There are many ways to animate arrows in After Effects, but by creating both the arrowhead and line on the same shape layer, there are no nulls and it’s less layers to clutter your timeline. You can change the position, scale, and rotation, adjust the colors or stroke and add effects to stylize it. Even change the path of the line! Adjust the animation by adjusting the keyframes. All this, and the arrowhead will stay attached to the line!
It’s easy to copy and paste the layer to use it in other comps. Plus, you can save it as a preset so you can easily reuse the arrow, with it’s animation, across any After Effects project; no need to import anything.
This method uses expressions, but I’ll walk you through every step, so you don’t need to know anything about expressions to follow along.
In this video:
Project file includes:
First, download the preset here.
In Finder or File Explorer, navigate to your applications and then Adobe After Effects. Find the Presets folder and drop the preset (arrow.ffx) in. Or, if you want to stay organized, you can create a new folder within the Presets folder, where you put any presets you install or make.
In After Effects, go to the Effects & Presets panel (if you don’t already see it, find it under the Window menu). Toggle open *Animation Presets, then find the arrow preset. Alternatively, you can use the search bar to bring it up. Now just double click on the preset to create a new shape layer that’s an animated arrow.
Note that the first keyframes will be placed wherever your playhead is when you double click the preset.
Following the video tutorial, copy and paste these expressions into After Effects to save time! Just make sure that your arrow's line and arrowhead are named exactly like mine or that you change this within the expression.
Expression on arrowhead's position property:
Expression for arrowhead's rotation property:
If your arrowhead is similar to mine, you can use this expression on the arrowhead's anchor point property to make it aligned with the line:
Learn 11 different expressions to automate animations, eliminate excessive keyframes, achieve complex effects, and work more efficiently; no programming experience needed!