How to Animate Text in Adobe After Effects

There are two main ways to create custom text animations in Adobe After Effects: text animators and trim paths. While these aren’t the only ways to animate text, knowing just these two methods can unlock tons of creative possibilities.

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Text Animators


Trim Paths


3D Text Animation


How to Learn More


Text Animators

Text animators are After Effects built in system for animating text layers. Here are some examples (covered in my class Text Animators):

examples of text animators

There are a ton of different properties you can animate with text animators.

Properties that can be animated with text animators

First, you add the property or properties you want to animate. Then you adjust those property’s values. To animate the text, use the Range Selector to wipe between this look and the default look.

How to animate with text animators in Adobe After Effects

You have the option to animate by letters, words, or lines of text.

Animate text by character, word, or line of text with text animators

You can also adjust the way the text is animated by adjusting the selector shape.

Square vs ramp up selector shape for text animators

You can get really creative and create more complex animations by adding multiple text animators to a layer.

The benefit of using text animators is that it’s easy to edit what the text says even after you’ve created the animation. Plus, you can save the animation as a preset so you can easily reuse it on any text layer in any After Effects project; no need to recreate or even import anything. You can even share text animation presets with others (in fact, 6 text animator presets come with the class below).

Learn More About Text Animators

To learn more about this method, check out my class Text Animators: Custom Text Animation in Adobe After Effects. In this class I show you everything you need to know about how text animators work and I show you how to create a handful of different examples (that you saw above) that demonstrate a wide range of possibilities. Using what you learn, you’ll be able to create your own unique text animations.

Trim Paths

Trim paths are a method for animating lines. They allow you to animate letters drawing in, like they’re being written. Trim paths are a great way to animate script lettering, or you can animate individual letters.

Hello text animation
Explore Colorado text animation

Layering different trim path animations can create a more complex looking animation.

Animated typography example using trim paths

Animating trim paths is more time consuming than using text animators, but you can create really creative and unique effects. Here are even more examples of animated text; many are animated with 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. So while you can’t just use a text layer, you have a lot of freedom to create your own lettering with this method.

To create your own lettering, you can do it right in After Effects, but I find it easier to do this part 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 it’s own layer.

Create letters to be animated in Adobe Illustrator

If you use Illustrator, you’ll need to import your file into After Effects and convert the vector layers to shape layers. Then, toggle open the first layer, click the Add button, and choose Trim Paths. Now you can animate the trim path properties to make the line draw in. You can copy and past the trim paths onto your other lines to speed up this process.

Animate with trim paths in Adobe After Effects

Learn More About Animating Text 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.

3D Text Animations

You can animate 3D text, right inside of After Effects, either using text animators, or by creating a faux-3D look and animating trim paths.

This example is covered in Text Animators: Custom Text Animation in Adobe After Effects:

3D text animation using text animators

All 9 of these examples are covered in 3D Animated Lettering: 9 Styles, Infinite Possibilities:

3D animated text

Want more text animation inspiration?

Check out my Animated Typography Pinterest board where I’ve collected tons of animated text inspiration.

Learn More About Text Animation

Purchase any of my text animation classes for lifetime access without subscription fees. Or, watch all of my classes (and 1000’s of other classes) with a Skillshare membership. New members get a free trial with that link.

These 3 classes are beginner-friendly, as long as you know After Effects basics like how to create a composition and set keyframes.

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.

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