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How To Create a Bouncy Ball in After Effects – Part 1

Part 1 Creating a Ball in After Effects

In the next five videos, we’re going to talk about how to create and animate a bouncy ball entirely in Adobe After Effects. We’re going to start at the very beginning.

In the first video, we’re going to talk about how to create a ball.

In the second video, we’re going to talk about how to create a studio type environment.

In the third video, we’re going to cover the drop shadow, how to create it, and how to rig it using some basic After Effects Expressions.

In the fourth video, we’re going to talk about the stretchy feature, how to rig the whole thing up using some basic After Effects Expressions.

And in the very last video, video number five, we’re going to talk about animation. We’re going to bring this ball to life using all the features that we have created. So without any further ado, let’s dive into the first video. Let’s create a ball in After Effects!

Part 1: Creating a Ball

Alright, so we are in Adobe After Effects. We’re going to start fresh from the very beginning. We’re going to stay organized. We’re going to create a basic structure to stay organized because things get pretty busy very quickly.

Step 1: Creating a New Folder

We’re going to create a new folder. We’re going to call it 01_COMPS. That’s where we’re going to put all of our comps.

Create a new folder in Adobe After Effects

Step 2: Creating New Subfolders

Then we’re going to create a subfolder. We’re going to call this one, preComps. That’s where we’re going to put all of our pre-comps.

Creating a subfolder in Adobe After Effects

Let’s create one more folder for assets. Let’s call this one 0_ASSETS.

Create a folder for Assets in After Effects

That’s the structure I like to keep but you don’t have to stop here. You can continue creating more subfolders for rasters, vectors, footage, and things of that nature.

Step 3: Importing Assets

Let’s go ahead and import our first asset. We only have one for this video. So let’s select the 02_ASSETS folder. That’s where we want our assets to end up. Then press Ctrl+I on a PC/CMD+I on a Mac.

Import Assets in Adobe After Effects

We’re going to bring in the Ukramedia logo. So let’s import that in.

Import Ukramedia logo in Adobe After Effects

Step 5: Creating a New Composition

Next, we’re going to create a new composition for our ball. It is going to end up being a pre-comp. So we’re going to put it into our preComps folder because it will eventually live in the main composition, which makes it a pre-comp. So let’s select the preComps folder. You can either press Ctrl-N on a PC/CMD-N on a Mac or click on the new composition icon.

New Composition Icon in Adobe After Effects

We’re going to call this one Ball.

New Composition After Effects

For preset, we can start with the HDTV 1080 29.97.

Preset After Effects

Next, change the width and height to 600 px by 600 px.

Change the width and height of the new composition in After Effects

Okay, everything else should be the same. As for duration, I’m going to set mine to three seconds, but you can set it to whatever you want. Then I’m going to press OK.

Set Duration New Composition After Effects

Now we have a new composition. It is located in the preComps folder. That’s where we’re going to create our ball.

New Composition After Effects

We’re going to drag our logo into the composition.

Drag logo in Adobe After Effects Composition

The UM logo doesn’t have the circle that I normally have. But it is the same size as our composition, which is 600 pixels by 600 pixels. So I’m going to check this continuously rasterize icon.

Continuously rasterize After Effects

Next, I’m going to select the layer, and we’re going to precompose it by using a keyboard shortcut CTRL+SHIFT+C on a PC/CMD+SHIFT+C.

Precompose After Effects

Make sure the first option “Leave all attributes in ‘Ball'” is checked. Let’s call it something like Ball Graphic. I’m not the best at labeling things. So I’m going to say Ball Graphic. If you have a better name, go for it! Press OK when you’re done.

Pre-compose in After Effects

So now we have a pre-comp within a pre-comp. So if we wanted to change the ball graphic, we would just go into the Ball Graphic composition. We would put either text or anything we want in this composition. Then when you go back, you would see it in here. Obviously, we don’t have the ball ready yet, but that’s the concept.

So next, let’s create a color because right now, we don’t have any color in the background. We just a blank composition.

