Category: Typographic animations

Learning After Effects Fundamentals

After Effects



1. Design ideas and design process

Having used After Effects very little before this task (under 2 hours), I wanted to make sure my design ideas covered a wide range of skills and complexity. I needed to develop my software skills in After Effects so that I could better understand the programme. My first design idea was a simple fade from black to orange, and I experimented with some basic text animation.

My second design idea was much more refined, making use of more intricate features such as layer mask and smart animating the text to create a custom effect.

My third design idea was based upon my experiences from existing media. I remember seeing an advert on YouTube for a speed reader that had words flashing in the same place. I liked the effect it caused, it was memorable and got the message out very quickly, in an understandable manner for any audiences.

I think my most effective idea was the second idea, although I liked the third one the most because I made it without a tutorial, which meant it was rewarding when I encountered problems and solved them. Design idea 2 made use of some more intricate features of Adobe After Effects, such as utilising layer masks and animating objects. The design featured the title of the podcast, ‘Type Talk’, and from behind that the words ‘a podcast’ emerged. The tutorial I followed for design idea 2 taught me how to use layer masks to create layering effects in After Effects, encouraging me to play with the settings when animating with the mask applied. I considered the use of colour in my design, with the title being more dominant as white, and the extra info being dark grey. This created an interesting composition because the focus of the gif is on the moving object, however the colour hierarchy suggests that the focus should be given to the title, which was not animated.

I began the process by making shape layers and adding text [fig 1 & 2]. I needed to get all the design elements on the page before I could start animating. I added the line in the middle as a shape, and the text where I wanted their final positions to be. I followed a tutorial explaining how to set up and use layer masks and the track matte feature [fig 3 & 4]. This allowed me to use the animation features [fig 5], hiding the secondary text behind the primary text, creating the effect of the secondary text sliding out from the white line in the middle [fig 6].


Creating a shape layer [fig 1]
Editing text in the character panel [fig 2]
Creating a layer mask [fig 3]
Using the track matte feature [fig 4]
Using the animation features [fig 5]
Using layer masks to hide the secondary text [fig 6]

2. Software tutorials

I primarily used software tutorials to develop my technical ability. I had minimal experience of Adobe After Effects before this task, so I used tutorials to speed up my learning curve. In the first design that I created, I used the fade tutorial to show me the basics of adding effects to objects and how to make two effects run simultaneously. (After Effects CC : How to Fade in and Fade Out) This tutorial helped me understanding how to apply effects, and to begin to understand how to use keyframes to change an effects properties.

For my second design idea, I chose a more complex animation to create, but chose one with a tutorial I could follow closely. (After Effects Simple Line Text Reveal Intro Animation Tutorial ) This would allow me to understand some of the more complex features of After Effects, further developing my software skills so that I could create my own animation without any help from tutorials in my final idea. I also had to use tutorials to help me solve smaller technical issues, (How to Enable Track matte in after effects CC) such as when following the text reveal tutorial, he had an option selected that was showing track matte, but I had to click on some buttons to be able to access the track matte feature.

The most comprehensive tutorial I followed was the After Effects Simple Line Text Reveal Intro Animation Tutorial, as it had chapters describing what was happening in which part of the video, and that enabled me to return to the video to see what I did not understand fully and have a recap. One area of the video highlighted that I did not understand was using the graph editor on individual keyframes. Consequently, if I wanted to develop my After Effect skills, I would look for a more specific tutorial or article explain how the graph editor works.


3. Design resources and articles

As I stated earlier, I had little experience of using After Effects before this task. I used the articles below to refresh my knowledge of what After Effects was used for and what it was capable of. Both articles proved useful in explaining to me what After Effects did, making me feel like I understood its capabilities more. Consequently, this meant I felt more confident in creating my GIFs, either when following a tutorial or creating my own idea.

What is After Effects | Comprehensive Guide to What is After Effects?

How to Use After Effects? | Basic After Effects Skills You Should Know 

I used this forum to help me solve a specific problem I was facing. When trying to create the desired ‘buzz words’ effect for my third idea, I was struggling to apply the animation correctly. The forum below helped me correct the animation, meaning I could edit how fast the buzz words appeared.

Solved: Pop Buzz Words – Adobe Support Community – 9821097

My inspiration for ideas was based upon general media that I had seen before. The third idea, which I believe was my most independent and creative idea, was based upon some previous advertisements I had seen. I cannot remember the brand, but it was for a speed-reading tool that made text you were reading appear in the same place. The theory of the advert was that you could read faster when words flashed in the same place, upping your words per minute. I remember thinking the effect was successful and wanted to replicate it in one of my designs.


