the photos at the front of the rotation. To make the photos turn toward the camera as they pass, we’ll need to add an expression.

  1. Open up the properties for both Image Comp 1 and the Image Control layer.
  2. Holding Option or Alt, click on the Y-Axis Stopwatch for Image comp 1.
  3. Grab the Pick Whip for the Expression controls and attach it to the Y-Axis for the Image Controller layer; some code will pop up in the Expression box.
  4. At the end of the code type *-1. The whole code should read: thisComp.layer(“Image Controller”).transform.yRotation*-1
  5. Copy the code and go to each Image Comp in turn; hold Alt or Option > click on the Y-Axis Stopwatch > paste the code into the Expression box.
  6. Once you have added the Expression to each image comp, you will need to go through each layer and change all of the Orientation settings to 0.
  1. In the Image Controller layer, go to the Orientation settings and adjust the first figure to 8.
  2. Go to the Y-Axis settings for the Image Controller layer; position your playhead at the start of the animation and create a keyframe.
  3. Play through until you want the animation to end and create a second keyframe. Then, adjust the Y-Axis setting until you are happy with the speed of the spin.
  4. Go to the Camera layer and set a keyframe at the start of the animation for the Z-Axis Rotation setting. Adjust the settings so the carousel tilts slightly. 
  5. Go to the end of the animation and create a second keyframe, tilting slighting in the opposite direction.
  6. Finally, drop down the Camera options tab in the Layer panel and turn Depth of Field on. 
  7. Adjust the Blur Level to create depth, and adjust the Focus Distance to bring your foreground images into focus.

Part 2: Top 9 Photo Carousel Templates for After Effects

1. Instagram Stories Slider Carousel

The Instagram Stories Slider Carousel project allows you to turn your Instagram Stories into stunningly designed Photo Slideshows. Similar to flipping through a photo album, this modern template is ideal for showreel videos.

Download Instagram Stories Slider Carousel Now

2. Carousel Kit

If you want to create a Photo Carousel like we’ve shown you but don’t want to make it from scratch, the Carousel Kit is ideal. Including 6 different designs featuring from 3 to 8 photos, this template can be used for various projects.

Download Carousel Kit Now

3. Study Blog Post Carousel

The Study Blog Post Carousel Project includes ten different typography based designs. Perfect for adding messages to your image content, these trendy templates create a set for ongoing content.

Download Study Blog Post Carousel Now

4. Carousel of Product 4K

The Carousel of Product template can turn your product promotions into engaging and beautiful carousels. With title cards for product and price, this fantastic template is ideal for eCommerce websites.

Download Carousel of Product 4K Now

5. Instagram Stories Carousel Slider Shop

Ideal for displaying your product range, the Instagram Stories Carousel Slider creates a shop window for your Insta account. The template includes 5 placeholders for your media and text elements, with super easy branding customizations. 

Download Instagram Stories Carousel Slider Shop Now

6. Hot Food Presentation 4K

The Hot Food Presentation is the ideal option for restaurants, bars, and takeaways to promote specific menu items and deals. The swift scrolling images with cool background blur will leave your audience wanting more.

Download Hot Food Presentation 4K Now

7. Spinner

The Spinner project provides twelve image or video placeholders in a sleek and clean-looking spinning carousel. This modern and neat template is ideal for corporate content and business presentations.

Download Spinner Now

8. 3D Photo Gallery

This stunning 3D Photo Gallery includes 20 media placeholders in a modular template structure. Featuring 4 wooden photo frames spinning in the center of the screen, this template is ideal for photography and art-based content.

Download 3D Photo Gallery Now

9. 3D Photo Gallery Slideshow

The 3D Photo Gallery Slideshow includes 18 media and text placeholders in 3 formats –  square, horizontal, and portrait. The cool polaroid styles frames perfectly show off your images, while the light leak background adds depth and focus.

Download 3D Photo Gallery Slideshow Now

Whether it’s for social media, your website, or adding flair to a presentation, After Effects photo carousels are a fantastic way to show off your media. Creating stunning slideshows takes time and practice, but now that you know the basics, use your creativity to impress new followers.

If you liked this tutorial, we’ve got lots of other tutorials for Premiere Pro, After Effects, and filmmaking in general!  If you’ve got any questions or want to see other future article topics, leave us a comment down below.