How to Apply your Photoshop Skills in After Effects?

Saulo Velez


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One of the most powerful image editing applications, Adobe Photoshop lets you do a plethora of manipulation with your images. Though the latest versions of this software support video editing, for the advanced level of editing, another application – Adobe After Effects – is indispensable.

However, many hardcore Photoshop users believe that Adobe After Effects is not their cup of tea due to its complexities. But there are many similarities in the basic functionalities of both of them that let you utilize your Photoshop skills while operating After Effects.

Here’s How After Effects Won’t Waste Your ‘Photoshop Skill Set’

Hone Your Expertise of Playing with “Layers”: Layers is one of the common features that can be found in both Photoshop and After Effects. Though they work somewhat different in the later but the basics remains the same. When it comes to the layers of After Effects, they can be tweaked independently in terms of size, position, opacity with the drop down menu attached to every layer. But for the sake of familiarity, you can treat the timeline (which accumulates all the layers) of After Effects as your layers panel and operate in the same way as you would in Adobe Photoshop.

Show Your Skill Set with “Adjustment Layers”: Undoubtedly, if you work on Photoshop, an Adjustment Layer is nothing new to you. The working style of these layers is relatively formulaic. Once you add it to your image, you can then add any preset such as brightness, contrast, hue, saturation, filters, etc. You can even create a mask with the layer. On the other hand, in After Effects, the Adjustment Layers do the same thing but they are quite flexible. Once applied, you can add any effect, filter or mask over it. You can then play with its opacity, feather, shape, etc. with the help of options present in the drop down of the layer. All in all, you can utilize your familiarity with the Adjustment Layers in Photoshop and seamlessly use the same in After Effects.

Toy with The Effects and Filters: Photoshop offers various filters, effects and color correction options to manipulate your images. Similarly, After Effects provide a plethora of special effects, filters and masking techniques that you can use on your video footage. You can simply drag an effect and apply it on a layer on the timeline. You can further play with the properties of the effects to get the desired result. Though most part of ‘applying effects and filters’ is same, there is very small difference. In Photoshop, you apply an effect to the selection, but in After Effects, you have to use a mask to either hide or show the filter/effect.

Similar Technique to Take Out the ‘Mask’: Masking in After Effects works exactly same as it would do in Adobe Photoshop. You can use a Pen/Shape tool to draw a mask. In the Alpha channel, you can color the mask black for transparent and white for opaque (similar to the masking rules in Photoshop).

Masking with Rotoscoping: In After Effects, you can mask with Rotobrush tool as well. This is a tool that works similar to Photoshop’s quick selection tool. There are various other techniques to mask in After Effects and they are quite complex as compared to Photoshop, however, the basics are exactly the same.

Saving/Rendering: Unlike Photoshop where you need to “save” or “save as” an image after editing, you are required to “render” a sequence in After Effects. Rendering means the accumulation of all the objects, elements, filters, effects, footage, etc. in one single file. Having mentioned the difference, you’ll find familiarities on the rendering window if you have been creating and saving a GIF, movie, or a 3D file in Photoshop. This is so because these files require you to render them before they get saved on your computer.

Wrapping Up

It is indeed a proven fact that After Effects is a lot more sophisticated as compared to Adobe Photoshop. However, most of their features work on the same basic principles. So, if you have an inclination to become a pro in Adobe After Effects, all it takes is regular practice, dedicated time and, of course, a lot of patience.