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Learn the basics of After Effects In 18 Minutes

Introduction

Hey everyone, this is Owen with Motion Array and in this tutorial I’m going to teach you some of the basics of After Effects while I walk you through animating this logo. Alright, let’s get started.


Creating An Animated Logo Effect in After Effects

This text has been transcribed from the video for optimal reading

I created this logo in Illustrator so I want to hop over into that file to show you some prep work I did to make the process in After Effects quicker and easier. In my file you can see that I've broken the elements up into different layers. I’ve got my compass arrows, compass lines, inner circle, type top and bottom, red lines and base circle. After Effects recognizes layers created in Illustrator so when I import this file I'll be able to control all these elements individually. So it’s really important to separate the pieces of your design into separate layers before you import it to After Effects. Okay, let’s go back over to After Effects.

Inside of After Effects there are a few panels I want to introduce you to before we get into animating. First, is the Project Panel, this is where all of the elements you import and create live. You can create folders to keep things organized too, which is really handy. Second, is the Composition Panel. This is essentially your canvas. It’s where you’ll see your elements and what you see here is what you'll get when render out your animation. The last panel I want to talk about is the Timeline. The left side of this is where you'll see your layers and all their switches and toggles. The right is a visual representation of time for your composition. You can see at the top there are numbers which represent different spots in time. There is also a blue marker up at the top called the Playhead. This shows at what point in the timeline the composition window is showing. 

Alright, with that stuff out of the way let’s import that logo. I’ll bring my mouse over the project panel and double click in some empty space to bring up the import window. Then I’ll navigate to my logo. With the logo selected I’m going to go to the Import As drop down and choose “Composition - Retain Layer Sizes”. If you don’t see that option you can click the “Options” button in the bottom left to bring it up. Then I’ll hit “Open”. Now inside my project panel you’ll see a composition named after my file and a folder that contains the layers of my logo. If I double click on the composition it'll open up in the composition panel and in the timeline. I’ll click in my timeline to make it the active panel and then I’ll go to Edit > Select All. Then I’m going to hit CMD + C to copy. Next I’ll go the project panel and hit the create new composition button. This brings up a window with a bunch of settings to help define the new composition I’m creating. The first box is Composition Name and I’m going to change that to Compass Animation. Then, under Preset I’ll select HDTV 1080 29.97. This is the standard HD setting for television. The last thing I’ll change is Duration. After Effects breaks down time into hours, minutes, seconds and frames. This is hours, this is minutes, this is seconds, and this is frames. I’ll set my duration to 3 seconds and then I’ll hit okay. 

So now I’m in my new composition and I’ll hit CMD + V to paste. If you remember, I copied all the layers in my original logo composition so that is what I’m pasting. Now the reason I created a new composition to animate in rather than just animating in that original composition is so that I always have a copy of the logo just as it came from Illustrator. When I start changing properties during animation I might mess something up and so it’s always good to have that original for reference. The first thing I’m going to do with all these layers is turn on this toggle called continuously rasterize, for Illustrator layers this essentially vectorizes them again so I can scale them infinitely without pixelation. 

