After Effects plugins are a great way of saving time and energy building animated elements from scratch, unlike templates, which offer you customization over a premade After Effects project. Plugins add tools and functions to the backend of After Effects, making them as simple to use as the built-in effects. So you can get straight on with animating, we’ve put together a helpful list of the best free and paid After Effects plugins.
This component is called Trapcode Particular and it aims to bring to the table a lot of effects you can use in your designs. Seamlessly integrating in After Effects, the plugin offers real-time. Trapcode Particular is a plugin of After Effects that lets you add particles to your compositions. Trapcode Particular plugin is developed by Red Giant that allows users to 3D particle effects, giving you better motion graphics to your work. Trapcode Particular plugin uses 3D objects, which provides more beauty and complexity to your work. Nov 02, 2021 The plugins listed below work with our latest release, After Effects 2022, and support Multi-Frame Rendering for the fastest renders possible. Plug-ins may also be found by searching our Partner Finder database of developers. More plugins may be available than those listed below. Look for the Multi-Frame Ready logo on third-party plugin websites. Try Trapcode Particular for Free. Trapcode Particular is a paid After Effects plugin and it is part of the larger Trapcode Suite from Red Giant. While we would definitely recommend checking out the entire Trapcode Suite, you can purchase Trapcode Particular alone for $399. There’s also an academic version for $199 if you qualify for such a thing.
The Motion Array Adobe Integrations plugin allows you to access Motion Array’s complete stock library straight within After Effects. You’ll no longer have to download your video, music, or template assets from the website. Instead, the Motion Array plugin gives you a control panel to drag and drop directly to your timeline.
Easily create cool displacement effects in your videos that also rotate and scale for an even more professional look. Featuring powerful map adjustments, such as gamma, softness, easing make this plugin a great addition to your arsenal.
Stardust is a 3D Particle creator for After Effects, which lets you create stunningly rendered 3D particle elements. This innovative plugin gives you the ability to combine 3D models, particles, and effects, all existing and interacting in the same shared space. With Stardust, you can create beautiful fluid 3D animations and motion graphics.
You can now easily generate a random delay with any size comp and framerate for cool video effects. Once you install it, easily pick a corner you want the delay to start from and let the plugin do its work. The sky is the limit to what you can do with the free deLayer!
As they state proudly on their website, Free Particle Builder allows you to “Make Fire, Dust, Smoke, Magic, Energy, Awards, and More! Cool Visual Effect Particles With Just 1 Click!” and that is what the plugin allows you to do. Particle Builder is incredibly intuitive and easy to use but offers such a wide variety of effects it’s a must-have for any animator.
Hi-Tech HUD Builder is a smart little plugin that allows you to more easily create HUD (Heads-up Display) graphics, transitions, overlays, intros, and games effects. If you want to create a Sci-fi film, this plugin is a must-have. Beyond that, you can create some cool effects that would work well in promotional videos, events films, or anything that you want to add that ‘High-Tech’ feel.
Free Action FX Builder is a 2D animation plugin that helps you create impressive explosions, energy, fire, water, smoke, electricity, and Motion Shape effects. The 2D cartoony style makes this plugin great for creating unique text and transitional effects, as well as creating 2D animated sequences of your own.
Reflection is a free plugin from Video Copilot that gives you control over 2D shape reflections in a 3D space. This plugin is perfect for using in-product videos, presentations, and slideshows. You have a tremendous amount of control over the reflection, including the blur, skew, tint, and blend style.
If you are looking to create amazing animated titles in your next project, look no further than this free stroke plugin. Featuring creative editing capabilities, such as creating gradients along the path, adjusting the thickness and roundness of the stroke, as well as adding neon style bright colors. Download it today!
This plugin boasts amazing design and detail for easily creating your very own hologram effects in just a couple of clicks! You can adjust the direction and size of the scan lines, as well as the amount of interference, flicker, color, and glow just to name a few of the options available.
