In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the best websites/resources on the internet to learn After Effects Expressions.

The best and easiest way to animate a layer in After Effects is by setting up keyframes. While they work effectively for moving a layer across the screen, they aren’t a great choice when it comes to complex animations.

So, when you want to create and link complex animations, but would like to avoid creating hundreds of keyframes, try using EXPRESSIONS.


What Are After Effects Expressions?

Just like any other tool, Expressions are pieces of code that can control and automate animations in Adobe After Effects. They help you work more efficiently and eliminate repetitive tasks like looping animations.

We use most of the tools in After Effects by clicking on their respective icons. Whereas Expressions are used by typing commands, just like it is done in computer programming.

If After Effects understands the input command, it will process it and render the resultant effect. It’s like telling After Effects what to do and how to do it in order to create the desired effect.


Do I Need To Be A Programmer?

Expressions are based on JavaScript, which is a programming language. However, you don’t need to be a programmer to write Expressions. Some basic understanding of the language is more than enough to learn and use Expressions in After Effects.

Most of the time you won’t even have to type. After Effects includes the Pick Whip tool, which allows you to create JavaScript with your mouse.

You click, drag, point, and release the mouse button, and After Effects writes the code for you. From there, you can customize the Expression as necessary.

After Effects Pick Whip

Lastly, Expressions are based on Maths, which brings us to our next question.


Do I Need To Be Good At Math?

No, not at all. You don’t need to be a master mathematician to learn After Effects Expressions. In fact, most of the time you will be typing fancy and friendly words like ‘Wiggle‘. But, when required, some basic arithmetic like addition, subtraction, and multiplication would get the job done.

You do need high-level math for advanced Expressions. But with time, practice, and patience, even the most complex piece of code become easy.


Websites/Resources To Learn After Effects Expressions

There are many tutorials on the internet that can help you get started with Expressions. However, only a handful of them is useful.

So we did some digging and handpicked 10 of the best websites/resources to learn After Effects Expressions. Take a look!

1. Learn After Effects Expressions By Ukramedia

Ukramedia is a well-known resource in the motion design community for everything there is to learn about After Effects. Initially, It started as a YouTube channel for After Effects quick tips and tricks.

It came into the limelight after the release of the ‘LEARN AFTER EFFECTS EXPRESSIONS’ course. The course offers everything you need to know and learn to become an expert in After Effects Expressions.

The ‘Learn After Effects Expressions’ course will help you understand the core of Expressions and how they work in After Effects.

Over 12 hours of training material packed in 80 video lessons will give you a strong foundation to build on. After completing the course, you will be able to:

  • Understand After Effects tools that are helpful when working with Expressions.
  • Use Expression Control Effects with Expressions.
  • Use numbers and strings to write basic After Effects Expressions.
  • Use functions to create more robust Expressions.
  • Make Expressions respond to changes in variables.
  • Make a modular lower third from scratch and rig it with Expressions.

The ‘Learn After Effects Expressions’ course is reasonably priced at $190 USD. We believe it is a must-have course for anyone who wants to get better at Motion Graphics.


2. Mastering Expressions By MotionScript.com

Mastering Expressions is a free resource to learn After Effects Expressions by Dan Ebbert. He is a freelance After Effects script and Expression designer.

Mastering Expressions By MotionScript

It is a collection of topics designed for those who want to master the art of writing AE Expressions. It covers various expression-related topics along with practical examples.

You will start with the basics – the language of Expressions (JavaScript) and understanding the user interface. Later, you’ll learn about Physical Simulations followed by complex examples.

According to Dan, ‘You need to have a basic understanding of After Effects before you start learning from his resource. If you are a complete beginner, you probably need to hook yourself up with one of the E-Books on After Effects.’

Mastering Expressions is a text-based resource that requires a lot of reading time. However, it is easy to understand and covers all the necessary topics to learn After Effects Expressions.


3. After Effects Expressions Made Easy

After Effects Expressions Made Easy

After Effects Expressions Made Easy is an online course with more than 2 hours of training material to get you comfortable with writing Expressions.

The course is designed for people who think After Effects Expressions are too difficult to understand. In reality, anyone with basic math knowledge can learn it.

In the series of video tutorials, Chris Glick, the creator of this course will demystify Expressions and make them easy. He will teach you to:

  • Create Expressions with Pick Whip Parenting.
  • Modify Expression values with hard-coded values.
  • Add and connect Expression control effects for fast edits.
  • Access information about other layers in Expressions.
  • Get properties from the Expression language menu.
  • Use current values or keyframes to drive Expressions.
  • Add random movement with the wiggle expression.
  • Repeat animation with various loop Expressions.
  • Work with multi-value Array properties like Position.
  • Save an Expression and its controls in an Animation Preset.
  • Use variables to store information and write cleaner Expressions.
  • Precomp Expression layers and create copies.
  • Build a versatile 3D layer controller with Expressions.

By the end of this course, you’ll have created many Expressions to make your work and life easier.


4. Expressions Trip

The above video is a perfect example of all the crazy things you can do in After Effects with the help of Expressions. Each and every animation you just saw was a result of a combination of different Expressions.

The same animations could be achieved with keyframes as well.

In the case of a dinosaur walk animation, you need to manually keyframe the legs, hands, body, and tail to create a walking animation effect. This results in tons of useless keyframes and loss of precious time.

Expressions Trip - Learn After Effects Expressions
GIF Source: Motion Design School

However, with Expressions, you can rig the entire animation in a slider control or position parameter and make the dinosaur walk at the click of a button.

