How to Learn After Effects

In this walkthrough, we've outlined how to learn After Effects using the plethora of free and paid resources at your fingertips. Here are eight to get you started:

Beginner's Guide to After Effects
To dip your toes into the After Effects universe, we recommend this introductory tutorial series from Digital-Tutors. It covers many basic terms and concepts, including layers, effects, masks, and keyframes. 

Video Copilot Basic Training
Taught in a funny and relatable style, Video Copilot's Basic Training for After Effects is another great introduction to the visual effects software. This 10-part course is completely free, and it will teach you about the software layout, keying, motion tracking, titles, and more. 

Mastering Masking
Head of Surfaced Studio, Tobias Gleissenberger walks you through the entire masking process, including animation, interpolation, and the variable width feathering tool. Masking is a crucial concept in After Effects, and this tutorial will get you up to speed on the advanced techniques. 

Animating Cartoons in Real Settings
Creative Bloq is an excellent resource for After Effects tutorials, and in this step-by-step guide, the staff shares how to place animations into real-world scenes. They'll teach you how to add a composition, animate it with keyframes, and blend it into the scene with subtle effects. 

Building 3D Worlds
Even though Creative Cow feels dated by today's tech standards, there's still a wealth of information within this creative community. In this video tutorial, Rob Mize shares how to create a 3D set that blends seamlessly with live footage. When done properly, your actors will be able to fully inhabit the 3D world. 

Creating and Controlling Text
Pluralsight is the new learning platform from Digital-Tutors, and they have more than 100 After Effects tutorials that will take your skills to the next level. "All Things Text in After Effects" outlines how to navigate the various text panels, create new text layers, and much more.    

Designing Lifelike Smoke Trails
Besides the Basic Training, Video Copilot has more than 150 in-depth After Effects tutorials. "Smoke Trails", #102 in the series, explains how to harness particle physics to create realistic trails behind an aircraft or missile. Using 3D turbulence, you can randomize the particles so that they seem more believable.

Freezing Time
With a few clever After Effects techniques, you can blend 3D objects into any live video, and then pause the video so that it looks like time has stopped. In this YouTube walkthrough, Abdul VFX shows you how to create realistic 3D playing cards, "throw" them in the air, and then have them float in space while the camera pans around.  

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