Motion Graphics in After Effects with Element 3D Plugin, Create 3D Animations | Elias Sarantopoulos | Skillshare

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Motion Graphics in After Effects with Element 3D Plugin, Create 3D Animations

teacher avatar Elias Sarantopoulos, Helping You Develop

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Custom Textures - Generating Normal Maps


    • 3.

      After Effects - Setting Up Composition


    • 4.

      Element 3D - Oval Shape


    • 5.

      Element 3D - Side Panels


    • 6.

      Element 3D - Sphere Model & Texturing


    • 7.

      Element 3D - Name & Logo


    • 8.

      Element 3D - Separating Objects


    • 9.

      After Effects - 3D Camera & Bending Objects


    • 10.

      After Effects - Animating in 3D Space


    • 11.

      After Effects - Smoothing Animations


    • 12.

      After Effects - Rendering Out Settings


    • 13.

      After Effects - Trimming Composition


    • 14.

      Thank You!


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About This Class

Class Overview: How to create stunning Motion Graphics in After Effects with Element plugin.

Motion graphics is a complex and unique art form that takes a lot of dedication and time to master, and the Element 3D is one of the best 3D rendering plugins in After Effects creating motion graphics and visual effects! It is an incredibly versatile plugin that enables you to render and create your own work.

Upon completing the After Effects Motion Graphics course, you will have a firm knowledge and vision of how to create stunning 3D animations for your own projects and clients.

In this Adobe After Effects Motion Graphics class, you’ll learn:

  • How to create a 3D logo animation.
  • How to generate custom normal maps from a pattern.
  • How to create 3D shapes from vector paths.
  • Motion graphics After Effects Element 3D plugin, extruding shapes.
  • Motion graphics After Effects Element 3D plugin, applying textures.
  • Motion graphics After Effects how to animate in 3D space.
  • After Effects rendering settings.
  • After Effects, improving the overall 3D animation.

Meet Your Teacher

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Elias Sarantopoulos

Helping You Develop


Born in Athens, Greece, Elias migrated to the US where he received his BA and MA degrees. He started his professional career in the mid-90s working for tech startups focusing on web technologies and being a part time faculty in various educational institutions. An educator over the past 28 years teaching in universities and social platforms, covering page layout, animation, vector and interaction design.

In 2016 he became a book author, writing the Church of Chora. The book is the most comprehensive interactive guide describing some of the oldest and finest surviving Byzantine mosaics and frescoes in the Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora, Istanbul, Turkey. A unique reader experience with the use of interactive maps, voice narrations, videos, references to the Bible describing e... See full profile

