Animating Follow-Through in After Effects


Well… maybe lie is a strong word. He uses the term “secondary-animation” to describe what he's showing, but some of the fine instructors at Ringling College of Art and Design where he used to work straightened him out. The correct term is “follow-through.” Secondary-animation is something else entirely. Now, back to it…

If you're looking to bring life into lifeless animations one of the ways you can do this is by adding follow-through to your animations. It's an easy principle to understand and once you get the hang of it you'll be using it all the time.

Make sure you watch the Intro to Animation Curves lesson first before tackling this one. You can find a link to that in the resources tab.
If you have any questions, click over to the Q&A tab to post them. Other students can answer you, and we'll put our team on the case to try and get you a solution ASAP.

Intro to Animation Curves

    • Thank you for the tutorial, I'd like to know How could you manage to fit the shape into the mask when you make it curved, when I used the mask in the shape layer it only reveal the shape with no modifications in the shape cords?

    • Hi Azza, could you please email us at [email protected] so we can help you troubleshoot? Thanks! Corey

      • Hey how did you add points on mask? I don't know how to do that so I can't follow along. Thank you and keep up the good work

    00:00:01,044(upbeat electronic music)
    00:00:10,637(object bouncing)
    00:00:12,962(upbeat electronic music)
    00:00:21,125- Hey there, Joey here for School of Motion,
    00:00:23,478and in this lesson we're gonna talk about
    00:00:25,628one of the principles of animation follow through.
    00:00:28,683Now in the video I call it secondary animation,
    00:00:31,782which as I found out later is not correct.
    00:00:34,019So when you hear me say secondary animation,
    00:00:35,886just replace that in your brain with follow through.
    00:00:38,889My mistake.
    00:00:39,910If you've watched one of our other lessons
    00:00:41,451about animation principles you know how important
    00:00:43,335they are to make your animations look great.
    00:00:45,735They're that secret sauce that makes everything look better.
    00:00:48,849We only have so much time in this lesson to go over
    00:00:50,999follow through so if you really want so in depth animation
    00:00:54,110training that will give you a foundation to create truly
    00:00:57,511outstanding work you're gonna wanna check out
    00:00:59,607our animation boot camp course.
    00:01:01,436It's a very intense training program,
    00:01:03,741and you also get access to class only podcasts,
    00:01:06,569PDFs, and critiques on your work
    00:01:08,976from our experienced teaching assistants.
    00:01:11,379Every moment of that course is designed to give
    00:01:13,314you an edge in everything you create as a motion designer.
    00:01:16,677Also don't forget to sign up for a free student account
    00:01:19,096so you can grab the project files from this lesson
    00:01:21,197as well as assets from any other lesson on the site.
    00:01:23,711Now, let's hop into After Effects and get started.
    00:01:26,135So here is just a couple of layers and this is sort
    00:01:29,998of where I started when I built this last animation
    00:01:36,720that I just showed you guys.
    00:01:38,276So the first thing I wanna show you is how I got
    00:01:40,532the main part of the logo, this kind of greenish square.
    00:01:46,208I wanna show you how I got that to come into the frame
    00:01:48,944and bend as it came in, okay?
    00:01:51,958So sort of like the, the body of it
    00:01:53,768is lagging a little bit behind the rest of it.
    00:01:56,322So the first thing I did was I tried to think about a cool
    00:01:59,744way for this to animate on and I thought that if it came
    00:02:03,211on like a long thin rectangle that would give me
    00:02:06,162a cool opportunity to have it bend.
    00:02:08,559All right, so what, the way I made this box was
    00:02:11,282with just a layer and then I made a mask for it, right?
    00:02:16,266And you can see that the mask, it was just a rectangular
    00:02:18,938mask but I added points at the mid point between each side
    00:02:24,949knowing that I was gonna wanna, you know,
    00:02:28,016possibly have this thing bend.
