Adobe After Effects: A Step-By-Step Guide to Pixelated Video Game Art | Duncan Rogoff | Skillshare

Adobe After Effects: A Step-By-Step Guide to Pixelated Video Game Art

Duncan Rogoff, Video Editing & Motion Graphics

Adobe After Effects: A Step-By-Step Guide to Pixelated Video Game Art

Duncan Rogoff, Video Editing & Motion Graphics

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6 Lessons (19m)
    • 1. INTRO





    • 6. RECAP

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About This Class

In this course I'll show you 2 different techniques for creating a pixelated look.  This stylized effect turns still graphics and even animations into something straight out of an old video game!

We'll discuss how to set up a composition, and how to create the pixel look using 2 different effects.  I'll show you how to make this effect procedural so it can be easily replicated across multiple assets.

Then, I'll take you step-by-step through the process of creating your own graphic title card using some of After Effect's most used built-in tools.

After this course, you'll have what you need to advance further in the software and tackle your first projects!


Other Beginner After Effects Courses:

After Effects for Beginners: Design and Animate a Lower Third:


After Effects for Beginners: Simple Logo Reveal!


After Effects for Beginners: Create Custom Transitions!


After Effects for Beginners: Sexy Titles!


Meet Your Teacher

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Duncan Rogoff

Video Editing & Motion Graphics


Freelance video editor and motion graphics artist based in San Francisco, CA. Almost entirely self-taught and has spent many hours gaining knowledge from online tutorials on sites like

Check out my website:

Always looking for new, fun, creative projects, and to keep learning.

Clients include: Apple, Nissan, PlayStation, Charles Schwab, Visa, Salesforce, Facebook, Apple, WeChat, FICO, Slingbox, Marc Jacobs, Kat Von D, Sephora...

