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60 Useful Tips in Adobe After Effects

There is always a need for speed in this fast-paced motion design world. It’s definitely something we can all agree on. Every day I look for ways to speed up my workflow, and there are so many ways to save time in After Effects. In this post, I will show you 60 useful After Effects tips that will help you speed up your workflow in After Effects.

It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or an expert, I know you will find at least one or two tips you have never heard of before. Let me know which one you liked best in the comments below!

Also, make sure to download the project file at the bottom of this post and follow along!

So let us dive in!

Outline

Tip 01: Select Label Group
Tip 02: Invert Selection
Tip 03: Select Children
Tip 04: Hide Property or Group
Tip 05: Solo Selected Properties
Tip 06: Timeline Search Bar
Tip 07: Maximize Frame
Tip 08: Splitting Layers
Tip 09: Paste at Current Time
Tip 10: Set Work Area to Selection
Tip 11: Comp Mini-Flowchart
Tip 12: Edit Guide Position Numerically
Tip 13: Switching Between Time & Frames
Tip 14: Reset Scale & Rotation
Tip 15: Copy with Property Links
Tip 16: Convert to Bezier Path
Tip 17: Open Shape & Mask Paths
Tip 18: Switching Between RotoBezier & Bezier Path
Tip 19: Center Anchor Point
Tip 20: Center Anchor Point in New Shape Layers
Tip 21: Scaling Multiple Keyframes
Tip 22: Time-Reverse Keyframes
Tip 23: Duration Between Keyframes
Tip 24: Roving Keyframes
Tip 25: Motion Path From Mask & Shape Paths
Tip 26: Locate Project Files
Tip 27: Shift+Parenting Behavior
Tip 28: Delete All Effects from Selected Layers
Tip 29: Look at Selected 3D Layers (Project File is Available)
Tip 30: Custom Blurred Vignette (Project File is Available)
Tip 31: Faking 3D Extrusion (Project File is Available)
Tip 32: Slide Transition (Project File is Available)
Tip 33: Set Matte Effect (Project File is Available)
Tip 34: Fake Reflection (Project File is Available)
Tip 35: Post-Expression Graph
Tip 36: Disable All Expressions
Tip 37: Checkbox Control (Project File is Available)
Tip 38: Dropdown Menu Control (Project File is Available)
Tip 39: Layer Control (Project File is Available)
Tip 40: Adding Automatic Commas to Numbers (Project File is Available)
Tip 41: Convert Expression to Keyframes
Tip 42: Invisible 3D Layer Backface (Project File is Available)
Tip 43: Offsetting Animation with Markers (Project File is Available)
Tip 44: Keyframe-less Animation (Project File is Available)
Tip 45: Hover-Over Effect (Project File is Available)
Tip 46: Edit Text with Comp Name (Project File is Available)
Tip 47: Mouse Cursor Rig (Project File is Available)
Tip 48: Cursor Change on Hover (Project File is Available)
Tip 49: Hover Button Effect (Project File is Available)
Tip 50: Auto-Resize to Comp Size (Project File is Available)
Tip 51: Math.min & Math.Max (Project File is Available)
Tip 52: Auto-Resize to the Longest Text (Project File is Available)
Tip 53: Repeat Text Horizontally (Project File is Available)
Tip 54: Repeat Text Vertically (Project File is Available)
Tip 55: Repeat Text Vertically & Horizontally (Project File is Available)
Tip 56: Vertical Text Array (Project File is Available)
Tip 57: Creating & Using CSV Files (Project File is Available)
Tip 58: Edit Colors from a Text File (Project File is Available)
Tip 59: Viewing Data Properties (Project File is Available)
Tip 60: Loop In & Out (Project File is Available)

Tip 01: Select Label Group

The first tip is Select Label Group. This feature allows you to select multiple layers that are the same color. To do that, RIGHT-CLICK on the color and then Select Label Group. That simple!

Select Label Group in After Effects

It will look something like this.

Select Label Group After Effects

Tip 02: Invert Selection

Invert Selection does what it says. It inverts selected layers. First, select all the layers you want in After Effects.

Selecting Layers in After Effects

Then when you are ready, RIGHT-CLICK on your selection and choose Invert Selection.

Tip 03: Select Children 

For this example, I have our Ukramedia logo that has different children parented to it.

