How to Animate a Logo in Adobe After Effects

Jump to topic on this page:

Find in video:

Trim Paths




Path Animation




Logo Animation Advice


Bonus Tip


Trim Paths

Trim paths are a way to animating lines drawing in. They can be used to animate text like it's being written. Trim paths are a great way to animate script lettering, or you can animate individual san serif letters.

Hello text animation
Animated alphabet

Trim paths can also be used to animate accent lines. Layering different trim path animations can create a more complex looking animation.

Animated typography example using trim paths
This example comes from my class, Animated Typography.

Logo Examples

There are so many examples of logos that are animated with trim paths. Once you know what to look for, you’ll be able to spot them. Any time there’s a line drawing in, there’s a good chance it was animated using trim paths.

Squarespace logo animation
Squarespace - Sander van Dijk
Incode logo animation
Incode - Stéphane Gibert

You can also animate dots moving along a custom path using trim paths, like in this example:

Lattice - Benjamin Ulmet

How to Animate Trim Paths

In order to use trim paths, you’ll need to have an After Effects shape layer that has a stroke but no fill.

You may need to recreate parts of your logo for this to work. You can do this right in After Effects, but I find it's usually easier to do in Adobe Illustrator.

The important thing is that you need lines with a basic stroke and no fill for this technique to work. It’s helpful to have each piece that you want to be animated in its own labeled layer.

If you used Illustrator, you’ll need to import your logo into After Effects. Under Import As, make sure to choose Composition Retain Layer Sizes. Next, right click the vector layers and choose Create → Create Shapes from Vector Layer. Or use Overlord to streamline this process.

Then, toggle open one of the layers that’s a path with only a stroke, click the Add button, and choose Trim Paths. Now you can animate the Trim Path properties to make the line draw in.

Create a Smear Effect with Trim Paths

You can animate dots moving across the screen, and even give them a smear effect, by using trim paths. Here's an example:

To do something like this, you’ll want the path for the dots to travel to be a shape layer with only a stroke. The Stroke Weight should be the size of the dot. Set the caps to Round Caps.

Next, add Trim Paths and set the trim path’s End value down to a very small number like .1 to make a dot. Now you can animate the Offset value to move the dot along the line. Or, you could animate the Start and End values and offset their motion in the graph editor to create a smear effect.

I cover how to do this in more detail in my class, Bring a Logo to Life: Principles of Animation for Motion Designers.

Learn More About Animating with Trim Paths

I have two classes where you can learn more about this method: Animated Lettering and Animated Typography.

In Animated Lettering in Adobe After Effects, I show you how to create your lettering design in Adobe Illustrator, import it into After Effects and animate it using trim paths. I also show you how you can use Photoshop to create a texture and how to use mattes to apply this to your lettering. This class covers a script lettering example and a sans serif example.

The project in my class, Animated Typography: Layering Simple Effects for a Complex Look, also uses trim paths, but this time, multiple layers are layered to create a complex looking animation. This class covers how to use Illustrator to create your design and how to animate accents, outlines, tube strokes, and more, all using trim path animations.

Trim Paths aren't the only way to animate text, you can also use After Effects built-in system: text animators. Check out this guide on how to animate text to learn more.


Mattes are a way to control what parts of a layer are visible. They allow you to crop, intersect, or exclude animated and overlapping shapes.

To set up a matte, first choose which layer you want to crop. I want to crop this full screen design so it’s only visible within the text layer that says "Matte". On the design layer, I’ll choose the text layer as the matte.

Learn more about mattes in this tutorial, including the different types of mattes.

Logo Examples

Millis logo animation
Millis - Fede Cook
Design & Fabric logo animation
Design & Fabric - Alex Gorbunov
Vevo logo animation
Vevo - Violet Office

Combine Trim Paths and Mattes

You can combine trim paths and mattes to reveal shapes that aren’t just a simple stroke with a consistent thickness throughout. This is can be helpful if you want to animate text drawing in but the width of the text isn’t quite the same all the way around.

You can also use this technique to reveal lines that have a brush effect or texture. This example is from my class Animated Lettering.

Path Animation

Another technique that can come in handy is to animate the path of a shape. This way, you have complete freedom to transform the shape.

In order to animate the path property, you’ll need an After Effects shape layer. If you’re working with vector artwork from Illustrator, you can right click the layer and choose Create → Create Shapes from Vector Layer.

Or if you want to animate the path of text, you could right click a text layer and choose Create → Create Shapes from Text.

If you have a parametric After Effects shape like a circle, rectangle, polygon, or star and you see something like Rectangle Path, but not simply Path, you can convert the shape to a bezier shape to get the Path property. To do this, right click where it says Rectangle (or whatever shape) Path, then choose Convert to Bezier Path.

Now you should have a Path Property that you can keyframe.

Logo Examples

In this example, I animated the path property of the letters (after converting to a shape layer) to give them a smear effect.

Cub Studio logo animation
Cub Studio - Fraser Davidson
Tidal logo animation
Tidal - Vucko

Learn more about shape layers in this guide.


Morphing shapes or icons can be a unique way to animate a logo. You can morph shapes to build a logo in, or morph between different icons to explain what the brand does.

Logo Examples

Nueberry logo animation
Nueberry - Zach Neel
Logitech logo animation
Logitech - Mikita Melnikau
Murcury logo animation
Murcury - Hoang Nguyen

Learn more about creating morphing animations in my class, Animating Morphing Icons in Adobe After Effects. Here's the class trailer:

Logo Animation Advice

Now that we’ve gone over some common logo animation techniques, I have to point out that the truth is, a lot of logos are animated simply by animating the standard transform properties.

But just keyframing these properties isn’t going to cut it for a logo animation. With such a short animation, it’s important that every motion is meticulously timed and adjusted. You’ll need to get into the graph editor to fine-tune those motion curves. If you’re not sure how to go about that, my class, Smooth Moves: Better Motion with Animation Curves in the Graph Editor, is for you.

Once you’re comfortable with the graph editor, the next step to level up your logo animations is to understand how to incorporate the principles of animation. And that’s exactly what I cover in my class: Bring a Logo to Life: Principles of Animation for Motion Designers.

The goal of this class is to guide you through the process of creating a professional looking, custom logo animation. Plus, you’ll come away from the class with a deeper understanding of how to utilize animation principles to communicate ideas and emotions through movement, in any motion design project.

Bonus Tip

If you find a cool logo animation, but you have no idea how it was created, here’s a simple but effective tip:

Either download the video so you can scrub through it in slow motion, or take a video of the video with your phone in slow motion mode. While you should never ever copy someone else’s work, you can watch it in slow motion to try to get a better idea of what’s going on. This can help you figure out how they might have achieved a certain effect so you can attempt to create your own unique version of it.

Again, do not copy other people’s work, only use this tip to learn.

Want more logo animation inspiration?

Check out my Logo Animation Pinterest board!

Abstract representation of the inner workings of Adobe After Effects

Never used After Effects before?

Check out my free orientation video! Get up and running in After Effects in just 20 minutes. Then, you’ll be ready to jump into any of the 3 beginner-friendly text animation classes.

Get Started

You also might like...