4. Learning throughout the module

Throughout the module, I definitely improved my skills in After Effects by a large margin, improving a wide variety skills. I began the module with little experience and ended it with three pleasing designs and several extra hours experience spent using After Effects. I learnt how to perform basic functions like adding layers and editing keyframes, as well as exploring more complex features such as using layer masks and combining that with an animation.

On a broader note, I noticed an increase in my results on the scored quiz between the start and the end of the module, as well as an increase in confidence in my ability on certain areas in the quiz. I would say that overall, this module was a success as I developed my technical abilities significantly. I feel that sometimes I could have made more coherent designs, however when remembering that I was deliberately choosing areas of design that I am weaker at, I am pleased with my designs.


Design animation: After Effects

Design Ideas and Design Process

Design idea:

For my initial design, I adopted a strategic approach to delve deeper into vector animation, utilizing various flows and movements to enrich the animation. My aim was to experiment with an array of text flow/effects, as well as diverse shapes and strokes to push the boundaries of creative possibility. As such, I made the deliberate choice to refresh my knowledge on the application of the bounce effect to my text. Given my previous experience with the After Effects program, it didn’t take me long to familiarise myself to the various tools and processes involved. To infuse my animation with a fun and lively theme, I recognized the need to incorporate a palette of vibrant and bold hues. Therefore, I opted to introduce an array of bright colours to my design, in order to add playfulness into the final product.

Design process:

I had used the ellipse tool and hide the fill colour to only make the stroke visible. Then, I used different settings such as stroke width to control the thickness of the stroke. For the keyframes, I had experimented the timeframes as well so that my animation does not look too awkward.

Intermediate process of the first stroke animation
The settings and keyframe for the animation (Purple stroke)

Upon completing the initial stroke animation, I made the decision to duplicate the animation, while simultaneously adjusting the stroke settings, colour scheme, and key frames to give it a fresh new look.

keyframe settings for different stroke animations
intermediate process of adjusting keyframe settings in another element
after duplicating and adjusting set of keyframes for all other elements

In order to further complement the lively and energetic aesthetic of the animation, I chose to incorporate a bouncy effect to the text element. Additionally, I explored the “Wiggle: position” effect within After Effects, which I discovered added some motion and dynamism to the text. I used these techniques to add playfulness to the animation, while still keeping it coherent and fluid.

wiggle – effect on my text layer
the text settings underneath the layer

Here are the final results:



Design idea:

I wanted to create a school-themed animation for my second design, so I learned how to make a handwriting text effect. It was difficult to figure out at first, but I eventually discovered that changing the color tones can alter the handwriting effect. I chose to use a “school” theme for the design because I believed it would make the podcast more appealing and helpful to those who are interested in its topics and discussions.

Design Process:

From the text layer, I right clicked it and went to Camera > Create mask from text. From there, I searched up “Stroke” from the effects bar and applied it to my text layer.

Create mask from text
Stroke settings on text layer

As for the podcast icon, I decided to use the brush overlay effect which was something I frequently. I then applied the Luma Matte tool on my image layer and linked the video overlay to the image layer.

Applying Luma Matte to image layer
Brush overlay effect on the image layer

Moreover, I wanted to add a playful element so I decided to use the shape layer to make a smiley face by experimenting on the end and start keyframes as well as the stroke width. This had a similar process to the ellipse stroke animation on my first design.

Shape layer keyframes

After that, I organised all my elements into one composition and placed them on top of a notebook image layer. For the final touch, I decided to explore the turbulent displace effect. Since I wanted to make a crumpled paper effect, I decided to use that and set my time to “time6*”. Moreover, I used the positions composition and scale composition to make some movements on my final product.

my keyframe and random seed (turbulent displace) settings
turbulent displace settings

Here are the final results:


Design Idea:

In creating my final animation, I made the deliberate choice to focus on the use of transition effects with vector shapes, as I believed this approach would offer an exciting opportunity for experimentation and creative expression. What drew me in particular to the use of transitions in vector animations was the unique and appealing visual effect that it creates, something that I found both intriguing and captivating. By using transitions, I felt I could add an extra layer of dynamism and depth to my animation, making it all the more engaging and immersive for viewers.

