After Effects CS6 Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Layering multiple effects


After Effects CS6 Essential Training

with Ian Robinson

Start your free trial now, and begin learning software, business and creative skills—anytime, anywhere—with video instruction from recognized industry experts.

Start Your Free Trial Now

Video: Layering multiple effects

Unfortunately a lot of new young designers make the mistake of getting really excited about effects. And start to think yeah, the more effects I put on my project, the better it's going to look. And I have to tell you honestly, sometimes less is more. But what's even better than that is really understanding what you're doing when you're applying effects. In essence, you're solving problems for the graphics that you have. So currently, I've got this kind of interesting graphic here, with these three shapes in the middle and this cool footage of solar panels in the background.
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 8s
    1. What is After Effects?
      1m 8s
  2. 2m 53s
    1. Welcome
      1m 40s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 13s
  3. 1h 8m
    1. The six foundations of AE
      5m 3s
    2. Introducing the interface and the workspace
      7m 51s
    3. Understanding compositions
      8m 48s
    4. Getting comfortable with layers
      7m 33s
    5. Getting started with animation and keyframes
      8m 30s
    6. Understanding effects
      3m 26s
    7. Moving in 3D space
      7m 41s
    8. Rendering your first animation
      8m 20s
    9. Specifying preferences and cache settings
      5m 44s
    10. Staying organized
      5m 15s
  4. 38m 6s
    1. Creating compositions
      7m 19s
    2. Importing footage and compositions
      7m 54s
    3. Preparing compositions for animation
      8m 7s
    4. Introducing renderers
      3m 15s
    5. Understanding precomposing
      7m 16s
    6. Relinking missing footage
      4m 15s
  5. 59m 58s
    1. Defining layers
      6m 23s
    2. Creating type
      5m 58s
    3. Creating layer solids and shapes with masks
      7m 55s
    4. Building shape layers
      6m 17s
    5. Understanding switches and blend modes
      8m 26s
    6. Crafting custom shapes and masks
      6m 18s
    7. Creating variable-width feathered masks
      5m 1s
    8. Rotoscoping with the Roto Brush
      8m 20s
    9. Refining with the Roto Brush
      5m 20s
  6. 1h 8m
    1. Understanding keyframes
      6m 1s
    2. Adding and adjusting keyframes
      9m 54s
    3. Interpolating keyframes
      8m 5s
    4. Adjusting keyframes in the Graph Editor
      7m 17s
    5. Understanding positional keyframes
      7m 0s
    6. Controlling animation with parenting and the pick whip
      9m 57s
    7. Understanding animation paths
      6m 27s
    8. Timing to audio
      4m 41s
    9. Trimming and sliding edits
      5m 31s
    10. Swapping images
      4m 1s
  7. 29m 7s
    1. Layering multiple effects
      9m 13s
    2. Generating graphic effects with adjustment layers
      7m 28s
    3. Building backgrounds with effects
      6m 50s
    4. Creating animated strokes
      5m 36s
  8. 40m 16s
    1. Introducing cameras
      10m 3s
    2. Working with 3D layers
      6m 37s
    3. Positioning layers
      6m 13s
    4. Adding lights and working with Material Options
      9m 22s
    5. Using 3D precompositions
      2m 5s
    6. Adjusting depth of field
      5m 56s
  9. 28m 31s
    1. Caching and prerendering
      6m 33s
    2. Understanding the alpha channels
      5m 18s
    3. Using the Render Queue
      4m 34s
    4. Rendering with Adobe Media Encoder
      7m 15s
    5. Archiving finished projects
      4m 51s
  10. 44m 28s
    1. Creating type animators
      12m 17s
    2. Animating type in 3D space
      6m 35s
    3. Adding and animating type on a path
      8m 45s
    4. Composing 3D type
      8m 41s
    5. Animating shape layers
      8m 10s
  11. 32m 45s
    1. Creating stylized video
      6m 47s
    2. Retiming video footage
      9m 31s
    3. Retouching with the Rubber Stamp tool
      10m 19s
    4. Smoothing shaky camera footage
      6m 8s
  12. 14m 20s
    1. Understanding keying
      3m 19s
    2. Creating a garbage mask
      4m 27s
    3. Getting started with Keylight
      6m 34s
  13. 15m 57s
    1. Importing Photoshop documents
      6m 11s
    2. Importing Illustrator files
      4m 25s
    3. Working With Premiere Pro projects
      5m 21s
  14. 1h 15m
    1. Adjusting ray-tracing quality
      8m 19s
    2. Tracking footage
      8m 16s
    3. Extruding shapes
      8m 40s
    4. Bending layers
      8m 39s
    5. Adjusting ray-traced lighting and materials
      9m 22s
    6. Adding environment maps
      4m 58s
    7. Beginning compositing
      8m 52s
    8. Creating render passes
      10m 17s
    9. Building a final composite
      8m 14s
  15. 1m 8s
    1. What's next
      1m 8s

