Tutorial: Learn 4 Trippy Text Effects in After Effects

After Effects 19/08/2021 6 min read

Titles can be dull and repetitive, so why not spice up your next project with some fun and trippy text animations. In this tutorial, we’re going to take you through 4 incredible, trendy title effects you can create from scratch in After Effects.  

Part 1: Create Flowing Staircase Style Text Effects in After Effects

The staircase text effect is a trendy stylized full-screen typography, ideal for use in social media updates and title cards.

  1. To type your message on screen, use the Text Tool. It is best to write something short that fits on one line.
  2. Right-click on the clip and choose Precompose.  
  3. Double click on the text pre-comp to open it. Press Cmd+K or Ctrl+K on your keyboard to open the comp settings.
  4. Resize the comp to fit your text; once done, press OK and close the tab.
  5. In the Effects panel, search for Wave Warp and then Motion Tile and add both to your pre-comp.
  6. In the Effects Controls panel, change the Output Height to fill the screen with text.
  7. Change the Wave Type to Triangle, the Wave Height to 30, and the Wave Width to 125.
  8. Change the Direction and Speed settings to 0.5.
  9. Select the pre-comp in the timeline and press R on your keyboard to access the Rotation settings; change the Angle to 30º.
  10. Ensuring the playhead is at the start of the timeline, create a keyframe for Tile Center. Next, move to the end of the timeline and adjust the setting to a higher number; the higher your setting, the faster the animation.

Part 2: Create Flickering Randomize Text Effects in After Effects

The randomized text effects technique can be used with long and short messaging, but the more significant the text, the more impressive the effect.

  1. Using the Type tool, add your message to the screen.
  2. Select the layer and press Cmd+K or Ctrl+D to duplicate it.
  3. Turn off the bottom layer, select the top one, remove the Fill to the text, and add a Stroke of about 5 px. 
  4. Turn off the top layer and make the bottom one visible again.
  5. Drop down the bottom Layer panel and click on the Add Menu, followed by Opacity.
  6. With your playhead at the start, add a keyframe to the Range Select setting, and make sure both the Start and Opacity settings are at 0.
  7. Move across the timeline and select where you want the animation to end, and adjust the Range Select Start setting so that all the text is onscreen.
  8. Drop down the Advanced menu, and turn on the Randomized Order.
  9. In the timeline, select the keyframes and right-click > Keyframe Assistant > Easy Ease.
  10. In the Layer panel, select the Opacity animation and press Cmd+C or Ctrl+C to copy it.
  11. Turn on the top layer, and in the Layer panel, press Cmd+V or Ctrl+V to paste the effect.
  12. Go into the settings and change the Random Seed setting, so the Title animates in a different order.

Part 3: Create Trendy Stacked Text Effects in After Effects

The stack text effect is a fantastic and exciting way to produce titles for your typography and promotional videos. The big, bold look is sure to grab your viewer’s attention and keep them watching.

Step 1: Animate Your Text

The first step with this trendy stacked effect is to animate your main text; the stacked effect will be added later.  

  1. Create a new comp and type your title using the Text tool.
  2. Ensure the anchor point is in the center by holding Ctrl or Cmd and double-clicking the Pan Behind tool.
  3. Select the layer and in the Layer panel, click the Animate button and choose Opacity, then click the Add button and select Tracking.
  4. Open up the Range Selector settings for the layer.
  5. Move your playhead to 10 frames and create a keyframe for the Offset settings at -100.
  6. Move your playhead to 1 second and set the Offset to 100.
  7. Go into the Advanced properties and change the Shape to Ramp Up.
  8. Increase the Ease High and Easy Low settings to 100.
  9. Decrease the Opacity to 0 and set the Tracking to 50.
  10. With your playhead still at 1 second, press S on your keyboard to open the Scale settings, create a keyframe, and set the Scale to 150.
  11. Move your playhead to 2 seconds and change the Scale to 100.
  12. In your timeline, select the keyframes and right-click > Keyframe Assistant > Easy Ease.
  13. Open the Graph Editors and move the right handle to the left to create a left-sided dip.

Step 2: Create the Stacked Effect

For the next stage, you will be repeating many actions; to create the stacked style, you will need to duplicate your layers several times.

