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Quick Tip: Create Stills in After Effects


Learn how to save frames and export stills in this quick and easy After Effects tutorials.

Whether you work with a team or work by yourself, exporting a still or frame in After Effects is an incredibly helpful trick to learn. Once you figure it out, you’ll likely be exporting stills for almost every project for some reason or another. So, if you’re interested in learning this technique, simply follow the steps below.

Step 1: Find your Still

Creating Stills in After Effects: Saving Frames in After Effects, Step 1

A still can be created in any size at any aspect ratio. So the first step is to find the point in time in which you want to take a screenshot. Simply move your playhead in the timeline until you find the right position.

Step 2: Save Frame As

Creating Stills in After Effects: Saving Frames in After Effects, Step 2

Navigate to Composition>Save Frame As. You will be prompted with two options, File and Photoshop Layers.

  • File: Will send your still to the Render Queue where you can change the file format, quality, and save more than one frame at once. Covered in Step 3 below.
  • Photoshop Layers: Will pop up a dialogue box where you will name your new photoshop file and hit save. This is ideal if you want to edit your still in Photoshop, but be aware that there can sometimes be some pretty strange distortions when you use this method. If a client requests a Photoshop file I recommend reviewing it before sending it.

Step 3: Export

Creating Stills in After Effects: Saving Frames in After Effects, Step 3

If you chose the file option in the steps above, you can now export your stills in the render queue. Keep in mind that you can export more than one still at a time. You don’t have to do them one at a time.

If you want to export a file format other than the default Photoshop format,  simply navigate to the Output Module and click the Format dropdown at the top of the window. You will be able to select from an array of file formats including PNG, TIFF, Photoshop, and JPEG. You can also add alpha channels by selecting RGB + Alpha in the dropdown menu under Video Output.

Quick note: JPEG does not support alpha channels.

Want to learn more quick tips in After Effects? Check out a few of the following posts:

  1. 10 Essential After Effects Tricks
  2. 5 Pieces of Advice for Anyone New to After Effects
  3. 11 Must-Know After Effects Keyboard Shortcuts