Design Process:

I started of by doing pop ups of tiny circles by using the ellipse tool and the scale composition.

tiny circle pop ups with the scale composition keyframes

After that, I pre-composed it and placed a navy blue shape as a background then added another ellipse shape in the centre. To create my transition, I used the scale composition and increased the scale of the orange ellipse and transitioned it into a new background layer.

first few frames of scaling
final frames of the ellipse tool with keyframes

For my text, I used a masking effect with the shape tool and made my text appear halfway the composition. Other than that, I added some stroke animations to my project file because I thought it looked too empty. Additionally, I did a pop up transition with the headset image.

masking text effect with keyframes

Here are the final results:


Software Tutorials:

I learned most of my software tutorials from YouTube. Although I have extensive experience with After Effects, I still used tutorials to refresh my memory. One important thing I remembered is the use of motion blur and keyframe graphs, particularly easy in, easy out, which is a fundamental knowledge any animator should possess to create smooth and fluid animations. For my first design, I watched a tutorial on the pop-up circle animation and bouncy text, which taught me that even the simplest vector animations can be unique and attractive. I also learned to access different text layer settings and keyframes for text animation, without relying on the effects tab.

In my second design, I explored handwriting text and brush overlay animation, and learned that pre-composing layers can help organize project files better. I also discovered that changing the random seed option (click + alt) in the effects tab can alter the timing of the turbulent displace effect. For my third design, I watched tutorials on text masking and vector transition. Although I had covered most of the basics in my past experiences, my goal was to explore new creative possibilities for achieving a professional look with the use of vector shapes. I also realized the potential for creating engaging cartoon vector animations for various types of advertisements. This approach could help me enhance my creative skills and create better, visually appealing transitions in future projects.

Here are some of the other tutorials I used:



Design Resources and Article:

When I was using the Luma Matte tool, I faced a challenge when a software update changed the process of using the track matte tool. But I managed to overcome this hurdle by linking my image or video layer to the overlay video and then clicking on the tiny box on the left to apply the Luma Matte effect.

I also learned that the brush overlay video needs to be in black and white to work effectively. While some people use green screens, I found the alternative way to be more distinctive. This experience sparked my curiosity in exploring other matte tools like alpha matte and chroma key for using green screens.

To resolve the issue and learn the updated process of using the tool, I used a website/resource that was helpful in familiarizing myself with the new placements of the tools.

Learning throughout the module

In my journey of learning digital design, I have come across some important techniques in Photoshop and Illustrator that have helped me in creating high-quality designs. One such technique that I learned in Photoshop is the use of the lasso tool for cutting images from their background. The add and subtract options of the lasso tool proved to be very useful in achieving the desired level of accuracy while selecting and isolating an image. Another technique that I became familiar with in Photoshop is the use of clipping masks. Clipping masks have proved to be a very effective tool in adding texture and depth to images.

In Illustrator, I discovered the importance of using grids when designing logos. I have learned that creative grid design can greatly enhance the overall look and feel of a logo. Following tutorials blindly may not always give the desired results, and it is essential to explore and experiment with different grid designs to create unique and visually appealing logos. With these techniques, I am confident that I can continue to improve my digital design skills and create designs that are both aesthetically pleasing and effective.



Liquid Letters – AfterEffects


Design 3 different animations for the Typography & Graphic Communication course.

    • include the text Typography & Graphic Communication
    • include a background (colour/image)
    • explore different ways to animate the text




  •  For my Classic design I wanted to demonstrate the process I have learnt throughout this task of applying text effects to my text. My intention for this design was to display those skills as clearly as possible. Therefore, I have chosen just two typefaces on three different layers, with one text effect on layer two and one on layer three. I went for a muted, natural colour pallet to reflect the simplicity of this design and so as not to distract from the applied text effects I applied.
  • Each layer makes sense on their own and could be observed in isolation, and the style of the text effect reflects the connotation of the words themselves. The text effect on the word ‘Typography’ is a nod towards kerning, as the space between each letter gently increases. The effect on ‘Graphic Communication’ plays more with more with the graphic element of text effects, bringing one letter in at a time in a jumbled way to eventually reveal the words.
Classic, Adobe After Effects Text Effect



  • This idea was inspired by my podcast work earlier on in this module. I really enjoyed exploring designs which had an urban, messy edged style which experimented with different ways of layering elements, playing with colour, and embracing imperfections.
  • In urban environments there is often a lot of movement and bustle played in and around stationary objects. I continued to explore the impact of adding effects to all layers, one layer, or some layers. In this design all of my layers are animated, but I found having the ‘&’ as my stationary object once it arrives brought a solidarity and grounding to this design, enabling the chaos around it.
  • I then wanted to explore how text interacts with the background. I experimented with colour, texture, and image.Here I applied an effect to an image for the background as well as applying effects to the text which sit on top of it using Adobe Bridge.
  • This design was really fun to develop the use of bold text and unpredictable movements and it really portrays the style I was aiming for.
Glitch, Adobe After Effects Text Effect