  1. Select the text layer in the timeline and press Cmd+D or Ctrl+D to duplicate it.
  2. The first thing we’re going to do is Rename and change the color of your new layer, so we don’t get confused a little later. Name your new layers something simple like A1, and change the layer color to Blue.
  3. Open the Layer settings for Layer A1 and delete the animator and keyframes from the layer.
  4. Remove the Fill layer and add a Stroke; choose a width to suit your font.
  5. Adjust the Position of A1 so it sits above the main title, with a slight overlap.
  6. Using the Shape tool, create a Rectangle Mask over your title to crop the text and leave a small gap. Change the Mask Feather to 30.
  7. Duplicate A1, rename it A2, and Position it above A1, with a slight overlap. Adjust the Mask to create a gap similar to the first one.
  8. Duplicate A2, rename it A3, and move it to the top of the stack, repositioning the Mask, so only a tiny portion of the title is visible.
  9. Repeat this process 3 more times, creating the below text; adjust the masks, so the bottom of the title is showing.

Step 3: Animate Your Stack

If you’ve ever worked with masks before, you’ll probably be thinking that we should have precomposed the layers before adding the masks. Today we’re going to use the Animation Position function to skip this usual step.

  1. Make the main text layer invisible so you can clearly see the Animation.
  2. Select the A1 layer and dropdown the Layer panel. In the Animate menu, choose Position.
  3. Place your playhead at 1 second and create a keyframe for the Position setting.
  4. With your playhead to the beginning of the timeline, adjust the Position so the text is hidden behind the mask.
  5. Select the keyframes and add an Easy Ease. Go to the Graph Editor and pull the handle to the left to create a left-sided peak.
  6. Go to the Animate menu and add the Tracking controls. At about 0.5 seconds, create a Tracking keyframe.
  7. Move the playhead to just after the 1-second mark, and adjust the Tracking to suit your composition.
  8. Go into the Graph Editor and, using the handles, create a central peak.
  9. Using Cmd+C or Ctrl+C, copy the keyframes for A1.
  10. Go through each of your other A layers, and using Cmd+V or Ctrl+V, paste the keyframes.
  11. Repeat the process with the B layer; you can do this from scratch, or copy and paste the keyframes from an A layer and adjust the Position keyframe.

Pro Tip: If you want to add an extra flourish to this effect, try adding the RGB Glitch effect explained in Part 4.

Part 4: Create Wavy Trippy Text Effects in After Effects

For the final effect, we’re going to create incredible Wavy and Trippy looking title effects. Whatmore, we will use an Effect you might not have used before; the CC Mercury effect.

Step 1: Create Trippy Text Effect

We’ve created a specific look for our titles and included the settings below, but with this effect, you can experiment to see how the CC Mercury effect works and create your unique styles.

  1. Create your title in a new comp, then immediately Precompose it.
  2. In the Effects panel, search for CC Mr. Mercury. Add the effect to your Title pre-comp.
  3. Adjust the Radius X and Y setting to 150 and Velocity to 1.8.
  4. Change the Birth Rate to 0.4, the Longevity to 5, and the Gravity to -0.8.
  5. Set the Resistance to 0.2 and change the Animation Type to Fire.
  6. Finally, change the Blob Size to 2.5 and Death Size to 0.5.
  7. Select the layer in your timeline and press Cmd+D or Ctrl+D on your keyboard to duplicate the layer.
  8. For the new Layer, reduce the Velocity to 1.4, the Birth Rate to 0.6, Blob Size to 1.7, and Death Size to 0.2.

Step 2: Add RGB Glitch

Adding an RGB glitch is an excellent flourish for many title animations, so why not try this with other effects you already know.

  1. Select all of your layers and right-click > Precompose.
  2. In the Effects panel, search for Shift Channels. Add the effect to your pre-comp.
  3. Using Cmd+D or Ctrl+D, duplicate your pre-comp twice, so you have 3 layers.
  4. For the top layer, set the Shift Channels so the Blue and Green are off and change the Blend Mode to Screen.
  5. For the middle layer, set the Shift Channels so the Red and Green are off and change the Blend Mode to Screen.
  6. And for the bottom layer, set the Shift Channels, so the Red and Blue are off, then change the Blend Mode to Screen.
  7. Finally, move 2 of your pre-comps along the timeline, so they have a staggered start.

Creating unique and exciting titles can be challenging. In After Effects, almost anything is possible, so where do you start? Learning basic text effects like we’ve shown you today can help expand your skill-set and add more creative tools to your kit.