After Effects Tip: How To Separate Dimensions

In this post, I will show you three different ways to separate dimensions in After Effects.  Let’s dive right in!

First Method:

The first method is pretty easy. The only limitation is that it only works on the position property of the layer. Let me show you what I mean.

Let’s select the shape layer and hit P to reveal the position property.

Keyboard shortcut Position Property in After Effects

The position property of this layer does have two dimensions. To separate them, we need to right-click on the position property and then click on Separate Dimensions.

Seperate Property dimensions in After Effects

As you can see, our position property is now separated.

Splite property dimensions in After Effects

We can also undo what we just did by right-clicking again on the position property of the layer and then unchecking the Separate Dimensions option by clicking on it.

Undo separate dimensions in After Effects

When we uncheck the Separate Dimension option, it will automatically go back to what we had in the beginning.

Second Method:

We are going to do some expressions for the second method.

So here is what I want to do.

I want to apply a wiggle expression not to my X property but to my Y property. 

So how would I do that without touching the X? Let me show you what I’m talking about here.

x and y properties in After Effects

First, I’m going to ALT+LMB (OPT+LMB on a Mac) on the stopwatch icon.

activate expression with keyboard shortcut in After Effects

Inside the white text box, I’m going to say X you’re going to = value.

And inside the square brackets, I’m going to refer to which index I’m talking about.

x = value[]

In After Effects, you count the index starting at 0. So it would be 0 and then 1, 2, and so on.

index count in After Effects

I’m going to refer to this X value right here:

x value in After Effects

I want X to be 0.

x = value[0]

Next, I’m going to say Y you’re going to be this wiggle expression:

y = wiggle(5, 400)

We still have to define which index we’re talking about here, so I’m going to say index 1 for this one. So I’m going to say index 1 inside of our square brackets like so:

y = wiggle(5, 400)[1];

Next, we’ll do the usual square brackets and we’ll type x and y inside. Here is what it should look like:

x = value[0];

y = wiggle(5, 400)[1];


So now if I preview this, you can see that our logo only moves on the Y-axis.

applied wiggle expression in After Effects

Third Method

For the third and last example, I’m going to use some expression controls.

By the way, I’m going to continue where we left off in the previous example.

So I’m going to select the UM Logo 2017 Outlineshape layer, then go to the effects controls panelright-click there, then go to Expression Controls and inside there click on the Slider Control.

Expression Controls - Slider Control in After Effects

I’m going to bring Slider Control into my effects control panel, then while it is selected, I’m going to press CTRL+D (CMD+D on a Mac) on my keyboard to duplicate it.

Duplicate Keyboard Shortcut in After Effects

Then I’m going to select the first one, hit enter, change the name to X Position and do the same thing for the second one but change it to Y Position instead.

x and y position in slider control in After Effects

Next, I’m going to link the written expression up to the slider in our Effect Controls.

To do that, I’m going to go to the X property of my expression, select everything inside of the x = and then just pick whip to the X Position like so:

pick whip in After Effects

I’m going to do the exact same thing for the Y Property. Select everything inside of y = and pick whip to the Y Position like so:

pick whip to y property in After Effects

Now both of our sliders are linked up.

Both sliders are linked up in After Effects

Let’s check our work. Select the shape layer and hit E to reveal the effects.

e keyboard shortcut in after effects to reveal effects

Collapse them one by one, select both of them, hit twice to solo it and now as you can see, I can control the X position and the Y position separately.

solo items in after effects keyboard shortcut

I hope you found this quick tip useful. Make sure to subscribe to our email list for the latest After Effects tips.

If you want to learn more about expressions, check out my course!

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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