For many of us, September marks the end of the long relaxing summer days and return to the grind. To ease the transition we thought we’d give you a little back-to-school treat- an Adobe After Effects CC 2D animated looped tutorial!

It’s a big one, so we’ve broken it down into a few easy to follow steps:

1- First steps (artwork to animate and set up the document)

2- Import of the first artwork

3- Set keyframes into the timeline for the first artwork 4-     Import the second artwork

5- Set the keyframes on the second composition

6- Create a new composition to fit the others together 7-   Create the last composition to make the loop

8- Export the animation

1. First steps: 

To start our animation, we need artwork to animate. In this case, we used two different illustrations on Adobe Illustrator CC- a suitcase and a lunch box.

Three important things to begin with:

The setup of the Illustrator document. It needs to be the same size as the video animation (in this case, we are going to do it on Full HD 1920 x 1080, RGB).

1- setup_AI

Separating the elements of the artwork by layers. Every element that you are going to animate needs to be on separate layers, otherwise After Effects will not recognize them as separated elements (grouped elements, will be  recognized as one object). It helps to add descriptive names for each layer to save time later in After Effects CC.

2- artwork_1

3- artwork_2Saving the artworks with one In this case, we are going to use two Illustrator files, one for the suitcase and one for the lunch box.

2. Import the artworks.

Now you have the artwork ready, open After Effects and make a new project.

To import the Illustrator files, go to: File/Import/File. Then, select the first Illustrator file (suitcase). For ‘import kind’ choose “composition” (this will keep the same positions of the elements) and for the footage dimensions choose “Layer size” (1920×1080).

4 - Import artwork

In the project panel the composition will appear in one folder with all the layers.

To start the animation process, click on the composition (Tut-lunch_A). It will appear on the main panel as well as on the time line. As you can see, we have all the layers in order and in the right position (the same as Illustrator Artboard).

6- composition

3 Set Keyframes into the timeline for the first artwork.

First, you need to decide what movements you want to animate in your loop. In our case, we made a transition from a suitcase to a lunch box. Each element of the suitcase will disappear leaving a simple rectangular form, which will transform into a lunchbox.

We are going to start with the upper layers, in this case the two stickers of the suitcase. We want to make them disappear inwardly, so we will set 3 keyframes.

7 - Keyframe_1

Go to the first sticker layer (Sticker_2) and open the transform arrow. Here you can see the main options to modify (Anchor Point, Position, Scale, Rotation and Opacity). In this project we are going to use only 3 of them (Position, Scale and Rotation).

As we want to make the stickers disappear inwardly, we are going to set a “Scale” keyframe. To set one keyframe you need to click on the clock icon right next to “scale” and then you can add or delete keyframes with this diamond button here.

The first keyframe will be the start position of the interpolation. Set this keyframe one second ahead in the timeline (this will allow the animation a proper pause before starting, otherwise it will start straight right away).

Then, go a few frames ahead in the timeline to set a new keyframe. This new keyframe will create the pop-up effect, so you need to change the percent from 100% to 106% (this will make the sticker a little bit bigger). Then, add a few more frames in the timeline and set the final keyframe. This one will make the sticker disappear, so for the percent, you need to change it from 106% to 0%. With the 3 keyframes set, select all of them, click the right button and select “keyframe assistant”/ Easy ease. This will smoothen the motion of one keyframe to another.

8 - Keyframe_2

After that, we can go to the Graph Editor and manage the speed of the interpolation to your preference.  To display the Graph Editor, click on this icon:

9 - graph editor

By adjusting the rise and fall of the speed graph, you can control how quickly or slowly a value changes from keyframe to keyframe. This is how our speed graph looks:

10 - graph editor

So now we have our first 3 keyframes ready, we can select and copy them (cmd+C) and go to the next layer (Sticker_1) and paste it. This will copy the same motion interpolation that we already have in the other layer. To avoid having the same motion at the same time in two layers, we can grab the 3 keyframes of the first layer and move them forward a few frames through the timeline. This will add dynamism to the animation, because one sticker will disappear first and then the other, a few frames after.

11- keyframe_3

Next we’re going to animate the zipper layer. For this, we are going to use two types of interpolation in one layer: Position and Scale. To make it move (position) down to up in the Y axis, we are going to set the Position keyframe (clicking on the clock icon) in the frame 21 and then we are going to move forward 15 frames in the timeline to set the other keyframe (diamond icon). After that, select the last keyframe and move up the zipper (in the Y axis) in the main panel to the final position. For this keyframe you can apply the same keyframe assistant (Easy Ease) and change the speed in the graph editor, just like in the others layers.
12- keyframes_4_zipper

Now we have the zipper moving down to up, we need to make it disappear. To do that, we can copy and paste the Scale keyframe that we already created in the sicker layers. Go to one of the sticker layers, select the 3 keyframes, cmd+C, then go to the zipper layer and press cmd+V. Make sure that the time indicator is in the right position to set the scale keyframes, as it will paste in the same time position as the time indicator. This is how the keyframes of the zipper should look:

13 - keyframes_5

For the next element (the “brand” of the suitcase) we are going to use the same keyframes of the sticker layers. Go to one of the sticker layers, select the 3 keyframes, copy them (cmd+C) and select the Brand_suitcase layer and paste it (cmd+V). Make sure the time indicator is in the right position. This should make the oval brand of the suitcase disappear, like the stickers.

Next we want to make the outside pocket of the suitcase disappear (“case_2” layer). To do this, we are going to use the position interpolation to move it down. We are also going to add a track matte layer to use it as a mask. To enable the track matte layer, we need to duplicate the layer (selecting the layer and cmd + C / cmd + V) and select the bottom “case_2” layer, go to Layer/Track Matte/ Alpha Matte. Then, you can hide the top pocket layer and make the interpolation on the bottom one.

