Beginner’s Guide to 3D Animation in After Effects

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August 14, 2016

Beginner’s Guide to 3D Animation in After Effects

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Animation isn’t just for cartoons anymore. The proliferation of software like Adobe After Effects has made it possible for anyone to learn how to incorporate 3D animation into their workflow, whether you’re customizing AE templates or creating custom text animations from scratch. That’s why we’ve collected some of the best online tutorials to help you get started on your animated adventure.

In today’s media industry, 3D motion graphics have become the standard for enhancing the quality of a video project. While most people probably associate this type of content with the latest box office hit from Pixar, most modern animation is more subtle in its application. News broadcasts use 3D text in their opening stinger, advertisements bring still photos to life, and films accentuate the action in the background of a scene with digital elements and compositing.

These days, animation is no longer a niche or a specialized skill, as it’s increasingly become an essential tool for all filmmakers to embrace. Although it’s certainly not the only software capable of generating these types of effects After Effects’ toolset can add an extra layer of professionalism to any video project. Take a look at these intro tutorials to start expanding your AE repertoire.

Top 5 After Effects 3D Camera Tips

Sean Frangella

One of the most significant tools in the After Effects repertoire is the camera, which allows you to replicate natural camera movement in an artificial three-dimensional environment. This tutorial provides a number of excellent tips on how to make the most of your camera.

Animating A Still Photo


There are many methods to transform a still photo into a more dynamic, three-dimensional animation. This walkthrough will assist you in implementing one of these methods.

Displacement and 2.5D Parallax Effect

DOD Media

This tutorial will show you another way to achieve a three-dimensional effect on your still photos.

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3D Lava Animation

Ch-ch-check It

Sometimes, you may want to generate an animated background or environmental effect that you can use to enhance the empty space onscreen. In this tutorial, you learn how to create realistic lava effects that could roil and bubble below a logo, text, or even your actors if you’ve used a green screen.

3D Cloud Animation

Andy Bresbrode

This cloudy animation was inspired by the opening of the Harry Potter films and can be used to make your background more threatening or intense.




Creating a 3D Matte Painting in After Effects


Using VideoBlocks footage and photographic elements, this instructor builds an amazing matte painting to replace the green screen footage he shot with an actress.

Some of these projects may require a basic understanding of After Effects or Adobe Photoshop. New to the programs? Read our Quick Start Guide to After Effects before trying your hand at 3D animation.

Or if you’re looking for dynamic and polished After Effects animations without the time and effort, there are hundreds of new AE templates in the VideoBlocks library.

Explore After Effects Templates

Caroline Mercurio

Marketing Creative Specialist

An avid storyteller with a background in film, theater, and fine art, Caroline covers the latest trends in film and design while managing our social media platforms. In her free time, she can be found awkwardly practicing ballroom dancing in public places or “studying” to become a level 1 sommelier. Maybe.