Home *Top 5 Tips Learning After Effects Tip 3: Personal Projects

Learning After Effects Tip 3: Personal Projects


Tip 3: Personal Projects

Once you have spent enough time working through tutorials and have a good grasp of how After Effects functions the next best thing is to start on some real life projects! Tutorials are a great way to start but they will only take you so far. Now it’s time to solve some of your own problems.

“I’m still learning.”


Where to start?

So, where do you start? Like I mentioned before, I started trying to learn After Effects by adding some files to a project, creating a composition and adding random effects. The results were boring and very uninspiring. I actually had no idea what I was doing. There was no direction and I just wanted to make cool things. I really, really needed a project.

Friends of mine at a local creative studio asked how I was getting on learning After Effects. I said to them ‘I’m learning a lot about the software and what certain buttons and menus do… but my renders aren’t very good.’

Look at great work

They recommended that I look at the work of other Motion Designers that inspired me and try to recreate some of their work. It was a light bulb moment. I started to go back through all of my RSS feeds and came across this Show Reel.

At this time my route into the world of Motion Design was through VJing (graphics performed live at music events). I looked at what was trending in the scene and tried my best to emulate what I saw.

This tip proved invaluable because not only did it give me a clear purpose it also helped me put into practice what I had already learned. It guided me in the direction of the type of work that I wanted to do. Ultimately After Effects is just a tool and it doesn’t produce good work, you do.

Two important lessons I learned

I learned two important lessons from this process. Observation and creative problem solving. A lot of the work I observed and subsequently tried to recreate wasn’t necessarily made with After Effects, but trying to figure how to recreate it in After Effects gave me the freedom to try different techniques. I made a lot of mistakes along the way but that was part of the fun.

You may all be at different stages of your After Effects Journey. You may have opened After Effects for the first time today or may have already dabbled with it in a formal education setting. Regardless of where you start the same rules apply.

Tips to get you started on self initiated ‘personal’ projects

  1. Look at great work
  2. Interests / Hobbies
  3. Listening to music.
  4. Act on existing ideas?

Looking at great work might seem obvious but believe me, when you immerse yourself in good work you start to pick up on what you like, what you don’t and what the current trends are. Great work always stands the test of time.

Do you already have interests and hobbies outside of the creative realm? You have an affinity for cars or cupcakes or even pugs? It is fantastic to lean into areas you are already familiar with because the results can often be unexpected and very rewarding.

Listening to music is a ‘go to’ for many designers. Music can convey lots of emotion and already have an established narrative to work with. Maybe you have a favourite song that you’d like to visualize?

Lastly you may already have an idea in mind? This is a great place to start because you’re halfway there. If this is the case it’s best to note down your objectives, plan them out and start solving the problems to get you there.

Where to find great work?

It’s all well and good looking at great work… but where do you actually find that great work?

There are multiple communities all over the internet but below are my go to’s. Instagram and Dribbble.

Instagram feels like it was made for the creative industry. Lots of amazing designers post daily and repost other great work.

You can follow us on Instagram as not only will we be posting tutorials but also reposting inspirational work from the community.

Dribbble is another great website that offers lots of high quality inspiration. Again many great artists such as James Curran and Tony Babel share their work here. Go check it out.

So there you have it. These are just a few avenues to explore when looking to start on personal projects. There are no right or wrong answers at this stage. You just need to start and have fun. You don’t know what you’ll learn along the way.

Let’s connect

Lastly, don’t forget to follow us for additional tips and guidance on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.



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