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1. INTRO: Hey, everybody, Dunkin Rogoff here with another really great course for you, Adobe After Effects, A step by step guide to video game pixel art. In this class, I'm going to show you two different super simple techniques for achieving this awesome look . It's completely procedural, which means that whatever you put into the effect will come out looking like a video game. Even animation. This technique is extremely simple, so even if you're not too familiar with after effects, you'll still be able to follow along for the class project. You'll be applying this effect anything you like. It could be an animated GIF that you want to add some style two or even just a still graphic. This class is for anyone, whether you're a seasoned animator or your designer interested in this look, I'll walk you through step by step and show you how to turn your designs into pixelated video game art. So grab your joysticks and a couple of quarters and let's get playing. I'll see you in class 2. INITIAL SETUP: Okay, so here we are, inside of after effects. Let's go ahead and just get started. Have some assets here for us to use some footage, files and even a gift. So the first thing we're gonna do is we're gonna create a new competition from one of our files. So we're gonna go ahead. We're gonna grab this movie here. I'm gonna drag down onto the composition that this is going to create a composition with the exact same properties as our footage. Let's make this a little bit bigger here, so you can see now the first thing I'm gonna do is I'm gonna go ahead and we'll add an adjustment layer. So when you come upto layer new adjustment layer now, the first technique I'm gonna show you is using the mosaic effect. So just come over into our effects and process window. If you don't see that, just come up to a window effects and presets. I'm gonna type in Mosaic 3. THE MOSAIC EFFECT: it's gonna take this mosaic here and we drag this onto our adjustment leg and immediately, you see, we got a big blur. So what we need to do is we need to increase the number of blocks in both the horizontal and vertical direction. And you can see that as we drag this up, our image begins to come into focus. And already we're starting to get the look that we want now to smooth this out a little bit . We're just gonna go ahead. We're going to check this sharp colors box. Now you can see as we increase the numbers in both these directions, we gave some more clarity in our image. Now, the issue I have with mosaic effect is that in order to get perfect squares, you have to make sure the ratio of horizontal blocks to vertical box is the same ratio as your footage file in this case or footages 1920 by 10 80 or 16 by nine ratio. So we can do is we could just type in 16 here on the horizontal and nine in the vertical. And now what we want to dio is we can multiply these each by 10. So you can either come in here and type times 10 to both these columns. Aftereffects will do the math for us, and now we have perfect squares to work and was great is that this even works with animation, that if I previewed this effect, you can see we have our disco guys fully animated with full pixels. And what's great here is that if we want more resolution, you just go ahead. And why don't we double these numbers by multiplying in them both by two? We have a little more clarity, but we've achieved the same effect, and that's it for the mosaic effect. It's really simple and easy to achieve, but there may be some math involved, so I'm going to go ahead. I'm going to switch off the mosaic effect. For now, hop back in your project, and I'm going to drag in some other footage from another project I worked on so we could see the new effect in action. Go ahead and turn that off. Maybe I'll scrub the beginning here to um, or interesting frame. We're gonna select our adjustment layer again. Well, hop back into our effects and presets and will type in Sisi ball action. Just go ahead and we'll drag us onto our adjustment layer 4. CC BALLACTION: now the reason I'm using the adjustment layer so that if we decide we want to go back to our Star Wars disco, we just switch that layer back on and the same effect is applied. It makes it really easy to swap out footage and images as long as they're the same frame size. So you can see here just by adding the CC ball action. We've achieved a really similar effect. The mosaic. We've got a really nice looking, pixelated art. Now there's a couple of parameters weaken just the two main ones. Here are this grid spacing and ball size. You see that if we increase the ball size, we start to gain some resolution back while keeping this graining look likewise, we can go ahead and weaken. Decrease the grid, spacing to something like three. The grid spacing is just the space between each of the individual pixels, so you could see if we crank that back to five are pixels. Get larger. We can go overboard and do something like 10. This is if you want a really pixelated look and go ahead and try to match the ball size as best you can to the grid spacing, so the work is not as obvious, but for some clarity. Let's go ahead and turn that back down to three. So you still have this pixelated look. But we can still see what's going on now. There's one more thing we can add to this to sort of smooth out our colors. Here, we'll come back into our effects and presets. When we can type in cartoons, you just double click that to add to the adjustment layer, and immediately you see how are images changed. Now the default here for the render settings are Phil and edges, and you could see that if we flip this on and off that the edges of our image are given this harsh black struck. So we just go ahead and change the surrender option to just fill. Now this is done. Is this a simple fighter color palette and smoothed out the grey space? In between are pixels, so you can see if we zoom in. We no longer see that gap, and this just helps to sell the effect a little more. And, like I said was great about this is that's completely procedure. So if you want to switch off this layer and turn back on our disco guys. We already have this effect applied right to them. And if you want to alter the look, we can just go ahead and we can adjust our main parameters if you want to see them more pixelated or just the grits basing down to two and maybe even decrease the ball size a little bit to gain some more clarity into this look. And that's it to really simple ways to achieve this awesome looking effect. 5. BUILD YOUR CLASS PROJECT: So for the class project, this is what we're going to try to make today a nice, simple title card featuring some basic shapes on a couple of game characters that shouldn't take us too long at all. And to be kind of fun. So the first thing we're gonna dio is gonna make a new composition by cooking on the composition icon. We'll just call this pixelated impressed. Okay, for now, I'm working in 1920 by 10. 