    00:02:30,444This makes it a whole lot easier, okay?
    00:02:32,623And I'll show you how to do that in second.
    00:02:35,085So I started out by, by stretching it out,
    00:02:38,664so let's have it be maybe 150 on X,
    00:02:44,890maybe 20 on Y.
    00:02:46,069So you just get this long thin rectangle.
    00:02:49,146Maybe it could even be a little bit longer than that.
    00:02:52,063Okay, cool.
    00:02:53,381So let's start by having it fly into the screen.
    00:02:56,692All right, so we're working in 24 here
    00:02:59,911and actually we're not working in 24.
    00:03:02,638We're working in 30.
    00:03:04,310I'd rather work in 24.
    00:03:05,913There we go.
    00:03:06,917All right, so let's go forward 12 frames,
    00:03:09,911hit P to bring up the position,
    00:03:12,358and I've already separated the dimensions here,
    00:03:15,826and if you haven't watched my intro to curves
    00:03:18,484in After Effects tutorial, I highly recommend
    00:03:20,795you do that, 'cause I'm gonna kind of fly
    00:03:22,286through it on this.
    00:03:23,514So I'm gonna put a keyframe here, go down here,
    00:03:26,361drag this guy down, and I'm gonna have this guy
    00:03:29,879overshoot just a little bit.
    00:03:32,970So I'm gonna go back two frames, and drag him.
    00:03:36,880Oh boy, my, you'll notice my tablet tends to double click
    00:03:44,001a lot more than it should.
    00:03:47,812All right, so it goes a little bit too high and comes down.
    00:03:55,582Hop into the curve editor.
    00:03:56,946Let's take a look at this.
    00:03:59,118Okay, I'm gonna have this thing shoot in really fast,
    00:04:03,052hang at the top, hang there, there we go.
    00:04:08,059All right, let's do a quick read and preview
    00:04:09,546and see what we got, okay.
    00:04:13,130So it's, it feels a little bit stiff
    00:04:15,999and that's because even if this was a piece of wood
    00:04:19,495or something it would bend if it was shooting
    00:04:22,154into the frame that fast, and that bending,
    00:04:24,924that is actually secondary animation,
    00:04:26,902even though it's not technically a separate object.
    00:04:30,529It's animation that is caused by the primary animation
    00:04:34,468which is this movement, okay?
    00:04:36,770Now how can we get this thing to bend?
    00:04:38,968You could do it with effects and you might be able
    00:04:41,545to make that work, but sometimes the best way
    00:04:44,344to control this is to just get in there
    00:04:46,760and do it manually, by animating the mask.
    00:04:49,499So that's what we're gonna do.
    00:04:50,958So let's first go to the end here,
    00:04:52,981and open up the mask properties
    00:04:56,771and put a keyframe on mask path.
    00:04:59,088All right, now I'm gonna hit U so I can see
    00:05:02,116all of the keyframes at once.
    00:05:04,132So when, when it's flying up in the air, okay,
    00:05:08,708at its fastest point it's gonna be dragging the most, okay?
    00:05:13,960So what I can do is look at the curves and the Y position
    00:05:17,473and you can just kind of figure
    00:05:19,188out where is it the steepest?
    00:05:21,026Well, it's kind of the steepest at the beginning,
    00:05:23,991and then it slows down just a little bit.
    00:05:26,752It probably really slows down right about here.
    00:05:29,859So that's where I'm gonna put the mask keyframe.
    00:05:32,852All right, so I'm gonna, I'm gonna hit period
    00:05:34,717so I can pop in here, and I'm just gonna grab
    00:05:37,858these two points and I'm gonna hold shift,
    00:05:40,853and knock them down a little bit, okay?
    00:05:45,766Now, obviously that doesn't look right.
    00:05:47,971We need, we need these to be curves.
    00:05:50,845We don't want them to be stiff like that.
