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Quick Tip: Converting Text to Masks in After Effects

Caleb Ward

No more tracing by hand! Here’s an easy step-by-step guide to converting text to masks in After Effects.

The ability to transform alpha channels into masked layers is an incredibly helpful feature built into After Effects. By converting your text layers into masks, you can create accurate masks without having to trace text and alpha layers by hand.

The following steps outline the process of converting text to masks in After Effects.

1. Select Text Layer

Step 1

Create a text layer in your scene. The best way to optimize your text for the auto-tracing process is to choose a bold sans-serif font. However, you aren’t limited to just text. This effect will work with any layer.

2. Select Auto-Trace

Step 2

With your text layer selected go to Navigate>Auto-Trace.

3. Adjust Settings As-Needed

Step 3

Under “Options” you will be given the option to select a channel. Make sure it is set to “Alpha”. The default settings are usually good for most circumstances, but you might need to adjust as needed.

4. Click “OK”

Step 4

After you click “OK” After Effects will create a new layer with your masks applied. If you want to add the mask to a new layer, simply select select the mask and copy using Command+C. Then select your desired layer and hit Command+V to paste.

Your auto-traced layer will look something like this.

Text to Masks Example

Want to learn even more quick tips in After Effects? Check out these 10 After Effects quick tips found exclusively here on PremiumBeat:

  1. Prepping Vector Files for After Effects
  2. Minimizing Pixelation and Artifacts
  3. How to Change the Render Sound
  4. Creating Variables
  5. Layer Styles in After Effects
  6. Linking Layers to Checkboxes
  7. Changing Label Colors
  8. Exporting with Alpha Channels in After Effects
  9. 3 Ways to Fix Banding in After Effects
  10. Saving Presets in After Effects

Have any other tips for using the auto-trace feature in After Effects? Share in the comments below.