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8 After Effects Plugins Every Motion Designer Should Have

Caleb Ward

These are the 8 After Effects plugins that you should have in your motion design arsenal!

Plugins add extra functionality to After Effects and every good motion designer probably has a few they rely on everyday. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a newbie to After Effects, these 8 plugins can help you take your motion design skills to the next level.

1. Trapcode Particular

Particular

Trapcode Particular is a particle system plugin that allows users to create customized particles in After Effects like smoke, rain, clouds and dust. Particular offers more functionality than After Effects’ built-in Particle World plugin and uses realistic physics. Using Particular you can create particle based lines, shapes and patterns in 3D space.

Price: $399 via Red Giant 

2 Element 3D v.2

Element

Element 3D is a popular plugin created by VideoCopilot that allows users to upload and use 3D models within Adobe After Effects. If you don’t know how to use modeling software like Maya or Cinema 4D, Element 3D can help you import and edit 3D models quickly. Element 3D works incredibly fast considering all the functionality it brings to After Effects.

Element 3D Version 2 was recently released, bringing added features such as ambient occlusion and lighting presets to your imported 3D models.

Price: $199.95 via Video Copilot

3. Plexus 2

Plexus

Plexus is a plugin that takes layers and breaks them up into smaller objects. This also comes with .obj support, meaning you can import models from most 3D graphics softwares and have the objects broken up in 3D space. These 3D objects can serve as containers or forms for Plexus to use.

Plexus also has the ability to create the incredibly popular 3D connected dots design (we’re seeing this used everywhere). Plexus allows for the use of 3D bezier splines, meaning you can adjust lines in 3D space. All of the 3D objects in Plexus also work with 3D cameras and depth of field.

Price: $199.99 via Rowbyte

4. Optical Flares

Optical Flares

Although they can definitely be overused, lens flares can be a great way to add visual interest to your scene. While there are a lot of really good lens flare generators out there, our favorite is Optical Flares from VideoCopilot. With Optical Flares, users can create custom lens flares that work in 3D space. Optical Flares are designed to look realistic and use various effects such as chromatic aberration for a more realistic look. Optical Flares also come with a preset library.

Price: $124.95 via Video Copilot

5. Newton 2

Newton

Newton is a 2D physics engine for After Effects that allows users to apply real-world physics to 2D objects. More specifically it’s Newton’s ability to apply gravity in a number of different ways including: gravity scale, magnetism, and fixed rotation properties. Newton also allows users to create realistic physics-based rigs to simulate pivots, pistons, springs, and distance joints.

Price: $249.99 via Newton

6. Continuum Complete

Borris

Boris Continuum Complete is the Swiss Army Knife of After Effects plugins. Inside Continuum Complete users will find hundreds of plug-in effects that serve a wide-range of purposes. From glitches to generators, to chroma key tools, lens flares and dissolves, Continuum Complete offers a varied toolset for a wide variety of projects.

Price: $995 via Boris

7. Twitch

Twitch

Although Twitch has been around for a while, I think it’s still one of the most useful plug-ins you can buy. Twitch does exactly what the name implies, adds glitch effects to your footage. With the plug-in you have the ability to adjust scale, light, color, blur and time. The plug-in also comes with an assortment of sound effects.

Price: $45 via Video Copilot

8. DuIK

Duik

DuIK is a plug-in designed to help users animate in After Effects. If you’re familiar with animation, you probably know that rigging and inverse kinematics are vital to making animated characters more realistic. Unfortunately, you don’t have the ability to perform inverse kinematics using the built-in tools in After Effects. That’s where DuIK comes into play. With DuIK you can create complex rigs that simulate muscle, bones, and IK. Plus, it’s free!

Price: Free via Duduf 

Can you think of any plugins that should have made the list? Share in the comments below.

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