    00:05:52,832So if you hit G which brings up the pen tool,
    00:05:55,894and you just hover it over two points,
    00:05:59,535over any point that's selected, and hold option,
    00:06:02,654you see how it changes to this kind of hollow
    00:06:05,715upside down V shape?
    00:06:08,283If you click that it will then sort of set these beziers
    00:06:13,346to be either completely sharp or stretch them out
    00:06:19,242quite a ways so that it's really curved.
    00:06:21,929If I do it again you'll see it'll, it'll snap them back.
    00:06:24,421In other programs this is called cusping them,
    00:06:27,892and this rounds them out.
    00:06:31,492So let's just take a look at that.
    00:06:35,221That actually looks okay.
    00:06:36,581I, what I'd like to do is adjust the,
    00:06:44,381so if you think of this as the outside of the shape
    00:06:48,430and this would be in the inside of the shape,
    00:06:50,506this point here, the inside I would
    00:06:52,649tuck these in just a little bit.
    00:06:56,754So it's shooting up and then when it gets right before it
    00:07:01,432stops it's gonna basically come back to its resting position
    00:07:05,280and then it's gonna overshoot it at this point.
    00:07:09,214All right, so now we need the, the overshoot keyframe.
    00:07:12,223So let's come back up here, and let's push it
    00:07:15,358the other way, and I'm just adjusting these.
    00:07:25,300All right so it comes in, overshoots, lands,
    00:07:29,071and I think what I'd want to happen is for it
    00:07:31,527to overshoot and overshoot the other way a little bit
    00:07:34,957and then land, all right?
    00:07:36,687So I'm gonna put one more mask keyframe over here,
    00:07:41,136and this keyframe I'm gonna have it overshoot back down
    00:07:45,842just a little bit, all right, and now I'm going to,
    00:07:51,022I'm gonna easy these keyframes in,
    00:07:53,561and let's see what it looks like now.
    00:07:56,513Okay, so it's actually working fairly well.
    00:07:58,831Now, with secondary animation generally keyframes shouldn't
    00:08:04,249line up like this because secondary animation generally
    00:08:08,952happens a little bit after the primary animation, okay?
    00:08:12,826So I'm just gonna take these keyframes, and I'm gonna slide
    00:08:16,492them forward in time two frames, all right,
    00:08:20,654and let's see what that looks like.
    00:08:23,347And you can see now it feels a little bit more jiggly,
    00:08:27,738you know, and it, and it kind of was a little more
    00:08:31,433cartoon-y, and the bigger a delay between the primary
    00:08:34,849and secondary animation, the cartoon-ier it feels.
    00:08:38,276So I just move everything back one frame, all right,
    00:08:41,263and now it's starting to feel a little bit better, okay,
    00:08:44,470and I could, I could nitpick this.
    00:08:46,581I would kind of want this, I would want it to come back
    00:08:49,186down a little bit further here,
    00:08:51,550but you get the idea that it's actually working pretty well.
    00:08:54,723All right, so then the next part of the animation is
    00:08:57,905this long thin rectangle sucks in and becomes a square
    00:09:01,515and as it does that the side of it kind of pucker in
    00:09:05,695and bloat out, do interesting things like that.
    00:09:08,525So let's move forward three frames,
    00:09:12,739and then let's look at the scale.
    00:09:13,736All right, so we're gonna put a keyframe on scale
    00:09:17,416and let's go forward eight frames.
    00:09:20,476So I'm gonna jump forward 10 and basically the way
    00:09:24,041I'm doing that if you guys don't know hold shift,
    00:09:26,379hit page down.
    00:09:27,487It goes 10 frames forward, and then back two frames,
    00:09:30,086page up twice.
    00:09:31,081So first I want, I want this to turn
    00:09:34,315into a vertical rectangle.
    00:09:40,695So right now the scale is 175 on X, 20 on Y.
    00:09:44,822I'm gonna just reverse those, 20 on X, 175 on Y, all right.