Select Children in After Effects

If I move one of the logos, you can see all the children move with it.

Select Children in After Effects

To select them, RIGHT-CLICK on the logo inside of your canvas and choose Select Children.

Select Children After Effects

It should look like this:

Select Children After Effects

Tip 04: Hide Property or Group 

The Hide Property or Group tip in After Effects is one of my favorites. I use it every day. It allows us to get rid of groups and properties quickly we do not want by holding down CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+LMB on a PC or CMD+OPT+SHIFT+LMB on a Mac on the properties or groups you do not want to see. It is simple but useful!

Hide Property or Groups in After Effects

Tip 05: Solo Selected Properties 

For this example, select all the properties you want to keep in After Effects. Then press the S key twice on your keyboard to solo them.

Solo Selected Properties in After Effects

It should look like this:

Solo Selected Properties in After Effects

To bring back any hidden or soloed properties, go up to the top and CTRL+LMB on a PC or CMD+LMB on a Mac on the arrow in the left corner to hide the properties.

Bring back Solo Selected Properties in After Effects

Then CTRL+LMB again on a PC or CMD+LMB on a Mac to unhide them.

Unhiding properties in After Effects

Tip 06: Timeline Search Bar 

The Timeline Search Bar feature allows you to search for properties within selected layers in After Effects. First, select the layers you want to search and then press CTRL+F on a PC or CMD+F on a Mac to reveal the search bar. In this example, we selected two layers: Text Layer 1 & Text Layer 4. We are looking for text properties within the selected layers by typing text inside the search bar. By doing so, it will bring up all the text properties in the selected layers.

Let’s choose different layers for our second example and search for a different property something like the size property. So, let’s elect Shape Layer 4 and Shape Layer 1. Then go to the top search bar and search for the size property. Now we have size properties visible for both of our selected layers.

Timeline search bar in After Effects

We can take it a step further by searching for multiple properties in our search bar. To do that, select the same layers again, add a comma after size, and then type in an additional property that you want to see. In this example, we are looking for roundness.

Searching for multiple properties in adobe after effects

We can search for as many properties as we want. For example, let’s select Shape Layer 1, Shape Layer 4, Text Layer 4, and search for three properties this time.

Searching for multiple properties in adobe after effects

Tip 07: Maximize Frame

Maximize Frame keyboard shortcut allows us to force a desired After Effects panel into a full-screen mode. To do that,  hover over the desired After Effects panel then hit the tilt key (~) on your keyboard. Press the tilt key again to go back to the regular view. That simple!

Maximize Frame in Adobe After Effects

Tip 08: Splitting Layers

Splitting Layers allows you to split any selected layers in After Effects. To do that, we have to move our time indicator forward a few frames.

Splitting Layers in After Effects

Then go to EditSplit Layers. You can also use the keyboard shortcut CTRL+SHIFT+D on a PC or CMD+SHIFT+D on a Mac.

Splitting Layers in After Effects

It should look like this:

Splitting Layers in After Effects

Tip 09:  Paste at Current Time 

Select the Ukramedia.com layer in After Effects. Go to EditCopy or press CTRL+C on a PC or CMD+C on a Mac.

Paste at current time in After Effects

Then move your time indicator and press CTRL+ALT+V on a PC or CMD+OPT+V on a Mac to paste it at the current time.

paste at current time move the time indicator in After Effects

It should look like this after you press CTRL+ALT+V on a PC or CMD+OPT+V on a Mac.

Paste at current time After Effects

Tip 10: Set Work Area to Selection

Select all of the layers in our After Effects project and press CTRL+ALT+B on a PC or CMD+OPT+B on a Mac to set the work area.

Set work area to selected layers in after effects

Then I am going to trim it by going to the very top, RIGHT-CLICKTrim Comp to Work Area.

Set work area to selected layers in after effects

It should look like this:

Set work area to selected layers in after effects

Tip 11: Comp Mini-Flowchart 

Comp Mini-Flowchart comes in handy when working with multiple Composition in After Effects. Some projects have too many compositions and Comp Mini-Flowchart help us back to where we started.

There are two ways of navigating with Comp Mini-Flowchart. There is a keyboard shortcut we can use or a button we can press.

The Comp Mini-Flowchart button is located in the After Effects timeline just above our layers.

The Comp Mini-Flowchart keyboard shortcut is the TAB key.

