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On its own, After Effects can create stunning graphics and animation. But sometimes it can be enhanced even further with scripts, plugins and presets. Below is an initial selection of some of the tools we’re currently using to create animation, motion graphics and much more.

After Effects Tools – #001

Duik is a set of tools to help prepare and animate a character for animation. It offers options for automatic rigging as well as manual controls to set-up ‘bones’  to manipulate certain parts of a character. The automatic rigging tools are intuitive and only rely on the artwork being appropriately named before it can be animated. Once set-up, the character can be animated using IK controls so that a limb can be controlled simply by moving the hand or foot’s position.

It also offers some useful expressions to quickly copy and paste animation attributes as well as randomise values and set-up spring dynamics. It’s a comprehensive (and free..!) set of tools that provides a good introduction to character animation as well as providing a go-to palette of shortcuts for other types of animation.

The Duik tools are a great resource that we’ve used within many projects, including a short animation we’re currently creating called Charlie’s Boombox’.

Our animated short 'Charlie's Boombox'

Our animated short ‘Charlie’s Boombox’

RubberHose is an alternative rigging tool which simplifies character rigging by using shape layers and a few controls to allow you to quickly animate a character. It’s easy to setup and can automatically handle the amount that the joints should bend when a foot or hand is moved. It can create great motion quickly and is perfect for stylised cartoon animation.

Plexus is a powerful tool that can be used to create abstract graphics based on a deformed mesh of connected points and faces. It can be used to quickly create unusual networked arrays, point clouds, triangulated objects and meshes based on a 3D OBJ file.

Reebok ONE Series Treadmill

Reebok ONE Series Treadmill

We’ve also used Plexus within a project for Reebok to promote the cushioning system within their ONE Series treadmill, shown above. We were able to use the points from a 3D object to create an ‘energy pulse’  that highlighted the energy that dissipated from a runner’s feet across the treadmill’s surface.

Mirror & Offset is a really simple tool that can save time when trying to offset multiple keyframes across a range of layers. It allows keyframes to be duplicated and mirrored with little effort, creating a quick transition of a range of graphics or simply offsetting multiple layers to create a better flow to a piece of work. It’s straightforward, easy-to-use and can also be used to add some randomness by shuffling the keyframes before they are offset.

We’re constantly discovering new tools to help with a certain style of animation, a more efficient way of working or simply to create something entirely new. aescripts is a great resource and can be used to find hundreds of tools to help create ever more impressive graphics and animation within After Effects.