  • Having made many explorations with the different text effects supplied by Adobe, I wanted to push myself to explore other ways to utilise the tools in After Effects, to bring movement and interest to my text through developing my understanding of the other tools available. This design really challenged me and grew my skills and understanding of After Effects and was the most technically difficult idea I produced. I am really pleased with the outcome and think the effect works well.
  • My favourite idea  explores the use of external movements of shapes, to simulate the movement of my text. I watched a few Youtube videos of water effects in AfterEffects and found one that explained the software really well and was easy to follow. This design creates the effect that the text is filling with water, and then it disappears in the same manner. I first followed along with the video using the text ‘liquid’ and then reproduced it again with the text ‘typography and graphic communication’ to meet the brief.
  • To create this design I first opened  a new project and created a new composition at 1200 x 695, 1080p, 25 frames rate.
  • I then went to ‘Layer’ and created a new solid layer and set the colour to dark blue and locked the layer by clicking the lock icon.
Creating a new document, Adobe After Effects
  • In the Layer menu again, I created a new text layer and entered my text. Using the select tool I moved it to the centre of the frame and pressed ‘y’ to adjust the anchor tool to the centre also. Adjusting the text to the font and size that I desired was rather simple as it echoed the same process as in other Adobe software.
  • Once I was confident the text was in the middle of the frame, I created a shape layer and using the pen tool I drew a rough rectangle shape around the text and filled it in with a lighter blue thank my background. It was important that this blue was markably lighter than my background so that it could be easily visible, but still dark enough that I had room for two further increases in tint for the desired effect.
Drawing a rough rectangle with the pen tool, Adobe After Effects
  • With the rough rectangle shape selected, I went to the effects panel at the right of the screen and searched for ‘wave warp’. To apply this to my shape I clicked and dragged it from the results bar onto the shape layer in the timeline. I then adjusted the default settings, such as wave height and wave width, until it had the effect I desired.
  • Through pressing ‘p’ on the keyboard, I could click the position stopwatch and create my first keyframe. To get the progression correct, I first set the keyframe for the wave at its highest, then moved to the start of the timeline and set the wave to being under the text, I then set another keyframe. I set a third keyframe in the middle of the timeline, at around the middle of the height of the text.
Adjusting the path of the animation of my shape, Adobe After Effects
  • To enhance the wave effect as we play along the timeline, I adjusted the ‘s path’ of the shape. This meant it could weave up the screen like a snake, adding to the effect of water filling the text. To do this I moved the handles on the path line that was created from moving the shape downward from the last position to the starting point of the water.
  • For a smooth transition from one keyframe to the next, I selected all the keyframes at once and hit F9. This activated ‘easy-ease’, creating seamless transition. I further added to the realism of the water effect by rotating the shape slightly with the rotate tool. With the shape selected, I clicked on the rotate tool and could click and drag anywhere on the shape to rotate it around the anchor point.
Applying ‘alpha matte’ to my design, Adobe After Effects
  • Once I was happy with the shape, I turned it to ‘Alpha Matte’, this made it a mask over the text layer meaning the waves only appeared within the shapes made by the text. I could then copy and paste the text and shape layers on top of the existing layers (using command+c followed by command+v).
  • With my two new layers, I selected the shape layer and adjusted the settings of the shape. I changed the colour to a lighter shade of blue, increased the wave height and increased the wave width. So that my first layer could still be visible, I then moved these two copied layers down along the timeline. I also adjusted the keyframe positions to see how this impacted the effect. It took a bit of experimentation to find the position that worked nicely in unity with the first layer but once I found a position I liked I could repeat this process again to create a third layer with a lighter colour.
  • It was important that I didn’t move the text layer each time I copied the layers, otherwise the shape of the letters would be distorted and lose form and clarity. For this project, it was not something I wanted to push the boundaries with.
Testing the positioning of my three water layers, Adobe After Effects
  • Having all three shape and text layers in a position I liked, I selected them all (excluding the background layer), right clicked and created a pre-compose layer and gave it the name ‘text’. This brought all the layers into one, though when I double clicked on it I could still access all the layers within it. I copy and pated the third shape layer back into the composition menu and move it to the top.
  • This layer is going to become a mask layer to the entire animation. Firstly I was to change the colour of the layer to something really obviously not part of the design. I chose bright green. This was so I was clear that it was a mask layer and not part of the design. Once the colour was changed I could see clearly where it was and I positioned it towards the end of the timeline, roughly where the shape of the text is just filled up.
‘pre-composing’ my layers, Adobe After Effects
  • This bright green shape layer doesn’t need any further detail adjustments, though if I wanted to do something different I could have done. Because it was in a different place along the timeline (and so out of sync to the previous shape) I didn’t see the need to make any adjustments.
  • Making sure the text layer was selected, I made it an ‘inverted alpha matte’, meaning that it will work out the previous animation as it rises up the screen.
  • I then selected both layers and pre-composed them again.
Repeating the process with the text ‘typography & graphic communication’, Adobe After Effects
  • A nice additional detail to the design was the effect of rising bubbles inside the letters. To achieve this I added a new adjustment layer, and in the effects menu I searches for bubbles and click and dragged ‘CC bubbles’ onto my adjustment layer. I was able to change the setting to produce the size and shading that I liked, through pressing ‘t’ for opacity, I reduced the opacity of the bubbles as well.
  • Using the ‘bubble amount clock’, I added keyframes along the timeline. Starting with an amount of bubbles, letting then increase in number, and then decrease to zero as the word disappears. This was the most challenging part for me, to get the right number of bubbles at each keyframe. The same as I did to the keyframes on the wave shape layer, I selected all the keyframes on the bubbles and pressed F9, for easy-ease, ensuring a smooth transition between bubble quantities.
  • Finally, I duplicated the final text composition layer above the adjustment layer and turned the adjustment layer to ‘alpha matte’. This kept the bubbles within the text shape, like a clipping mask in Illustrator,  and had a really nice overall effect.



