Lesson 1: Introduction to After Effects

In this lesson you will be introduced to the basics of After Effects and different types of animation, then create your very first animation – of a bouncing ball – as a GIF.

Task: bouncing ball

The goal of this first project is to create a ball that bounces off the four borders of the window. To do that you will need to follow the instructions below and watch the videos.

Step 1: Create a new project

Step 2: Learn about what the different areas of your screen do

Step 3: Create a new composition.

Step 4: Create a primitive shape to make your ball.

Step 5: Change After Effects settings to allow your ball to move in a straight line.

Step 6: Adjust the anchor point of your ball so that it is animated from its middle rather than a corner.

Step 7: Change attributes of your primitive shape to format your ball.

Step 8: Name the layer of your shape as ball.

Step 9: Create a simple animation, bouncing your ball around the screen.

Step 10: Adjust your keyframes to make the ball bounce from side to side.

Step 11: Trim the length of your animation down to cut out any time where your ball is standing still.

Step 12: Export your completed animation as an animated GIF.

Help! My windows are all messed up!

This is a very common issue in After Effects, where you accidentally click a button and the entire interface changes. If it happens to you, follow the instructions in the video below to reset to the default interface.

Extension: I’ve finished my ball, what’s next?

So, you’ve finished your bouncing ball. You can now try adding a second ball, animating the color or size of the ball as it moves. If you finish all that, then find a PNG or GIF file online and animate that as well. The great thing about layers in After Effects is that you can layer up complexity as you go.