If you are animating icons, text, or graphics, Mister Horse is the plugin for you. You can save hundreds of hours keyframing your compositions, by installing the simple Animation Composer, giving you access to a range of prebuilt in and out effects. Mister Horse also sells additional animation presets in packages for everything from iconography to typography.
Saber is a must-have for any animator! This simple plugin allows you to create stunning light effects based on Strokes, giving you the ability to create neon text effects, lightning, laser gunfire, and yes, even lightsaber effects. The Saber plugin also offers a range of styles such as lava, electric, and energy, with complete control over color and intensity. This plugin is super cool and surprisingly simple to use.
Normality is a plugin created for Motion Graphics Artists, to give them a simple and intuitive way to light objects and scenes in a 3D space. The plugin works directly in After Effects, making this a great way of learning how to work in AE 3D.
Ease and Wizz is a handy little plugin for those animators who work with iconography, typography, or infographics. The plugin gives you a whole new After Effects panel from which to control the Ease of various In/Out animation presets, including Quart, Sine, Bounce, and Elastic.
Duik Bassel.2 is an impressive Rigging plugin for 2D animation in After Effects. If you want to create 2D character animation, this is the plugin for you. DUIK is a complex piece of kit and has a bit of a learning curve, but once you’re up and running, 2D animation and camera work become a breeze.
With a name like Glitch Builder, this does what you think it does; it gives you a full glitch panel with 100 stunning glitch effects ready to drop straight to your video, images, shapes, and text layers. You can further control the Noise, Flicker, Color, and Wave of each effect, and build them up into millions of combinations.
The Plexus plugin offers some truly advanced-looking animated styles. The composer allows you to create stunning 3D Plexus shapes, generate particles, and create relationships between them, so they move as a flexible shape. With this one, it’s only limited by your own creativity.
Flow is the plugin you didn’t know you needed, until now. If you spend your time keyframing animations, you’ll probably be familiar with the frustrations of the After Effects Graph Editor. Flow replaces the Graph with an intuitive and easy-to-use panel, preset animation settings, and handles to finely tune your animation.
Copying and pasting keyframes is a thing of the past with this awesome plugin. The Parrot plugin allows you to create a master animated element and assign other elements to parrot it. Unlike using null layers, which tie all elements to a singular animation, Parrot gives you the ability to stagger the animation points of each element independently, saving vast amounts of time on those complex and repetitive tasks.
The Random Text Generator does exactly what you think; generates random text patterns. Perfect for use in Sci-fi or Tech-based videos, the Generator allows you to create grids, lines, and shapes of randomly chosen letters and numbers.
Deep Glow is an awesome little plugin that gives you a heap of new styles to work with. Replacing the lackluster build-in glow effects, Deep Glow gives you a huge amount of control over the glow elements, and how it affects the space. With this plugin, you can not only create shape and text-based glow effects, but you can also use it to help with compositing digital effects.
The Light Sampler is a great plugin for your next gaming project. Easily apply amazing light effects to mystical objects, weapons as well as magic powers of your characters. Use alongside muzzle, flash, explosion, and spark effect graphics.
Plugins are a great time saver and can help you push your work further, but they do need to be installed in the correct way to work. It isn’t challenging to install these plugins, and most will come with instructions, but if you want to learn more about how to use After Effects plugins, check out our handy video.
Here are our top 3 tips for working with Plugins.
Some Plugins can take up quite a bit of rendering power in your machine, so you must keep your projects organized, both within AE and on your hard drive. Regularly back up your work, and try creating effects-heavy sequences in their own project, and importing them into the main once it is complete.
You should get notifications if there is an update to your plugins, and you must keep them all updated. Some outdated plugins won’t work at all, and some can even cause corruption to your projects if you try. Similarly, an update to After Effects can cause some plugins to stop working. If this does happen, check with the developer for news of fixes or bug issues.
Plugins give you the ability to build your own version of After Effects that will have different capabilities to other animators. Using Plugins, you can improve your skills and find new creative ways to produce your compositions. Create a collection of plugins specific to your needs.