The interpolation will be on position of the Y-axis, from up to down. Go to the position keyframe and add one for the starting point, then go ahead a few frames to put the other keyframe, to make the pop up look (move it a little bit up the rectangle) and then go 15 frames forward to set up the last keyframe. For this keyframe you can apply the same keyframe assistant (Easy Ease) and change the speed in the graph editor, just like in the others layers.

14 - poket_a

At this point the red rectangle of the outside pocket should be down, and the Alpha matte layer should be at the top, at the same position as the beginning so it will mask the bottom layer. The “case” layers should look like this:

14 - Pocket

Next we need the handle of the suitcase to disappear. We are going to use the position interpolation to move it down just like the “case” layer, but without the Alpha matte, because it will be under the suitcase (orange rectangle).

14 - handle 14-handle_A

Finally, to make the shadow of the suitcase disappear, we are going to use the same keyframes of the sticker layers. Go to one of the sticker layers, select the 3 keyframes, copy them (cmd+C) and select the shadow layer and paste it (cmd+V). Again, making sure of the time indicator is on the right position.

14 - wheel

14- wheel layers

Now we only have the wheels and the shadow left. To make the wheels disappear, we are going to use the position interpolation again, but this time from the bottom to the up of the suitcase. With the keyframes of the first wheel, we can copy them and paste it on the other wheel. To avoid having the same motion at the same time for the two wheels, we can grab the 3 keyframes of the first wheel layer and move them forward few frames through the timeline.

So  now  we  only  have  the    orange rectangle form of the lunch box. In order to make it horizontal we are going to use 3 kinds of interpolation: Position, Scale and Rotation.

First, go to the rotation properties and add a start keyframe. Go ahead 20 frames to set other keyframe. In this keyframe set -11° in the rotation angle. After that, move around 5 frames to set the final rotation keyframe and add 1x + 90° on the rotation  panel. This will rotate the shape x1 ending on 90° horizontal position.

14-rectangle

14-rectangle_a

Now we have the rotation motion, but we need to have the scale and the position to fit in the same size of the lunch box. To make this, we are going to wait until we have the other composition* (point N°5)

All our layers and keyframes of the first artwork should look like this:

15-all first layers

4. Import the second artwork

To import the second artwork of our animation, we are going to repeat the steps on the 2nd title. This is how the imported artwork should look with all the layers sorted.

16 - Second artwork

5. Set the keyframes in the composition of the second artwork:

 In the composition of the second artwork, we need to start with the orange rectangle, which is the bridge between the two artworks. So we need to hide all the others objects and make them appear in the animation (unlike the first composition, which was all about elements disappear).

17 - orange rectangle

With the orange rectangle (“lunch_2” layer) we can go back to the suitcase composition and fit the orange rectangle in the same position* as this one (we can copy and paste the layer of the lunch box into the other composition to make sure that is in the same place and then delete it).

First we are going to use the scale interpolation for the outside of the lunch box (Lunch_1) to make it appear. Go to the layer and select the scale keyframe to set the first keyframe. Then change the size from 100% to 0%. Move 8 or 10 frames ahead the timeline to set other keyframe and change the scale percent from 0% to 105%. After that, go ahead others 3 or 4 frames to set 100% on the percent of the scale. (this will add the pop up look into the motion) Also, you can apply the same keyframe assistant (Easy Ease) and change the speed in the graph editor, just like in the others layers.

After you create the fist keyframes, you can use the same for the others elements in the composition, just copy and paste them in the right place and within the right timing.

At the end all our layers and keyframes of this artwork should look like this:

17-all layers

6. Create a new composition to fit the others together:

 To make the transition between the two animations, we need to create another composition under the same specifications as the others. It should be like this:

18 - comps together

Then,we can drag the other two compositions (“Tut-lunch_A” and “Tut-lunch_B”) inside this composition and replace the background these two with other background layers (one yellow and one red). With this, we can add motion in the second background (red) to make it appear just at the same time that it blends the both elements (the suitcase and the lunch box).
For the red background, we are going to use a shape layer, making an ellipse with the ellipse tool in the top bar. Then, we are going to set 2 scale keyframes, one on 0% and the other on 100% to make it appear. After that, make sure to place the background transition just in the middle of the two compositions (suitcase & Lunch box). You can apply the same keyframe assistant (Easy Ease) and change the speed in the graph editor, just like in the others layers.

19-bg

7. Create the last composition to make the loop:

Now we have 3 compositions: The suitcase disappearing (“Tut-lunch_A”), the lunch box appearing (“Tut-lunch_B”) and the composition with both of them together (“Comp 1 & comp 2”).

To make the loop, we need to create a new composition under the same specifications as the others (we are going to name it as “loop”). Then pick the “Comp 1 & comp 2” composition and drag into this new loop composition. Duplicate it, and then click with the right button on the timeline of one of the layers and select: Time/Time-reverse layer. This will make a reverse time in the layer, so you can place this reverse layer at the end position that the lunch box appears. At that point it will go back in time (with the lunch box disappearing and the suitcase appearing) making it a complete loop. The layers and the composition should be like this:

8. Export the animation

To export our animation loop, select the loop composition and then to the composition menu in the top bar, and then click on Add to Render Queue.

Then a new window will appear alongside your other windows. Here you can choose all the output settings and were to save it.

21 - add to render queue

In this case we are going to select the “output module” (on lossless) and then this other window will appear:

23 - output setings

Here you can set up the video output and change the format options in this window: Here we can choose the format and code.

24 - quicktime setings

(In this case: QuickTime + H.264). And finally we can click on the “render” button to make the render.

Here is the final result of our 2D animation loop!