Level: Intermediate

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1. Introduction: After effects, motion graphics with element and three D plug in to create easy and stunning animations. Welcome everyone. I am your host LIS RNapols. I've been an educator over the past 28 years, teaching in universities and social platforms covering animation techniques, vector design, and page layout. This D after effects motion graphics class, he will learn how to generate custom normal maps from a pattern. How to create three D shapes from vector paths. How to work inside the element, three D plug in environment, extruding shapes and applying textures inside after effects. How to animate in three D space and apply rendering settings, improving the overall three D animation. By the end of this course, you will have a firm knowledge and vision of how to create stunning three D animations for your own projects and clients. 2. Custom Textures - Generating Normal Maps: For generating custom normal maps that I'm sharing with you in the exercise folder is using the normal map online in the browser. What are normal maps? They store information about a surface in the form of a texture image and can simulate the appearance of surface detail, such as bumps or scratches without creating high detail polygons inside the normal map. Online on the left, we have the standard height map, which is a gray scale texture where the brightness of each pixel represent its height. For more information, we can click on the question mark here it reads, The texture contains the distance height from the floor. The brighter the pixel, the further away. Since I will be using just the black and white pattern, I'll go ahead with the height map. I'll click on the window here. I'll click to select the black and white pattern and then click to open. On the far right, we have the three D preview. I can zoom in, I can zoom out, can rotate. I can also change the three D model representation from cube to sphere, since I will be using a spherical model for applying my textures. Here in the middle, we have the options to control how the texture maps are being generated, starting with the normal map, which creates depth, and it's used for bump maps. For example, I can make this very strong or I can make it very weak. And we can see the changes taking place in both the preview window, the three D preview, or inside the normal map. I'm going to set this back to default. I can change the level of the normal map as it gets applied. Going to set that to default as well. Then here we can adjust the sharpness. All the way to the right has been very sharp and all the way to the left is the blur amount. I'm going to set mine to minus four. Then I'll click on the displacement map that is going to push out the details that is used to deform the axle mesh. I won't make any changes here. I will click on the ambient occlusion, which creates an extra bit of depth and shading. For that, I will make it stronger. I'll app the strength. I'll set the blur amount exactly the same as it was for the normal map. For the specular map, which tells us which parts of a model should be shiny glossy. I will leave everything as this. Then here at the bottom, we have the choice to download each of these texture maps or we can do all of them here. We can change the extension. I'm going to go for Jpeg and then download all the texture maps. 3. After Effects - Setting Up Composition: All right, inside after effects, I'll create a new composition. I'll give it a name of motion graphics from the preset drop menu. I'll choose 1920 by 1080. As for the duration, for now, I will keep this one to 30 seconds, but most likely at the very end I will trim this out and then click Okay. Now inside the project panel, I will import the texture files and whatever else I will be using for this after effects motion graphics project. I'll double click on that. First I will import the clouds, double click again, and shift select to import the textures. To keep my work organized, at the very bottom of the project panel, I create a new folder. I rename these two textures, Shift select those and bring them inside the folder. Here they are. All right, I'm also going to import some vector files from Adobe Illustrator. For that, I'll need to create multiple solids. I will click on the Timeline. Then up on the menu, I create the first solids. I'll give it a name of oval shape. I make sure that I make click on the Make comm size and then click okay. Then I'll head to Adobe Illustrator. I'll select the oval shape with a selection tool. I'll copy these to the clipboards, head back to after effects, and then paste that in. I'll create another solid. Back of the menu, New Solids. I'll give it a name of side panel. Click. Okay. Head back to the straight, here it is. Mark, select those panels, Copy those to the clipboards. Paste those in. I create another solid. I'm going to use the keyboard shortcut. I'll give it a name of Picks, Allies, that will be my name here. I'll click. Okay. Back on. Illustrator. Here it is. Mark you select that. I copy to the clipboards, paste that in. I create another solid. That will be my logo, press return, here's my logo. I select that, I'll copy to the clipboards, then paste that in. All right, so for the timeline, I'll click and drag the clouds, and I'm also going to shift select. Then also bring in all of these textures. Now the textures that don't need to be visible, all they need to be is inside the timeline. As for the clouds here, as you can see, this is just a little big. I'm going to press the letter S on the keyboards for the scale property. I'm just going to scrub this to let's say 80% I'm also going to lock this layer, so don't accidentally move it. Now that the project has been set up, the next step is to create three D shapes from all of the solids using the element three D. Plug in. 4. Element 3D - Oval Shape: For the element three D. Plug in to work. Once again, I need to create a new solid. I will click on the timeline. I would talk a lot of the visibility of these layers. No need to see those, I just want to see the clouds. Then I'll use the keyboard Shout to create a new solid. I'll give it a name of element three, D. I click on Size, then click Okay. Then under the effect menu, video, pilots and elements. Before I click on the sin set up for standing, to loading all of these shapes here and the textures. I can do this under the custom layers, under the custom text and masks. For the path layer one, I will assign the oval shape, the path layer two to the side panels, path layer three to pixels