Animation: Turn Vectors into Life Part II

Advanced level After Effects After Effects

Let's continue from where we left off last week. Our octopus is swimming and we need to animate his friends and the rest of the scene. Find the first part of the tutorial How to animate Freepik vectors Part I  here.

Vector animation

Animating the fish and shark chase

Create another composition by clicking Composition > New Composition or pressing Ctrl/Cmd + N. Name it Shark and make it the same size as the main composition. Now cut and paste the three Shark layers (Body, fins and tail) into this composition.


Select the tail layer and adjust the anchor point using the Anchor point tool to the point from where the tail will rotate. We now have to rotate the layer in Z-Depth which means not just up and down or side to side but in and out as well. To do this, we have to make the object 3D. It’s very simple in Ae. Just turn on this little box in front of the layer.


You'll notice that you immediately get the 3 – axis on the screen.


Hit R on the keyboard with the tail layer selected. This will open up the Rotation controls for the layer. You'll notice that instead of 2 axes, there are now 3 axes as we've converted the layer to 3D. Change the value of the Y Rotation and the tail will turn side to side.


Animate this, setting keyframes like we did earlier. When one loop is complete, copy and paste the keyframes repeating until you reach the main composition duration. So when we animate the Shark moving ahead, the tail will keep propelling throughout. Do the same for the Fin as well. Locate the anchor point, make it 3D and animate the rotation controllers. You can animate it on various axes like up and down and side to side to make it more realistic.


Your shark animation should look like this.


Now, place the shark comp in our main composition. Animate it floating from right to left (A to B) behind the octopus by animating the position property (press P) and offsetting the keyframes as you like.


Duplicate the Shark comp layer and stack it up above the octopus layer. Now scale it up by pressing S on the keyboard with the layer selected, and changing the value. We have to animate this one  close to our camera. Make this shark go Left to right. (B to A). For this, we need to flip the layer horizontally. Right click on the layer and go to Transform > Flip horizontal. So now we have a loop animation; The shark comes from right to left behind the octopus and swooshes by close to the camera from left to right.

Remember that the first and last frame of the entire scene has to be the same for it to loop. Within that time range, you can go crazy and do whatever you want.

Animate and duplicate the small fishes in the same way. Duplicate and make many copies and let them swim for their lives from the scary shark.

Animating the turtle

Animating the turtle is the same. Just watch the offset between the front legs and the hind legs. Make sure that his head/neck thrusts out as he pushes and goes back in as he relaxes.

He should look like this.


Place him in the main comp and animate him swimming left to right.

Animating the seaweed

Make a new comp named Plants and cut and paste the four plant layers in this comp.


We need to give them an underwater floating effect. It's very simple. Go to the Effect window and type in Wave to bring up Wave warp which is located under Distort category.


Drag and drop this effect on the selected plant layer. In the Effects setting panel, use these settings to give the plant a wavy motion. Make sure to keep the Direction 0.00 (vertical) as the weeds will have to wave upwards. (You don’t need to set any keys for this effect).


It should look like this.


Repeat this procedure on all the layers. (You can just copy this effect from the effects panel and paste it on all the layers).

Animating the sea

There are 3 layers of water. We'll just animate the front layer with waves.

Create a new composition named Water_A and cut and paste the light blue wavy water layer in this comp. We just need this as reference.

Create a square shape roughly the size of the reference layer using the shape tool. Turn off the stroke and keep the fill on. Pick the same color as the reference layer. Rename the layer Water_A.


Apply the same Wave warp effect to this layer. You'll notice that the straight border will become something like this and it will animate by itself.


Play around with the settings until you get the type of waves you want.


Now turn off the reference AI layer and bring this comp over in the main comp. You have an animated sea!

(If there is a mismatch at the first frame and the last, animate its position manually to match it so that it loops perfectly).

Animating the boat

I've changed the design of the boat. (This one feels too industrial). We don’t have to create it though. Just head over to Freepik.com and choose from the millions of options available.

Let's take the boat from this design.


In AI, modify the colors of your boat as per your design. You can also name your boat as I did :). Separate the Flag layer from the boat, save and import in Ae in a new composition. We'll animate the flag waving in the ocean wind.


We'll just use the flag layer as reference. Create a flag roughly the shape of the reference. (A new shape layer will be automatically created).


Change the color picking it from the reference layer. Now, apply the same Wave warp effect on the layer and change the settings roughly like this.


Hide the reference layer and your flag is ready and animated!


Now bring this boat composition to the main comp and animate its position from left to right taking care of the looping.

Bonus tip: You can use the wiggle rotation effect to rock the boat back and forth on the sea.


Animating the bubbles and the clouds

Creating the bubbles is super easy. Just create a circle using the Shape tool in the toolbar. Keep the fill off and the stroke on. Give it white color and it’s done.

Animate its scale and position and adjust the timing in the timeline.


Now we'll need to duplicate the bubbles and offset their position. But to do this, you'll have to reanimate each of them again and again.

Well, not necessarily. There's a simple solution.

Duplicate the bubble layer. Right click on the layer stack, not selecting any layers, and go to New > Null Object.

This will create an object (which won't be visible in render. This is just a type of handle/controller) and a layer for it. Rename the layer with the same name with which we are going to parent it. In this case it’s Bubble-2.


Now, click on the little spiral button in front of the Bubble-2 layer and you'll see that a whip appears from it. Drop that on the Bubble-2 null layer. This will parent the animated layer to the null object.


Now you can animate the null separately – like its position and rotation – and the main Bubble-2 animation layer will move with it. This won't affect the core animation and keys made on the main layer. This will be like a secondary animation. So now if we move the null object somewhere else, the bubble will move there and the core animation will stay intact.

Offset the two bubbles with regards to timing and position, and you're done. Repeat for as many bubbles as you want.


For the clouds, just animate them with a subtle position shift creating a feel of parallax. It’s best if this is not too loud.

And it’s done! (I know it was a lot more coffees than I said)

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. This is just some basic stuff we can do with Ae. The possibilities are endless and hopefully this tutorial gave you a kick-start in this amazing art.

Thank you!

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In this tutorial you'll learn how to animate Freepik vectors. Read this step-by-step tutorial about how to create vector animations in After Effects.

Tut Details

Advanced level 2h 30m 1,233 views