Plugins are a great way of saving you time and energy, creating keyframe animations or effects from scratch. But more than that, they can help you create new effects you’d never even considered, and introduce you to new ways of working. Now that you know where you can find excellent Adobe After Effects plugins, go get downloading.
After Effects plugins can transform the way you work as a graphic and motion designer, animator or 3D artist. Adobe After Effects CC is already a core motion graphic and compositing application for so many artists because it can do so much out of the box. But like with any decent software, it can only be improved by the use of third party plugins to take your work to another level with new functionality or a streamlined workflow.
For an application that's almost 30 years old, it'll be no surprise to learn there is a huge range of After Effects plugins out there. In this post we select the essentials you'll need as a visual creative, ranging from the nice and free to options to the higher-end of the plugin scale.
No matter the price tag, all of these After Effects plugins will help enhance your workflow, add features that simply don’t exist in the core After Effects application, and simply make stuff look cool. If you're yet to take the plunge into AE, then don't miss our guide on how to download Adobe After Effects free or with Creative Cloud. And if you want to elevate your AE skills, try our pick of the best After Effects tutorials.Download a 7-day free trial of After Effects for PC or Mac
Download a 7-day free trial of After Effects for PC or Mac
Try the latest release of After Effects free with this seven-day trial from Adobe. If you like it you can convert to a paid subscription during the trial, or after it’s expired. There’s no obligation to buy the software, but if you don't want to keep paying, the onus is on you to cancel before the end of the trial.
Orb uses a similar 3D engine to Video Copilot's excellent Element 3D plugin, and is focused on creating realistic planets and offers a range of unique tools to make planetary creation easily.
You might think that creating planets is an easy task in 3D – create a sphere, apply textures, done! However, getting a world to 'look' right can be a trickier task than imagined. For example, if making a model of a populated planet, how can the line between nighttime and daytime be adjusted to ensure cities can be seen at night and not in the day?
While it won't work for every planetary shot, Orb will work for 90 per cent of them and is an invaluable tool for previs. This is especially so when combined with other After Effects plugins, or mixed with a 3D camera from a 3D application, which can be imported into After Effects along with foreground plates for objects such as spaceships.
While After Effects does offer pretty good tracking tools (including the bundled Mocha AE plugin from Boris FX), if you're after something more advanced, it's worth upgrading to the feature-rich Mocha Pro. This powerful, versatile plugin supports both AE and Premiere. It's built on Academy Award-winning planar tracking, and can easily handle even the most challenging tracking, masking and stabilisation projects.
Tools developer Richard Rosenman has made DOF PRO (Depth Of Field Generator PRO), his popular Photoshop depth of field generation plugin, available for After Effects. Backed by over a decade of research and development since its first release in 2005, DOF PRO has become the industry’s professional choice for unparalleled and sophisticated depth of field effects quickly and efficiently as a post process. DOF PRO’s state-of-the-art features provide innovative and cutting-edge technology not available elsewhere, resulting in one of the most powerful and advanced depth of field processors in the industry.
Advanced features include support for chromatic and achromatic aberration; focal plane bokeh differentiation; astigmatism and vignetting effects; support for custom aperture maps; and noise recovery. There is also full alpha channel/transparency support, 32-bit floating-point colour support, accurate aperture display and an iris array display. You can see a feature breakdown here comparing the plugin to After Effects’ Camera Lens Blur effect.
Adding shadows to your work can be computationally expensive, especially if it's being done by raytracing, and it's a great way to slow down your workflow. However with Shadow Studio you can simulate these effects in a much faster manner. It's a native plugin for After Effects CS6 and up that gives you soft shadows, radial shadows and inner shadows, and it comes with three presets to help you quickly get the results you're after.
A bit of glitch in your video can be a beautiful thing, and here's a straightforward way to get it. By dropping I-frames and duplicating delta frames Datamosh can create the sort of surreal, messy effects that you normally only see in corrupted video files, and while you'd normally have to break out a hex editor to create these effects, Datamosh enables you to do it within After Effects at the touch of a button and with a lot more control.