    00:09:48,999Let's easy ease those,
    00:09:51,415and let's just see what that looks like.
    00:09:53,192All right, so on its own, it looks like that, okay.
    00:09:57,235I wanna mess with the curves a little bit.
    00:09:59,629I just want them to, I want them
    00:10:01,589to be a little bit more exaggerated.
    00:10:03,686So I'm gonna pull these handles out, okay.
    00:10:09,378So we've got the beginning of something
    00:10:10,944kind of interesting here.
    00:10:14,977Okay, now as this shape is coming in I want that same
    00:10:19,422secondary animation to happen, okay?
    00:10:22,420So, what we need to do is adjust the mask again.
    00:10:26,164So, let's open up the mask keyframes,
    00:10:28,714and you do that by pushing M.
    00:10:30,897That brings up your masked path.
    00:10:32,764So let's put a keyframe here, let's hit U so we can see
    00:10:35,685all of our keyframes, and when we get to the end here,
    00:10:41,065the mask is gonna go back to normal.
    00:10:43,090So let's put a keyframe there in the middle.
    00:10:44,981So what you gotta kind of think
    00:10:48,585about what's actually happening.
    00:10:51,045So if this thing is sucking in this side and this side
    00:10:54,586are flying inward very quickly, so these points here
    00:10:58,279are gonna lag behind a little bit, kind of like that,
    00:11:02,115and because we have already pulled these bezier points out
    00:11:05,914over here, you can see that it actually already looks
    00:11:10,523like a nice curve.
    00:11:12,212So as it sucks in and then it finishes,
    00:11:17,049and so we want it to kind of overshoot a little bit.
    00:11:20,873So let's see here.
    00:11:24,007Let's just preview this and see what it looks like.
    00:11:27,391And as I said before, the secondary animation,
    00:11:29,328which is this mask path should be offset, maybe one frame.
    00:11:39,300Okay, so now if this was, if we were gonna overshoot
    00:11:42,360the secondary animation we could fake that
    00:11:45,561by animating, we could animate this
    00:11:50,076point and this point in a little bit.
    00:11:53,202So why don't we do that?
    00:11:54,225Why don't we instead of, why don't we take this
    00:11:56,217keyframe here, scoot it down a little ways.
    00:11:59,039Let's copy this keyframe, and I'm gonna take this point
    00:12:02,680and this point and scoot it in, and then I'm gonna take this
    00:12:07,470point and this point and scoot it in, so that it,
    00:12:12,089it overshoots in a little bit
    00:12:13,872and then has to restretch itself out.
    00:12:19,310Okay now if we jump out and look at that.
    00:12:23,523Now you can see how it makes that really simple scaling move
    00:12:26,950feel a lot better and there's a lot more going on,
    00:12:29,878and this doesn't take very long.
    00:12:31,257I mean, it'll take you a little while to get the hang
    00:12:33,325of, of you know thinking about motion in these terms,
    00:12:36,053but this is an easy way to make a very simple move
    00:12:38,515feel pretty cool, all right?
    00:12:42,463So, so let's finish this move now.
    00:12:45,836We're gonna go forward four frames
    00:12:49,697and now we're gonna scale this to its correct size.
    00:12:53,303So let's go eight frames, we'll do 100, 100.
    00:13:00,959All right, so let's take a look at this part of the move.
    00:13:04,571All right, pretty boring.
    00:13:07,307So let's adjust the curves.
    00:13:10,424I'm just gonna pull these way out like this,
    00:13:18,501so now it's a little more of a popping move, okay,
    00:13:22,400and I'm not gonna deal with the, the mask on this part
    00:13:27,083of the move 'cause I wanna get
    00:13:28,635to the next part of this tutorial.
    00:13:30,643So when this pops out, all right, what I wanna have is
    00:13:34,153the little triangle logo appear in some cool way,
    00:13:38,093so what I did was I took the box
    00:13:40,998and I animated the scale from small to big.
