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How to Use After Effects: Layer Properties

Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this lesson you will learn about layer properties in After Effects.

What You'll Need

If you want to follow along with this layer properties lesson open up the layer properties.aep file and you will have a very similar composition to this that will open up.

layer projectlayer projectlayer project

The only thing that you won't have is this footage file right here called HYPERLAPSE LOUVRE.mov. If you want this file, you can download it from Envato Elements

louvre envato elementslouvre envato elementslouvre envato elements

If you haven't done that yet, no problem. You can just drag any footage file that you may have on your computer into your project and then pull it down into your composition, and put it in the bottom of the layer stack here and you should be able to follow along just fine.

drag video to compositiondrag video to compositiondrag video to composition

So in this composition, we have five different types of layers. Each layer has unique layer properties associated with them. Now you can see what properties are on any Layer by clicking on this little triangle here to open the layer options.

For example, you can see for this footage layer here, the only thing that is available is the Transform properties which are Anchor Point, Position, Scale, Rotation, and Opacity.

layer propertieslayer propertieslayer properties

You can adjust the values of each of these to change the look of your layer.

adjust the valuesadjust the valuesadjust the values

If you want to reset any of your adjustments back to the default values, simply hit the Reset button, which is also available if you right click the layer and select Transform > Reset.

reset buttonreset buttonreset button

So most of these transform layer properties are pretty self explanatory. The only one which may be a little bit confusing is the Anchor Point

anchor pointanchor pointanchor point

Now if we start to adjust the Anchor Point values you'll notice that the anchor point itself doesn't seem to be moving. Rather the contents of the layer is moving relative to the anchor point.

move anchor point valuesmove anchor point valuesmove anchor point values

If you want to move the anchor point itself, you actually need to adjust the position but that adjusts everything (both the anchor point and the position).

move positionmove positionmove position

So let's show you another way. If you grab the anchor point tool, and you make an adjustment to where this anchor point is, you'll notice under the Transform properties, that both the anchor point and the position are being adjusted at the same time.

It moves the anchor point, but the layer doesn't actually move.

anchor point toolanchor point toolanchor point tool

This next layer here is a solid layer. By default, it will just have the transform properties, the same as a footage layer.

solid layersolid layersolid layer

That is until you add things like masks and effects. Then you have some other options.

masks and effectsmasks and effectsmasks and effects

Because there's a mask on this layer, I have mask properties that I can adjust.

mask propertiesmask propertiesmask properties

And I also have an effect on this layer, which is actually filling it with blue and I have all of the properties for that effect available down here as well.

effects propertieseffects propertieseffects properties

Now anytime you're looking at Effects properties, you can also access them up here in the Effects Controls Panel.

effects controlseffects controlseffects controls

Next, is the composition layer. This is actually a pre-comp.

pre comp layerpre comp layerpre comp layer

If you double-click on it, it will open up and you'll see on this layer, it's a text layer and on this text layer, we have transform properties, we have effect properties and we have text properties.

text propertiestext propertiestext properties

But if we look at what's happening back on the composition layer, we only have effects. Because there's another effect on here, it's actually two effects.

comp layercomp layercomp layer

A bevel alpha and a drop shadow, and we have transform properties available as well.

bevel and drop shadowbevel and drop shadowbevel and drop shadow

The last two layers are the shape layer here and the text layer, these will have properties available in them that are specific to shape layers and text layers.

shape and text layershape and text layershape and text layer

So in this shape layer here I have properties for two rectangle shapes where I can control things in the rectangle path, the stroke and the fill. There is also a Transform: Rectangle 2 option which only effects one of the shapes in this shape layer.

shape layer propertiesshape layer propertiesshape layer properties

You'll find the same options in the Rectangle 1 shape.

rectangle shaperectangle shaperectangle shape

And then I have another transform. This affects everything on this layer, but it'll be a little bit confusing until you jump in and kind of move things around on your own and you see exactly how it works.

shape layer transformshape layer transformshape layer transform

Finally, we have the text layer. You'll find options here that are only specific to text.

text layertext layertext layer

So we have source text here which you can apply expressions to.

source textsource textsource text

You have flyout here which you can animate, all kinds of crazy things that are only specific to text layers. These are pro-character animation things that you can explore.

add buttonadd buttonadd button

And then there's something that we haven't seen on a layer before and this is layer styles. Layer styles are very similar to what you'll find in Photoshop. These include things like drop shadows or bevel and emboss or outer glow etc. All of those layer styles are available on every single layer in After Effects.

layer styleslayer styleslayer styles

If I turn on the transparency grid here with that layer, soloed. You can see that this is a text layer and it has a basic drop shadow. And I have all of the properties associated with that Drop Shadow, available right here in the layer properties.

text layertext layertext layer

They're available nowhere else, and they don't show up in the Effects Control's because it's not an effect. It's a layer style and you have to adjust that down here in the properties.


layer propertieslayer propertieslayer properties

Congratulations! And that's how to use After Effects Layer Properties. Now that you've learned the basics, check out some of the other tutorials we have on Adobe After Effects below.

I hope you've found this tutorial useful and I'll see you next time on Envato Tuts+!

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