Adobe After Effects For Absolute Beginners

User avatarJanuary 20, 2013 by Surfaced Studio

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.

After Effects For Beginners Tutorial - 01 Compositing

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.

After Effects For Beginners Tutorial - 02 After Effects Icon

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
After Effects For Beginners Tutorial - 03 After Effects Workflow

Let's explore the interface of Adobe After Effects!

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65 Comments

User avatar
tariq
6 Years Ago
March 8, 2013 @ 6:38 pm

fantastic i love to learn

User avatar
6 Years Ago
March 9, 2013 @ 2:43 pm

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

User avatar
Marius Schoeman@ Surfaced Studio
4 Years Ago
August 20, 2015 @ 4:12 pm

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.

User avatar
Surfaced Studio@ Marius Schoeman
3 Years Ago
November 19, 2015 @ 1:41 pm

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

User avatar
Jeff@ Surfaced Studio
3 Years Ago
September 4, 2016 @ 9:31 pm

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.

Jeff

User avatar
Reuben Mockford@ tariq
3 Years Ago
December 28, 2015 @ 4:11 pm

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

User avatar
Surfaced Studio@ Reuben Mockford
3 Years Ago
January 1, 2016 @ 16:18 am

AE is likely not the right tool, would be much easier to create a sequence with all the images in Premiere Pro to create a stop motion film.

User avatar
Bill@ tariq
3 Years Ago
June 19, 2016 @ 19:25 am

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.

User avatar
3 Years Ago
June 23, 2016 @ 19:51 am

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.

User avatar
Renato
6 Years Ago
April 30, 2013 @ 16:23 am

Great tutorial. You will be a good teacher!

(Peru)

User avatar
6 Years Ago
May 3, 2013 @ 12:55 pm

Thank you very much Really glad you're enjoying the tutorials!

User avatar
Marcus
6 Years Ago
May 1, 2013 @ 12:16 pm

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

User avatar
6 Years Ago
May 3, 2013 @ 12:56 pm

I feel very honoured, thank you 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!

User avatar
6 Years Ago
May 20, 2013 @ 20:56 am

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

User avatar
Peter
6 Years Ago
May 29, 2013 @ 15:03 am

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

User avatar
Kevin Baker
6 Years Ago
June 5, 2013 @ 5:53 pm

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!

User avatar
vishal D
5 Years Ago
September 28, 2013 @ 6:03 pm

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

User avatar
Liam
5 Years Ago
December 9, 2013 @ 8:55 pm

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

User avatar
Bantam Blue
5 Years Ago
December 9, 2013 @ 10:04 pm

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

Regards

Will

User avatar
Ishtar
5 Years Ago
December 12, 2013 @ 14:11 am

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!

User avatar
Agron
5 Years Ago
January 2, 2014 @ 17:14 am

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.

User avatar
5 Years Ago
January 3, 2014 @ 12:11 pm

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

User avatar
Mark
5 Years Ago
January 21, 2014 @ 12:22 am

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.

User avatar
5 Years Ago
January 22, 2014 @ 1:41 pm

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

User avatar
michael fiem
5 Years Ago
February 1, 2014 @ 10:30 pm

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

User avatar
Surfaced Studio@ michael fiem
5 Years Ago
February 1, 2014 @ 14:21 am

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!

User avatar
khoa tran
5 Years Ago
March 17, 2014 @ 23:50 am

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

User avatar
supriadi
5 Years Ago
May 26, 2014 @ 12:24 am

can you teach us rotoscoping?

User avatar
Surfaced Studio@ supriadi
5 Years Ago
May 26, 2014 @ 14:56 am

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

User avatar
IBT
5 Years Ago
June 11, 2014 @ 5:26 pm

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

IBT

User avatar
5 Years Ago
June 11, 2014 @ 13:28 am

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

User avatar
allan james
5 Years Ago
June 11, 2014 @ 8:11 pm

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!