No color After Effects

So let’s add some kind of color. To do that, we’re going to click on the Rectangle Tool, go to Fill, and we’re going to set it to orange (#16933). It doesn’t have to be orange. You can have your own color. Press OK when you’re done. So now we have a fill, but we obviously don’t have anything yet.

Rectangle Tool and Fill After Effects

Make nothing is selected then double click on this rectangle tool at the top. When you do that, it creates a new rectangle shape or I guess a square. It creates a new shape layer that’s the same size as your composition.

Color FIll the composition in After Effects

Now I’m going to select the Shape Layer 1 and rename it to BG.

Select layer and rename it in After Effects

We’re going to drop the BG layer right underneath the [Ball Graphic] like that.

Moving layers in Composition After Effects

So far, we have our Ball Graphic and a Background image. Next, we’re going to convert both of these into a sphere. To do that, we’re going to use an effect called cc sphere. I’ll show you what I’m talking about here shortly, but first, we’re going to create another shape layer by double-clicking again on the rectangle tool on the top menu bar.

Create another shape layer with the rectangle tool in After Effects

We’re going to select the new Shape Layer 1, and let’s rename it Sphere. So I want this Sphere to be an adjustment layer. To do that, just make sure the Adjustment Layer Icon is checked.

Adjustment Layer Icon After Effects

If you don’t see the Adjustment Layer Icon, just toggle between by clicking on the expand or collapse of the Layer Switches Panel Icon below.

Toggle in Adobe After Effects

Clicking on the Adjustment Layer Icon automatically converts our Sphere layer into an adjustment layer. So whatever effect we apply to the Sphere layer will automatically apply it to everything underneath it, which is really useful.

So let’s do that. We’re going to select this layer, we’re going to go to effects and presets panel. And in here, we’re going to search for CC sphere.

Because I have the Sphere layer selected, we can just double click on the effect, and it will automatically apply it or you can click and drag the effect on the layer. Either way works.

So we’re going to make some adjustments in the Effect Control right away, I can see that radius is not correct, our composition is 600 by 600. So the radius would be half of that. So it’d be 300.

Effect Controls After Effects

Right away, I can tell my ball graphic is all over the place. It’s not the same. I’m not sure exactly what it’s doing, but it’s distorting it. It’s probably some kind of aspect ratio misunderstanding or something, I don’t know. But we can fix it by selecting the [Ball Graphic] and hitting S twice on the keyboard.

Solo keyboard shortcut After Effects

We can then adjust the scale and kind of line it up. But I’m not going to do that. I like to use the Transform Effect instead. So let’s go back to effects and presets and look for the Transform effect.

Transform Effect After Effects

Next, I’m going to apply it to our [Ball Graphic]. The Transform effect is the same thing as the Transform properties. It’s the same concept. The cool thing about the Transform effect is that we can make all the adjustments and we’re not touching the Transform properties because it is an effect.

Transform Properties After Effects

So now we can adjust our scale in the Transform effect instead of the scale property.

Scale Property After Effects

We can adjust both width and height separately inside of the transform effect controls. To do that, we’re going to uncheck the uniform scale. And now we have height and width, which is great.

Uncheck uniform scale After Effects

Now we can make our adjustments. I was thinking what’s causing this distortion? I started playing with an aspect ratio, maybe like 16 by 9 or something like that. So just type 16 for the height and 9 for width. It seemed to fix it.

Height and width After Effects Transfrom effect

So it seemed to work exactly how it should be, which I’m okay with that. I’m just going to leave it as is. We can label this effect Scale Fix. So it’s kind of like a duct tape approach to this, but it works.

Scale Fix After Effects

Instead of adjusting everything in the Effect Controls Panel, I’m just going to leave it as is. Instead, I’m going to go to the scale property of the [Ball Graphic] layer and adjust everything in there.

Let’s change the scale property to 350. That works well.

Scale Properties After Effects

I can double-check this, you know, I can double click on the [Ball Graphic] composition. Here’s my logo.

Composition After Effects

And if I toggle back, you can see it’s almost identical minus distortion and stuff, which is expected it’s living on the ball.

Composition in After Effections

I’m cool with this. It’s working for me. That’s a quick fix. Now we have basically the ball setup, but I’m going to change the color of the layers to orange just to stay organized. I want everything’s nice and neat.

