Free Adobe After Effects Full Guide | A Guide To Getting Started

By Timothy Brauning on February 02, 2022

Are you interested in learning how to use Adobe After Effects? If so, you're in the right place!

In this free Adobe After Effects full guide, we will walk you through the basics of after effects and show you how to get started. 

Adobe After Effects is a powerful video editing software that allows you to create stunning visual effects and motion design graphics. With After Effects, you can create videos for your business, create animated titles and graphics, and much more. 

Table of Contents

Adobe After Effects Basics

After Effects is a very powerful program that is only one of the many useful programs in the Adobe Creative Cloud apps. There are many features and functions that can be quite confusing for beginners Adobe After Effects cc.  In this After Effects tutorial, we will focus on all the basics of After Effects and show you how to get started. 

To find out what After effects is, system requirements, and more, see this article!

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What can Adobe After Effects Do?

Adobe After Effects can be used for a variety of purposes, including: 

  • Creating videos
  • Making animated titles and graphics
  • Adding visual effects to your videos
  • Making motion graphics
  • Creating green screen videos
  • And much more!

Adobe After Effects Tutorial

Now that you know the basics of Adobe After Effects and what it can do, let's get started with our Adobe After Effects basic tutorial.

To create an animation in After Effects, you need a few things: a composition, an understanding of the interface, footage, and a layer. 

Creating & working with composition in After Effects

The first step that you will need to do when starting a new project is to set your composition.

In After Effects, a composition is simply the area in which you will be working. You can set your composition size and aspect ratio by pressing cmd+N on a mac, or choosing the "Composition" menu and selecting "New Composition"

Creating & working with composition in After Effects

For this After Effects tutorial, we will be using a composition size of 1440x1080.

Depending on what you will be using the video for, you will need to set different sizes. If you are using the video for Instagram, for example, 1080 x 608 pixels (landscape) to 1080 x 1350 pixels (portrait) works best.

Next, you will set the duration of the video. This will automatically be set, once you apply your first audio.

Adobe After Effects full guide

Understanding Adobe After Effects interface

The After Effects interface is made up of four main parts: the Project panel, the Timeline panel, The Effects panel, and the Composition panel. 

Adobe After Effects interface

Below is a rundown of the most important panels you will need for this after effects tutorial:

The Project panel is where you import your footage and create your project. This is located on the top left of the default After Effects workspace.

The Timeline panel is where you edit your footage and create your animation. The Timeline panel is located on the bottom of the workspace.

The Composition panel is where you see your final product. This is located in the middle of your workspace.

To make creative additions to your video, use the Audio, Preview, Effects, and Preset Panels. These panels are located on the upper right area of the workspace, and each one will have its respective dropdown.

To learn more about After Effects workspaces and panels, check out this blog post.

Import assets into Adobe After Effects

To import assets such as videos, images, or audio into after effects, select “File” > Import, or right-click in the Project panel, select Import, and choose the files that you want to import.

Be sure to keep your files organized in your project panel for ease of use!

Import assets into Adobe After Effects

Applying imported assets to the timeline

Now that you have imported and organized your videos, images, and pictures into After effects, it's time to start applying them to the timeline. To do this, simply click and drag the assets onto the composition.

Congratulations, you have just learned how to create a composition, understand and navigate the interface of After Effect’s Default workspace and import then apply assets to the timeline. This basic tutorial.

What are After Effects Layers?

In After Effects, a layer is simply an element that makes up your animation. Layers can be videos, images, text, or solids. Earlier, when we applied assets to the timeline, we were actually creating layers with each asset in the timeline.

What are After Effects Layers?

Working with Layers

There are a few quick and easy tips to working with layers:

  • First, all layers that are in your composition will be visible on the screen at once by default. This can be changed by toggling the eye icon next to each layer in the Timeline panel.

  • Second, if you want to change the order of your layers, you can do so by selecting the layer and click-dragging them on the left side of your timeline panel.

  • Third, you can change the properties of a layer by double-clicking on the layer in the Timeline panel.

  • Finally, you can add effects to a layer by selecting the layer and clicking on the Effects panel, or by clicking on an effect from the Effects panel and dragging it on top of a layer.

How to render and save your After Effects project

After you have finished your project, you will need to render the project. This will create a video file of your project that you can then share with the world!

Export with the Render Queue

To render your project, select “Composition” > "Add Render Queue". This will open up the Render Queue panel within the Timeline panel.

Export with the Render Queue

After you choose “Lossless,” a screen will open up, you can choose any settings that will be best for the format you need, we will allow the default settings for video, and press “OK.”

render and save your After Effects project

Depending on the size of the project, this may take a while to render.

Export with Adobe Media Encoder

  • Select the composition in the Project Window
  • Go to File > Export > Add to Adobe Media Encoder Queue.
  • Adobe Media Encoder will start with the composition added to the queue.
  • To update the default preset, slide the desired preset on top of it.
  • For the purposes of this tutorial, we will keep everything default.
  • Click the green button in the top right corner to start exporting the video.

Adobe After Effects full guide


In this tutorial, you learned:

  • About the After Effects Default Panels
  • What After Effects can do
  • How to create a composition
  • How to import assets into After Effects
  • How to apply those assets to the timeline
  • What layers are and how to work with them
  • How to render and save your project

In upcoming After Effects tutorials, we will cover topics such as: 

So stay tuned! In the meantime, practice what you have learned and see how far you can take your animations.

We hope you enjoyed this After Effect tutorial!

Learn More After Effects

One of Adobe's powerful video editing tools, Adobe After Effects, is now available for online learning!

Visit our YouTube channel for more Adobe After Effects tutorials, ideas, and techniques!

We're here to help with any Adobe After Effects questions you may have, so join our Facebook group and be a part of an emerging community in the digital age!

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Topics: Adobe After Effects, After Effects Repeater, After Effects Puppet Tool, After Effects CC RepeTile, After Effects Clone Stamp Tool, After Effects CC Particle World, Adobe, After Effects Masks

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Adobe After Effects full guide

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