This is just one example of using Expressions to achieve maximum efficiency in After Effects. You can use them in hundred different ways to create unique and complex animations.

Even though it sounds like an easy thing to do, you need a lot of knowledge and understanding of basic JavaScript to write your first After Effects Expression. And this is where Expressions Trip comes in handy.

Expressions Trips is an online course by Motion Design School that will teach you to write your own Expressions. It features more than 7 hours of training material bundled in 12 detailed videos and downloadable projects.

The course costs $349 USD and covers basic to some really advanced and unique techniques that will save you time and boost your workflow. You can also try a free lesson before paying for the full course.

This course is a great fit for motion artists who want to learn and use Expressions to automate After Effects animations.


5. The Expressions Cheat Sheet

The Expressions Cheat Sheet

This is not exactly a course, lesson, or website to learn After Effects Expressions but rather a go-to resource for the most common Expressions you’ll need once in a while.

It is called The Expressions Cheat Sheet for a reason.

We are all humans and it is impossible to memorize each and every Expression, even the basic ones. So when your brain shuts on you, use it as a reference to use Expressions in After Effects as quickly and conveniently as possible.

For instance, You want to create a simple text typewriter effect but can’t recall the Expression. No worries, just use The Expressions Cheat Sheet to grab the Expression and modify its properties as necessary.

This is just one example of all the things you can do with this cheat sheet to make your work fast and easy. Also, at the bottom of the webpage, you will find some common Expressions-related errors and ways to solve them.

The Expressions Cheat Sheet definitely deserves a place in this listicle. You can use it along with the other listed resources as a reference guide.


6. The World of Expressions

“NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES”. This statement is true for Parker Young, a Senior User Experience Motion Designer at Microsft, who created a complete After Effects Expressions course and published it for free. No hidden costs, no paywalls.

The World of Expressions is a series of 33 video tutorials that will take you through the journey of learning and writing After Effects Expressions.

The course is divided into 5 sections:

  1. Introduction: An overview of Expressions and how to use them in projects.
  2. Basic Expressions: Some useful Expressions that require one line of code.
  3. Intermediate Tools: An in-depth look at methods, attributes, and complex value types.
  4. Advanced Concepts: Pushing Expressions to the limits and powerful Expression ideas.
  5. JavaScript For AE: Programming fundamentals for JavaScript in After Effects.

‘The complete course provides about 5 hours of Expressions training to artists around the world, a free gift from me to the motion community’, says Parker.

While the course is free to watch, you can buy the project files, offline videos, and documentation for just $10 USD. It’s an optional purchase and you can skip it as well.


7. After Effects Expressions By Marcus Geduld

After Effects Expressions By Marcus Geduld

Marcus Geduld is a programmer, designer, and author of the AFTER EFFECTS EXPRESSIONS.

It is a book that focuses entirely on teaching the concept of Expressions, variables, commands, JavaScript, and math essentials.

With this book, you can learn After Effects Expressions right from the basics to the core techniques that include Randomness and Physical Simulations.

The book is divided into 2 parts:

  • Part 1: You will learn how to create simple Expressions, variables, comments, and dimensions followed by commands and expression helpers.
  • Part 2: You will build foundations for advanced Expressions. This includes JavaScript, math, randomness, physical simulations, and other advanced techniques.

After Effects Expressions by Marcus Geduld is a well-written book with full-color illustrations that display the expression codes and their resultant effects.

You can buy the paperback version of the book on Amazon for $60, read it on a Kindle device for $47.49, or download the PDF version for just $41.31.


8. After Effects Expressions Basics By David Alex

After Effects Expressions Basics By David Alex

Authored by David Alex, this eBook explains the basics of using After effects Expressions. You will learn what Expressions are, how they work, and how to use them properly.

By the end of this book, you will be able to use some of the most common and useful After Effects Expressions. You will also be able to expand your knowledge to a more advanced level.

David Alex’s eBook is based on examples, rather than teaching facts which makes it simple and very easy to understand.

After Effects Expressions Basics E-Book by David Alex is free to download.


9. The Power of Expression

The Power of Expressions

The Power of Expression is a complete guide on learning After Effects Expressions. The book will help you reach the full potential of After Effects in a modern and minimalist way.

There is no denying the fact that visual content is easy to understand. However, Expression is a written language so it is still easier to understand by learning through reading.

By the time you finish reading the book, you’ll learn a new computer language. You will be able to easily use Expressions in your After Effects projects.

People with prior experience can use the book as a reference. They can quickly search, learn, and review the Expressions used in their daily work in After Effects.

For $89 USD. you can buy both the hardcover and eBook versions of the book. Or, you can buy the E-Book PDF only for just $39 USD.

I highly recommend this for those who haven’t touched Expressions, or continually rely on google. It’s like a nerdy novel that I couldn’t wait to finish“, says Ryan Plummer, Creative Strategist at School of Motion.


10. Creative Cow Expressions Forum

Creative Cow After Effects Expressions Forum

Last on our list of websites/resources to learn After Effects Expressions is the Creative Cow Expressions Forum.

Creative Cow is well known for its huge community of motion graphic designers and video editors. Here you will get numerous Expression tutorials, tricks, and techniques from novice to expert After Effects users.

Since the forum is constantly updated with new content, you can learn something new every single day.

Currently, the forum has more than 12,000 individual discussions on After Effects Expressions. That’s a lot of knowledge just lying around for free.

There is no definite path or a course on the forum to learn about Expressions. The best way is to look for people asking questions. Then open up the discussion and go through the solutions by other community members.

This problem-solving approach will help you better understand the problems that can be transformed into opportunities to learn and improve.