Tutorial For Masks In After Effects

Masks are used in After Effects to hide parts of your video in such a way that you can do things like have UFOs flying over a city or have somebody jumping over a truck. But before you can do things like that, you need to learn the basics of creating and manipulating masks in After Effects.


When you are preparing to create your mask, you will need to start a new project in After Effects and import some footage that you want to add a mask to into the “Bin.” Then drag your footage from the “Bin” onto the “Composition” panel. Now double-click on the composition to open the footage in the “Layers” panel, which will open as a separate viewer you can expand for editing. Expand the viewer until you can see the “Render” button down in the lower right corner.

Creating the Mask

There are several tools you could use to create the mask, such as the “Pen” tool or any of the shape tools. For example, you could select the “Ellipse” tool and draw an ellipse on the screen. This creates a mask with a hole in the middle through which you can see the footage. One problem that you immediately notice is that the mask itself is totally opaque, which means you have a hard time working with it, unless your goal is to totally block off the edges.

To solve this problem, click “Render,” and everything is shown, even though in the composition view the mask is still showing.

Refining the Mask

You will probably want to adjust the mask you have created. For instance, if you want to alter the shape a bit, you can select one of the top, bottom or side anchor points and simply move them to alter the shape. If you want to change the overall position of it, select the “Mask Layer,” hold down “CTRL” and “T” to activate “Transform.” This lets you move, rotate or change the scale of the mask

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