13 Amazing Special Effects Tutorials for After Effects

Learn how to add interesting special effects and visuals to your videos in After Effects with these advanced tutorials.

Adobe After Effects is a powerful tool, to say the least. If you have become a master at programs like Photoshop and Premiere Pro, another great program to advance your video editing and animation skills is After Effects. In this article, we share 13 tutorials for After Effects that range from beginner to expert. These comprehensive special effects tutorials will help you learn the proper techniques to create fresh and impressive visual effects in your videos.

1. Make Yourself Disintegrate


Let’s start small. Disintegrating yourself is a relatively easy choice from the special effects tutorials. After Effects Tutorial: Disintegration Effect by After Effects Series Tutorials is only 10 minutes long. It will teach you how to take a simple clip of yourself against a plain wall, and make it seem as if you disappear into a swirling cloud of dust. All it really requires is cutting yourself out with the pen tool, making sure you have a clean frame of the background, and then applying an AE preset called Scatterize. From there, following the video’s tips for what to set the parameters to is a piece of cake!

2. Pull Someone Through a Picture


This effect is awesome, and beyond some initial setup, isn’t too complicated. After Effects Tutorial: How to Pull Someone Into Another World by Colin Ross goes through this extremely satisfying effect. After using a green screen, and rotoscoping around your actors, it will require a fair amount of adjustments before you get it to look right. Be warned that this is definitely not for beginners, as rotoscoping and knowing what parameters to use can be overwhelming for a new user.

3. Capture a Frozen Action Scene


This tutorial will blow the minds of everyone you show it to. In The Frozen in Time Effect! by Film Riot you will learn how to duplicate your actors across a single shot. The trick is using a pre-programmed path for your camera rig, and filming a number of individual scenes on different passes. Then you will use After Effects to mask some of the clips and put them into the scene. However, the details that make the example video look great use a bit more than just After Effects. Okay, a lot more than just After Effects. If you don’t have resources like this, Film Riot released another video called How to Freeze Time Cheaply!, which breaks down a way to accomplish a less complicated and convincing version in After Effects. Obviously your own skill and experience with editing programs will determine how good your version looks.

4. Intro to Motion Graphics


One basic thing that you may want to do with After Effects is create motion graphics. After Effects Tutorial – Basic Typography and Motion Graphics by thevfxbro teaches you these skills in the context of a music lyric video. This is a relatively easy lesson, but thevfxbro goes into detail for beginners. You can create simple motion graphics in Premiere Pro as well, but AE gives you the extra tools you need to take your animation to the next level.

5. Realistic Lightning Effects


For this tutorial, you will use After Effects and only After Effects! Advanced Electric FX Tutorial by Video Copilot will help you create an incredible electricity effect that is dynamic and looks realistic thanks to the built in features of the Advanced Lightning effect preset in After Effects. This video editing tutorial goes to show that the presets can be very powerful and customizable.

6. Making Cartoons in After Effects


Here’s something a little different. You can also use After Effects to animate a cartoon. How To Make a Cartoon | For Beginners – After Effects Tutorial by Ross Plaskow is a humorous journey through animating a dinosaur drawing. The main points of setup are to make a drawing with different parts on different layers, and to prepare a number of mouths to use. If you are interested in animating this is a great place to start before seeking out other tutorials for After Effects.

7. Make a 2D Image Into 3D Video


A common After Effects usage is the parallax effect. In How To Easily Create Parallax in After Effects Using a Simple Distortion Effect by Motion Science, you will learn how to use this effect to fake 3D. This is done by separating layers of a 2D image, and moving them independently of one another. This is a simple explanation. But these tutorials for After Effects will explain in more detail just how to parallax effect can make a static image really pop!

8. Advanced Call Out Titles

call out titles and motion tracking tutorial

Create completely customizable and controllable call out titles in After Effects. This tutorial by Maxwell Ridgeway covers over 25 minutes of techniques for creating beautiful flat animated titles to track over your videos. These advanced call out titles can be a nice, clean addition to informational videos, business presentations, and more.

9. Project Your Soul


After Effects Tutorial: Soul Effect from Doctor Strange Movie Astral Projection from After Effects VFX Tutorials by Moraru is a no-budget After Effects tutorial. In it you will learn how to make a ghostly copy of yourself fly out of your body. It is important to make sure that your “real life” layer and your “soul” layer use the same lighting and perspective. Perhaps just as valuable are Moraru’s tips to make the effect more believable, layering different effects with blending modes.

10. Color Grading In After Effects


When you think of color grading your footage, After Effects might not be your first inclination. After watching Create a Cinematic Look with After Effects Tricks! by Kriscoart, AE might be your new go-to. The way that Kriscoart uses solids, masks, and adjustment layers to bring attention to certain aspects of an otherwise flat video clip is really inspiring. If you currently use a different color grader, try using After Effects once. See if you can get some results that you haven’t been able to achieve before.

11. Rise From the Dead


Have you ever wanted to burst from the ground and rise from the dead? Well, with a green screen and an animated preset of a ground burst, you can pretty easily rise from the dead. Rise From the Dead – Adobe After Effects Tutorial by Surfaced Studio shows how to use this specific effect along with the proper tracking and adjustments to make sure it fits in with your shot. The most valuable lessons from this video have to do with compositing the ground burst and green-screened arm together. The effect seems easy until you realize that the arm has to be in the middle of the rubble. Surfaced Studios goes in-depth on how to define which pieces of rubble are close or far.

12. Give Yourself Demon Eyes


With a request for the demon eyes effect from the show Supernatural, Film Learnin’s Easy Demon Eyes After Effects Tutorial! will show you how to copy this effect. While the effect is laughably simple to accomplish even for a beginner, there are still a lot of important steps to take. Film Learnin takes it a step further beyond what he says most demon eye tutorials for After Effects do. He makes sure to include a reflection of what the actor is seeing, as eyes reflect slightly. This adds a tiny bit of realism, which can often be the things that make or break a VFX shot.

13. Creating a Blue/Red Glitch Effect


This is something widely used for various video projects. A glitch effect is useful for any sort of technology-related clip that needs some extra grit to it. The best part is that it can be applied to literally any text or logo, making this lesson versatile. Glitch Logo Animation In After Effects by Avnish Parker will teach you to create a glitching animation, complete with blue and red to show color distortion. This look is both pleasing and unsettling, which is perfect.

6 Replies to “13 Amazing Special Effects Tutorials for After Effects”

  1. Leandro says:



    1. Mike says:

      Thanks for the support Leandro!

  2. Nipun Nair says:

    That was [email protected] Super helpful! Thanks!!!

  3. saba says:

    TNXit was great

  4. bob says:

    look like ass

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