Interface Introduction to Adobe After Effects Ep2/48 [Adobe After Effects for Beginners

Hello and welcome to the second video in
this Beginner’s Guide to Adobe After Effects. In this tutorial we’re going to
kick things off from the very start. In this video we are going to take a look
at the Adobe After Effects interface now Now the first version of After Effects was
released in 1995. With all the innovations and new features that have
been introduced over the years, up until now the interface itself has not changed
all that much. For those of you that are completely new to After Effects in this
video I’m going to show you around and introduce you to some of the key things
you need to be aware of when starting out. So let’s get into it! Now I’m currently using Adobe After Effects CC 2018 for mac. If you’re using an earlier version, or you’re on Windows some things may be a little different in
parts but in principle it should be the same. So if you have After Effects open
and wish to follow along you will need to first come up to window, scroll down
to workspace and then select all panels, this is to make sure we all have the
same setup. Next we must again go to window, workspace and then scroll down
and select reset all panels. This will then set the interface to the all panels
default layout and you should have something that looks like this. What you
should have is the default settings where you can see all the key panels. Now
don’t worry if your setup is not exactly the same as mine on versions of After
Effects before 2017 the panels on the far right here may just come all the way
down the side of the screen instead of on top of this panel here. For now don’t
worry too much about this just follow along and you should be fine. I’ll be
talking through all of this shortly. So this is Adobe CC and with CS6 and CC we have this dark interface. If you’re using an earlier version you may be looking at
the light interface. Now if for whatever reason you wish to toggle the interface
color you can come to After Effects on the top toolbar for Mac, for PC this is in Edit, scroll down to preferences and select appearance. Upon click the preference
menu will appear and if we look down here on brightness, it’s here you can
toggle the lightness and darkness by clicking and dragging the switch. I like
it dark so I’m going to select the darkest option and click OK.
So to begin I’m going to open up a document. This document is going to help
me demonstrate various functionality of the program, which we are going to be
covering a little later on in this video. So be sure to open this and follow along.
this document can be found in the introduction folder in the project
folder. Now you can download this project folder for a small fee the download link
with instructions are in the description. The download folder comes with lots of
exercise documents we will be using on this course, that have been carefully
developed to aid your learning experience. The folder also comes with
document resources such as videos, graphics and images you can use to build
your first video presentation from scratch later on in this course. To get
the full learning experience I recommend you get the project folder, download link
with instructions is in the description. So with the project folder open click
into the S-1 introductions folder into the first folder interface introduction
and open the folder of the version you are using and open the interface
introduction file and you should have something that looks like this. Now just
a quick thing to mention here this document contains a particular font. When
you open this file you may get an error message saying you don’t have the font
installed. To follow along with this tutorial you are also going to need to
install the font first. Now this is not included in the project folder as I
cannot supply it with the download. Now the font we are using here is lemon milk and can be downloaded for free online. If you come into the project folder into
the project assets folder, click into the typeface folder you will see a text
document here and if you open this up it will tell you exactly where to get the
font from online. Simply click on the link in the text document and it will
take you to the site where you can download it. Once downloaded be sure to
install it. Close down After Effects then reopen the file and you should be able
to follow along just fine. So once you have downloaded the font and installed it let’s continue. Ok so let’s take a closer look at the interface. Now all of
this may look a little complex right now but don’t worry it’s fairly
straightforward. At this point it will help to break the interface down into
five key sections: 1 the composition panel here in the center, 2 the timeline
panel at the bottom. 3 the project panel over here on the left side of the screen.
4 the tools panel on the top of the screen and 5 a variety of work panels
here on the right. So the first thing I want to draw your attention to is the
timeline panel. This is the long panel that runs along the bottom of the screen
here. This is one of the main panels in After Effects and it’s this panel where
we manage our project elements over time. So the first thing to point out here is
the timeline across the top of the panel. This represents the length of time of
this composition. Below this we can see the layers that make up the particular
composition. Each one representing a particular element in the video
presentation. In the timeline panel layers are displayed as bars from left
to right that indicate their presence along the timeline in a particular order
and in a particular hierarchy. Now if I click and drag on the scroll bar over on