Tip 12: Edit Guide Position Numerically

Drag out a guide inside After Effects canvas like so.

The RIGHT-CLICK on the guide.

Next, click on Edit Position.

Type 300 inside the white box and then click OK.

The guide will automatically snap to 300.

You can do the same thing horizontally. Drag out your horizontal guideline, RIGHT-CLICK on it, and click Edit Position.

The guide will snap to 400 horizontally.

Tip 13: Switching Between Time & Frames

Switching Between Time and Frame in After Effects is simple. Hold down CTRL on a PC or CMD on a Mac and click on the timecode in After Effects.

Tip 14: Reset Scale & Rotation

To reset the scale and rotation of multiple layers in your composition is simple. First, select the layers you want to reset and then double click on the move tool in the top left corner of your screen to reset the scale back to 100.

To reset the rotation back to 100, select the layers you want to reset and then double click on the rotation tool at the top left corner of your screen.

Tip 15: Copy with Property Links 

Let’s say I have four layers and I want to control the rotation property of all four layers, all at once. How do I do it?

First, select one ration property.

Then go to EditCopy with  Property Link. You can also use the keyboard shortcut CTL+ALT+C on a PC or CMD+ALT+C on a Mac.

Then select all the other rotation properties.

Go to EditPaste. You can also use the paste keyboard shortcut CTRL+V on a PC or CMD+V on a Mac.

Now one rotation property can control all the other rotation properties.

Tip 16: Convert to Bezier Path

Let’s draw a star on our canvas by clicking on the Star Tool in the top menu bar.

How can we move each point on the star? We can add more points by going to ContentsPolystar 1 – Polystar Path 1Type and Points.

But how do we make our star editable? Good question! To do that RIGHT-CLICK on the Polystar Path 1Convert To Bezier Path.

Now you can individually select the points and move them around.

Tip 17: Open Shape & Mask Paths

Take a pen tool, draw a path on your canvas, and close it.

If you want to open shape and mask path, select the two points you want to open and then RIGHT-CLICK on one of the points, go to Mask and Shape Path, and make sure to uncheck Closed.

Then you can select one of the points and keep drawing. You can close it off by connecting the points again.

Tip 18: Switching Between RotoBezier & Bezier Path 

Let’s select a Pen tool, then check RotoBezier, and start drawing a shape on the canvas like so:

If you notice, your points above do not have handles to adjust. To do that, hover over any of the four points, RIGHT-CLICKMask and Shape PathUncheck RotoBezier.

You will see handles appear.

If you want to reverse this process, hover again over any of the four points, RIGHT-CLICKMask and Shape Pathcheck RotoBezier.

Tip 19: Center Anchor Point

In this example, we have a simple rectangle shape in our canvas with an Anchor Point slightly off.

To center our Anchor Point, RIGHT-CLICK on the rectangle – TransformCenter Anchor Point in Layer Content or press CTLR+ALT+Home on a PC/CMD+ALT+Home on a Mac.

It will center our Anchor Point in the middle of the rectangle tool.

Let’s take it a step further. Select Tool Creates Mask.

Then draw a rectangle mask on top of our rectangle.

To drop the Anchor in the center of our orange shape, RIGHT-CLICK on the orange rectangle – select TransformCenter Anchor Point in Layer Content.

The Anchor Point will be in the center of our shape.

Tip 20: Center Anchor Point in New Shape Layers 

If we click on the rectangle tool and create a shape in our canvas, you will notice that the Anchor Point is in the center of our canvas by default.

To make it in the center of our shape, go to Edit – Preferences – and select General or use the keyboard shortcut CTRL+ALT+; on a PC or CMD+ALT+; on a Mac.

Then check Center Anchor Point in New Shape Layers and click OK.

Now the Anchor Point will automatically be centered on all new shapes by default.

Tip 21: Scaling Multiple Keyframes 

In After Effect, we can scale multiple keyframes proportionally by selecting them, then pressing ALT KEY on a PC or OPT KEY on a Mac and CLICK HOLD on the last keyframe in our timeline.

Scaling multiple keyframes in After Effects

Let’s make another selection and this time select only the five middle keyframes. Then press ALT KEY on a PC or OPT KEY on a Mac and CLICK HOLD on the last or the first keyframe.

