Adobe® After Effects® CC® Quick Start


Lesson Info

Creating Text

So what I need to do before I do anything is that I have to create a composition. You can't just start working in After Effects ever, you need a composition, and you can have as many compositions as you want inside of After Effects. They're like little mini projects where all your work is done, so if you're doing something for a client, and maybe you're doing a beginning title and an end title, you can have multiple compositions in the same project. So I'm gonna click on the new composition button because I don't have any footage to make. I'm just starting from scratch. And just so I can see everything, I'm actually going to click Lock Aspect Ratio. I'm using this HDTV 1080:24 preset, and just so I can see everything a little bit better, I'm actually just going to cut the size in half. So instead of with this locked, I'm going to change this to 540, which will make the composition size 960 by just so we can see everything a little bit better. 24 fans per second's great. Five seconds i...

s the duration is fine. I'm gonna go ahead and click OK. Now we're seeing this grand white pattern. If you're familiar with Photoshop, this is Adobe's way of letting you know that this is transparent, so it might look black, video by default might just kind of is black, it's just emptiness, and that's what the emptiness looks like, it's just black. But this might be distracting to you, so there's this little button right here. That's the transparency grid, so you can see what's actually transparent and what's actually black because that's, they're two different things. So I can, I don't want to see that right now, so I'm just gonna click the toggle transparency grid to turn that off and to see blackness. Now, I kind of want a pretty background, at least a color of some sort as I'm working on this text, so I'm gonna create something called a solid layer first. So I'm gonna come down here to the composition panel, or the timeline panel, excuse me. Just anywhere in a blank area here, I'm gonna right click. I'm gonna choose New + Solid. Again, I'm gonna go blank area here, right click, new + solid. And by the way, you could also get there by going to the layer menu and choosing new + solid. And I always use the keyboard short command + y. Again, y for whatever reason is a constant theme. There's a lot of keyboard shortcuts that use Y, which is really convenient because you don't have to get confused by a bunch of other letters. It's great. So however you choose to make your solid, make your solid. Now, a solid is just a flat area of color. Don't overthink it. When I first got into After Effects, I was like, "What are these solid things? I don't understand!" There's a lot you can do with them, but basically it's just like, If you had a photo of red or a photo of black, it's like the same thing. It's just a flat area of color, same thing as a color map in premier, for those of you that are premier users. I can click on this color swatch here, and I can pick what color I want my background to be, or what color I want my solid layer to be. So typical Adobe fashion here, we pick a color from this strip of colors here, so this is like we're picking our hue, which is basically the color family. Oh, I like this seafoam green color, that's cool. Then once I get the hue, you come over here to the left-hand side of this big square and really fine tune it, and the way this works is that from top to bottom we have brightness, so as we go up to the top we have bright, and as we go down to the bottom we have dark. And then saturation works left to right, so we have very washed out colors, pastels, muted colors as we go to the left, very saturated rich vibrant colors as we go to the right. So I'm gonna pick something that's semi-vibrant and saturated over here, and I'm gonna click OK, and OK, and there we go. Actually, that's a little intense, so I'm going to go to this solid. I can go to the layer menu, choose solid settings, and go back and adjust the values of that solid. So I'm gonna just take this down a little bit so it's not screaming at my face. Perfect. Now what I'm gonna do is, I don't want to accidentally click this. I want to be fiddling with text. I don't want to accidentally select my solid while I'm trying to mess with my text because that will make me stressed out. So what I'm going to do is I'm gonna go to this layer, and there is this column right here under this padlock, and you might've seen this with the continuously rasterized thing we looked at with the illustrator. We have this top row of all these different kind of thingy's that you can do, and then there's like empty check boxes underneath for all the layers. And so underneath this we have the lock, so if we click this we lock layer. Locked layers cannot be selected. When you try to click to select it, it flashes like, "Hey dummy, you locked this. You can't do anything." So just be aware of that, but it is really nice to be able to lock the layers you don't want to mess with, or if you get animation just right, sometimes it's really good to just lock it. Just lock it, just keep it safe and preserved. So now I want to create some text, and I do that with the type tool. I can click on this letter T, the horizontal type tool, and there's a couple different ways to create text. One way is I can just like click and start typing. (gibberish) I can do that if I wanted to. And I can hit the escape key and just cancel that out. I can also create a text box, which if you're familiar with like End Design, or page layout programs, Illustrator works the same way, or I guess Word, I don't know. I can click and drag and make a box of text, and now when I go blah, blah, blah, I get to the end of my text box, it wraps. It wraps around. (humming) Like that. And I'm gonna go ahead and accept the text. Now, this is kind of crazy. If you're not familiar with Photoshop, text creation is a wacky thing in the Adobe world. Once you start creating text, it's like you've entered Type Creation Mode, and you can't do anything else in the Adobe world until you've either canceled that text or accepted your changes. Like if I'm like making my text and I'm like, actually I want to adjust the opacity. No, no, no, no, no, you need to first deal with what you got going on here with the type, and then you could move on to, you know, whatever it is that you wanted to do. So I'm going to accept this text. One way is by hitting the enter key on the numeric keypad, so by the way, I'm using one of those super fatty keyboards, like those real long ones. You know, the 10 key keyboards with like all those buttons nobody uses, like home and end and page up and page down that don't really serve much of a purpose other than in After Effects, but in After Effects there's so many things and so many keyboard shortcuts that we use all the bells and whistles, all the keys on the keyboard, the 10 key keyboard. So I recommend if you don't have one of those, get one