the far right up-and-down, we can see that there are quite a few layers making
up this composition stacked up on top of each other. Now if you look above the
timeline panel you can see the visual layout of the elements in the
composition panel. Now if you click on the layer bar in the timeline panel you
will see the visual elements selected in the composition panel above with a
bounding box around it. These are the layer controls. Now if for whatever
reason you cannot see the bounding box come up to view and make sure ‘show layer
controls’ is ticked this panel here is where layouts are edited
visually which we will be looking into later. So back into the timeline panel
over on the left side of the panel, we can see the names of the layers with
icons that indicate which type of media they are and to the left and right of
these are a bunch of switches and modes that can be applied to the layers. So at
the bottom of the panel just under the layer bars you will see a zoom indicator.
We can use this to zoom in and out of the layers on the timeline and use this
to fine-tune applied effects. Notice as you zoom in the bar on the right gets
smaller this is used to click and drag through the timeline when zoomed in and
I’ll just zoom back out. So lastly to the left of this in the far left corner and
just next to the zoom toggle are some buttons a can toggle the view of some
switches and modes that can be applied to the layers above and if I click these
we can see them appearing next to the layer names. For now I’ll just toggle
these off. Now there is lots more to learn about this timeline panel which I
will be going into in more detail in the next video but for now let’s move on. So
the next panel I want to draw your attention to is the composition panel.
This is the big panel in the center of the interface and this gives us a visual
preview of the project we are working on. Now if you carefully move your mouse
cursor over an object you will see a box appear around it. Now if you click on the
element in the composition you will see the bounding box appear around it
allowing us to transform the object or move the element around. notice as you
click the various elements in the preview you will see the layer appear
highlighted in the timeline panel and its position in the layer hierarchy. Now
it may help to think of this preview area like the canvas area in Photoshop.
It’s here where we manage the composition of the visual elements over
time as we see them on-screen. Now if we look carefully at the bottom of the
composition panel we can see a number of buttons and switches regarding the
preview panel above. Now we will be going over these in a bit more detail as we
use them later on in the course but the key tools to know about initially are
the magnification, grid and guide options, preview time and the resolution display.
Now the magnification ratio allows us to zoom in and out of the visual
composition to a variety of percentages within the composition panel to get
closer to some of the elements and to fine-tune animations. If I click 100% the
canvas area will zoom in 100%. If I click the fit option this will fit the
composition screen nicely to the panel. To the right of this we have the grid
and guide options. By clicking this you will be able to activate a series of
grids and guides such as the title action safe area, proportional grid and
activate the grid guides and rulers. Once active you will have to click these
again to turn them off. To the right of this we have the preview time, this is an
indication where the time indicator is located on the timeline. Next, to the
right of this we have the resolution factor. Right now this is set to full so
if I click this and hit quarter you will see the composition in the preview panel
become pixelated this is quarter the resolution than full. Here we can also
choose 1/2 where we can see it becomes less pixelated. this tool is used to
downscale the resolution of the visual elements in the canvas area. When
creating projects we will regularly use this feature as we live preview projects.
This is for performance and workflow streamline purposes. Sometimes it can be
clunky and slow previewing video and animations. If we set the resolution to
low it previews faster. Now I’ll be demonstrating how this works in the next
video, for now I’ll pop this back to full. Now on occasions you may find yourself
accidentally double clicking on a layer in your timeline, for example I’ll drag
the time indicator to around two seconds on my timeline and in the composition
panel we can see a background blue color Now if we scroll down to the bottom of
the timeline panel we can see a deep blue solid layer. Now
if we come and double-click on this layer upon double-click the solid layer
will appear in another tab at the top of the composition panel. Now this is a way
to isolate a layer to inspect it. Now in this instance as you scroll across the
timeline you will not be able to see any of your layers in the composition panel
above. Now as a beginner you may wonder where your composition has gone. Now
don’t worry if you look carefully in the composition tab at the top you will see
your comp is still present but on a separate tab on the left. If you ever
find you have accidentally double click a layer and you can no longer see your
comp, remember you can simply close down the
tab in the composition panel at the top or click back on your main comp on the
left to come back to your main comp. Remember to keep this in mind as you may
find yourself lost like this at the start. So the next panel I want to draw
attention to is the project panel. This is the panel that is typically placed on
the left hand side of the interface and this panel contains all the elements
