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7 Basic After Effects Skills Every Editor Should Know

Jourdan Aldredge

Missing some After Effects skills? Here are some tutorials that teach all the basic knowledge you’ll need for working with the program.

When first getting started in the world of video editing, NLE editors like Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro can seem like the be-all-end-all of video editing knowledge. However, as you continue to grow — and do your research into how to master the programs — you quickly learn that video editing using After Effects skills can actually be pretty straightforward and fun.

Then, once you think you have everything figured out, you’re introduced to the powerful behemoth of digital video effects, motion graphics, and compositing that is Adobe After Effects. And while some of your basic editing knowledge might serve you in some ways, learning After Effects skills really is a completely different beast. And to master it as well, you’ll need to change your thinking and focus.

So, for those looking to take these first steps into really understanding how After Effects works — and for those who are ready to truly unlock the power of Adobe’s flagship motion effects platform — here are seven in-depth tutorials to teach you the basics and hone your skills.


1. Animating with Trim Paths

Looking for a fun and simple tutorial to dive into while working with After Effects? Well, try out this one on how to animate with trim paths! The desired effect can be really quite cool and a very impressive animation to add to any project. Plus, many users just developing their After Effects skills users might not be aware that this technique exists.

Here’s a complete step-by-step breakdown on how to unlock this hidden feature for making precise adjustments to your shape layer paths. You can use this effect for any of the following:

  • Infographics
  • Map Routes
  • Text Boxes
  • Text Strokes
  • Circle Bursts

2. Easy Motion Tracking

In this tutorial by Michael Tierney, we go over some of the very basic and easy ways to work with motion tracking in After Effects. Pay attention because a lot of these same principles will stay relevant and helpful in application as you learn more advanced techniques later on.

In the meantime, even this simple technique is a great way to round out your After Effects skills, and it can really up the value of your projects and is great to add to client videos.


3. Quick Tips for Compositing Using After Effects Skills

When first starting out in After Effects, some of these early techniques can be great tools in adding that extra level of dynamics to your regular Premiere Pro projects. One way to really showcase some added value is by creating your own titles with even the most basic of compositing techniques.

Follow along with the tutorial above, and be sure to download the free project file here.


4. Export Transparent Background Videos

In this tutorial by Justin Odisho, we get a course in how to create and export transparent background videos in After Effects. This is especially helpful when combined with techniques from the tutorial above, and can be great for creating and using your own custom lower thirds.


5. A Beginner’s Guide to Rotoscoping

While “rotoscoping” as a term itself might scare some potential editors away, it’s actually not that scary and a surprisingly intuitive technique to master. In this accessible and simple beginner’s guide video tutorial, you can learn some of the basic techniques of working with masking and Roto Brush tools for some simple rotoscoping tricks.

Read up on the full step-by-step article here.


6. Learn to “Float Yourself”

For many video editors and aspiring visual effects artists, the allure of learning After Effects skills comes from a desire to create some of those mind-bending, jaw-dropping visuals you often see online and on social media.

If you’re looking to try out something a little more advanced and outstanding, this tutorial by Peter McKinnon can show how to create the viral “float yourself” effect. And it’s not as tricky as you might think.


7. Create 8-Bit Pixel Art

This is definitely one of the cooler After Effects skills tutorials we’ve produced here at PremiumBeat, but here are some straightforward, effective, awesome guides to creating 8-bit pixel art for your videos or projects. This tutorial goes over the following eight tools:

  • Posterize
  • CC Block Load
  • Tint
  • Grid
  • Posterize Time
  • Video Footage
  • Alpha Channel Footage
  • Installing the After Effects 8-Bit Game Preset

You can follow along with this full write-up here.


Cover image via “Tutorial: Getting Started with Content-Aware Fill in After Effects.”

If you’re still hungry for more After Effects learning, tutorials, and tricks, check out these articles.

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