Style Switcher

Predefined Colors

Circle Loading Animation in After Effects – Adobe After Effects Tutorial

I’m Hunter from Skillthrive and today we’re going be creating this really cool colorful loader animation in After Effects. As always, make sure you download the course files by becoming a free member on There’s a link in the description that’ll take you to a registration page where you can join. You’ll not only get instant access to the course files from today’s tutorial but also for all of our free current courses on

So with that said, let’s go to get started on today’s tutorial. So you might be thinking, “Hunter, this is Photoshop, this isn’t After Effects,” and you are right! And that’s because I’m going to be creating the angle gradient here in Photoshop because it’s just a lot easier, but don’t worry if you don’t have Photoshop. You can use the PSD file or the PNG file included in the course files in After Effects. So, just skip forward into the video if you want to skip this all together, but it won’t take long here in Photoshop to create what we need. The first thing we need to do is come in to ‘Create New.’ This little dialog box is going to pop up and I’m going to set the width here to 1000 pixels and the height here to 1000 pixels as well, and then click ‘Create.’ You can see here that we have this background layer, so we just double-click on that. We can just go in and call this just ‘Color’ and unlock it.

Then double-click again to bring up our Layer Styles Panel. Then we can come down to Gradient Overlay. You can see here that I have this gradient already saved here into my presets. And now with that said, if you come in and double-click on this, you’ll see that you have this ‘Load’ option. I’ll include a gradient file in the course files that you can load in through there, so just click on ‘Load,’ select a file, and then you’ll get this gradient.

Now, really quickly, I’ll just talk about, you know, the process here for creating this gradient. So you can see here the start color and the end color are the same. So we come in and double-click on this and then come in to the color. You’ll see that the hex code here is FD5A61 and the location is at zero. Then I have a yellow at a location of 25. If you come in and click on that it’s FFD500. Then I have this green color here at a location of 50%, so it’s halfway between the gradient and its hex code is 0D8A70. Then I have a blue that is going to be, you guess it, 75, and the color for this one is going to be 006EB8.

And at 100% I just used the same color that we used over here. Then once you do that click ‘OK’ and then in this Gradient Overlay you want to come into Style and it’ll probably be on Linear out-of-the-box, but you want to come down and select ‘Angle.’ And that’s–there you go, that’s it. That’s all you have to do. Then click ‘OK’ then you can come over and just save this Photoshop file. So do ‘Save.’ I want to save it here into a file that I already have and let’s call this one just ‘Color.’ I’m going to do two because I already have color 1 PSD. So I’m just going to save that and click ‘OK,’ and that’s it. But you don’t need Photoshop anymore, so let’s go ahead and go into After Effects and what I’m going to do here is click on ‘New Composition,’ and let’s go ahead and just create a new composition.

Let’s call it, let’s do this one called ‘Loader.’ We will set a width to 1000 height to 1000, Frame Rate to 30, and let’s go ahead and do the duration. Let’s do, let’s try 10 seconds and then click ‘OK.’ Alright, so now let’s go back into where we saved that file from Photoshop. So I’m going to come into the ‘_color-loader,’ ‘color-2.psd,’ and just bring that in. I’m going to say “Import Kind Composition,” that’s fine and then I can just come in and drag this into the loader and you’ll see here that we have that Photoshop file. And if we want to come in and double-click on that you’ll actually see that Photoshop file within this Color-2 Composition, but that’s really just kind of a detail, it doesn’t really matter right now.

So we’re just going to close that up. You can see here that we have this color nicely set here in our comp. So now what we need to do is actually start working on the circles that were going to be part of the loader. So what we need to do is hit Command-N to bring up a new comp, and let’s go ahead and just call this one just ‘Dots.’ Very creative, I know. Then width to 1000, 1000, 30 and then 10. Then go ahead and click ‘OK.’ Now the color of the dots don’t really matter here because what we want to be doing is using a Track Matte with the color PSD that we created. So I think the red out-of-the-box would work just fine. So with that said, let’s go ahead and create a Shape Layer here. So come up here, I’m going to hold and click and then select the Ellipse Tool.