Scaling multiple keyframes in After Effects

Tip 22: Time-Reverse Keyframes

For this example, I have a basic logo animation moving from left to right.

To reverse the movement of my logo, we first have to select our keyframes in our timeline.

Then RIGHT-CLICK, select Keyframe AssistantTime-Reverse Keyframes. This will reverse your animation in no time!

Time-Reverse Keyframes

Tip 23: Duration Between Keyframes

In After Effects, we can quickly find out the duration between two keyframes by ALT KEY+LMB on a first keyframe on a PC or OPT KEY+LMB on a Mac. Then do the same thing on the second keyframe. The duration between keyframes will be listed in the Info Panel. We can also do the same thing for the markers.

Tip 24: Motion Paths from Mask & Shape Paths

For this example, I have a simple 5 key animation of our Ukramedia logo.

Roving Keyframes in After Effects

You can see from the image above that some parts of our animation are faster than others. To make them all the same, select all 5 keyframes, RIGHT-CLICK, and choose Rove Across Time. This will make our animation consistent.

Roving Keyframes in After Effects

We also do more than just making our animation consistently the same. Select the last keyframe in our timeline, RIGHT-CLICK, and choose Keyframe Velocity.

Keyframe Velocity in After Effects

Then change the Speed to 0 pixels/sec and Influence to 75 inside the Incoming Velocity settings.

Incoming Velocity After Effects

Now you can see our keyframes have shifted.

Keyframe Velocity After Effects Ukramedia

Let’s also do the same thing for the first keyframe in our animation. RIGHT-CLICK on it and choose Keyframe Velocity.

Keyframe Velocity After Effects

Then adjust the Speed to 0 pixels/sec and the Influence to 35 inside the Outgoing Velocity settings.

Outgoing Velocity After Effects

As you can see, our keyframes have shifted.

Keyframe Velocity After Effects

Now, all we have to do is select all of our keyframes, RIGHT-CLICK, and uncheck Rove Across Time.

Rove Across Time After Effects

And now we’ve created something very smooth in no time!

Rove Across Time After Effects

Tip 25: Motion Path From Mask & Shape Paths 

Select the Pen Tool from the top menu and draw a basic shape. You can see it created a new shape layer in our timeline.

Basic shape layer in After Effects

Select the Path Property inside of our Shape Layer 1

Path property After Effects

Copy the Path Property by either going to EditCopy at the top or using the copy keyboard shortcut CTRL+C on a PC/CMD+C on a Mac.

Copy Path Property After Effects

Select the Position Property of our logo and paste the Path Property we just copied by going to EditPaste at the top menu or using a simple paste keyboard shortcut CTRL+V on a PC/CMD+V on a Mac.

Just like that, it converted a Shape Path into a Motion Path with Roving Keyframes.

Converted Shape Path into a motion path in After Effects

Tip 26: Locate Project Files 

For this example, I have a simple project open in my After Effects.

After Effects Project

We are going to render this project by going to CompositionAdd to Render Queue on the top menu or use the Add to Render Queue keyboard shortcut CTRL+M on a PC/CMD+M on a Mac.

Add to Render Queue in After Effects

Next, we are going to click on the Output Module Settings.

Output Module Settings in After Effects

Make sure the Include Project Link checkbox is checked.

Include Project Link After Effects

Go ahead and render the file.

Render file in After Effects

Next, go to FileNew Project or use the keyboard shortcut CTRL+ALT+N on a PC/CMD+ALT+N on a Mac.

New Project After Effects

Save the file.

Save the file in After Effects

Now let’s bring in the file we just saved by going to  Import  – File or using a keyboard shortcut CTRL+I on a PC/CMD+I on a Mac.Import Files in After Effects

Select the file and Import it.

Import Files in After Effects

Select the file Slide Transition.mov file.

Go to EditEdit Original in the top menu bar or by using a keyboard shortcut CTRL+E on a PC/CMD+E on a Mac.

Edit Original After Effects Shortcut

When you do that, it is going to open up the project file that it was created in. This saved my life many times!

Project File After Effects

Tip 27: Shift+Parenting Behavior

Shift+Parenting Behavior tip is simple. Hold down on SHIFT on your keyboard and Parent Pick-Whip from the logo to any of the nulls. When you do that, it will automatically move your logo to whatever layer you are parenting it to.

