VFX & Film Making Edutainment

Adobe After Effects For Absolute Beginners

Most of my VFX tutorials are aimed at intermediate to advanced users of After Effects. While I also have an ongoing After Effects basic beginner tutorial series, I felt I was missing a tutorial for absolute beginners, for people who are just starting to use After Effects and are trying to create their first own VFX.

If you are totally new to Adobe After Effects, then this tutorial is for you :)

After Effects Basic Beginners Tutorial – How To Create Cool VFX

This blog post is a little longer than usual, but I guarantee that by the end if it you will know how to create VFX with Adobe After Effects or your money back! … yeah, this blog is totally free so there won’t be any money back, but if you do get stuck, I am more than happy to answer any questions you may have – just leave them below :)

The VFX Workflow

Visual effects are created by placing a number of visual elements on top of your footage and compositing all of the layers together into a final result.

In the age of technology and computers, we have software tools called ‘video composition programs’ to help us with this process and Adobe After Effects is on of the main programs currently used in the professional industry.

The basic workflow to create a VFX in Adobe After Effects is

  1. Import your media. This can be any number of media files including video, images and audio
  2. Create a ‘composition’ and layer your media items into the composition. You can then move the layers around, mask them, change the way they are rendered and apply all sorts of effects to blend them together nicely
  3. Export the composition into a final output file which will usually be a video, but could also be a still image

Let’s explore the interface of Adobe After Effects!

60 comments for Adobe After Effects For Absolute Beginners

  1. fantastic i love to learn

    • So do I :) I also love to teach and it’s always great to see that people enjoy my tutorials! Thank you!

      • Hi Tobias, sorry to bother. I hope you will be able to help us.
        We want to create a spectacular 3D animation intro to be used with our clan videos on youtube.

        We have a basic idea of what we want, but zero clue how or with what to do it.
        Can you please mail me so that I can discuss it with you, and if necessary we will be willing to pay for you help.

        • Hi Marius, I am always happy to try to answer any specific questions you may have as you try to create your intro, but due to having a full time job (that is not Surfaced Studio), I do not have the capacity to work on any outside projects myself. Feel free to send me a message via the ‘Contact’ page

      • Hi Tobias,
        Just finished watching the first tutorial for beginners. Great work and there is absolutely nothing wrong with your acting during the explosion. lol
        looking forward to making my first AE video. :)

    • do u know how i can go from frame to frame ( aim trying to do a stick fight animation using after affects

    • Hello! I’m new to Adobe After Effects CS6 and the tutorial you’ve provided here has been a great help in getting started. As I’m becoming aware of the many things that can be accomplished with CS6, a question comes to mind. Is it possible in some way to save an individual layer or group of layers that can be imported into other projects?

      I’m thinking that it would be advantageous if I could store layers that perform certain functions and them combine them, sort of like ‘snippets’ of code to create a new project that builds upon layers I’ve already built. In this way, I could pick and choose from layers that have already been developed to create new projects without having to reenter everything from scratch.

      • You can’t really create ‘snippets’, but you can easily import other AE projects. So you could create a project that contains your ‘snippets’ and then just import and re-use that in other projects as needed.

  2. Great tutorial. You will be a good teacher!


    • Thank you very much :) Really glad you’re enjoying the tutorials!

  3. Not since watching Andrew kramer’s early tutorials over at Videocopilot have I seen such easy to follow and helpful information. Subcribed! Thanks.

    • I feel very honoured, thank you :D I am a big fan of Andrew Kramer and videocopilot – it’s how I learnt – and it makes me really happy that people seem to enjoy my tutorials!

    • Thank you so much! I’m a great fan of Andrew’s work so I do feel very honoured when people compare my (unworthy) work to his awesome material :D

  4. Clear, well presented and easy to follow tutorial..have just started to learn to use Ae and found this tutorial a great help..

  5. Thank you for helping us absolute beginners :) Your videos are very concise, straight to the point & with step by step progressions onto higher levels of understanding. Excellent!

  6. Really fine , and very helpful to beginners. detailed easy to understand- explanation. Thank you

  7. Thank you for all of your tutorials. Keep making more!!!!!

  8. Thanks Tobias.
    Very useful – You have a good training technique.
    You get the message over at a good pace, and without trying to show off, or getting too complex as most other tutors seem to do.
    I look forward to all the other tutorials you have done.
    Keep up the great work

  9. Thanks – I’ve got one week to finish two oil paintings, fix my Windows PC that has been dormant for 18 months, and produce a 3 minute video for college. I’ve never done any video editing before, so your tutorial is going to be extremely useful! :)

  10. Thank you – Dankeshon. First ever useful beginner tutorial that i have seen. I work with Photoshop and Premiere but i hated those never ending talking guys make you hate this wonderful tool.

    • That’s great to hear. After Effects is a great tool, but it does have a bit of a learning curve to get over

  11. Thank you for making this for absolute beginners. Was totally lost and no time to take classes on this. Will definitely view each and every tutorial you’ve made. Keep up the good work.

    • Thank you! Always great to hear that my tutorials are useful to others out there!