Changing colors of layers in After Effects

We’re going to adjust more properties in the CC Sphere Effect Controls Panel.

Let’s go to Light. We’re going to adjust the direction of where the light is hitting, I’m going to tell it to hit at the top going downwards.

Light CC Sphere After Effects

Then we can adjust the light height. I do want to hit it at the very top, maybe somewhere in the middle. I’m going to keep it at 55.

Light Height CC Sphere After Effects

Then shading. Let’s go There. By the way, let me turn off this [Ball Graphic] so we can see the ball by itself.

Shading After Effects Light

Let’s adjust ambient to 55.0. I’m going to leave diffuse where it is. Specular, we can maybe give it a little hotspot here, but let’s go with something subtle like 30. Let set roughness to 0.5, which is good. I’m going to leave Metal as is at 100.

Now we need to add a reflection. And for that, we need to create a new layer. I’m going to double click on the Rectangle Tool again, and we’re going to call this new layer Reflection Map.

Reflection Map After Effects

That’s where it’s going to be, we’re going to change the color of it to black.

Changing the color to black in after effects

Next, we’re going to select the rectangle tool, and we’re going to draw another shape.

Drawing a shape in After Effects

We’re going to change the color of the shape to white.

Change the color in After Effects Shape

Now we have a white shape and a black shape, but we’re going to use that as a reflection map. I’m going to hide the Reflection Map layer for right now by clicking on the eye icon.

Hiding a layer in After Effects

And we’re going to go back to our sphere. Select the Sphere layer and change the Reflection Map to reflect our map. That easy!

Reflection Map Adobe After Effects

Obviously you don’t see the reflection right away because Reflective is set to zero but if you crank it up, you can see we are starting to see our reflection which is really neat. So maybe something subtle like 30 is good.

Suble Reflection After Effects

I can adjust the reflection, I can go back to this reflection map. We can double click on the white shape and increase it a bit by scaling it up. That way it looks more like a ball.

Scale reflection After Effects

Basically, it helps us to sell the whole ball idea. So I’m going to leave it as this. Now we’re going to turn our graphic back on, and it looks like a ball to me!

Ball After Effects

But I actually need to do one more thing here. Right now, if I take this ball and if I put it into a new composition, the only properties that I see are the transform properties.

Transform Properties After Effects

I want to add some other properties to this layer that I can edit later. Let’s go into the Ball by double-clicking on it. Here’s what we need to do inside this Ball.

Ball After Effects

I’m going to select the Sphere layer and hit E to reveal the effect.

CC Sphere After Effects

And then we can see all of the properties. I want these rotation properties.

All Rotational Properties After Effects

And I also want the light direction properties as well.

Light Direction Properties After Effects

I want those four properties to be visible in any other compositions, I want to quickly edit them somewhere else without going into the pre-comp and you know, it’s a lot of work.

So to do that, we’re going to convert these properties into a master property. First, I’m going to select the three rotation properties and then CTRL+CLICK on the Light Direction property on a PC or COMMAND+CLICK on a Mac. So we have four of them selected. Next, I’m going to solo them by hitting S twice on my keyboard.

Solo properties in After Effects

Then I’m going to right-click anywhere in the timeline and choose Open In Essential Graphics.

Open in Essential Graphic After Effects

It will create an Essential Graphics Panel.

In Essential Graphic Panel After Effects

Now we can drag our properties in Essential Graphics Panel.

Dragging Layers inside of Essential Graphics Panel After Effects

Here’s what happens when you do that. So let’s go to the comp before this. Now, instead of just having transform properties, we also have master properties, which means that we can alter everything that we dragged inside of the Essential Graphics Panel.

Essential Graphics After Effects

We can essentially create a custom menu that we can use in any other compositions. That’s going to come in very handy for future videos. Alright, that’s all I wanted to cover in the first part of this Bouncy Ball tutorial. That’s how we create a ball in After Effects. Now in the next video, we’re going to talk about how to create an environment, how to bring in this ball into that environment like a studio type environment, and how to set up a shadow. So I’ll see you in the next video.

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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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