After Effects continues to amaze me. Even after becoming proficient at using most of the features, teaching a course on it for beginners, and editing many many many motion graphics with it, I find that there is still so much to learn. Most likely I’ve only mastered about 5% of the capabilities within After Effects.

One simple yet very effective technique for creating masterful motion graphics that stayed under the radar for me is the trim paths feature (ya, ya… for all of you after effects users, you’re probably thinking that I’m such a newb). This feature basically saves you from spending hours upon hours trying to animate shapes with masks. Below you’ll find a somewhat simple circle animation, totally hipster, that is very easy to do with the trim paths feature.


I’m currently creating an entire course on advanced shapes animations. A lot of it has to do with using the trim paths feature. So look forward to that +some free tutorials on the Video School Online YouTube channel. For now, here is a written tutorial on the basics of using trim paths. 

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STEP 1: In this first image you’ll see that I created a simple circle using the shape tool. I deleted the fill and left the stroke.

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STEP 2: Twirl down the drop down menu on your shape layer. In the above image, notice that ‘Add’ button with the play button next to it? Click that! Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 4.04.25 PM

STEP 3: Click Trim Paths.

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STEP 4: Click the drop down menu for trim paths. There you will see start and end options. Play around with these to see what they do to your shape. The basic animation will be done setting keyframes for these starting and ending points.

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STEP 5: Here I set keyframes for end going from 0% to 100% over about 20 frames. I did the opposite for the start keyframes, going from 100% to 0% in the same amount of time. I then added easy-ease to the keyframes and used the graph editor to make the speed of the animation more interesting. Watch this video on the GRAPH EDITOR if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

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STEP 6: Duplicate this ellipse or shape or whatever you created. Then play around with the path size, stroke width, and speed of the keyframes. As you’ll see in the above image, I created this entire image with one shape layer! This is the beauty of shape layers in after effects combined with the trim paths effect. 
Cool, huh?! Well have fun with that. And please check back in the next couple of weeks to learn more about the After Effects: Advanced Shapes Motion Graphics course.