User avatar
Surfaced Studio@ allan james
5 Years Ago
June 11, 2014 @ 13:28 am

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

User avatar
primo
5 Years Ago
July 6, 2014 @ 21:56 am

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

User avatar
Kjbala
5 Years Ago
July 21, 2014 @ 12:10 pm

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

User avatar
brenda
5 Years Ago
July 30, 2014 @ 15:01 am

I just wanted to say thanks for your time and effort!this is super helpful and it's much appreciated!

ps.you are Awesome

User avatar
Anindita Saha
5 Years Ago
August 4, 2014 @ 9:23 pm

thanks...it is indeed very helpful

User avatar
Ray H
5 Years Ago
August 15, 2014 @ 4:35 pm

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!

User avatar
neha mittal
5 Years Ago
September 15, 2014 @ 23:52 am

Excellent tutorial with visible snapshots...very impressive...clarity in expressing the thoughts..kudoos

User avatar
Divij
4 Years Ago
September 25, 2014 @ 10:06 pm

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 !!!

User avatar
Luna
4 Years Ago
December 4, 2014 @ 19:27 am

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

User avatar
4 Years Ago
December 9, 2014 @ 4:42 pm

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

User avatar
Chris
4 Years Ago
January 6, 2015 @ 2:45 pm

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.

User avatar
4 Years Ago
January 8, 2015 @ 13:29 am

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: https://www.surfacedstudio.com/tutorials/adobe-after-effects-for-beginners
Regards and good luck!

User avatar
Ilze
4 Years Ago
March 25, 2015 @ 4:12 pm

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

User avatar
Klayan
4 Years Ago
April 29, 2015 @ 13:26 am

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

User avatar
Maadhavan
4 Years Ago
May 5, 2015 @ 11:31 pm

it's a great tutorial and your are so fun. keep doing this work.

thank u

User avatar
David Demba
4 Years Ago
June 1, 2015 @ 7:47 pm

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

User avatar
Surfaced Studio@ David Demba
4 Years Ago
August 1, 2015 @ 17:40 am

Thank you!

User avatar
Mohib khan
3 Years Ago
October 6, 2015 @ 8:58 pm

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

User avatar
Matt
3 Years Ago
August 24, 2016 @ 6:01 pm

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?

User avatar
3 Years Ago
September 15, 2016 @ 6:10 pm

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

User avatar
Bhuvana
2 Years Ago
March 11, 2017 @ 4:42 pm

Hi, How to enable display acceleration

User avatar
2 Years Ago
March 12, 2017 @ 17:37 am

There's an official page in the Adobe help documentation on how to open GPU acceleration: https://helpx.adobe.com/after-effects/using/rendering-opengl.html

User avatar
Shero
2 Years Ago
April 2, 2017 @ 11:25 pm

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.

User avatar
2 Years Ago
May 11, 2017 @ 19:12 am

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

User avatar
Ranjith
2 Years Ago
July 2, 2017 @ 23:14 am

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

User avatar
2 Years Ago
July 3, 2017 @ 5:37 pm

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

User avatar
Sharbani
2 Years Ago
July 20, 2017 @ 9:10 pm

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

User avatar
Surfaced Studio@ Sharbani
2 Years Ago
July 21, 2017 @ 6:04 pm

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

User avatar
Sue
1 Year Ago
January 7, 2018 @ 18:19 am

Fantastic tutorial! I've already improved so much thanks to you!

Can you tell me how to make the life bars for the layers appear if they're not there? I have copied text from another composition and I guess the life bars are stuck at the wrong time now. Cheers mate!

User avatar
1 Year Ago
January 8, 2018 @ 17:13 am

Thank you! You can just drag the sides of the layer to extend its life across your composition at will

User avatar
San
1 Year Ago
April 25, 2018 @ 4:59 pm

OMG, you helped me learn a lot.

Thank you for the tutorial.

User avatar
1 Year Ago
May 17, 2018 @ 19:55 am

You are welcome!

User avatar
1 Year Ago
May 17, 2018 @ 20:02 am

That's great to hear

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I am passionate about providing high quality VFX & Film Making Edutainment online. Check out my training courses on Udemy
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