You can see that it’s picks this red out-of-the-box, which is fine. I want to click, hold Shift, and then drag out to create a perfect circle. Then what I’m going to do is I’m going to come into the Contents under this new shape layer, expand that, come into the Ellipse Path and I’m actually going to set a custom size here to, let’s do 40, and then what I’m going to do is I’m going to center the anchor point here in the center. I’m going to be using the Reposition Anchor Point Tool. So let’s go ahead and click on ‘Reposition.’ You can see that Anchor Point now, if we just zoom in, has now–it’s now in the center of this Shape Layer. So then what we can do is come over to our Align window. Remember, if you don’t see the Align you can always come up to Window and then make sure that these pages or these panels that I’m talking about throughout this course are checked off in your After Effects.

So then with ‘Align Layers to Comp’ selected, I can click here to center that there, and then center this one vertically. So now it’s nice and center in our composition. So now what I want to do is I want to move this up. I could actually use, you know, the position and move that up, but I’m actually going to be using the Anchor Points and move it up. So if I hit ‘A’ I’m going to bring up the Anchor Point here. I’m going to come into this y-value. You can see that I have this like decimal here and I’m just going to hit my right arrow to come over and add 300 to that.

You’ll see it’s going to move it up 300 pixels. Now what I can do is I can come through and duplicate this. So let’s do Command-D. Then I can hit R to bring up the Rotation and it’s going to rotate around the center of this composition. So if I hit 45 you’ll see that it’s going to move it 45 degrees over to the right and then I’m going to do Command-D again, hit ‘R,’ and instead of 45, let’s do 90. I’m going to continue this process until I have a full circle by just duplicating the one I create and then adding 45 degrees to it.

There we go. Now we have our eight circles here around in this composition. So what we can do is go ahead and let’s go and just create a new circle here in the center. So I’m going to go ahead and just collapse these and select them. I’m going to come up and come to Layer, New, and then Shape Layer. I already have my ellipse selected and then I’m going to click, hold Shift, and drag that out. Let’s go ahead and rename this so I’m not confused with the other circle. So let’s call this one just ‘Big Circle.’ Again, very creative. Then we can come into the ellipse, Ellipse Path, and let’s go and set this one to 80, about twice as big as the other one. Go ahead and reposition that Anchor Point and then go ahead and center that as well. Then we can do the same thing, so ‘A,’ come into the ‘Y’ and then just add 300 to that. And now I’m gonna actually bring this big circle beneath all of these layers because I’m going to be adding an Adjustment Layer in a few steps and it’s going to just be applied to the layers beneath that Adjustment Layer.

But what I need to do now is I’m going to come in and select layer one here, so this first circle that we created. I’m going to Command-D twice to duplicate that and just move it down under the Big Circle. On this one I’m going to call it, again very creative, ‘Big Circle Left.’ And then on this one we call this just ‘Big Circle’–you guessed it–’Big Circle Right. Cool. Now let’s go ahead and add the Adjustment Layer, which is what we’re going to be using to create that kind of like sticky, liquidy effect. So what we need to do is come over to Layer, come over to New, and then come down to Adjustment Layer. And we can just leave that Adjustment Layer. You can rename it if you want, but I’m going to come over to Effects and Presets. I’m going to type in ‘Fast Blur.’ You’ll see under ‘Obsolete’–very sad–you’ll see ‘Fast Blur Legacy.’ So for old guys like me, I’m going to go ahead and just use this one and just drop it in onto this Adjustment Layer. Now I already mentioned this, but this Adjustment Layer is really cool because you can apply the effects to that and then all these effects are going to be applied to the layers beneath it, which is why I moved these down to the bottom.

Then what I’m going to do is come into Effects and Presets again and type in ‘Simple Choker,’ which is kind of a creepy name, but it’s really useful with this effect. And then just drag this into my Adjustment Layer as well. Then I’m going to come back to my Adjustment Layer under Fast Blur and on the Blurriness. I’m going to zoom in here to this circle–I’ll zoom out just a little bit. I’m going to increase this until the edges are still nice and soft. Something like that I think looks good. And then what I’m going to do is come into Simple Choker and increase the Choke Matte until these edges are nice and smooth. Now, you’ll you’ll notice that this circle is going to get smaller. It’s going to look like it gets smaller, so what we can do is come back into, you know, the actual Ellipse Path and increase that. You’ll see here if I increase this it’s going to–see how it looks like it’s getting smaller? But I’m just focusing on those edges being nice and soft. You’ll see that I got a little smaller, so let’s go ahead and come into our Big Circle and then I’m going to come in to Contents, Ellipse, Ellipse Path, Size, and then just increase that a little bit until it’s something like that.