please wait ...
Watch the Online Video Course After Effects CS6 Essential Training
8h 41m Beginner May 07, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, author Ian Robinson introduces Adobe After Effects CS6 and the world of animation, effects, and compositing. Chapter 1 introduces the six foundations of After Effects, which include concepts like layers, keyframes, rendering, and moving in 3D space. The rest of the course expands on these ideas, and shows how to build compositions with layers, perform rotoscoping, animate your composition with keyframes, add effects and transitions, and render and export the finished piece. Two real-world example projects demonstrate keying green screen footage and creating an advanced 3D composition with the expanded 3D toolset, an important addition to CS6.

Topics include:
  • Setting up the workspace, important preferences, and the cache
  • Importing footage and comps
  • Relinking missing footage
  • Creating type, shape layers, and masks
  • Rotoscoping with the Roto Brush
  • Adjusting keyframes in the Graph Editor
  • Timing animations to audio
  • Building backgrounds with effects
  • Rendering with the Render Queue and Adobe Media Encoder
  • Animating 3D type
  • Smoothing shaky footage and retouching footage
  • Keying green screen footage
  • Working with 3D: extruding shapes, adding ray-traced lighting, and more
After Effects
Ian Robinson

Layering multiple effects

Unfortunately a lot of new young designers make the mistake of getting really excited about effects. And start to think yeah, the more effects I put on my project, the better it's going to look. And I have to tell you honestly, sometimes less is more. But what's even better than that is really understanding what you're doing when you're applying effects. In essence, you're solving problems for the graphics that you have. So currently, I've got this kind of interesting graphic here, with these three shapes in the middle and this cool footage of solar panels in the background.

But the problem is the fact that they're fighting so much. I need them to blend together and not literally fight for my attention. So we're going to use effects to blend them together and separate them. So let's get started by treating the background footage. Select the background footage, and I want to show you two things we need to be aware of for this specific project. If we click and drag with our current time indicator, you can see I've got major exposure differences.

Right here at the end, I've got a nice beautiful flare out with lens flares and at the beginning its kind a dark. That's really important to pay attention to. The second thing you want to pay attention to is just the speed in general. So you might want to press zero on your keyboard, and load up a RAM Preview to see what this looks like. Now always remember to look in the upper right corner of your Info window to make sure that you're getting real time playback. And if you're not just kind of understand that when you're checking it out. Okay so the motion of that wasn't too, too fast.

So let's start by selecting our background layer and going up to the Effects pulldown menu. In here, you'll notice we have several groups of effects. Adobe has gone through the process of grouping everything, so they kind of make sense. Sometimes when you're going through these effects, you may get lost and not remember exactly where each one is. I'll show you where to search for that later, but I just want you to understand that they are grouped and yes, you can search for them.

One of the filters I like to use first, when I'm trying to get colorful graphics to blend with something that's not working, I like to go to Color Correction and use the CC Toner. If we select that, notice in the Effects control panel on the left side of your interface, it has a couple of different controls. Right now, it's set to Tritone and basically what its' doing is that it's tinting the Highlights, the Midtones and the Shadows of this image. Obviously if you click on Tritone you could make it Duotone or even five tones or just one Solid.

Now let's just leave it Tritone. And so this matches the background a little more closely. Let's change the midtone color. I'm okay with white at the top and black for the shadows. So if we grab the Eyedropper next to the Midtone color, we can go out into our viewer and sample this blue shape in the middle. Now I've got this kind of cool tint to my scene. This looks pretty decent here, but let's see what it looks like when we go to the overexposed area.

I think that's a little too much blue. So I'm going to adjust this blend with original setting in the toner. If you click and drag up, what this is doing, the higher the number the more of the original footage is going to sneak through. The lower number, the more of the effect is going to take effect. So let's send it around 43 and if we drag back here you can see okay, yeah, it's starting to blend in a little bit more here. Now another thing you can do, is deal with the sharp edges.

