Create a Unique Editorial Graphic with After Effects and Adobe Stock

Design by Codify Design Studio, featuring Adobe Stock / swisshippo.

by Chris Converse

posted on 01-14-2019

It can be quite a challenge for designers and illustrators to continually create new and compelling visuals for a wide range of publications and social media platforms. By combining After Effects with Adobe Stock, you can quickly create stunning special effects that will help you visually tell a story.

Finding the right image on Adobe Stock

For this project, we need to create a graphic for an online story about deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. The subheadline of the article will be Piecing together the past.

We’ll begin our search on Adobe Stock by entering a few keywords including “hieroglyphics,” “Egypt,” and “ancient.” In the filters area, I’ll also refine the search to include only photos and I’ll set the depth of field to the lowest setting to ensure the whole image is in focus.

Once I find the right image, I’ll save a preview image (with a watermark) to my Creative Cloud Library named Ancient Egypt. You can download as many preview images as you like, then immediately license a full-resolution image at any time — more on that later.

Applying special effects in After Effects

Create a new project in After Effects and make sure the Creative Cloud Libraries panel is open. Locate the image saved to the library (from the Adobe Stock website), right-click on it, and choose Add the Project. This will add a link to the asset in the Project panel.

Create a composition by dragging the image from the Project panel into the Composition panel. After Effects will create a composition that matches the dimensions of the image. Now we’re ready to add some special effects to the image.

Open the Effects & Presets panel in After Effects and search for the Shatter effect. This effect will break the image apart into 3D pieces — which will play nicely with the subheading of the article.

The Shatter effect, like some other effects, is animated by default. To see the effect animation, we’ll need to move the timeline playhead forward a few seconds. This effect also defaults to a wireframe view, so we’ll switch this in the Effect Controls panel to rendered. Now we’ll see the rendered effect in the Composition panel.

In order to match the storyline of the article, we’ll change the shape to puzzle, and adjust other properties to change the size, rotation, and lighting of the overall effect. Don’t be afraid to experiment, all of the effects in After Effects are nondestructive.

Quick and easy licensing

Once you are happy with your custom image, licensing is a snap! Locate the image in the Libraries panel, right-click on it, and choose License Image.

Your image is automatically licensed, and After Effects will replace the image in your composition. And the best part is that all adjustments and effects are applied to the newly licensed image.

Export your editorial graphic

There are a few ways you can export artwork from After Effects. For this example, we’ll export the image back to a layered transparent Photoshop file by selecting the Composition panel, then choosing Save Frame As > Photoshop Layers from the Composition menu.

Then, back in Photoshop, you can apply any additional color corrections, then export multiple-sized graphics for use in the final web article. Check out Photoshop + After Effects = Awesomeness for more options on exporting artwork from After Effects.

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Topics: Creativity

Products: Stock, After Effects, Photoshop, Creative Cloud