Cool. Now what we need to do is start actually animating Big Circle. So Big Circle needs to go from here to here and that’s going to be really easy. All we have to do is rotate it like we did for these. So go ahead and hit ‘R’ on our keyboard set a keyframe here for 0. We can move, let’s do 11 keyframes forward, and then we can say, ‘Hey we want you to move 45 degrees.’ A there we go. ‘Boop!’ Very, very simple. So you can see, like right here specifically, you can see that effect kind of take place. But we need to animate these as well and I’m actually– what I’m going to do is just focus on this right one at first. So I’m going to hit ‘R’ to animate this one. Do ‘Boop!’ On this one, move to 11 keyframes and set one here for 45. Very, very easy. Now what we can do is I’m going to actually keep the Big Circle as a linear animation, and you can see from these keyframes that it’s linear because these are linear keyframes, but I’m going to right-click on this, Keyframe Assistant, and then Easy Ease.

Come into the Graph Editor and you’ll see if I just move this in and then just kind of play this through you’ll see that this little circle is ahead of it. So it’s not really, you know, what we want. You also see because that effect, that circle is smaller. So while we’re looking at this, let’s go ahead and just come into the Contents and make that a little bigger Ellipse Path. And then just make that a little bigger, so it’s about the size of what it should be–maybe a little bigger than that. Let’s do like 51. I’m going to actually copy this value now, come into the left and resize this one, because, you know, this one’s going to be small as well. Cool. And then what we can do is come back into our rotation again. Then come into the Graph Editor and we can just tweak this Graph Editor until we get the motion that we want. So I just zoomed in here too so we can see this. It’s also worth mentioning that I’m looking at the Speed Edit. So if I right-click on this I’m editing the Speed Graph, not the Value Graph.

So if you’re on here it’s going to look different, and what you need to do is actually be on the Speed Graph. So the first I’m going to do is, let’s select this keyframe, and just move this out. I’ll just kind of ease this in a little bit. So let’s go ahead and just drag this out. Just watch this through. I’m just going to scrub through slowly. All right, I think that’s even getting a little closer. You can see how it’s coming out. So it’s still–right here it is kind of going too fast. So I can kind of make this kind of come in a little bit just watch this again. Again, it’s a little too fast, so I can just kind of ease that out and what I’m doing is I’m moving this little point here and focusing on what the position is.

So again I’m just going to keep scrubbing through. Again, too fast. Let’s go ahead and just move this until it sticks a little more. Perfect! So you see that it never actually separates from the Big Circle, but it gives that a really cool liquidy, stretch effect. Awesome. So now what we can do is start focusing on the big or Big Circle Left. So let’s go ahead and get out the Graph Editor here.

I’m going to hit here and hit ‘U’ to bring up the keyframes that we animated–and I actually don’t think I’ve animated any. Ah, that’s why we don’t see any. So we need to actually animate the rotation on this one as well. So I’m going to click on here to create a keyframe, come over to 11 seconds, and do 45 as well. Now this one we actually want it to start animating about right, right here, right where this Big Circle kind of, at the edge, kind of leaves the center is where we actually want this keyframe to kind of start animating in.

So I’m going to set that here. I’m going to come to this one and just go ahead and right-click and then Easy Ease this as well. So let’s come into, right- click, Keyframe Assistant, Easy Ease. Come into the Graph Editor and kind of do a similar process here. We’re just kind of playing around with this graph until we get this animation looking like we want. so I might kind of ease it a little bit in the beginning. See, kind of make it look like it’s a little more lagging behind, so it’s kind of being pulled. So, maybe even a little bit more. See what that looks like. There we go, I think it looks pretty good. Let’s go ahead and just watch that through in full speed. ‘Boop.’ Pretty, pretty simple. Cool. Now what we can do is get on the Graph Editor. We can select the Adjustment Layer, the Big Circle, and then all these as well. I’m going to right-click, and come into–whoops– right-click, come on, you got it–right-click and come into Precompose.