Plexus from Rowbyte Software has become one of the few plugins that has become synonymous with a certain look: everyone knows what to expect when a brief asks for the Plexus effect. The fact is, with some manipulation Plexus is capable of so much more than dots and lines. This is even more true of Version 3, which comes with even more effects and enhancements. My favourite is the Plexus Object Panel, which offers an easy way to manage the Plexus scene – something I would love to see in other complex After Effects plugins.
Pixy Halftone is the After Effects tool you need to make videos in a retro game style. Released only last month by creator Animation Gym, the add-on is a simple and easy After Effects Pixelated halftone effect plugin. With it you can add a vintage retro style to any animation, video or text, as the above demo video shows.
What might be of most interest is its incorporation of an Alpha Halftone, which generates based on luminosity so you can easily composite multiple layers over and over each other. Pixy Halftone comes via the AE Scripts platform in a Name Your Price option; $19.99 is the minimum recommendation.
PQ FUI Toys 2 is a life-saver if you need to add fancy UI graphics to a project, quickly. This After Effects plugin offers a great range of small motion graphic elements you can use to enhance your UI design. While the artist in you may scoff at the idea of using pre-made comps, each of these graphics is easily editable to the base level, and they can be a massive time saver when time is tight.
Volna is an advanced stroke plugin for After Effects with built-in arrows, noise distortion, gradients and blend tool. With it you can draw strokes along path with a lot of possible styles: taper strokes, points mode, and more. Volna can also blend different paths from two layer masks to create a new shape. The plugin draws intermediate lines between masks, smoothly blending from one path to another.
After Effects does have a good basic rigging system, but Duik takes rigging to a whole new level. Increasingly, clients are asking for Duik for any advanced animation work, and the plugin is becoming seen as the animation backbone for a wide range of projects. Oh, and did we mention that it’s completely free, along with the rest of Rainbox’s After Effects plugins?
Nodes 3 is capable of creating a huge range of imagery, from advanced 3D UI elements to more abstract elements, all of which can be manipulated and navigated through in 3D space. The only downside to this AE plugin is that there's still no Windows support. However, if you are Mac-based, it's definitely worth checking Nodes out.
One of the biggest issues many motion graphics artists face is how to encode footage to the right format. The problem has been worsened by a couple of factors: the number of artists switching to Windows, and Adobe’s discontinued QuickTime support leading to patchy support for popular codecs such as Apple’s ProRes.
Thankfully, AfterCodecs provides a solution. AfterCodecs makes ProRes encoding possible on windows, as well as offering extra goodies such as the ability to export H264s larger than 8K. It’s available for both Windows and Mac.
Video CoPilot has a well-earned reputation as one of the most innovative After Effects plugin creators. However, as many of its plugins come at a not-inconsequential price, it is great to see the company release a plugin that is completely free. Saber is a hugely powerful lighting and effects tools for a wide range of purposes. Not only can it be used to create beams of light (for example… lightsabers), but it also comes with a wide range of presets and the ability to work with layer masks.
If there is one After Effects plugin that has become universally popular among artists and studios, it is Lenscare from Frischluft. Lenscare is really two plugins. FL Depth of Field can use depth data from a 3D render to create a realistic depth of field in CG, without the overhead of rendering DoF in CG. With this plugin, the focus point and depth amount is animatable. FL Out of Focus is a quicker version with no depth input. It uses the Frischluft engine to create beautiful lens blurs.Global: Buy After Effects from $20.99 per month
Global: Buy After Effects from $20.99 per month
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Adobe’s industry-leading visual effects, motion graphics and compositing software enables you to create everything from simple animations to full blown VFX. A single-app subscription will allow you to download After Effects to your PC or Mac, from $20.99 / £19.97 per month. Click the link above or the View Deal button.
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An All Apps subscription will allow you to download not just Adobe After Effects but all of the Creative Cloud apps, to your PC or Mac, along with a range of other benefits.