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Learn After Effects by reverse engineering projects

Learning a new program is quite amazing, but it can be boring as well. I mean, you need to know where to find the right menus, learn principles how everything is working and so on. But the day comes when you want to do the amazing stuff. Of course you can Google for some tutorials that are based on creating a specific project, but you can also learn from observing and discovering.

It’s not important if you’re just a beginner or intermediate user that looks for additional ways to sharpen your skills. This approach will work for both. You can purchase After Effects template projects and learn from them by reverse engineering them. I’m reviewer on biggest After Effects templates marketplace called Video Hive and I’m also an author there. I see those projects every day and create some of them myself. What I’ve discovered is – nearly every template project is built around some interesting technique that author came up with.

What this means for you? Instead of just learning to build another project that looks exactly like everyone’s else project who followed the same tutorial – now you can learn the techniques behind the original project. The bad thing is – great authors usually don’t have enough time to create tutorials to pas on their skills. No doubt we could learn a lot from them, but since they’re not creating tutorials – we can suck out their knowledge from their brains projects.

To start off you need some basic training to understand how things work in After Effects. You’re good to go as soon as you’ve learned the simple things like:

  • How to open comps
  • How to see what effects are applied to each layer
  • How to reveal keyframes and expressions
  • How to turn of the shy layer which often times hide the real treasures

What to look for when you dive in and scout for great templates to learn from? Most importantly – search for templates that amaze and inspire you. Remember we’re trying to escape from those boring basic tutorials. Therefore go wild. Find the ones that you like and have fun discovering how they’re built. Avoid all kind or pre-renders. If some elements looks like generated with 3D software – read the description to find out if they really are pre-rendered or is everything made with pure After Effects. Pre-renders generally are useless for learning as they are elements, hard coded into video files and you can’t find out neither what effects are used nor how they’re animated.

Elegantica HD

In this example learn how to combine particle system with 3D camera to create some gorgeous looking results.

Download this project Here

Earth 3D and Solar System

Learn to build a realistic 3D space scene with Earth globe in After Effects without using a third-party software.

Download this project Here

For your learning pleasure I’ve put together a list of some great projects that are excellent for learning new skills and techniques. Click on the banner below to start browsing the whole collection.