How to create an After Effects Template

Creating an AE Template

Creating an AE Template in Adobe After effects is an easy process, it could last anywhere from ten hours to one or two months. Of course it depends on the complexity of the project, and your inner sense of self criticism. I tried breaking it down to important key points and phases that could be used as great guidelines or follow through steps when creating AE templates, these however, are just a personal experience.

After Effects template screenshot
Packaged AE Template inline preview for videohive

Here are the steps

1) The Decision phase

what exactly are you going to create, what purpose is it gonna serve, etc… This is the time to decide what are you going to create with After Effects, is it going to be a Logo reveal? a Video Display? maybe a wedding album? either way, this decision is a crucial step in your progress throughout the entire project, knowing what you want to create will keep your mind flowing in the right direction, being indecisive in this step could influence the rest of your template and affect the final result.

2) The Planning phase

identify your main scenes, draw them on paper , write them as a script, or design them in Adobe After Effects or Adobe Photoshop, this is the time where you start visualizing how your project will look like.

3) The Design phase

whether you used a wacom, or a pencil and paper, this is the the time to polish everything in Adobe Photoshop or Adobe After Effects,  making it look good is an essential practice to every great template, so if you’re working with AE comps or PSD layouts, put those flares on, finesse that color palette, choose your font, adjust on your kerning and type and pretty much make sure it looks amazing. This phase is just for stills, it should be still %100 key frame free. Now if you’d want to work on the animation and then change the design – fine, its up to you, the general conception though is that its easier to sell a great design with mediocre animation than it is to sell mediocre design with great animation, so once those storyboards / stills / precomps are ready, its time to move into production phase.

4) The Production phase

now that you’ve got everything looking neat and sweet its time to think of a sound track, even if your animation is mute music can give you a sense of rhythm, atmosphere and mood, you can use it to support your design, or on the contrary – use it to contrast the design for example: Contrast between visuals & music Clean, elegant, white reflective – heavy grungy metal or hip hop Support between visuals & music Clean, elegant, white reflective – classical music, ambient, or jazz Once you’re ready, its time to start animating, but before you do, its great to have a structure in your After Effects, why? because it will save you plenty of time later when you’ll need to collect your project and write a manual for it. For me, every still design from phase 3 gets his own PRECOMP, by Creating a folder called Comps and a subfolder within called Precomps every separate image / frame gets a folder inside that Precomps folder for instance COMPS -> PRECOMPS -> STILL_1_Folder  thats where the new placeholders and comp are created, this you can always remember where each placeholder belongs to. This way, things are organized, it’s easier to come back to a project file and modify it if you decide to leave it for a while just to get your creative juices back, and, its a must when publishing a template, template buyers can be in any skill level therefore it should be extremely easy to understand and have a common logic method behind it. Animating is a lot of fun, try to make all those still frames from phase 3 combine nicely, smooth transitions and eased keyframes is a must in some cases while in others it should be extremely linear and rough, keeping things in a simplified way will assure the buyer’s life will be easier. Once the animation is done its time to move to the next phase

5) The Finishing Phase

this is probably the best part, finishing means going through the compositions and leaving “hints” for the buyers regarding what / how , for ex: If you’ve had a stock video in your placeholder precomp, now would be the time to replace it with a sample .JPG that says “alt-drag on top of me” If you’ve had audio track which had cuts and mixes within it, now its the time to put a “dummy” mp3 that has exactly the same cuts and keyframes as your real track was, giving the AE Template buyer the option of alt-dragging the original track on top without having to match your cut to his. This is the time to write or record a manual, its a matter of personal taste, some prefer to record a video explaining how to modify their template and some would rather write a pdf, either way – make sure it explains thoroughly how to modify your template in After effects  , it can be short and to the point and focused mainly on your placeholders comp (another reason why organizing them from the first phase is important) or it can be a full overview of After effects going in detail to each and every aspect of the template, this too is a matter of personal taste. Once you’re done with the manual you should collect the project using After Effects Collect files option and then zip your folder along with the manual. ** An important phase in creating an AE Template is PACKAGING! Make a well designed manual, create intriguing thumbnails, wrap up your project nicely and design it to perfection, sometimes its the icing on the cake that sells. For double safety – reopen the zip file on your computer just to make sure it works properly, selling a template with errors is very amateur 🙂 Happy Authoring!

To Sell your AE Template you could use a service such as VideoHive which I personally use and love!