best after effects tutorials for beginners

Adobe After Effects is an incredibly powerful and versatile motion graphics design program, capable of creating stunning animations and visual imagery.

However, to someone who’s just starting out – it can appear quite overwhelming.  

That’s why we put together this list of the 5 Best After Effects Tutorials for Beginners.  

Learn How to Get Started in Adobe After Effects

The following instructional tutorials were hand picked and are presented in this order specifically to help you become more confident and comfortable working within After Effects. 

Though some of these concepts may look or seem complicated at first – each one is broken down into simple, easy-to-understand terms and applications. 

how to get started in adobe after effects

Though some people insist on explaining the software’s entire interface first, before actually starting to use the program… instead, we feel you should just jump right in and start learning how to create.  You’ll find out what each window is called, and what they’re used for as you begin to get more comfortable in the program.  

Sound good?  Alright, let’s get to it.

1. Intro to Motion Graphics [¼] | After Effects Tutorial by TipTut

Creating, editing, and animating text (a.k.a. typography) is one of the most prominent things Adobe After Effects used for.  That being said, this tutorial is a fantastic introduction. 

It’s the first in a 4 part tutorial series by Matthew Fryer of TipTut:

Matthew does a great job of actually explaining each step (including why he’s doing it), which is incredibly helpful for beginners.  He uses a few external plug-ins that don’t come standard with After Effects, but makes a point to show users how to achieve the same result without those plug-ins.

Some of the Adobe After Effects basics you learn in this 1st video include:

  • Create a New Composition
  • Creating Solids (Backgrounds)
  • Creating Text
  • Anchor points
  • Keyframing
  • Positioning, opacity, and rotation
  • Making Text into Shapes
  • Strokes, Fills, and Color

2. How To Create Patterned Backgrounds With Shape Layers in After Effects by ukramedia

Your awesome new animated text surely needs to be in front of a slick background, right?  

In this tutorial, Adobe After Effects whiz Sergei Prokhnevskiy from ukramedia shows us how to create seemingly complex patterned backgrounds with ease:

You’ll learn all about working with the various shapes tools in After Effects – manipulating their properties, adding repeaters, and working with grids. 

Sergei is all about efficiency while working in After Effects.  One thing I love about his tutorials is that he consistently teaches you the After Effects keyboard shortcuts as he instructs – which can really help to improve your speed and workflow.  In other words, be on the lookout for those… and you might want to take some notes!

3. 5 Tips For Getting Started In After Effects | Motion Graphics Tutorials by Shutterstock Tutorials

Ok, we’ve learned how to create and animate our text… we’ve also put that text over some really sharp looking patterned backgrounds… but now it’s time to dig deeper.  

In this beginners tutorial, Todd Blankenship of Shutterstock Tutorials quickly covers 5 concepts that are essential for every motion graphics designer working in Adobe After Effects to understand:

The motion graphics concepts Todd covers in this tutorial include:

  • Motion Blur
  • Keyframes (there’s always room to learn more about keyframing!)
  • Easing Keyframes and the Speedgraph Editor Basics
  • Masks and Track Mattes
  • Null Objects

4. Create Stylish Opener in After Effects – Complete After Effects Tutorial by Dope Motions

Now it’s time to start putting all of the things we’ve been learning into practice.  

This Adobe After Effects tutorial by Nikhil of Dope Motions is a superb example of how to create a complex looking stylish motion graphic opener – complete with easy to follow, step-by-step instructions. To follow along, you’ll just need 6 photos and a sample logo:

You’ll be incorporating all of the new skills you’ve learned above… including creating shapes and drawing masks/track mattes

Additionally, Nikhil teaches you about precomposing (a.k.a. nesting) and animating photos using keyframes and the speedgraph editor, as well as adding an adjustment layer with a vignette effect to give it some style, and finally – topping it off with a nice logo reveal.

5. Adobe After Effects Basics Tutorial – 3D by Surfaced Studio

Alright, we’re on a roll!  But now it’s time to jump into a whole new dimension… it’s time to talk about 3D.  

This beginner motion graphics tutorial by Tobias of Surfaced Studio (the 8th in his basics series) brings us into the world of After Effects 3D:

In this tutorial, Tobias teaches you everything you need to know to get started with Adobe After Effects 3D, and covers some of the following concepts:

  • Positioning objects, photos, or videos in Z-space (a.k.a. depth)
  • Adding and working with After Effects cameras
  • Adding lights into your 3D scene
  • Adjusting material options on your 3D layers (to accept lights or shadows for example)

Final Thoughts

To summarize, these are what we consider to be 5 of the best After Effects Tutorials for Beginners.  

These tutorials were hand picked and presented in this specific order to build your level of knowledge and confidence in working inside Adobe After Effects.  We hope they’ve challenged and inspired you to continue to develop your motion graphics design skills.

But it’s important to realize… with these videos, we’ve just barely scratched the surface of what’s possible with After Effects.  

There’s a reason that it’s one of the most popular motion graphics programs out there – an industry standard tool, with proud users all over the world.  It’s capacity to create stunning animations and motion designs seems almost limitless, and adding it to your creative arsenal is certainly not the worst career move.

How about you?

What did you think of these Adobe After Effects beginner tutorials? Did they help you become more confident in working with After Effects?  

Maybe there are other tutorials that you think should have made the list instead? Feel free to let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Joel Simser is a creative writer, entrepreneur, and all around video maestro. He’s produced original music for commercials and television, lent his voice to various promos and presentations, and edited thousands of non-award winning videos (including a few actual award shows).

As founder of AwesomeContentCreator.com, he authors in-depth guides that teach fellow content creators ways to grow and develop in their industries.