What is After Effects tools? Check 5 free After Effects Tools

Safalta Expert Published by: Aryan Rana Updated Fri, 14 Oct 2022 11:34 PM IST


The following list of 10 must-have After Effects tools will assist point you in the right way.

Table of Content

1. Shape Layers
2. Pen Tool/Masks

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Source: Safalta.com

Track Mattes">3. Track Mattes
4. Blending Modes
5. Pre-composing


When using Adobe After Effects for the first time, you'll quickly realise how very complex the software is. Knowing what the most important features of something are can be challenging given everything they have to offer. The following list of the top 5 After Effects tools will assist point you in the right way.

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1. Shape Layers

The form layer is one of the finest places to begin. Shape layers are 2D, flat objects that can be manually made by the user using the pen tool (see below) or automatically constructed by After Effects using a specified shape, like a rectangle, oval, or pentagon.

You can alter the features of form layers, including their stroke (the shape's outline), fill (the shape's inside), and even minute details like corner roundness. They are excellent for swiftly producing symmetrical shapes, intricate patterns, and 2D art because of their tremendous customizability.

However, keep in mind that form layers are resource-intensive and should often only be utilised sparingly. The solid layer, the form layer's less complex brother, can be a better choice if all you need is something really basic.

Although solid layers are fairly useful as well, they aren't particularly complex. Beyond dimensions, colour, and basic 2D transform attributes like position, scale, and rotation, they are just a shape layer without any other customizability.

2. Pen Tool/Masks

Without mentioning the pen tool, we can't talk about form layers and solid layers. By sketching a vertex at a time with the pen tool, you can design a form or a line. This can be used to draw a new shape layer or to mask off a specific area of a solid layer. The pen tool's most basic uses are those mentioned above, but it also gives you the option to create and modify paths.

In order to shift a layer or even text down to the individual character if required, paths can be utilised as position guidance. In a similar vein, the stroke effect may be used to draw an adjustable line along a solid layer's path, which is a more effective option than animating a form layer's built-in stroke.

The pen tool is useful for many different tasks, including rotoscoping (tracing an item to add or remove it, typically from the live-action film), creating artwork, and achieving a range of fascinating text effects, such as simulated handwriting or wavy movement. These are some of the more known uses for the pen tool, however, there are countless others.

3. Track Mattes

The pen tool is equally crucial for track mattes. According to the transparency or brightness of the masking layer, a track matte employs one layer to mask another. For instance, if you set a layer to Alpha Matte, it will only appear in portions of the layer above it that are not transparent. Only the transparent portions of the layer above would be visible if Alpha Inverted Matte was applied to the layer.

Similar effects could be achieved with a Luma Matte, but it would only allow the top layer's brightest regions to show through.

Track mattes, especially Luma Mattes because they are based on brightness rather than transparency, are excellent for leveraging existing assets to change layers. The flexibility of the track surface, though, is its greatest selling feature. Applying the mask to a dedicated matte layer will give you greater leeway when using the pen tool to mask off a section of a scene.

For instance, you might need to mask out the footage layer itself while rotoscoping a human within the live-action video. You would be better off rotoscoping this mask onto a separate solid layer from the film, positioning it above the footage layer, and setting the footage layer to Alpha Matte rather than limiting yourself in this way.

One benefit of doing this is that you may view your mask in flat colour, emphasising imperfections. Furthermore, by applying this mask to a solid layer that is friendly to processors, you may copy it and utilise it later to mask off other layers without slowing down render rates or dealing with the challenges of duplicating masks.

The position, scale, and rotation attributes of a matte layer can be used to quickly generate various masking effects with track mattes than with the tedious approach of sophisticated position, scale, and rotate mask animation using the pen tool.

4. Blending Modes

Blending modes are located directly beneath the mode column, adjacent to the track matte options. The numerous blending modes each implement the layer in the composition differently, and they are all pretty simple to use. There are 38 distinct mixing modes, each serving a different function. Here are a few instances of how they operate because there are simply too many for us to go over them all.

Most likely, you'll only use a few of these, but keep them in mind as a method to more fluidly incorporate pieces into live-action films or to just stylize your movie. Blending modes can be used in a variety of ways, but using them will significantly increase your compositional options by releasing you from the constraints of merely modifying opacity.

5. Pre-composing

Your projects may become disorganised and challenging to navigate as your job becomes more sophisticated. The ability to divide your project into smaller portions makes pre-composing the most crucial component of the project structure.

Technically speaking, a pre-comp is nothing more than a composition. A pre-comp, however, is a composition that plays a secondary function within the larger composition that produces the final product in the context of your own project. Select the layers you want to pre-compose, then right-click and choose Pre-compose (Cmd-Shift-C, or Ctrl-Shift-C). By doing this, you'll put them in their own composition that you can edit similarly to a layer.

You can apply an effect to numerous layers at once by grouping your various layers. By pre-composing many layers, you can use them as a single-track matte. By simply pre-composing them and duplicating the freshly generated composition, you can duplicate a set of layers more effectively. As a result, your project won't get unduly cluttered and you'll be able to make quick changes to the entire project because changing the contents of one composition will have an impact on all copies of it.


What is After Effects tools?

After Effects, a component of Adobe Creative Cloud is well-known for VFX and 3D artists, motion graphics artists, and animators' workflows because it offers a wide range of tools that can be adjusted for a huge range of tasks, from simple lower-thirds titles and texts to comprehensive 3-dimensional stereo compositing for movies.

Do After Effects plugins cost nothing?

They can speed up your productivity, make work simpler, and save you a tonne of time. Here is a list of 5 useful and user-friendly free Adobe After Effects plug-ins that will speed up your workflow and provide you access to more creative alternatives. Try them all; they are all cost-free plugins.

Is learning After Effects difficult?

You could confidently study After Effects in roughly 8 weeks if you set aside the majority of your working hours to do so. This will only occur if you are able to concentrate on crucial motion design concepts, rather than showy extras that you will never actually utilise (workflows, design, organisation, colour, etc.).

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