    00:13:46,065So let's look at the scale keyframes here,
    00:13:49,319just by hitting S.
    00:13:51,325So put a keyframe here.
    00:13:52,823Let's go forward.
    00:13:54,256Let's do six frames, okay, and let's make this thing grow
    00:13:57,947to 150, and I'll see, I'll see what that looks like.
    00:14:07,888Okay, it feels slow.
    00:14:08,926We're gonna have to adjust the curves,
    00:14:10,506but another thing I wanna do is let's actually move this
    00:14:13,172down two frames, go forward two frames,
    00:14:17,221and, and we're gonna do a little bit
    00:14:20,622of anticipation keyframe here.
    00:14:23,731So we're gonna go from 100 to 95 to 150 and it's a simple
    00:14:29,720little thing but what it does is it, it especially when we
    00:14:33,698get in and we make the curves feel better, it makes that
    00:14:36,953movement feel a little bit more deliberate,
    00:14:39,967because the square is gonna kind of set
    00:14:42,900itself up for this big move.
    00:14:46,052It's kind of nice to sometimes have things shrink just
    00:14:49,985for a couple frames right before they grow, and it works
    00:14:54,024the same way if things are moving left to right.
    00:14:56,795Have them move, you know, have them move right just a little
    00:15:00,581bit and then shift left, and shoot off to the right.
    00:15:03,676You can kind of have, it almost feels like it's taking
    00:15:05,849a step before it, you know, comes forward.
    00:15:08,833Just a nice little, a little trick.
    00:15:12,061All right, so once this thing shoots out,
    00:15:14,224I want the triangle to do the same thing.
    00:15:17,148So I'm gonna turn this triangle layer on here,
    00:15:19,719and it's already parented to the box.
    00:15:22,851So what I'm gonna do is put a keyframe here on the scale,
    00:15:27,064so it's right in line with the box's keyframe,
    00:15:30,224then I'm gonna come back here and I'm gonna set this
    00:15:32,527to zero, all right, and now I'm gonna hit option
    00:15:35,723and the left bracket to clip that layer to right there
    00:15:40,596so it doesn't exist in time before then.
    00:15:42,817Those are great hotkeys, option left bracket, right bracket.
    00:15:45,029It basically trims your layer to wherever your playhead is.
    00:15:48,245Okay, so now let's adjust the curves on the scale
    00:15:53,699for the triangle, all right, so we get that nice pop
    00:15:57,935on that, all right, and you can see right now the triangle
    00:16:02,129scales up at the same time as the box, okay?
    00:16:07,759If we're using secondary animation all we gotta do is delay
    00:16:11,835that one frame, all right, and maybe it needs to be a little
    00:16:16,482more, let's do two frames, and all of a sudden, now it's
    00:16:19,853starting to feel like the box is kind
    00:16:22,556of throwing the triangle at us.
    00:16:25,767All right, that's, that's secondary animation right there.
    00:16:28,207The, the triangle's animation appears to be driven
    00:16:30,695by the square's animation.
    00:16:32,898Now we can help this by adding a little bit of an overshoot
    00:16:36,956so let's go forward two frames and let's add scale
    00:16:40,424keyframes on both of those.
    00:16:43,549And then let's just go into the curve editor.
    00:16:46,870Let's see if we can do these there.
    00:16:48,294So let's go to the box, and just have this keyframe
    00:16:50,958overshoot just a little, and then we'll do
    00:16:55,622the same thing with the triangle.
    00:16:58,102This is what I love about the curve editor.
    00:17:01,318You can really see exactly what it's doing.
    00:17:04,557Okay, so now if I scoot this forward two frames,
    00:17:08,026you could even, you could even go more here,
    00:17:12,344because it's so quick, there you go.
    00:17:14,975All right, so now it feels like a little bit
    00:17:17,642it's almost a little bit springy, all right.
