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.

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
  4. Let's explore the interface of Adobe After Effects!

    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
    3 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
    2 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
    2 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
    2 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
    5 Years Ago
    April 30, 2013 @ 16:23 am

    Great tutorial. You will be a good teacher!

    (Peru)

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

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

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

    can you teach us rotoscoping?

    User avatar
    Surfaced Studio@ supriadi
    4 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
    4 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
    4 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
    4 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
    4 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
    4 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
    4 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
    4 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
    4 Years Ago
    August 4, 2014 @ 9:23 pm

    thanks...it is indeed very helpful

    User avatar
    Ray H
    4 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
    4 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
    3 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
    3 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
    3 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
    3 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
    2 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
    2 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
    1 Year 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
    1 Year Ago
    July 2, 2017 @ 23:14 am

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

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

    OMG, you helped me learn a lot.

    Thank you for the tutorial.

    User avatar
    11 Months Ago
    May 17, 2018 @ 19:55 am

    You are welcome!

    User avatar
    11 Months 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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