and four to my logo. For the textures under the custom text maps, layer one will be assigned to the normal bump, layer two to the enclusion, layer three to the specular. Now I can just click this, set a button here. The first thing is to click on the extrude button, since that was the very first shape that I loaded in. That's why this one gets extruded. All right. I'll double click to rename this two oval shape. Enter Return. Right now I have one bevel, actually want to have two copies set 0.2 for the bevel copy one. I'll 2.5 I'll expand the edges to 3.5 I'll scroll down a bit under the basic settings, diffuse color, I set this one to black and then click okay for the val two under the Bevel outline, I will enable this. I'll set the outline to two. I'll scroll up a bit. Now I want to put this outline in the middle of the two. First I'll change the view instead of perspective. I'll set this point to left on the z of set. I can scrub this like this. I'm just going to more. Let's say around here that looks to be at the center. Go back on the perspective view then on the oval shape and sets under the tessellation, the bath resolution to the extreme. So I have a nice dense geometry. 5. Element 3D - Side Panels: For the side panels. Once again, I'll click on the extrude button. I'll double click to rename the two side panels front. I'll click okay for the custom path. I'll assign the custom path to here. Here are the side panels. I'm just going to drag this out on the z axis. Another presets and physical, I will assign the racing babble here. The preset, I'll click and drag this right on top, right there here. I'm also going to make sure that the path resolution is set to the extreme. Or I now have a nice dense object here instead of perspective view. First I'll choose the left view. I'll also in quite a bit because I want to make sure that this sits on the Z axis right there. I'll switch the perspective view here and click to duplicate this model. That will be the sides panels back. I click Okay. Now I'm going to bring this out on the Z. But in this case, first I need to flip this on the Z. I'm going to do this right here. I'm going to flip this under the transformation on the z. There you go. Then back on the left view, I'll drag this on the Z right there, switch to the perspective view. Here we go, Both look great, and click okay. 6. Element 3D - Sphere Model & Texturing: With the middle being empty. I'll go ahead and add another three D object, in this case just a sphere. I'll click on the Create button, a sphere model. Double click on it, rename this sphere. Click, okay. The first I'm going to do is scale this up non uniformly, which means I will disable the on. I will scale this one on the x axis to 270% 200 on the y axis, as is on the Z axis. That looks good. I'm going to apply some materials, which means I will select the material settings. The first texture to apply will be the normal bump. I will click on the non set. I'll click on the low texture dropped on menu. And I will apply a normal bump and then click Okay. As you can see, this creates a bump on the surface. But looking at the way this displacement map wraps around the object sphere, I would like to adjust that. I will click select the sphere model. Then under the UV mapping and the UV repeats, I'll just how many times this material repeats tiles? Right now the texture map wraps around only once, will increase to two by two. Back on the normal bump, I'm also going to change the repeat here, 22 by two as well. Then click Okay. All right. I'll go ahead and zoom in a bit here for the next texture. Then that will be the glossiness. Click on that and apply the specular map. I'll make sure that the U repeat is set to two by two. And I'm also going to invert and then click Okay. The glossiness is how shiny or smooth the surface is right now. This is before and this is after. Let me zoom even more before and after. As you can see, we are not able to see any drastic changes by just applying the specular map that will be seen once we swap a different environment map. All right, now I'm also going to add an occlusion texture here, so I'll click on that and add an occlusion map. I'll change the U repeat to two by two, Invert that, then click Okay. As you can see, this darkens up the map. All right, so things are looking good. I'll go ahead and change some colors here. For example, under the basic settings and the diffused color, I'll apply a blue color of my choice. Click okay for the reflectivity, I'll apply a yellow color of my choice. I click and up its intensity to 50% for the illumination. I'm also going to apply another color of my choice. Up its intensity, let's say to 6% That looks good. But now it's time to change the overall reflectivity by swapping up the existing environment map. This way my scene will light up perhaps even more. The look is going to change. Also, I'm going to create some better reflections for these three D models, which means other the presets environment, back light environments. This is part of the back light collections coming from the video Copilots Bike Like two K. I'll score down, I'll apply this here. You see the changes are immediate. There we go. I just want to go up again to the glossiness, the specular map that will be before and after. Without the speculator map, we get very little reflection, but with it, we'll get some great results. 7. Element 3D - Name & Logo: The next two objects to extrude. That will be my name and my logo. Once again, I will click on the extrude button. I'll double click on it. The name, this topic alias. I'll click okay for the custom path. I'll choose custom path three on the Z. I'm going to pull this out. I'm going to assign one of the beveled presets that element three D comes with. In this case I will apply the stripes bevel preset. I'm just going to click and drag this right on top of the object release that targeting the paint material for the illumination. I'll change the color to a yellow color of my choice. I will up its intensity to 60% That looks pretty good. I'll change the view to the left view. I like the distance. Maybe I can bring this a little closer, back on the perspective. All right. Click. Duplicate this model. Double click During this logo, I'll change the custom path to custom path four on the C. I'm going to bring this out under the transformation here and for the orientation, I'll change this to 180 degrees by 180 degrees. I'm also going to scale this down quite a bit. Let's see, I'm going to go back to the left. Bring this closer, perhaps I can. Skill is done even more. Something