Adobe After Effects is the most widely used compositing software. Take a look at this list of 100 things you should know about After Effects.

It’s been over 5 years now with After Effects and I have used it and loved it, each and every single day. During my early days, I struggled a lot in terms of learning the software and collecting resources.

I started EditingCorp in October 2013 and have written over 250 articles on After Effects sharing almost everything I have learned so far.

I simply made this list as both a way for me to self-reflect and hopefully, you can find some of these tips helpful. Keep reading – I hope you enjoy it!

100 Important Things To Know About After Effects

  1. First Things First, Buy the software, don’t download from torrents. You’ll be able to enjoy the updates and new features.
  2. You can even sign up for a 30-day trial before purchasing.
  3. If you get into After Effects, start from the basics.
  4. Be patient, Take the first step and keep on climbing until you Master the software.
  5. Forget point number 4, No one can master After Effects. It’s an endless journey.
  6. You don’t need a Motion Design school to learn After Effects. There are enough resources on the Internet to learn the software.
  7. Use After Effects each and every day. Spend a minute or an hour, but use it.
  8. Join forums like Creative Cow and Videocopilot Forum. You’ll learn a lot from others.
  9. Also, keep on stalking the After Effects subreddit on Reddit. Tons of great ideas, inspiration, and topics are posted by professionals and amateurs every day.
  10. Only an open-minded person can learn After Effects.
  11. Choose your style, i.e. compositing, motion graphics, etc., and work on it.
  12. Element 3D for After Effects is a great and must-have plugin. Buy it.
  13. Always keep your project organized.
  14. Use separate folders for footage, compositions, audios, etc.
  15. When working on big projects, use proxies.
  16. Enable the Auto-Save feature from Edit > Preferences.
  17. Create a custom workspace in After Effects and remove unwanted/unusable panels.
  18. Learn keyboard shortcuts.
  19. Reverse-Engineer After Effects Templates to learn how they are made.
  20. If working for a client, just deliver the rendered product and keep the project files with you.
  21. Use the collect file features to collect all the files to one preferred destination after completing a project. This can be used to back up your projects for the future.
  22. There’s no harm in using paid After Effects templates when you are in a hurry. You can buy one from Videohive.
  23. But first, always try to be yourself and create your own unique projects.
  24. Learn After Effects Expressions and Scripts.
  25. In After Effects, enable ‘Tip of the Day at Startup’. You will learn something new every time you run the application. You can do that by going into Help > Welcome and Tip of the Day.
  26. Experiment with the software.
  27. Feel free and be proud to share your creations with others via social media and other After Effects related websites/blogs.
  28. Purchase, download, and install third-party plugins and presets.
  29. Use Color Finesse for color correction. You can find it in Effects > Synthetic Aperture.
  30. To speed up your renders, enable the Caps Lock. This will turn off the preview while rendering and speed up the overall rendering process.
  31. Modify the keyboard shortcuts or create your own.
  32. Post your queries on Reddit.
  33. Give your 100% while working with After Effects, but don’t forget to take a break.
  34. Color label and name your layers properly to avoid confusion.
  35. For Motion Tracking, use Mocha Pro instead of the inbuilt motion tracker.
  36. Always use Adjustment layers for color correction.
  37. And save your overall color correction as a preset by going into Animation > Save Animation Preset.
  38. Create render presets.
  39. If your renders fail, try these simple yet useful tricks to avoid failing renders.
  40. Alcohol and After Effects do not mix well.
  41. Avoid sitting and looking at your screen while that big project is rendering. Instead, take a power nap.
  42. Never work on an empty stomach.
  43. Learn to use the graph editor for keyframes.
  44. Boost your workflow with Third-Party After Effects Scripts.
  45. Reserve as much RAM as you can for After Effects.
  46. If you ever heard a Goat screaming inside of After Effects. Here’s the reason.
  47. Learn from others but do not copy their work.
  48. Learn about the history of After Effects. This cool infographic will help you out.
  49. Create a profile on Behance.
  50. Purchase a Logic Keyboard and use it. They have dedicated MAC and PC keyboards for After Effects.
  51. You don’t need a Pen tablet to work on After Effects. A mouse is enough.
  52. RAM preview your work before rendering.
  53. Go to Edit > Preferences > Appearance and decrease the brightness. The dark theme will put less strain on your eyes.
  54. You don’t need a very expensive computer to create good motion graphics. Sometimes a laptop is enough to create amazing stuff.
  55. Never delete any of your project files.
  56. You can do Photoshop-style image editing in After Effects.
  57. After Effects is not all about Motion Graphics and VFX compositing. Sometimes, you can even trim and edit a basic video or a slideshow for your friend’s birthday.
  58. Create your own After Effects tutorials.
  59. Try to come up with new ideas and shortcut methods to perform certain tasks in After Effects.
  60. Also, share your ideas with the community.
  61. Know the difference between Animation & Visual Effects.
  62. Don’t get irritated or angry when someone asks for help with After Effects. Remember, you were a rookie as well.
  63. Create your own templates, scripts, or plugins and sell them on the Videohive marketplace.
  64. Money is not everything, you also need blessings. Upload some of your templates for free.
  65. Search and join After Effects groups on Facebook.
  66. Create an Instagram profile and share your work with appropriate hashtags.
  67. Follow @videocopilot, @aescripts, @aetips, and a few others on twitter.
  68. Download and install beautiful fonts.
  69. Create your own After Effects templates.
  70. Upload your work on Vimeo instead of YouTube.
  71. In the project panel, add comments to files and folders. This will help you remember what’s inside.
  72. Do the same for layers in your timeline.
  73. Don’t clutter your timeline with unwanted and unused columns. Hide them.
  74. Use a second display if possible.
  75. And a third one is ‘icing on the cake.
  76. Look out for Adobe surveys and provide your feedback. Tell them what features you want in future updates.
  77. Learn about 35 most useful After Effects expressions.
  78. Sign up on Fiverr and create your own gigs.
  79. If you use Premier Pro along with After Effects, use the dynamic link feature to save some time.
  80. Buy After Effects books and e-books.
  81. You can add an effect to all selected layers by double-clicking the effect in the Effects & Presets panel.
  82. Work at a resolution setting of Half and a Draft Quality setting for faster production.
  83. If your After Effects has locked up and not responding, Force crash it and save your work.
  84. Long Shadows are better than Drop Shadows. Download and Install this Long Shadow preset.
  85. You don’t need to purchase a third-party plugin to create 3D texts in After Effects.
  86. Never sell someone else’s Free After Effects Projects on a marketplace. (Like a rookie selling my Marvel’s Intro project on Pond5)
  87. Give credit to the original creator of any After Effects project file/template.
  88. Start a blog and share your work.
  89. Participate in various After effects contests.
  90. You can get a free licensed After Effects template every month from Videohive Marketplace. Visit the link and scroll down to the bottom of the page.
  91. Work as a freelancer before applying for a studio job.
  92. And get yourself a nice showreel.
  93. Organize workshops and share your After Effects knowledge and experience with others.
  94. There’s a secret project file hidden inside of After Effects. Hold down Option+Command (Control+Alt on a pc) and click ‘About After Effects’ in the File Menu.
  95. Add the Tone effect to any clip. Under the Animation presets click CallAdobe. This produces the DTMF tone that allegedly will call Adobe if you are using a phone that recognizes DTMF tones.
  96. Never stop using After Effects.
  97. You will discover a lot about yourself through After Effects.
  98. The more you use After Effects, the better you get.
  99. Above all, have fun.
  100. And write your own list.

Did you like this list? Share with us what you would add/change about this list in the comments below!