How to Create Electricity and Energy Effects from Scratch in Adobe After Effects

Software Home Premiere Pro 09/11/2023 5 min read

Energy and Electricity effects are a lot of fun to create and use in your video projects. You’ve probably seen the trendy electric lightning bursts used in everything from adverts to social media posts. Today, we will show you how to create 2D electricity effects from scratch in Adobe After Effects so you can add them to your compositions.

  • Understand how to use electrical lightning animations in your video projects.
  • Learn how to create Electricity and Energy effects from scratch in Adobe AE.
  • Discover our top 3 stunning electric energy animation packs you can download from Motion Array.

How to use electricity effects in your projects

Energy and electric animations are incredibly versatile and can be the focal design of your video or added as a fantastic highlighting flourish. The cartoon-style lightning strikes and bursts are excellent for title animations, transitions, and highlighting motion in your videos.

By learning to create electricity effects from scratch, you can control the Path and style of your energy, allowing you to customize it to any project or brand. You can add various styles to your electric animations, such as glows, strokes, and gradients. 

How to Create Electricity and Energy effects from scratch

One of the best things about creating an electric energy effect from scratch is that once the animation is done, it can easily be duplicated and modified. Once the core animation is completed, you can create hundreds of variations quickly and easily.

Step 1: Creating your Electric Movement

The first step is to create the basic movement for your electrical energy. The shape you choose can be rough at this stage, as it is super easy to adjust the shape of your Path at any time.

  1. Create a New Comp in your chosen Size by hitting Command/Control + N on your Keyboard.
  2. Grab the Pen tool, and in the Media Viewer, draw a rough line in the shape of your electric bolt.
  3. Go to the Fill options on the top toolbar and turn off the Fill.
  4. Adjust the color of your Stroke and set the width to around 8.
  5. Play around with the points in your Path to finetune your Electric Effect.
  6. In the Layer Menu, find the Add button and choose Trim Paths.
  7. Open the Trim Paths options, and with your Playhead at the start of the Timeline, create a Keyframe for the Start and End properties.
  8. Make sure both the Start and End settings are at 0%.
  9. Move forward about 12 Frames and change the End and Start settings to 100%.
  10. In the Timeline, select both Start Keyframes and drag them a few Frames down the Timeline – the further from the End Keyframes they are, the longer your Electric will appear on the screen.
  11. Select all of the Keyframes and right-click > Keyframe Assistant > Easy Ease.
  12. Go to the Graph Editor and drag the handles from Each Keyframe toward the center to create peaks in the animation.

Step 2: Creating an Electric Energy Look

Energy effects come in all different shapes and styles, and you can create completely different compositions with just a few minor changes. Use the settings we’ve used to create a similar look, or play around with the properties to see what you can make.

  1. Select the Layer and choose Wiggle Paths from the Add Menu.
  2. Open the Wiggle Paths settings and adjust the Size to 140, the Detail to 25, and the Correlation to 90%.
  3. Go to the Random Seed Stopwatch and click it while holding the Alt key.
  4. In the Timeline, type Time*15 into the Expression box.
  5. Next, go to Effects > Roughen Edges.
  6. In the Effects Controls Panel, set the Edge Type to Spikey.
  7. Adjust the Border to 10 and the Scale to 150.
  8. Go to Effects > Distort > Turbulent Displace.
  9. Adjust the Amount to 100 and the Size to 150.
  10. For the final distortion effect, go to Effects > Distort > Wave Warp.
  11. Set the Wave Height to 20 and the Wave Width to 50.
  12. Finetune your settings by playing with the various properties to create different looks.

Step 3: Adding Glow Effects

The next step is to add some Effects to give the composition an electricity look. All of these elements are optional, however, and you can choose to add more or less depending on your video project.

  1. Right-click on the Timeline, then choose New > Adjustment Layer.
  2. With the Adjustment Layer selected, go to Effects > Stylize > Glow.
  3. In the Effects Control Panel, change the Intensity to 2.
  4. Change the glow Colors to A and B Colors, and then choose Sawtooth B>A.
  5. Adjust the B Color to suit your composition.
  6. In the Effects Control Panel, select the Glow effects, then go to Edit > Duplicate.
  7. For the duplicate Glow Effect, adjust the Radius to 275, then adjust the A and B Colors to get a look you like.
  8. Finally, go to Effect> Time > Posterise Time.
  9. In the Effects Control Panel, adjust the Frame rate to create a stop-motion-like look.

Step 4: Finalize your Electricity Style

One of the most fascinating things about electricity and lightning is how it leaves a lingering glow after its initial energy burst, and you can add this to your Effect with a few quick adjustments.

  1. Select the Electric Layer and hit U on your Keyboard to reveal the Keyframes.
  2. Adjust the end of the Layer to the last Keyframe so the Layer is as long as the animation.
  3. Hit Command/Control + D to duplicate the Layer.
  4. Open the duplicate properties and find the Wiggle Random Seed Properties.
  5. Delete the Expression from the Layer.
  6. Next, adjust the Stroke size to 3.
  7. Grab the duplicate Layer and move it down the Timeline a few frames to offset it.
  8. Finally, go to the Roughen Edges setting for the duplicate

Step 5: Duplicate your Electricity effect

A simple way to duplicate your Effect is to create copies across multiple Compound Clips. However, by creating duplicates this way, they are all under the same Adjustment Layer, which means you can adjust the colors and glow for all of your animated elements simultaneously.

  1. Select the Electric Layers and hit Command/Control + D to Duplicate them.
  2. Move the copy along the Timeline so you preserve your original animation.
  3. With the original two Layers, turn the top thinner streak layer off so you can’t see it.
  4. Select the Path option in the bottom Layers menu, and adjust the Path points on the screen to create a new shape.
  5. For both Electricity Layers, open the Layers Menu to see both Path 1 options easily.
  6. For the top layer, hold Alt and click on the Stopwatch alongside the Path 1 Properties.
  7. Grab the Path Pickwhip and drag it to the bottom Layers Path settings.
  8. Turn the top layer back on, and it will be updated with the new Path you’ve designed.

Top Tip: To heighten the Effect of your electricity elements, try adding some electrifying sound effects.

Top 3 Motion Array Electricity Effects to download today

If creating electrifying effects isn’t for you, then Motion Array has you covered. We’ve got hundreds of electricity effects available for download; check out the full collection.

Electricity Elements and Titles

The Electricity Elements and Titles pack includes 10 beautiful lightning bursts and strokes, as well as 2 full-screen transition animations. The bright neon color creates an instant comic book feel, with a smooth and dynamite motion at 30fps.

Download Electricity Elements and Titles Now

Energy Explosions

The Energy Explosions pack includes 14 beautifully rendered bursts of electrical energy in circular and star-shaped motions. The pop-art style designs would be ideal for video games, anime, and superhero-related content.

Download Energy Explosions Now

Hand Drawn Electric Elements Pack

The Hand Drawn Electric Elements Pack includes 12 fun, buzzing energy pulses with a unique stop-motion glitch. With a neon look and a range of directional bursts, this set is sure to grab your viewer’s attention.

Download Hand Drawn Electric Elements Pack Now

Electricity effects are a lot of fun to create and use in your projects and can help you create a unique and eye-catching composition. We hope you enjoy creating your energy effects, and if you’re looking for more fun tutorials, check out our guide to creating 2D Smoke from scratch.