along those lines. Let's see, things are looking pretty good here, like so. 8. Element 3D - Separating Objects: Now, before I get into animating the entire scene, I'm going to bring the name and the logo outside the group. I can target them separately. I will shift the electors to then click and drag and bring them outside the group. The order doesn't really matter. What matters is that I'm going to assign each object to a separate group. In this case, the name will be assigned to the second group, the logo to the third group, and then click Okay. 9. After Effects - 3D Camera & Bending Objects: Moving forward, I'll go ahead and add a three D camera to the scene. So I'll click on the Timeline Under the menu, New Camera Inside the Camera Settings dial up box for the type of camera. I'll choose the two node camera for the lens set. I'll set this 135 millimeter. I'm just going to leave everything as is and then click Okay. I'll grab the orbit around the cursor tool. I'm just going to orbit this around. I'll target the element three D solid layer here inside the group two which is basically the name here inside the particle look, deform and bend. I'm going to bend this a bit. I would enable it. I'll set the bend angle to 30 degrees, the bend direction to 90 degrees. That looks good. Perhaps I can actually bring this closer to the oval shape. And I can do this inside the particle replicator right here on the position z, see that? Maybe I can bring this, let's say to ten. I think that's enough here. I'll work on the logo here which is under the group three Particle Deform bend. I'll enable it. The bend angle will be -30 degrees and 90 degrees for the direction. I can also bring this a little closer. Again, that will be inside the particle replicator here is on the Z, can do this negative ten, I think the distance more or less is the same. I like C, so I'm going to keep that. 11. After Effects - Smoothing Animations: To better time the animation. No need to have two views. One view is enough. I'll scribe the current time dedicated to the very beginning and press Space bar on the keyboard for the Ram preview and then stop. I actually want to improve this animation and make it smoother the way it comes in. I will make you select those two keyframes. Click under the keyframe assistant. I'll chase the interpolation from linear two is. I'll press Spacebar for another run preview. That looks good but that doesn't mean it cannot be improved. I will select the key frame, bring up the graph editor, then double click on the key frame to bring up the keyframe velocity. And set the influence for the incoming velocity to 80% And click okay. The animation goes like this. It accelerates and as it comes in it decelerates. And by the way, I'm working inside the speed graph, I'll do the same for this keyframe back on the graph editor. This timer, I can just use the influence handle to do exactly the same. I'll set this one to 80 something percent. Then press space bar for the Ram. Preview looks great. Perhaps I can select all of these key frames and space the mount tad, there's a little bit longer distance here for the rotation. Great. Now the next is right here. I'll click on that right click. Easy is back on the graph editor. Double click and set the incoming velocity to 100% We'll accelerate and then slowly decelerate space bar for the Ram preview. Great, same story here for the two right click firm assistance is, is I'll bring the influence handle to 100% and this influence handle to 100% then press the space part for the Ram preview. Fantastic, exactly what I was going for. 12. After Effects - Rendering Out Settings: Now that the animation is in place, I want to talk about the render settings. How can I improve the overall reflections and what have you? I'll click on the element three D solid layer, back on the effect controls under the render settings and inside the physical environment. First I will increase the overall exposure on the environment. I'm also going to increase the gamma and that was going to give me some more contrast and also is going to help me to get more rich colors for the reflections. Also rotate the entire environment. I will scrub the current time decator to the very beginning and I'm going to rotate the Y rotation environment. We'll click on the stopwatch to create the first key frame. Then to go to the last visible keyframe, I'm going to use the keyboard shortcuts. That will be the letter K that goes to the next visible keyframe. I'm going to tap this few times to go to the last visible keyframe and set the Y rotation environment to 150 degrees. I'll scrabe the current time decator to the very beginning. I press the space par for the Ram preview. As you can see, the environment rotates on the Y as the animation takes place. For the glow, I will enable the glow and here's the intensity. Okay, I'm just going to bring this down actually to 11 is enough on my end. I can also have some motion blur. I will turn this on, but I also need to increase the motion blur samples. I'm going to go for 20, then I'll scrub the current time decator. Nice and slow. We can see the motion blur taking place. You see that over there and there? All right, another thing I can do inside the output for the multi sampling, I'll change this 8-16 Actually, let me go ahead and zoom in a bit here so I can show you the difference. You're going to see some changes here once and change the multi sampling 8-16 Now this reduces basically the jagged edges on objects that have sharp highlights and reflections. Go ahead and press the space par for the norm preview. Things are looking good. I got the glow, very nice reflections. Here's the motion blur. It's going to be a little slow in the system but still looks good. I'll keep that. 13. After Effects - Trimming Composition: Before exporting the entire animation, I'll go ahead and trim the composition, since it only lasts a few seconds. I suppose the entire animation around here. I'm also going to leave a bit of a breathing room, let's say around here. And then using the keyboard shortcuts, I'll press the letter on the keyboard to set the end of work area to this current time relic. Then trim comp to work area. Now go up to the Composition Menu Add To Render, I need to specify here where this move is going to be exported, and then click to Render. 14. Thank You!: Thank you so very much for spending time with me. Understanding how to use the very powerful video copilot plug in inside after effects. Reach out. If you have any questions or feedback about the course, it would be a great help to hear from you.