of those because it's a big, it's really important. So many keyboard shortcuts in After Effects that the numbers on the numeric keypad and the numbers on the regular area of the keyboard do two different things. So a lot going on, and a lot of those weird buttons do a lot of stuff too that are really helpful, so just be aware of that. So I can hit enter on the numeric keypad to accept this, or I could go back over to the selection tool and manually click it to accept it as well. Now, when I go back to this, and I have my text box, I can put my cursor on any one of these points here, and I can resize this, and because it's a text box, it's dynamic. Where if you just have point text, you just like click and then you start typing, it doesn't do that, but then you also don't have to worry about those box. So what I'm actually gonna do is I'm just gonna delete this layer. I'm gonna select it, hit the delete key, so again, select the layer, hit the delete key to delete that, and I'm gonna come back here to the type tool and I'm gonna type, and I'm just gonna type read. I'm gonna do reading, I don't know, reading. So then we have this reading, and our logo actually was read, and then I'm gonna hit the enter key, go anywhere. That was like our logo for a little fake promo that this is part of. And this works very similar to other text things that you're familiar with. Like I can click in here and drag to select read, so I can change the font here. We were using bungee. That's kind of hard, so I'm using the character panel here. The character panel and the paragraph panel are the two panels that you want to use with your text. And if they're not showing again, just like all panels in After Effects, you can go to the window menu and choose to show them from here, from this drop down. So I'm gonna change the font from Helvetica to Bungee, which is one of the font kit fonts you get with your membership, your creative cloud membership. There we go, and I can resize it by changing the font size by this icon right here. Again, this is hot text, so I can click and scrub this. And there we go, so now I have one text layer with multiple fonts, sizes, a bunch of stuff because I selected it and chose it. I didn't do this. Actually, I will do that just for right now. I'm gonna take this back down for a split second, and I'm actually going to select everything. Actually, I don't need to select everything, but I'm already there so whatever. I can go to the paragraph panel. The paragraph panel gives me justification options, so I have left aligned, center aligned, or right aligned. So I'm gonna leave this set to left aligned, go back to the character panel, and now I can do that thing where I'm resizing the Read to be bigger there. We also have other options like letting. It looks like leading if I put my cursor over here, it says set the letting, it looks like leading, it's not leading, it's led. From like old typewriter where you had to stick pieces of lead.. type stuff. And I can click and drag this, oops. Maybe I'll accept that text first. And I can adjust the leading, which is the space between lines on text if I want to. I can also adjust the tracking, which is the space between characters on a line. Like so, bring these in tighter, or spread them out a little bit more. I could also add a stroke to this, so right now we have a fill, we have a text color here. This color here. And we also have an outline, which is a stroke. Now, this swatch right here, the full one, this represents the actual color of the text, and then we also have the outline here, which right now has like a slash through, a red slash. This means that there is no stroke. We don't have any outline. So if I want to add an outline, I can click this color swatch, and let's say I'll pick black as a color, and click OK, and now I have this outline. This looks terrible. We're gonna fix it in a second. But just be aware that these two color swatches exist. This is pure black and pure white, so this text actually, the default color is not actually pure white. If I click on this color swatch, it's kind of like a really light gray. I might want to go full white for something, so I can actually with this color swatch in front, meaning that it's active, I can click on this little white swatch and now that's actually white. We brighten up our text, and I don't have to click in it to get to it, and I don't even know if this is pure black, so I can click on the black swatch and make sure that stroke is pure black. And again, the stroke is the outline here, and I could come down here to this section and increase the stroke, which looks obviously amazing, but if we wanted to change it, I don't know why you'd want to, but if you did want to, you'd come down to this drop down right here because right now it's set to by fault stroke over fill, and it's not working. So I can go down here to fill over stroke, and now our fill goes over our stroke, but you can see that each letter kind of goes over the previous letter, and if you want stacked letters like that, I guess that could work, I don't want that right now. So from this drop down I'm gonna choose all fills over all strokes, and when I do that, boom. We have this cool kind of thing. I'm not in love with the black. It's kind of aggressive and bold for this design, but just to show you that we can kind of create these cool text effects, and there you have it. We're gonna be revisiting text a little later on. We're gonna talk about animating text, which is a whole separate conversation, so we're gonna get there, but those are the basics that you need to know for playing with text.

Knowing how to utilize the tools and opportunities in After Effects® can take your video from amateur to professional. Award-winning filmmaker and author Chad Perkins will help you get started with utilizing this motion software. This course covers the basics of starting a project and how to make the most of the many ways to bring life to a video. You’ll learn:

  • How to start a project and create a composition
  • Working with layers
  • Creating text
  • Understanding animation
  • Working with textures and shapes
  • Creating 3D motion with lighting and camera
  • Compositing techniques

Learn to enhance your video projects by animating text or creating transitional effects with this quick start into Adobe® After Effects® CC®.

Software used: Adobe® After Effects® CC®



  • Excellent introduction to After Effects. Definitely delivers on being a quick start to the features and capabilities of the software. Chad's passion and enthusiasm really shines through.
  • Chad is an incredible teacher. He makes what would seem like daunting projects and tasks to the common person become both possible and even simple! He keeps his audience engaged by taping into one's inner child of creativity. Keep your hand hovering over the pause button because this presentation is crammed full of incredible information. Thanks again, Chad and all the folks at CreativeLive in Seattle!