Here I come with the few points you should know while opening the After Effects panel for the first time.

1 – Check the configuration of the system on which you are using After Effects

After Effects is a heavy application in itself that the specifications of your system matters a lot.
I personally used AE on Mac of 4 GB RAM in the starting of my learning phase. But after some time when I started to do heavy projects, I shifted my system and went for Windows having 32 GB RAM. It depends on the size of the components of your project. Either you are running scripts inside your project or you are importing so many compositions in it, then definitely this will lead to slow rendering process and in the next step AE may lead to an error “After Effects : cached preview needs 2 or more frames to playback

So here is quick tip:

If you are just learning AE for small projects

  1. Which do not contain moving characters
  2. Which do not contain so many precomps
  3. Which do not use complex templates

then may be you can run your projects on systems containing 4GB/8GB RAM.

But if you are using After Effects for making professional, heavy videos then you need to work on your system configuration.

Quick tip :

If you have read this already

System requirements

Then please do read

Recommended Systems for Adobe After Effects .

This is somewhat complex but you might find it helpful. Now we will move to the next point..

2 – Importing illustrator files into After Effects

The next problem you might face while learning After Effects is that you do not know Illustrator and you are quite afraid of designing the elements as well.
Don’t worry my friend. I went thru the same problem initially. Then I came to know that freepik provides illustrations for free. But the only condition is you have to give attribution. If you are just learning the AE panel then it is okay to use them and animate them. But if you are using them on your site or in commercial videos then you have to give them attribution.
The next problem is how to start animating in AE if you download any vector file from Freepik or from any other site.
You can read it from here 

If you already know this then you can skip this.

3 – Learn some basic tools like pen tool and shape tool

The next thing is you need to have the detail information about the pen tool and shape tool.
If you are not the illustrator person then you can try to create basic shapes by using shape tool and pen tool.

You can watch some good YouTube videos for that like
After Effects Tools
Shape tool & Pen tool
Or else you can read articles like
After Effects Tools
mask vs shape layer

4 – Get some mandatory plugins

Download some necessary plugins like motion v2, Animation Composer.

Motion v2 is very helpful in dealing with keyframes and is super duper helpful plugin to organise your project.

I recommend to have Animation Composer which is a very helpful to motion designers.
It contains Motion Presets, Precomps, Sound Effects, Keyframe Wingman, Anchor Point Mover, Transition Shifter and a lot of other useful options.

5 – Learn some important AE Shortcuts

You should know some After Effects Shortcuts as,

1. For transforming the elements(for keyframing) :

A – Anchor Point
P – Position
S – Scale
R – Rotation
T – Opacity

2. General Shortcuts

F9 – Keyframe Easy Ease

J & K – Jumping between keyframes (from one keyframe to the next)

UU – See all the keyframes

* – Adding markers to the timeline

Shift+ F3 – Display Graph Editor

opt+cmd+home – Centre the anchor point of shape layers

U – For viewing all the keyframes of position/scale/rotation/opacity/anchor point

You can learn remaining shortcuts here.

6 – Organise your AE Project

Organizing the folder structure is very necessary though no one but you are going to handle it in future.
It is like the organized bookshelf. You will find a particular book from bookshelf if it is well organized. Otherwise it will kill your time.

You can organize your project by precomposing the layers and naming them properly.
The motion v2 plugin will help you in cleaning your project panel.
Creating folders and sub folders will really help in organizing the project.
Here are some videos in which they have described organizing your workspace in AE.
Organising Your Workspace in After Effects
After Effects: The Ultimate Organization Guide
Maintaining Good After Effects Project Organization and Workflow

7 – Get Motivated….

If you are totally familiar with the above mentioned points then it is time to create some funky animations…right?
But from where to start?
Okay….I recommend, you go and visit the YouTube channel of Mt. Mograph, Ross Plaskow, MOBOX GRAPHICS.
They have some amazing videos and tutorials there!
You can play with the same videos first and then can create brand new videos using your own creativity.

I might extend this article if I find some more points to share for the beginners.

PS: If you find this article really helpful, help others by a like and share. Your sweet, valuable comments will be appreciated 😉

Cheers 🙂