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Animating Text

Chapter Description

In this sample chapter from Adobe After Effects Classroom in a Book (2020 release), authors Fridsma and Gyncild teach you to create and animate text layers. You will learn to stylize text using the Character and Paragraph panels, apply and customize text animation presets, and more.

Using a text animation preset

Currently, the title appears when the video begins. You’ll animate the title to make its arrival more interesting. The easiest way to do that is to use one of the many animation presets that come with After Effects. After applying an animation preset, you can customize it and save it to use again in other projects.

  1. Press the Home key or go to 0:00 to make sure the current-time indicator is at the beginning of the time ruler.

After Effects applies animation presets from the current time.

  1. Select the Snorkel Tours text layer.

Browsing animation presets

You already applied an animation preset using the Effects & Presets panel in Lesson 2, “Creating a Basic Animation Using Effects and Presets.” But what if you’re not sure which animation preset you want to use? To help you choose the right animation preset for your projects, you can preview presets in Adobe Bridge.

  1. Choose Animation > Browse Presets. Adobe Bridge opens, displaying the contents of the After Effects Presets folder.

  2. In the Content panel, double-click the Text folder, and then the Organic folder.

  3. Click to select the first preset, Autumn. Adobe Bridge plays a sample of the animation in the Preview panel.

  4. Select a few other presets, and watch them in the Preview panel.

  5. Preview the Ripple preset, and then double-click its thumbnail preview. Alternatively, you can right-click (Windows) or Control-click (macOS) the thumbnail and choose Place In Adobe After Effects 2020.

  6. Return to After Effects, but leave Adobe Bridge open in the background.

After Effects applies the preset to the selected layer, which is the Snorkel Tours layer, but the layer no longer appears in the composition. This is because at 0:00, the first frame of the animation, the letters haven’t yet rippled into the scene.

Customizing an animation preset

After you apply an animation preset to a layer, all of its properties and keyframes are listed in the Timeline panel. You’ll use those properties to customize the preset.

  1. Press the spacebar to watch a preview of the animation. The letters flip into place, and then the entire title scales down to 200%. Press the spacebar again to stop the preview.

The letters appear to ripple into the background. It looks great—but you’ll customize the preset to change the way the letters appear.

  1. Select the Snorkel Tours text layer in the Timeline panel, and then expand the layer’s properties. Navigate to the Text > Animator - Ripple 1 (Skew) > Selector Offset > Advanced properties.

  2. Click Off next to Randomize Order to turn it On.


The Randomize Order property changes the order in which letters appear on the screen as they ripple into place.

  1. Drag the current-time indicator from 0:00 to 3:00 to manually preview the animation you edited.

  2. Hide the layer’s properties.

  3. Press the End key to move the current-time indicator to the end of the time ruler, and then press N to set the end bracket of the work area.

  4. Press the Home key or go to 0:00 to return the current-time indicator to the beginning of the time ruler.

  5. Choose File > Save to save your project.

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