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Quick Tip: Saving Stills in After Effects

Caleb Ward

Need to save a still image out of After Effects? Just follow these quick steps.

From pre-visualization to concept mockups, there are an infinite number of reasons why you may want to save a still out of After Effects. So if you’re trying to quickly save a still (or maybe you’re just curious about how this process is done), follow these quick tips.

Step One: Select Your Frame

Quick Tip: Saving Stills in After Effects - Step 1

With your composition selected, navigate to the frame you want to export. Note: you can repeat the process (steps 1 – 3) and select multiple frames to save as long as you do it before exporting.

Step Two: Move Frame to Render Queue

Quick Tip: Saving Stills in After Effects - Step 2

Photoshop documents: If you do want to save a Photoshop document, simply navigate to Composition>Save Frame As> Photoshop Layers. Just follow the prompts and hit save.

Everything Else (JPEG, PNG, TIFF, Etc.): Naviagate to Composition>Save Frame As> File… if you want to save your frame with any format other than a Photoshop Ddocument. Your frame will now be added to the render queue. You can also use the keyboard shortcut Option+Command+S to move a frame to the render queue.

Step Three: Adjust Settings

Quick Tip: Saving Stills in After Effects - Step 3

You will see your frame at the bottom of the render queue. Click the blue text next to the output module. It will probably say Lossless by default. In the popup window, change the format from Quicktime to your desired image settings. We’re going to export JPEG for our purposes, so we will select JPEG Sequence. Click OK.

Quick Tip: Saving Stills in After Effects - Step 3.5

If you anticipate that you will save a lot of frames in the future, I would go ahead and make an Output Module template so you can quickly select your image settings in the future. To do this, simply hit the dropdown arrow next to Output Module and hit Make Template. You can now name the preset and click OK.

The final step is to name your video. Simply click the text next to Output To. You will now be asked to give your frame a name and a home. When you’re done, click Save.

Step Four: Export

Quick Tip: Saving Stills in After Effects - Step 4

With all of your settings adjusted, all you have to do now is hit the Render button.

You should now see your still in the save location you selected in the previous step. In general, After Effects images won’t be as high quality as those saved out of Photoshop, so it’s not a great idea to use After Effects as an alternative for print work. But if you’re trying to share your work with a client or collaborate with other creatives, this method should work great.

Have any other tips for saving stills in After Effects? Share in the comments below.