  12. Thank you for the tutorial. I am very new to video editing and have been using imovie. I have been doing a lot of footage with a quadcopter and thus some footage is shaky. I purchased AE to use the warp editor. It looks like it is going to do the trick but I have two questions. First why does some of my composition go slower that other parts when I use warp. Also, and the most important, How do I render the video to be used in Imovie. Please remember that I am new to editing so a lot of easy things are new to me.
    Thank you

    • 1) When you say you see the ‘composition go slower’ is that when you preview it in After Effects or after you export it? 2) I have a VFX Vlog where I talk about how to export your video from After Effects. Once you’ve done that you can use it in any other program that supports the video format you exported in. Check it out! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LD52tt__Kc4

  13. thank you so much. Your tutorials are awesome. Keep up the good work

  14. can you teach us rotoscoping?

    • The three most common ways to rotoscope are: track mattes, animated masks and the rotoscoping tool. I have tutorials on all of those topics on my channel/website already :)

  15. I was working with your gun muse video got to the part where you changed to opacity to 20% but well to be honest I got lost there can seen to find that option wondering if I’m not got the AE set up right or if I need to turn something on very interested in learning all I can .i’m working on a project that i need to know how to create cannon and gun fire effects as well as script narrating. any help would be very much welcomed. Thank you for your time and vids

    • To reveal the opacity setting on any later in AE, simply select it and press ‘o’. If you’re just getting started you might benefit from going through some of my After Effects beginner tutorials – there’s 7 in the series already

  16. Thanks for doing what no one else does! Showing an up close pointer so I can actually see what to do. I have now been 4 days trying to simply add text into a template with 0 success. hoping you have a video on that!

    • I don’t have a video on that. What exactly are you stuck on?

  17. thanks dude.. you’re so cool.. this is the gateway for me into the visual effect video realm.. God Bless you

  18. This is tg the best tutorial for any beginner, feels ease to get things done, thank you

  19. I just wanted to say thanks for your time and effort!this is super helpful and it’s much appreciated! :)
    ps.you are Awesome :D

  20. thanks…it is indeed very helpful

  21. Thanks for these tutorials, Tobias. I have learned so much more from your first tutorial than from anybody else. You’re going to be my go-to-guy for all things After Effects from now on!

  22. Excellent tutorial with visible snapshots…very impressive…clarity in expressing the thoughts..kudoos :)

  23. Fantastic Tutorial. Even though I was familiar with the basics, this was just the kind of Tutorial I was looking for. This site is now bookmarked !!!

  24. Thank you for your tutorial Tobias!!! It’s really useful and easy to understand!
    I just have a problem that I can’t download the Explosion stock footage :D

    • Thank you very much Luna. I think detonationfilms.com have recently changed their website and so they made it harder to get to the free stock footage. Another site worth checking out is footagecrate.com. I really gotta look into making my own stock footage for people to use :)

  25. Hi Tobias.
    Great tutorials. I’m reasonably OK with Photoshop but AE and Premiere are somewhat more difficult for me to learn as I’m what you may call an old timer….(70+) It get’s harder as you get older !
    There are so many bad tutorials on the web which do not help at all but yours is super. Clear dialogue with easy to follow instructions.
    One thing I would like to learn, what are all those funny little icons to the left of the time line in AE ?
    Keep up the good work….Chris.

    • Hi Chris, great to hear you are enjoying the wonderful world of Premiere and After Effects and I believe you’re never too old or too young to discover new hobbies and new exciting things. Glad to hear you are enjoying my tutorials and I will put a small tutorial post on my to-do list to explain the little layer icons in AE. Most of them are actually pretty simple, some enable motion blur or frame blending, you can use some to make your layers 3D (I show that in my 3D basics tutorial). If you are just getting started, I do have a properly structured 8 part beginner series that might be useful to you: http://www.surfacedstudio.com/tutorials/adobe-after-effects-for-beginners
      Regards and good luck!

  26. Do you have any after effect tutorials to make Guild Wars 2 kind of cutscenes that they make with their concept art? If you do that would be great. Thanks

  27. Thanks. This really a very useful after effect tutorial for me as a beginner.

  28. it’s a great tutorial and your are so fun. keep doing this work.
    thank u :)

  29. great tutorial.its my first time to check out your work but am loving it

  30. Your tutorials is very best tutorials – i like it great work – i like your hit by a car tutorial

  31. Great tutorials! Information given the way I need it to be given. Where can I find the video resources for the beginner series so that I can do the tutorial with you?

    • Great to hear you are enjoying my videos. Unfortunately I don’t have the resources for my older videos – it’s something I only started to provide a few years ago for all my newer videos

  32. Hi, How to enable display acceleration

  33. Hi Tobias, I found your website and it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for to learn after effects! Thanks so very much for the tutorial. I plan to view all of your beginner tutorials and improve my abilities in after effects.

    • Thank you very much for the awesome feedback! Great to hear you are enjoying my tutorials :)

  34. Hi… can you give me this notes with pdf sir…

    • Hi, unfortunately I do not have my website in PDF format. Your best option is likely to just hit PRINT on your browser and print to PDF :)

  35. Thank you so so much. I have been procrastinating on trying to learn Aftereffects out of sheer nervousness, and you have just demystified it.

    • That is great to hear, thank you for the feedback. And have fun learning After Effects :)

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