Alright, now let’s get into the animation. I want to start with animating the scale of the text so I’ll go to the Type Top layer and click the triangle to the left of the color label to twirl down it’s options. Then I’ll twirl down "Transform” to reveal the transform properties. Scale is one of those properties and if I click and drag the percentages to the right of it you can see the layer being affected. The problem is that I want the layer to scale from the center of the circle, not from the center of the type. To change that I’ll need to move the anchor point to the center of the circle. The anchor point of a layer is where it scales and rotates from and its represented by a crosshair when a layer is selected. I’ll go up to the toolbar and select the Pan Behind tool. Then I’ll click and drag the anchor point toward the center of the circle. If I hold CMD while doing this the anchor point will snap to layer boundaries and centers so it will make it easy to get it perfectly centered to the circle. When I change the scale now you can see it’s scaling from the center of the circle. Now I can animate the scale. I’ll start by making sure the playhead is at frame 0. I can see exactly what frame I’m on over at the top left of the timeline. So with the playhead at frame 0 I’ll click the stopwatch next to Scale to set a keyframe. Then I’ll change the scale value by clicking on the blue percentages and typing in 150. I’ll move the playhead to frame 15 and change the value of the scale back to 100%. After Effects will automatically set a keyframe when I change the value because there is already a keyframe present on this property. Now in my timeline I’ll right click on the second keyframe of the Scale property and go to Keyframe Assistant > Easy Ease. Easy Ease is way to alter your animation so that things slow down as they reach their final value. Think of a car, a car doesn’t go from 60 miles per hour to 0 instantly. The car slows down and gradually comes to 0. That’s essentially what easy ease is doing. It works both ways too, so it will add acceleration to your keyframes as well so it doesn’t jump to top speed immediately. Okay, back to the animation. I’ll right click on the second keyframe again and select Keyframe Velocity. This brings up a window where you can adjust your eases with exact percentages. I’ll change the Incoming Velocity’s Influence to 80% so the ease is stronger. Now I’ll go to the Preview panel and click on it to open it up. Then I’ll select the play button in the center. That’s the RAM preview button and it will show you your animation. If you don’t see the Preview panel you can bring it up with Window > Preview. My animation is looking good, I just need to mask it so the text is only visible when it’s inside the base circle. I’ll select my Base Circle layer and go to Edit > Copy with Property Links. Then I’ll go to Edit > Paste or hit CMD + V. This doesn’t just copy and paste the layer, what it does is it creates a copy of the layer that is bound to the original. So if I were to change the scale of the original, my copy would scale too. I’ll click and drag the copied layer above my type layer. Then under the Track Matte drop down menu for the text layer I’ll select Alpha Matte. If you don’t see Track Matte in your timeline then you can switch it on with this toggle in the bottom left. Selecting Alpha Matte masks the layer so that it’s only visible where the layer directly above it is. So when I drag the playhead through time you can see my text is masked just to the circle. 

Now I’ll animated the Type Bottom layer in a similar fashion. I’ll select the layer and grab the Pan Behind tool. Then I’ll drag the anchor point to the center of the circle while holding CMD. Now I’ll go up to the type layer I’ve already animated and click on the scale property. This selects all the keyframes on that property. I’ll hit CMD + C to copy. Then I’ll select the Type Bottom layer and make sure that the playhead is at 0. After I confirm that the playhead is at 0, I’ll hit CMD + V to paste the keyframes. I’ll once again select the Base Circle layer and go to Edit > Copy with Property Links. Then I’ll hit CMD + V to paste and move the new layer above the Type Bottom layer. I’ll change the track matte on the Type Bottom layer to Alpha Matte and that should take care of the animation there. 

The next thing I’ll do is animate the red lines drawing on. To do this I need to convert the lines from an Illustrator layer to an After Effects shape layer. I’ll select the Red Lines layer and go to Layer > Create Shapes from Vector Layer. After Effects creates the new shape layer right above the old one and turns off the vector layer. That way I can always go back to using the vector layer if I want. With the new shape layer selected I’ll go up above my composition panel to the Add button and select Trim Paths. I’ll twirl down the Trim Paths that was just created on the layer and I’ll set a keyframe at 20 frames for the End value by clicking the stopwatch. Then I’ll drag my playhead over to 0 and change the End value to 0. Again, After Effects will automatically generate the second keyframe because there is already a keyframe on this property. I’ll right click on the second keyframe again and select Keyframe Velocity. This brings up a window where you can adjust your eases with exact percentages. I’ll change the Incoming Velocity’s Influence to 80% so that it matches the ease of the type animations. 

Now I’ll start parenting some of my layers. Parenting is a way to attach layers so that they continue to move and animate with their parent layers. I’ll start by parenting my red lines to the Base Circle, I’ll go over to the left of the parent drop down and click and hold the spiral, that’s the pick whip. Then I’ll drag that over to the Base Circle and let go. You’ll see in the Parent drop down that the base circle is there instead of None. Then I’ll repeat this process with my two type layers. Now that those layers are parented to the Base Circle I’ll animate it. I’ll twirl down the Base Circle and twirl down Transform to reveal the 5 transform properties. I’ll be animating scale and rotation. So I’ll drag my playhead to 30 frames, which is also 1 second and set a keyframe on rotation by clicking the stopwatch to the left of the property. Then I’ll bring the playhead to 0 and change the value to -100 degrees. Make sure you are changing the second value in rotation. The first value is for full rotations, while the second value is for degrees. Now I’ll right click on the second keyframe and go to Keyframe Assistant > Easy Ease. I’ll right click on the keyframe again and go to Keyframe Velocity and I’ll change the Incoming Velocity’s Influence to 80% so that it matches the other animations. For the scale I’ll start with my playhead at 0 and set my value to 0%, then click the stopwatch to set a keyframe.  I’ll move the playhead down the timeline 10 frames and increase the scale to 130%. I’ll go 5 frames down the timeline and change the scale to 95%. I’ll go 5 more frames and change the scale to 100%. These keyframes are going to have the circle grow from nothing to more than 100% and then spring back to 100%. I’ll highlight the last 3 scale keyframes by clicking and dragging over them and then right click on one of them and go to Keyframe Assistant > Easy Ease. 