To view this animation right click and open in a new window:

Final design, Liquid Letters, Adobe After Effects


  • Exporting my designs to a GIF was at first a much more fiddly process than I had thought and so I used a few websites to help me understand the process. First from Adobe Effects into Adobe Media Encoder, then export from Adobe Media Encoder as an mp4, import into photoshop, then export as a GIF at an appropriate size. This was a big learning curve for me as it was not something that I had done before but once I got the hang of it it became rather simple.
  • Other challenges in this task were getting to grips with a new set of keyboard shortcuts. I also found myself trying to use keyboard shortcuts familiar to me on other pieces of software, however quickly found that almost every key seems to have a different but useful function in AfterEffects, once you know what they are. Becoming familiar with these shortcuts will be both useful, and important if I am to learn to work at a professional standard, which includes working accurately at an efficient speed. Shortcuts also help you to have greater control over your project.
  • I also found adjusting keyframes and their default settings tricky to figure out at first as some of the ways of doing this changed with each effect, but I eventually enjoyed the process of combining multiple effects and learning how and where to position the keyframes.




This was my first time using After Effects and so all of the tutorials this week were extremely helpful in building my basic understanding of this software and developing some core skills to begin experimenting with different design ideas and the tools available. I found focusing on text and the available text effects a great place to start and it inspired me to try more advanced design ideas, such as the liquid effect I have presented here. I most appreciated the explanation of keyboard shortcuts as I didn’t find them as intuitive as other Adobe software and so it was really good to have my notes to refer back to to know the most efficient way of achieving each tool/command.

I found Juan Villanueva’s work really inspiring as an example of what is possible in After Effects and text animation. It is great to see real life examples of how the skills can be used and it encouraged me to consider how and where these ideas might be applied. Considering the application of my designs inspired me to think of potential audiences, and that inspired new ideas that pushed me to develop my skills further.

Something I very much want to strengthen is my control of keyframes and effects, this is something i’m sure will come as I spend more time on the software and understand how it works better. It will also take me a little while to figure out the shortcuts and discover all the tools and effects on offer but I was really encouraged by how quickly I picked up what I did this week and I look forward to using After Effects more in the upcoming weeks.

This was a really enjoyable week for me. Having started the week with no clue how to work this software, I am now really excited to continue projects that further develop and strengthen my skills and understanding of Adobe After Effects.




My inspiration this week started with thinking about and looking at examples of text effects in movies and music videos, as well as GIFs. This, along with the work of Villanueva inspired me to consider the context and use of my designs. I also wanted to explore text effects that I have noticed recently and found appealing, this ultimately led me to my final design of liquid type. The two main videos I used to develop my final idea and learn how to export to GIF properly were and As I was searching on YouTube for a liquid effect tutorial I was amazed at the number of diverse and interesting design tutorials that there were and this inspired me to challenge myself to develop my skills further in my own time. Some of these tutorials I watched but felt my skills needed improving before I attempted and I am looking forward to going through some of them in the future, as each showcased a variety of ways in which After Effects can be mastered and help to strengthen my skills. Much of my research this week, however, was about learning a new piece of software and trying to get to grips with its basic functions within the context of the application of text effects. Working my way through the supplied tutorials enabled me to have a rudimentary understanding of what the software could do, and watching a variety of design ideas on YouTube inspired me to push my creativity and skills further.