1. Photo & Video
  2. Adobe After Effects

Collage Animation in After Effects

Scroll to top
Read Time: 8 min

Learn how to make a collage animation in After Effects with this in-depth, step-by-step guide, in just over an hour.

What You'll Learn: Making an After Effects Collage Animation

  • How to use rotoscoping to create multiple layers
  • How to create blending effects
  • How to motion track
  • How to add and use 3D assets
  • How to use the Keylight effect in After Effects
  • How to make a stop motion style collage animation in After Effects

1. Introduction

1.1 Recreate This Collage Effect!

Watch video lesson (1 min) ↗

Check out this quick, one minute long introduction video to see what you'll be learning, the creative process that'll lead to your video collage animation in After Effects, and how to put it all together. 

To download all the items used in this course, head over to Envato Elements. Once you're subscribed, you can use everything in the collection to follow along with the Adobe After Effects collage animation.

2. Getting Started

2.1 Getting Started in After Effects

Watch video lesson (2 mins) ↗

I'll show you how to set up your composition, including how to create some initial motion by adding a null object, so that we don't have to animate the same movement with every other asset that we put into the composition. I'll go into more detail about null objects in the next lesson.

getting startedgetting startedgetting started
4 Minutes

Best After Effects Updates from Adobe Max!

Want to know all the great updates added to After Effects at this year's Adobe Max conference? Here, we dive into what's new in After Effects. 

    3. Creating a Background

    3.1  Creating the Base Layer With Null Objects

    Watch video lesson (5 mins) ↗

    I'll show you how to add, resize, name, and order some of the things that we'll include in the After Effects photo collage animation. To get these items moving from right to left - following the movement Null Object we made in the last lesson - we need to take the pick whip and drag it over to the movement layer to create layers that are 'parented.' Don't worry, this sounds more complicated than it is and you can follow along with me in this five-minute video.

    null objectsnull objectsnull objects

    How to Animate in After Effects

    Got the collage bug? Try Dave Bode's comprehensive and free After Effects course. If you want to learn how to create a photo collage with animation in After Effects then you'll find these tips and tricks essential. 

    4. Making Your Photo Collage Animation in After Effects 

    4.1  Beginning the Collage Effect

    Watch video lesson (3 mins) ↗

    Here, we'll get into creating that collage effect. I'll show you some of my thought process, like choosing points in footage that work better to transition through to the next, and how to adjust them so that they flow seamlessly rather than looking like individual assets.

    beginning collage effectbeginning collage effectbeginning collage effect

    4.2 Rotoscoping to Create Multiple Layers in Your Animation

    Watch video lesson (8 mins) ↗

    I'll show you how to rotoscope efficiently, working only on the parts of footage you'll be using rather than the whole clip. 

    Rotoscoping or Roto, is a means of hand-drawing a mask to isolate a subject in your footage, frame by frame. This can then be animated independently from the rest of the unselected footage.

    You'll learn how to separate a subject and then add animation between that isolated subject and the background.


    Rotoscoping in After Effects


    Select Your Footage

    Double-click in Timeline to open the layer in its own panel.


    Select the Roto Brush Tool

    Use option/Alt+W for the Roto tool


    Brush Over Subject

    Holding Control or Command while clicking and dragging your mouse, paint over the thing you want to isolate.

    4.3 Cutting Things Out to Get the Paper Collage Look

    Watch video lesson (8 mins) ↗

    This time, we're not going to rotoscope, I'll show you how to make a rough selection with the pen tool and scale it up.

    Splitting a clip shortcut in After Effects: CMD/CTRL + Shift + D

    With a few tweaks like adding a drop shadow and some animation, you'll create something that looks pretty cool and pops off the screen. Here you're essentially making a paper collage animation with After Effects.

    cutting outcutting outcutting out

    4.4 Blending Modes for Overlay Effects: True Detective Effect!

    Watch video lesson (6 mins) ↗

    In this video I'll show you how to use blending modes to create some great effects, including a double exposure, and using green screen footage with Keylight. More on Keylight later. 

    blending modeblending modeblending mode

    4.5 Freeze Frame in After Effects

    Watch video lesson (5 mins) ↗

    We'll use the same effect here as we did in lesson 4.3 but this time we're also going to use freeze frame to stop the motion of a bike jump at the peak of its height, to add some extra drama. 

    freeze framefreeze framefreeze frame

    4.6 Motion Tracking in After Effects

    Watch video lesson (6 mins) ↗

    In this lesson you'll use rotoscoping again and I'll show you how to add elements to cover up unwanted things like a lamppost, with something that looks a little nicer visually. We'll then motion track that so it stays with the movement in the footage.

    motion trackingmotion trackingmotion tracking

    "The whole aesthetic is to make things look a little bit thrown together, textual."

    5. End Screen CTA

    5.1 Creating a Call-To-Action End Screen Animation

    Watch video lesson (12 mins) ↗

    In this lesson we'll combine some of the assets we've previously used while making our After Effects collage animation, together with some new ones to make a rough, funky looking scene on which to place some call-to-action text. 

    call to action end screencall to action end screencall to action end screen
    12 Minutes

    How to Make a Y2K Art Collage in Photoshop

    Learn how to create an eye-catching Y2K style art collage in Photoshop! Learn how to recreate the Y2K art style using 3D assets and vibrant color grades.

      6. Adding Elements and Effects

      6.1 Adding Foreground Elements to the Collage Animation in After Effects

      Watch video lesson (5 mins) ↗

      If you've made it to this point in our collage animation tutorial in After Effects, you'll have a great base. Now we need to cover joins or gaps, and to help bring in some depth and texture, so I'll show you how to do that in this lesson.

      foreground elementsforeground elementsforeground elements

      6.2 Using 3D Assets in After Effects

      Watch video lesson (5 mins) ↗

      Adding 3D assets means you can spin something around to any angle that you want and create a hi-res PNG of that angle. In this lesson we'll look at how and where you can grab those assets and then how to set them up in After Effects so you can adjust things like the frame rate.

      using 3d assetsusing 3d assetsusing 3d assets

      6.3 After Effects Green Screen With the Keylight Effect

      Watch video lesson (5 mins) ↗

      We touched on using Keylight earlier but I'll go through that in more detail in this five-minute video. I'll show you how you can use large blocks of colour in footage as a sort of green screen, and key that out with Keylight

      keylight 2keylight 2keylight 2

      You'll really get a sense of how you can add some cool little effects to give the whole piece more interest and add some fun!

      7. Finishing Up

      7.1 Adding Some Final Touches

      Watch video lesson (5 mins) ↗

      By now you should have a really cool looking collage video with lots of different elements going on. In this final lesson, we'll look at adding some last little flourishes to really finish your project off in style.

      All of the assets used in this After Effects collage animation tutorial are from Envato Elements, but you can find a whole range of professionally made After Effects video templates there too, and they're all included in a monthly subscription, so you can try and use as many as you like.

      Take After Effects Further

      Learn more about After Effects animation, compositing in After Effects and much more, with our free courses.

      Did you find this post useful?
      Want a weekly email summary?
      Subscribe below and we’ll send you a weekly email summary of all new Photo & Video tutorials. Never miss out on learning about the next big thing.
      Looking for something to help kick start your next project?
      Envato Market has a range of items for sale to help get you started.