Now I want to offset some of the animations so that they aren’t all happening at once. In my timeline layers are represented by colored bars. With my cursor I can click and drag them left or right in my timeline. When I do this, all their keyframes move with them. So I’ll drag the red lines layer so that it starts at frame 10. I’ll do the same with the first type layer and it’s matte above it. Then I’ll move the second type layer and it’s matte to frame 15. In this example the offset feels really nice compared to everything coming on at once. 

It’s time to move on to the elements inside the inner circle now. The first thing I’ll do is parent the compass arrows and lines to the inner circle layer. If I select both the arrows and lines at once I can parent them at the same time when I use the pick whip and drag it to the inner circle. Now I’ll twirl down the arrows layer and the transform properties so I can access the rotation. I’m going to keyframe the rotation in a similar fashion as I did the scale of the base circle. I’ll move the playhead to zero and change the rotation value to -250, then I’ll set a keyframe. Then I’ll move 15 frames and change the value to 15. I’ll move the playhead 5 frames and change to -3. Then I’ll go 5 more frames and change the rotation to 0. Now I’ll select the last 3 keyframes and right click on one of them. Then I’ll go to Keyframe Assistant > Easy Ease. When I preview you can see it’s got the nice overshoot and bounce back in it’s rotation. 

Now I’ll twirl down my compass lines layer and the transform properties so I can access it’s scale. With the playhead at 1 second or 30 frames, I’ll set a keyframe for scale. Then I’ll move the playhead back to 0 and change the scale to 0%. I’ll right click on the second keyframe and go to Keyframe Assistant > Easy Ease. Then I’ll right click on the keyframe again and go to Keyframe Velocity. Then I’ll change the Incoming Velocity’s Influence to 80%. 

Now I’m going to focus on animating the inner circle. What I’m going to do is copy the scale keyframes from the base circle and paste them on to the inner circle. To do that I’ll go to the scale of my base circle and if I just click on the Scale property it will highlight all the keyframes. Then I can hit CMD + C to copy. I’ll select my inner circle and make sure my playhead is at 0 and then hit CMD + V to paste the keyframes. If I twirl down my layer to reveal it’s scale you can see the keyframes on it. Now I’ll offset these inner circle layers so that they lag a little behind the base circle. I’ll drag the arrows, lines and inner circle all out to frame 15. I’m going to move my playhead over to the second keyframe on the inner circle and alter it a bit. 130% is too much for this inner circle, it’s starting to encroach on the type and I don’t want that. I’ll change the value to 110% and call that good. 

That’s the last bit of animating I’m going to do but I will add a background before I render this out. So I’ll go to Layer > New > Solid. This brings up a window with a bunch of solid settings. I’ll start by changing the name to Background. Then I’ll click on the color box and choose the color I want the solid to be. Once I do that I’ll make sure the solid will fill up the whole composition by clicking the Make Comp Size button and then I’ll hit okay. The solid I created is on the top of my layer stack so I’ll click and drag it to the bottom so it can be my background. When I preview I’m happy with it, so I’m ready to export. In the top menu I’ll go to Composition > Add to Render Queue. This brings up my Render Queue panel. There are TONS of different ways you can export in After Effects but for the sake of this tutorial I’m just going to use the default settings as they will work fine for this application. The one thing I’m going to change is Output To option. If I click on the blue type next to it a window pops up. This is how I choose where my animation will be saved. So I’ll navigate where I want it to go and I can change the name if I want to as well, but I’m going to leave it as is. Then I’ll hit save. Just hitting save doesn’t actually do anything which is a little misleading. In order to truly export the animation I’ll now go to the far right of the Render Queue and hit Render. I’ll see a progress bar and when it’s finish it makes a nice little noise. Now I can go to where I saved my animation and view it just like any other video file. 

Well, that concludes this tutorial. I hope you found it helpful, if you did, please give us a thumbs up and if you’d like to see more tutorials please go ahead and subscribe because we’re making new ones all the time.  I hope you guys found it helpful.  If you did, we’ve got lots of other tutorials for Premiere ProAfter Effects, and filmmaking in general!   

Thanks for watching and see you in the next video.

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