Of all the tools available in the Adobe After Effects suite, few are more useful than the keyframe. This beginner’s guide to keyframing will get you up to speed on this crucial skill, which even applies to working in royalty-free After Effects templates.

Created at the dawn of animation, keyframes once referred to the first and last frames in an animated sequence or transition. In the world of modern visual effects, however, they can be used to create elaborate motion graphics, realistic walk cycles, impactful titles sequences and just about anything else you can imagine. Keyframes can even be implemented to enhance traditional in-camera footage with stylish effects like speed ramping and music syncing.

While adding a keyframe is as simple as clicking a button or utilizing a shortcut, it does take some skill to know the best positions to start and end your sequence. It’s also important to achieve a clean, smooth effect that looks professional and realistic to the eyes of your audience. There is much debate around which techniques and strategies are best, but the truth is that every project is different. Your needs will change based on the effect you’re trying to accomplish. As such, it’s best to learn a multitude of approaches to keyframing.

In order to provide a solid range of options, we’ve scoured YouTube to gather some of the best tutorials, all of which can help you gain mastery over keyframe techniques.

 

Key Frames and Interpolation

Dan Stevens

 

How to Make Smooth Keyframes

Modio

 

How to Copy and Pate Keyframes

ECAbrams

 

Roving Keyframes

ECAbrams

 

Keyframing the Camera and 3D Space

John Hartley

 

How to Speed Ramp in After Effects

Bammo

 

Time Reverse Keyframes

thenewboston

 

Keyframing a Walk Cycle

Phil FX

 

Audio to Keyframes Tutorial—Sync Any Effect to Audio

KriscoartProductions

 

Sequence Animation

ECAbrams


Some of these projects may require an advanced knowledge of After Effects, as well as Adobe Photoshop. If you’re new to the program, you might want to check out our Quick Start Guide to After Effects before trying your hand at 3D animation.

Or, if you’re ready to kick your keyframing into high gear, download some stock footage and AE templates from our library. It’s all royalty-free, so you can use it for a wide variety of creative projects without needing to worry about copyright concerns.

 

Start Keyframing with Stock