that make up our video project. When we bring footage, images and audio files for
example into our project this is where they will be placed. Now a project may
include hundreds of individual elements, this panel allows you to carefully
organize your elements into folders like you see here. If I click and expand these
we can see the contents if you click down on the folders here you can see how
the elements have been arranged and what it contains.
So the next panel I want to draw your attention to is the tools panel. In After
Effects this panel runs across the top of the interface and contains all the
tools that can be used. As you can see we have lots of icons. To activate a tool we
simply click it or press one of the many shortcut buttons on the keyboard. We know
which tool is active because it will be highlighted in blue. In After Effects we
will be using many tools. You will also notice that as we use the tool the mouse
cursor will change indicating which tool we have activated. Now if we move to the
top of our window we can see the standard bar across the
top, from file across through to view, window and help. From here we can access
various properties controls and initiate some of the creative features in After
Effects. But for now we are not going to go too much into that. So moving over to
the far right-hand side we have a set of panels. These panels are essential in
order to produce work and control many variables in an After Effects project
and are kept neatly to the right of the screen interface and right now we
see these as a stack. Now in more recent versions of After Effects to activate
them we can simply click on the name of the panel once to open it. Now on earlier
versions of After Effects you will need to place your mouse cursor between the
panels and click and drag to reveal the contents inside. Now some of you familiar
with other programs like Illustrator and Photoshop will recognize some of these
panels. Here we have the align panel for alining objects in the composition panel
and the character and paragraph panel for editing type. Now one of the panels
you’ll become familiar with later in the course is the effects and presets panel. This
panel includes a lot of visual effect and preset animations we can apply to
our layer elements in the timeline panel and I will be demonstrating this later
on in the course. So right now we are looking at all the panels in After
Effects, you can change the workspace to tweak the panels you see here for
example if I come up to window and scroll across to workspace, we can see a
few options here. Here we have animation through to text. By selecting any of
these we can change the interface and the panel’s we see. If we click on
standard for example we will see that some of the panels will now disappear. By
clicking on the variety of workspaces we can customize the panels we see. Now on
standard if you want to reveal some of the panels that are not currently shown
we can come up to window and here we will see the ultimate list of panels we
can use a lot of which are currently not active. To activate one simply click on
it, for examples character, upon click it will appear in the panel stack on the
right. This also works to remove panels. So back up to window this time if we
wanted to take away a panel simply click one that is currently checked to
deactivate it, if we click on character again it will now take it away from the
panel stack. Now as you activate and deactivate panels and move them around
to best suit your needs you will be able to save your customized workspace. By
coming up to window scroll across to workspace, then scroll down to new
workspace you can name your new workspace and in this instance I’ll call
it GD workspace and click OK. Now if I come to window and across to workspace
I will see my new workspace from the list. For now though I’ll come back up to
window over to workspace and click on all panels. For the duration of the
course I will set my workspace to all panels as I’ll be referencing some of
these panels later on in the course. So that’s a brief overview of the Adobe
After Effects interface. Keep in mind that the software on-screen can be
broken down into five key sections: 1 the composition panel in the center, 2
the timeline panel at the bottom, 3 the project panel on the left, 4 the tools
panel on the top and 5 the variety of of panels on the far right. So in this
video I give you a brief overview of the interface now before we move on there
are some more details you will need to know about some of the panels, so you can
be ready to create your own project. In the next video we will be taking a
closer look at the timeline panel learning more about layers, how they work and how they are managed over time in Adobe After Effects. So see you in the next video!


  1. To get the full learning experience and follow along:

    Get the FREE PDF course index and the downloadable project folder from the course overview video here:


  2. Anyone reading this comment in the future, please consider supporting Gareth if not by buying the project folder, at least watch the ads until the end and if you could click them 🙂 By showing him our support he can continue with doing lessons like these. Thank you Gareth, you're better than most university professors (PEOPLE WITH PHD DEGREES!!!!!)

  3. Very clear and structured videos! Thank you.
    May I also please ask about the font name you use in your intro/download link? It looks like Jigsaw.
    I must say I am very impressed by the look and feel of the intro. I'm interested in type and I'm hoping to grow my skills to make videos with type animation.

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