Again, we can come up with a really creative name here like ‘Big Circle Animation,’ very creative cool. Then we can click ‘OK’ and you’ll see here that we have this little animation. Now what I’m going to do is I’m going to come into this comp. The animation should end about 11–is 11 keyframe. So at 12, I actually want this animation to just be done. We don’t need all this extra space. So what I can do is it can right-click and drag this in to our 12 keyframe spot. So I’m just dragging this in so it’s at 12 keyframes.

I’m going to right-click and say ‘Trim Comp to Work Path.’ Now if we come back into our Dots you’ll see that it’s going to be just twelve–twelve keyframes. So what do we do now? Well, again, we can actually, all we need to do is use the rotate and rotate this by 45 degrees every 12 keyframes. So let’s go ahead and Command-D to duplicate this one and then we want this one to be here. We want it to be at 45, but what I’m going to do is actually use a Null Object to control these layers.

So I’m going to right-click, come into Null Object, and then I’m going to center this a Null Object and then center it to the comp. Then what I’m going to do is I’m going to come into this one that we just duplicated. Come into ‘Parent and Link’ and then set it to ‘Null One.’ And we can go ahead and just rename this null by selecting it, hitting Enter, and calling this like ‘Big Animation Control.’ So from here, right at this spot, if we hit ‘R’ we can animate the rotation on this null. So here it’s at 0, which makes sense, but once this finishes we want this new one to start at 45 degrees. So we click on 45, set a keyframe, you’ll see that right here and then this one that we just duplicated now is going to be starting at 45 and it’s going to be looking like it’s going to jump to the next one. So what we can do is come to this here, this–the end of this one that we first duplicated, Command-D, move this over, and then we need to go back one keyframe, set a keyframe here that’s at 45, move forward to where this new one starts, and set this one instead of 45, just add 45, so 90.

And you can see that it’s going to look like it jumps here, then it jumps there, and what we’re going to do is is complete this, or do this process over and over until we get it back to this first one. All right, and there you have it! So we just completed that, so let’s just go ahead and watch it from the beginning so you can see that in real time. Cool! Turned out pretty. Good. Now what we can do is go ahead and just select all of these. So from the control down, right-click and Precompose this one and call this just, you know, ‘Big Circle Full Animation.’ Again, very creative naming convention that I have. Then click ‘OK.’ Sp you’ll see ‘Boop, boop, boop, boop, boop.’ So it finishes right there.

I can come in and actually go ahead and do the same thing here and just trim that comp to that, the part where it stops. Just drag this down, zoom in here, and just set it to stop here. Right-click and say ‘Trim Comp to Work Area’ and come back and make sure everything looks right in our dots, which it does–actually no, it stops before, so let’s come back, Command-Z and I think I trim that a little too short. Yeah, I did. So let’s move it here, right-click, and then ‘Trim Comp to Work Area. There we go, so that should actually finish it. There there we go, cool. So now what we want to do is just say we want to animation to happen three times, so what we can do, the easiest way to do it is just Command-D and then move this layer to start here and then move this one to start there, and then we can just play that through to see the full dot animation looped.

Alright, so simple enough. Now, how do we get it to look really pretty? Well, that’s even easier! If we come into the loader and we see this really pretty color composition that we have, we can come into our project and then we can pull in this dots comp and make sure it’s above the source layer, or above this color layer. Come into the Track Matte, and if you don’t see that, click on ‘Toggle Switches and Modes’ until you see the Track Matter. On here, on this drop-down, select ‘Alpha Matte Dots’ and that’s it! So now if we play it through you’ll see that we get this really cool animation.

If you like this After Effects tutorial, make sure you check out these other ones from Skillthrive as well. And, if you like this video, please like and subscribe! Again, I’m Hunter from Skillthrive and I’ll see you in the next one!.

As found on Youtube

Posted in PhotoshopTagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,