80. Frame rate doesn't really matter, and neither does it oration. Because in this case, we're actually only just making a still image, so just press OK, so the first thing we're gonna do is we're gonna make our background layer to do this. We need to make a solid so we can either press command, why on the keyboard, or come upto layer new solid. And we want to make sure it's the size or composition. So just quick this make comp size button. He's coming to the color powered here, I can select a nice blue collar will press OK. Next, we'll create a title and our subtitles. So we have an idea of the space you want to work with So coming to our text tool, I was quick somewhere in the frame. I'll go ahead. I'll type in pixelated and this could be whatever fought you want. Currently, I'm using Gotham Ultra. You're free to adjust the size and the scale to something that you think looks good. You also come down here and open up the proportional grid to get an idea of size or I like using title in action safe. I want to make sure my text falls within this indirect angle. We'll take our tax and I want to align it to the center of our composition. Horizontal. If you don't see the line window, come up into a window and check a line. We'll just go ahead here. We'll send this out by clicking this button. There we go. Next, I'm going to duplicate this layer to get our subtitle. So just select it and I'll press command de on the keyboard. Or we can come up to edit duplicate, and I'll just press P on the keyboard, bring up our position parameter. We can drag this towards the bottom of our competition. We could change this to our subtitle. Clearly this is too big, so we can hop back into our character window again if you don't see it coming. Toe window character Want to scale this way down? Hundreds probably get. And to get a little variation, our image. Instead of using Gotham Ultra, I'll switch this to something like Gotham Medium for a subject that's looking nice. Next, I want to make the background box for our main title, so come to our shape layer tool here. Or we could just press Q on the keyboard. And if you press Q repeatedly, you'll actually cycle through these options. This case you want to use the rectangle tool, we'll zoom out a little bit. I'm just going to draw a box around our main title again. This could be whatever size you want. Screw this up a little bit, just using the arrow keys to reposition the object. And we want to get rid of the stroke so we can click on the word stroke and select no stroke, and then we can click on the Phil. We could make a white film distress. Okay, we just take the shape layer. I won't drag it all the way to the bottom below our main title That was gonna turn this layer off for a sec. Do you want to take our main title? And I want to change its color. It's all just double click on the layer. Select this eyedropper tool that's select the background coat. So now when we turn on our shape layer box, we can see this text in front. Next, we'll create a few accent shapes. So again we'll take this rectangle tool. I'll make another smaller box right near the bottom to free to change the colors, to do whatever you like. And I'm gonna take this. I want to duplicate this layer by pressing command D. I'm just gonna take this and move this up. Grab our handle here and scale it down. Move this back in position. And now I want to get that nice exact shape. So it was 12 down the arrow next door Shapewear who want we can go ahead and renamed these things. It's always nice to stay organized. We can call that zigzag. We can name that title box, so come into ours exact shape, and one just come into this ad icon here we'll click the arrow and we'll just quick sig Zack Now already, if you look closely, you can see there's a little wiggle Teoh. It's subtle at first, so we want to adjust the size. So take the size here. Well, just crank that up until we get something we like was also cool is that if you drag this parameter here, which is ridges per segment, you can see we can create another fund pattern here with these squares. Actually, kind of like that. So let's go ahead and use it. Clearly. These shapes are too big. So does press s on the keyboard to bring up our scale parameter. We wanna uncheck the constraint properties because we just want to shrink it on the why access. And again, I'm just going to use the Iraqis to move this down into place. That's looking pretty good. Now I'm going to duplicate this layer to use as the accent lines next our main title. So press command d again. I'll just drag this up next, our main title. And if you come up to the top here, we can change the fill color again by using the eyedropper to our background well toward down the era here, Coming to contents. Zigzag. Don't change these ridges down. So we get another is exact pattern. Maybe back down 10. Do you want more of a wave? You can change the points from corner Smooth again. This is all the taste. Well, Frank, that size down a little bit. Something like 100. If we want more frequency, we can just come into the scale and press s for scale. Shrink that down a little bit. Maybe 50% is good. You can just move this back to the left off screen and again we could duplicate the Slayer by present command D. We're going up to edit duplicate press P on a keyboard to bring a position. I will just drag this over to the other side to mirror it. When duplicate this bottom bar one more time. Pressing command d Bring a P on a keyboard for position. I'm spring this up to the top. Here, create one more little accent bar. Maybe that's a little too thick. So press asked to bring upscale unclipped the constraint properties Shrink that down. Press P again for position. Move that into place. It's looking nice. Last thing I wanna do is add a couple fund stars so you can come up to our shape layer tool . We could select the star tool. I would just drag. We've got to start the size that we want again. We want change this, Phil from the science to be what? For us. Okay, we'll drag that into position. Now we can dio instead of duplicating this a bunch of times, we can just come into this ad option again. We can add the repeater and instantly you see we have a couple more copies. We'll toil down. That's for Peter Option and let's make five copies and then to spread them out. We come into this transformer, Peter, and we adjust the position something like that again when this move does into place by using the Iraqis and there we go. Now we've done the main design for a title card. It's looking pretty good. Now. The last thing we have to do is at our pixel effect. So do that will create an adjustment layer by coming upto layer. New adjustment layer would come into our effects and presets. Well, type in Sisi ball action. We'll double quick that or will drag and drop onto our Justin layer and again immediately. You can see we already have this nice created effect. I want to bring a little more clarity back into this. So maybe we'll turn our grid spacing down to four, and we can adjust the size of our pixels. Maybe even again. This is up to you can adjust taste that's looking really nice if we want to smooth and some of the gaps, we'll come over here to our effects when doing typing cartoon double quick that if you like the outlines, feel free to keep it. I think they're kind of cool looking, and we can adjust the grid, spacing the account of a more chunky or I'm going to switch this back to fill and you can see. Now we sort of filled in the gaps between our pixels. And there you go. That's it. In just a couple minutes, we created a really fun title card, using nothing but basic shape players and a couple simple effects 6. RECAP: So just to recap, we created a new composition by dragging our footage onto the composition window. We added an adjustment layer to the scene to keep our effect procedural, and the first we played around with mosaic effect to get pixellated are we just did the amount of horizontal and vertical blocks to get them out of clarity. We wanted our image, but we had to remember to make sure that the ratio of horizontal to vertical blocks with the same as the aspect ratio of our footage. Now, if all that math seems a little bit complicated to you, I showed you an alternative to the mosaic effect by instead using cc ball action to create our pixellated image. Readjust the grid spacing and the ball size to just the image clarity to taste. And then we added the cartoon effect on top to smooth out our colors and get rid of the obvious lines and grit. Then, at the end, I showed you how to make your very own title card for the class project, using nothing but basic shape players and the simple effects I showed you. Hopefully you made something fun. Like I said, this works great with animation or still images and really adds a nice touch and a little bit of style. If you're going for a look like pixelated video game are hope you learned something. Thanks so much for joining me. See you next time. Yeah, we out.