    00:17:21,287Compare, compare this where everything happens at once
    00:17:25,973to this which has a three frame delay.
    00:17:30,635It's just a little bit more interesting to watch,
    00:17:34,133and then you know, there were a couple times
    00:17:36,722I think in my animation where I did things like this.
    00:17:39,051I would have the box rotate, just put a rotation keyframe,
    00:17:43,053to have it rotate, let's have it just you know
    00:17:47,726kind of shake itself back and forth.
    00:17:50,100So it's gonna go three frames back this way,
    00:17:53,827and then six frames this way, and then we'll go
    00:18:02,086just kind of eyeballing this.
    00:18:05,004We're probably gonna have to adjust this.
    00:18:07,158But let's say we did something like this, right.
    00:18:14,968All right, so it kind of shakes itself, like that.
    00:18:17,797All right, I'm not gonna mess with the curves.
    00:18:19,738That's actually gonna work fine for this.
    00:18:21,578But what if I just copy and paste these keyframes
    00:18:23,717onto the triangle?
    00:18:26,086All right, so now we've got the rotations happening in sync,
    00:18:30,482and then I delay this just a frame.
    00:18:35,033You see what it does?
    00:18:36,258It now feels a little bit springy, like, like that
    00:18:39,053triangle's on like a loose screw or something,
    00:18:41,760and if you delay it another frame then it starts
    00:18:44,038to feel really jiggly and wobbly, all right?
    00:18:46,882That is secondary animation right there folks.
    00:18:49,513And it's a really easy trick.
    00:18:52,272All you're doing is, is kind of offsetting keyframes.
    00:18:55,352But really quickly you can build up animations
    00:18:58,676that feel like they have a lot of life to them,
    00:19:00,947and you know, I'm a big proponent of sound design.
    00:19:04,738I think that, you know, sound is literally
    00:19:07,465half of, of a motion graphics piece.
    00:19:10,475Sometimes the more important half, frankly,
    00:19:13,725and with, with animations like this they are
    00:19:16,976just ripe for sound effects because there are
    00:19:19,938so many little nuances of movement that you could,
    00:19:22,664you could catch and do little things with with sound.
    00:19:25,983So, next time someone asks you to animate a logo,
    00:19:29,400or do something with a simple little design,
    00:19:32,072you saw how fast we put this little piece together.
    00:19:34,166You could very easily do something like this,
    00:19:36,569and you're gonna find that especially when
    00:19:39,046you're starting out this type of detailed animation work
    00:19:42,710isn't really being done, you know, especially,
    00:19:45,945especially when you're talking about the,
    00:19:48,566those lower end jobs that don't have huge budgets
    00:19:51,657to put big teams of people on.
    00:19:53,837But this is stuff you can do to make those projects
    00:19:56,355look awesome, and look like the things
    00:19:58,264you see on motionographer.
    00:19:59,928So, I hope you guys learned something
    00:20:01,866today about secondary animation.
    00:20:03,625Thank you guys so much, and I'll see you next time.
    00:20:05,562Thank you so much for watching.
    00:20:07,622I hope this lesson gave you a good understanding
    00:20:09,719of how to use follow through to make your animations
    00:20:12,541look a little better.
    00:20:13,571If you have any questions or thoughts about this lesson
    00:20:15,694definitely let us know, and we'd love to hear from you
    00:20:18,356if you use this technique on a project.
    00:20:21,198So give us a shout on Twitter, @schoolofmotion
    00:20:23,653and show us what you've been up to.
    00:20:25,255And if you learned something valuable from this
    00:20:27,204please share it around.
    00:20:28,742It really helps us spread the word about School of Motion
    00:20:30,841and we totally appreciate it.
    00:20:33,204Thanks again, and I'll see you next time.
    00:20:36,023(objecting bouncing)
    00:20:38,869(upbeat electronic music)