Contributor Tips, Pro Tips

6 Tips for Creating Intuitive After Effects Templates

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After Effects templates, from Titles and Transitions to Logo Openers, make it easy for any editor to quickly create impressive videos. The whole point of using a template is to speed up video production workflow, but if a template isn’t designed well, it can be difficult to use. So if you’re trying your own hand at creating templates to share with others or sell on Pond5, here are some tips for creating easy-to-use “no questions necessary” results.
 

1. Use TypeKit Fonts

When people first open your template, usually they’ll be missing the font you used. To make it easy for others to work with, make sure to use fonts available in Adobe TypeKit, Adobe’s service that syncs fonts with Adobe Creative Cloud accounts. For example, in this template, the designer used a TypeKit font called “Montserrat,” making it easy to sync and use:

20 Modern Titles by dimter25

When first designing your template, go to typekit.com and find a font you like, then sync it with your account. It will then appear in your font dropdown in After Effects. Make sure that you have “Font Syncing” enabled from your Adobe Creative Cloud desktop App.

I also recommend including in your template instructions that users should restart the project after they sync Typekit fonts.
 

2. Create Color Controls

Create a universal layer color control in your template so users can easily click and change colors. To create a color-control layer, first create a null-object layer in your composition. I’d recommend renaming the null-object layer to “Color Control.”

Then, under “Effects and Presets,” search for an Expression Control called “Color Control” and apply it to a null-object layer in your composition. In this template, the designer created a color control that corresponded to every color used in the transition design:

100 Transitions Pack by motion_templates

 

3. Implement Responsive Design

If you’re creating a lower third or title template, make your shapes auto-resize to the text. To do this, you need to use a simple expression. Not many template designers take the time to do this, so set yourself apart and make it extra user-friendly with this tip.

To make a rectangle auto-resize to text, you first need to apply the expression control “Slider Control” to your rectangle shape layer and rename the effect “Padding.”

Then, next to the rectangle size, alt/option-click on the stopwatch and copy and paste this expression:

    title = thisComp.layer(“Rectangle”).sourceRectAtTime();padding = effect(“Padding”)(“Slider”);[title.width + padding, title.height + padding]

Where it says “Rectangle,” rename this to the name of your text layer — so if your text layer is called “Main Title,” then you would replace “Rectangle” with “Main Title.”

You can increase the padding using the slider control. Now, when users type in new text, they won’t have to resize the rectangle shape — it resizes automatically.

 

4. Use an Intuitive Project Folder Structure

Navigation is the number-one must-have when designing your template. In the Project Panel, create an organized structure for the user to navigate.

For example, it’s common practice to have a numerical folder system such as:

    01. Edit Comps – A folder that holds the text, color, and image compositions for which the user will replace and edit content.
    02. Final Comps – This folder holds the final renders for the composition that users will use to export their videos.
    03. Others – This is mainly for you, the designer, but it can hold any null objects or compositions you don’t want the end-user to touch.

For example, here’s a nice organized project from the 100 Transitions Pack template:


 

5. Enable Drag and Drop Logo Composition

For logo openers or promo-style templates, always include a composition dedicated for the user to drop in and resize their logo. Don’t make it difficult for someone to find a way to update the template to match their own branding. In this template, the designer created a dedicated composition simply for the logo placement:

Clean Blue Stardust Glow Particles and Flares Space Logo Reveal Animation by kalfasso


 

6. Create a .MOGRT File From Your Template

If the user can also use your template easily in Premiere Pro, as well as After Effects, it will be more desirable. With the latest update to Adobe Premiere Pro CC, you can now convert your After Effects designs into what is called a Motion Graphics Template or .MOGRT file.

To turn your design into a .MOGRT file, you need to be using the latest version of Adobe After Effects CC and the Essential Graphics Panel. From there, you can drag in your source text, color controls, and scale and position controls to create your template. Then you can export it as a .MOGRT file, which users can install in their Premiere Pro CC Essential Graphics Panels.

Related Post 15 After Effects Tips from Some of Our Best-Selling Motion-Graphics Artists

The idea here is that it makes it easy for users to simply update text, color, and size without having to go back and forth between After Effects and Adobe Premiere Pro.

For even more tips, I have a whole playlist on YouTube on how to create motion-graphics templates that you can check out:

If you have any questions about any of this information, or just want to share your own AE Template tricks, sound off in the comments below!