See how sharp the edges are of these shapes? See how sharp the lines are of the background? So I want to go to my Effects panel, and actually see if there's a filter I can use to soften the edges of the background video. Sure enough, there's a Blur section and in here, I want to use the Camera Lens Blur. You could use the Fast Blur. It's great, if your system is not so fast. But since we're on a big blazing system here, let's choose the Camera Lens Blur.

I just think this is a little bit more realistic blur. In here, you can make adjustments to make your footage look like it was shot with a real camera, and a real lens. And obviously, it was shot with the real camera. But you can accentuate how that looks by going through some of the different properties. I'll leave the Iris Properties set to Hexagon but just to show you, you can setup all different kinds of Camera Lens Blur. Just so this is little softer.

I'm going to increase the Blur Radius by clicking and dragging out. Let's drag it to around 18. That's significantly softer, but I still want to stylize this a little bit more because in my opinion, these edges are a little flat. So a lot of times, when I'm trying to deal with flatness in an image, I like to go back up under my Effects and apply a glow. A glow creates a distinct style. So I know that it's actually in the Stylize panel.

Now if I didn't know that, I could go over to my Effects & Presets and type Glow, and sure enough under Stylize there's Glow. So to apply this let's just drag and drop it to my background video layer and notice it pops-up in my Effects Control panel. Now you can see some of the highlights starting to pop out in the background video, but it's really not quite exactly what I was looking for. So let's look at some of the Glow options. You should look at your Options from the top down.

So the Glow right now is based on the Color Channels, which is perfect. But we want to adjust the Threshold, which is how sensitive it is to differences in the video footage. Now notice when I drag that down to the left, I'm getting a really cool kind of light beam effect happening through my edges. We could adjust the Radius of this glow to kind of soften it up a bit, which I think would be kind of smart. So let's increase that to 19. And the intensity just makes it that much brighter in the hot areas.

So if we increase that to 27, you can see it's really bright here. I'm going to undo that last change just by pressing Command+Z. The reason being, remember we have this light area at the end of my timeline. So let's move the current time indicator down there and you can see that's really, really bright. So what we need to do is adjust this glow over the length of the composition. In order to do that, we can set two keyframes really, really quickly.

Since the effects are already up in the Effects Control panel, let's just move our current-time indicator all the way to the end of the project and bring the Glow Threshold up a bit. Notice how now it's not glowing out so much. We could also bring the Radius down a little bit, maybe not so much, maybe I will bring it down to 4, and the Intensity, let's take that down to zero. Now it just looks like a bright blurry scene. Unfortunately, I haven't added my keyframes yet.

So we need to just keyframe the Threshold, keyframe the Radius and keyframe the Intensity. Now if we move our current time indicator to the beginning of the project we can bring our Threshold back down, bring the Radius back up and bring the Intensity back up to one. Okay so now if we scrub through our project, you can see it's not getting completely blown out as it moves to the end. But there's one last thing I need to show you.

Move your current-time indicator to around 5:15. Now in here, I want you to pay attention to the background because the layer order is very specific. If we collapse our Glow and collapse our Camera Lens Blur and collapse the CC Toner, in our Effects Control panel, you can see the order in which they're applied. If we change this order, the image is going to look completely different. So let's move the Glow all the way up to the top, and see what happens.

Notice how flat that is? That's because the glow was being applied first and then we did the toner and then we just blurred out something that's relatively flat. So I just want you to understand when you're applying effects the order in which you applied the effects is really important. So let's move our glow right back down to the bottom and reevaluate our scene. As you can see, we've definitely stylized the background so it's not competing as much with the foreground elements. But as we move throughout the rest of this chapter, you'll see some other ways we can stylize things to further integrate our graphics.

There are currently no FAQs about After Effects CS6 Essential Training.

Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.

Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ .

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Join now Already a member? Log in

* Estimated file size

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.

Mark all as unwatched Cancel


You have completed After Effects CS6 Essential Training.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.

Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member ?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any page and choose Site preferences from the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Learn more, save more. Upgrade today!

Get our Annual Premium Membership at our best savings yet.

Upgrade to our Annual Premium Membership today and get even more value from your subscription:

“In a way, I feel like you are rooting for me. Like you are really invested in my experience, and want me to get as much out of these courses as possible this is the best place to start on your journey to learning new material.”— Nadine H.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.