After Effects Tip: Align Tools

Align Tools in After Effects help us quickly align layers inside of the After Effects composition. In this post, I will go through and show you all the options that are currently available inside of the Align panel in After Effects. Let’s dive in!

So here we are in Adobe After Effects. The Align panel is on the right side of your screen.

Align Panel After Effects

If you do not see it, just go to Window and make sure the Align option is checked.

Align checked in windows After Effects

Now let me show you how awesome the Align Tool truly is.

Right now, the Align Tool is currently disabled. We know that because all the options are dimmed since we do not have anything selected in our timeline.

Disabled Tool panel in After Effects

As soon as I select something from the timeline like the UKRAMEDIA.COM text layer, the Align Tools panel will be enabled.

Enabled Align Tools Panel After Effects

Align Tools Options

Let’s go over the Align Tools Options. I have basic options in the Align Tools panel. I have the horizontal left alignment, horizontal right alignment, horizontal center alignment, vertical center alignment, vertical top alignment, vertical bottom alignment, and so on. You get the idea.

Basic Align Tools Options After Effects

Let me show you other cool stuff.

Align Layers to Composition and Selection

Select both the UKRAMEDIA.COM and UM Logo 2017.ai layers. If you notice, right now, it says Align Layers to Composition in the align panel.

Align Layers to Composition in After Effects

However, I can do some cool stuff if I switch to Selection.

Align Layers to Selection in After Effects

For example, if I choose align to the bottom of the selection, my layers will automatically be aligned to the bottom of my selection inside of the After Effects composition.

Align layer to the bottom of my selection in After Effects

I can also choose to align my layers to the bottom of the composition or the screen.

Align layer to the bottom of my composition in After Effects

I can also align my selected layer to the top of the composition. So you get the idea of what this feature does here.

Align layer to the top of my composition in After Effects

Align Tool in Action

By the way, I used the Align Tool when I created animations for arenas and stadiums. This Align tool came in handy because I had to do a lot of repetitive work. The Alignment Tool was a lifesaver! Let me show you what I mean.

I am going to select and duplicated the UKRAMEDIA.COM and the UM Logo 2017. ai layers with the keyboard shortcut  CTRL+D on a PC or CMD+D on a Mac.

Duplicating Layers Keyboard Shortcut in After Effects

Then spread the logos out throughout the strip.

Spreading Logos on a strip in After Effects

Select the last Ukramedia logo, duplicate it by pressing CTRL+D on a PC or CMD+D on a Mac, and place it at the very end. We want to start with the Ukramedia logo and end it with the Ukramedia logo. Just to keep things consistent.

Moving logo After Effects

Now, I can do some cool things if I select all of my layers.

Select all layers in After Effects

Now we have Distribute Layers options available inside of our Align panel.

Distribute Layers Align Panel Options After Effects

So first, I am going to center everything on the Y-axis by clicking on the Center Vertical Alignment button.Center Vertical Alignment button After Effects

Next, I can select the first logo icon on the left and snap it to the left of our composition by clicking on the vertical left alignment button.

Snap logo to the left with vertical left alignment button after effects

We can also do the exact same thing to the very last logo icon on the right side of the screen. Select the last logo icon on the right and click on the Vertical Right Alignment button in our align panel.

Vertical right alignment button After Effects

Next, let’s shift both the first and the last logo icons inside of our composition.

Shift logos inside of composition in After Effects

I want all of my text and logos to have an equal amount of gaps between them. That is when the Align Tool panel comes in handy!

Select all of the layers, go to the Distribute Layers settings inside of the Align panel, and click on the Horizontal Center Distribution button.

Horizontal Center Distribution After Effects

As you can see, it does MAGIC! I hope you can see how useful the Align Tools truly are.

Horizontal Center Distribution in After Effects

I hope you enjoyed this Align Tools Tip. I have a lot more Tips available on our website. Also, make sure to subscribe to our email list!

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About the author:

Sergei Prokhnevskiy

Sergei Prokhnevskiy is a Charlotte, NC based motion graphics designer, an online tutor, an entrepreneur, and Adobe MAX Master Speaker. Sergei is known for his quick and practical After Effects tips and tricks on YouTube, where he generated well over 6 million views on his tutorials. He has authored an online video course on After Effects Expressions and developed scripts for After Effects. He is also a former senior motion graphics designer at Fox Sports where he worked on graphics for NFL, Super Bowl, MLB, World Series, College Football, NASCAR, Women’s World Cup, and NASCAR Race Hub. He is very passionate about learning and teaching others.

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