1. Getting Started


  • Tool panel
  • Project panel
  • Composition panel
  • Timeline panel
  • A lot of other panels to the right

All these panels + more are available under the Window menu.

Importing artwork

Under the Project panel, you can right-click and select import.

We have a couple of import kinds - for our example, we want to import Composition and not Footage.

As for Footage Dimensions, it is most likely that you will want to keep Layer Size.

If you double click on the composition in the project panel, you will see a timeline with the composition.

To change sizing, there is an option on the bottom of the composition bottom.

Useful keyboard shortcuts that came up:

  • h for hand tool.
  • v for selectiom tool.
  • shift + ? for "fit to screen" size.
  • Holding spacebar will revert to the previous tool used until you let go.

When you hover over layers in a composition, you can drag around. We also turned off the adaptive resolution by selecting Fast Previews and turning them off.

The reason why the layers are made the way they are is to ensure we can animate the layers independently from each other.


Width and height of a space measured in pixels.

We go through the process of creating a new preset and the default preset is HDTV 1080 29.97.

When creating content for the internet, you likely want to stick to HDTV.

Another note that come up: After Effects is a raster-based program - this means that they are working with pixels.

As another aside, Illustrator is not raster-based but vector-based.

Frame rate

Frames-per-second for a video. The standard 29.97 is the most common for broadcast, but 30 is generally used for Internet unless you have a specific use case.

Traditional frame rate for animation and film is 24.


Measuring the number of frames in a video in the time format HH:MM:SS:FF where FF are the frames.

The timeline panel has the option to change the timecode format with a command click. Based on the format, it will also change the timeline markers.

The three things you need to remember when creating a composition:

  1. Resolution
  2. Frame rate
  3. Duration

In general when it comes to creating a new composition, you also want move Duration than expected. It is easy to trim it down when exporting.

We set the name of the composition to Taco-Tuesday.

Adding the layers to the composition

Dragging in the layers directly from the Project panel is the wrong way to go about it. You want to open the composition in the timeline panel and copy and paste the layers in.

To reposition the artwork to fix the next composition, we did the following:

  1. Moved all layers close to the middle of the composition.
  2. Create a parent-child link between the layers to do the scaling. We did that on the timeline by selecting all layers (other than the background) and using the pick whip to set them as children of the background. Afterwards, we selected the background layer, right-click > transform > fit to comp.

Afterwards, we unlinked the parent-child relationships.

Precomps & Organization

We make a new comp to help with the screen composition.

The new composition has 1200x1200 resolution so that we have a little bit of a buffer around the edges.

The start with some organization, we updated the Project panel to have some new folders assets and preComps.

We also had a look at the transparency grid option.

At this stage, we brought in the remaining assets into our project.

Because we imported multiple files, they were imported as vector art.

What we want to do is right-click > Replace Footage > With Layered Comp.

The screen composition becomes a precomp once we drag it in as a layer in the Taco-Tuesday composition.


In animation, you will general use the following:

  1. Position.
  2. Scale.
  3. Rotation.

Position Layer

When you parent a layer to another layer, the position of the child layer is now relative to the parent layer and not the origin.

For snapping: if you hold down "command" while dragging then you can snap.


Measured in percentages.


As you would expect. Rotates in 360 degrees and takes note of the number of rotations made.

Anchor Point

This affects the other properties of the layer. We can change the anchor point from the center to where ever we want.

There is also a tool to help you move the anchor point without the layer moving.

Scene Setup

We went through some copy-paste properties in after effects.

Holding option when bringing in an asset will swap out the assets.

Animating with Keyframes

Deleting will preserve the value that the playhead is at.

You can also shift the layers within the composition to change the layer duration.

Here we also changed the motion path to default to linear.

Timing vs Spacing

  • F9 to add easing to a keyframe.
  • Cmd + click on a keyframe to revert it back.

The Score Counter

We added the numbers effect. The keyframes being animated can be shown on any layer by pressing u.

Screen Effects

We want to make our assets look "old", so we can use effects to manipulate how they look.


  • Double click to get to position selectors.
  • Enter to go back to normal mask mode.
  • Double clicking on the shape tool will make a mask the size of the composition.