Shift+Parenting Behavior After Effects

Tip 28: Delete All Effects from Selected Layers

For this example, I am going to select three layers in my project that have the Hue/Saturation and the Fast Box Blur effect.

Hue and Saturday and Fast Blur Effect After Effects

Next, go to Effect at the menu bar and choose Remove All. You can also do the same thing with the Remove All keyboard shortcut CTRL+SHIFT+E on a PC/CMD+SHIFT+E on a Mac. Remove All  will delete all of our effects.

Remove all effect After Effects

Tip 29: Look at Selected 3D Layers (Project File is Available)  

We have 3D text layers in this project file.

3D text layers After Effects

Let’s bring in a new camera in After Effect. Go to New and choose Camera.

Bring in camera in After Effects

Press OK

New camera After Effects

Select our first 3D text.

Select first 3D text in After Effects

Go to View and select Look at Selected Layers or use keyboard shortcut CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+\ on a PC/CMD+ALT+SHIFT+\ on a Mac.

Look at Selected Layers in After Effects

Next, click on the Orbit Camera Tool on the top menu bar or by pressing C on the keyboard.

Orbit Tool After Effects

Let’s center out text like so:

Centering Text in After Effects

Set your keyframes and move and move the time indicator.

Set the keyframes in After Effects

Select the next text.

Select 3D Text After Effects

Go to View from the top menu bar, and select Look at Selected Layers or use keyboard shortcut CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+\ on a PC/CMD+ALT+SHIFT+\ on a Mac.

Look at Selected Layers in After Effects

Use the Orbit tool to position your text.

Orbit Tool After Effects

Move your time indicator again.

Moving Time Indicator in After Effects

Select all of your layers and go to ViewLook at All Layers.

Look at All Layers After Effects

Use the Orbit tool to position your text.

Orbit Tool After Effects

Select and move your keyframes.

Select and move your keyframes in After Effects

Let’s set the first keyframes to go past our text as a starting point. It will go through every single text.

First keys After Effect

Select all of our keyframes – RIGHT-CLICKKeyframe Assistant, and select Easy Ease or use the keyboard shortcut F9.

Easy Ease After Effects

Now we created an advanced camera animation using a simple feature.

Easy Ease in After Effects

Tip 30: Custom Blurred Vignette (Project File is Available) 

 

31. 10:35 Faking 3D Extrusion (Project File is Available) 

32. 11:55 Slide Transition (Project File is Available) 

33. 13:11 Set Matte Effect (Project File is Available) 

34. 13:45 Fake Reflection (Project File is Available) 

35. 14:39 Post-Expression Graph 

36. 15:15 Disable All Expressions 

37. 15:42 Checkbox Control (Project File is Available) 

38. 16:44 Dropdown Menu Control (Project File is Available) 

39. 17:40 Layer Control (Project File is Available) 

40. 18:17 Adding Automatic Commas to Numbers (Project File is Available) 

41. 18:51 Convert Expression to Keyframes 

42. 19:14 Invisible 3D Layer Backface (Project File is Available) 

43. 20:07 Offsetting Animation with Markers (Project File is Available) 

44. 21:01 Keyframe-less Animation (Project File is Available) 

45. 22:23 Hover-Over Effect (Project File is Available) 

46. 23:39 Edit Text with Comp Name (Project File is Available) 

47. 24:48 Mouse Cursor Rig (Project File is Available) 

48. 26:09 Cursor Change on Hover (Project File is Available) 

49. 26:51 Hover Button Effect (Project File is Available) 

50. 27:48 Auto-Resize to Comp Size (Project File is Available) 

51. 28:50 Math.min & Math.Max (Project File is Available) 

52. 29:52 Auto-Resize to the Longest Text (Project File is Available) 

53. 30:57 Repeat Text Horizontally (Project File is Available) 

54. 31:38 Repeat Text Vertically (Project File is Available) 

55. 32:26 Repeat Text Vertically & Horizontally (Project File is Available) 

56. 33:17 Vertical Text Array (Project File is Available) 

57. 35:01 Creating & Using CSV Files (Project File is Available) 

58. 35:58 Edit Colors from a Text File (Project File is Available) 

59. 37:07 Viewing Data Properties (Project File is Available) 

60. 37:30 Loop In & Out (Project File is Available)

Project File


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May 14, 2020

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