After Effects is undoubtedly one of the most popular video animation tools used nowadays, from movie animations to 3D character animations, and from TV visual effects, to gaming UI, this tool is incredibly versatile and offers various options for the user to create amazing things.

Quick question: Who doesn't like animation? Imagine transforming a circle into a rectangle or a square into a star. You must be wondering, how's that possible? Well, enters Morphing. 

Morphing in After Effects is used for a seamless transition from one shape or graphics to another. Sounds cool, right? Do you want to know how to morph shapes in After Effects and create some fascinating effects? Well, morphing shapes in after effects is only a 12 simple step process.

Continue reading to learn how to use Morphing in After Effects to morph various shapes into each other using vector paths. 

By the end of this article, you'll find converting circles into squares as easy as strolling in a park. Ready? Let's dive in!

12 steps to morphing shapes in After Effects

Morphing from one shape to another can prove especially useful while working with multiple shapes for a motion infographic or a logo reveal. And, did I tell you that it's also incredibly easy to do so? 

Find out how you can morph a simple square into multiple shapes in just 12 simple steps.

create a New Composition

  • Go to a new project, and create a new composition. 
  • For instance, I've taken a composition of size 1920px x 1080px here. 
  • Now set the duration to 8-10 seconds. Note that this duration is sufficient to morph the shape, hold the new shape for a few seconds, morph it back to its original shape, and hold that also for a few seconds.

Add a Background

  • Now you have to create a new solid layer and add a color of your choice.
  • Note that this layer will become your background layer. 
  • So make sure to lock this layer to stop it from coming in the way of the rest of the process.

create a Shape Layer

  • Draw a rectangle in the composition using the rectangle tool.  
  • Remember, you don’t have to worry too much about how it looks, as it is not your actual morphing shape.

convert to Bezier Path

  • Go to the shape properties and navigate to contents, and then rectangle.
  • Now, right-click on the rectangle path and turn this into a Bezier path. 
  • A Bezier path will turn the rectangle into a keyframable path that can be morphed into various shapes.

Illustrate Your Shapes

  • Now, draw the shapes you wish to morph.
  • You can also do this in After Effects and then export the file in Illustrator.
  • However, using paths from Illustrator works well since it's specifically tailored towards designing vector shapes. 
  • Next, I've drawn a 500px x 500px circle and a square. (Note: you can take any shape of any size you want)
  • Now, select the square and hit copy.

Add your First Keyframe

  • Hop back to After Effects to ensure that your current time indicator is at the starting point of your timeline.
  • Now, open path one and click on the stopwatch icon to insert a keyframe at the beginning of the timeline.

Paste your Shape on the Timeline

  • With the current time indicator still at the same spot, paste your shape. 
  • Now, use the alignment tools to bring it to the center of the composition.

Paste your Second Shape

  • Next, we need the circle. 
  • Hop back to Illustrator and copy the circle. 
  • Again, hop back to After Effects, and move the current-time indicator for 1 second.
  • With path one selected, hit paste.

check your Animation

  • Now, what you have on your composition, is a transition between two different shape paths. 
  • If you scrub along the timeline, you will observe this transition taking place.

Pause the Animation

  • Now, suppose you want the new shape to pause for one second and then morph back into the original shape to wrap the animation up. 
  • To do this, copy your second keyframe, move the current-time indicator to 2 seconds, and hit paste.

Complete the Loop

  • Now, if you want to revert it back to the original shape, copy the original keyframe from the beginning of your timeline, drag the current-time indicator to 3 seconds, and hit paste.
  • This will make the transition back to the original shape and hence complete the circle. 
  • Hit the spacebar to preview your animation. Ideally, it should turn out something like this.

Finishing Touch

  • Now, you can highlight your keyframes by adding some finishing touches. 
  • Right-click on one, navigate to the keyframe assistant and add easy ease. 
  • You can also try keyframing toward any rotation to create a better morphing illusion.
  • And voila! It's done. Watch this clip, to see the end result of morphing with after effects.

Well, that was really cool and incredibly easy, right? And the best part is you can create this type of animation with icons or logos as well. How? Simply use them as shapes and convert them to Bezier paths.

Watch this video to learn morphing shapes in after effects.

Remember, this is the most elementary form of shape morphing. Once you get the hang of morphing shapes in After Effects, you can follow these steps for more complex vectors or perhaps keyframe your path within after effects manually. Excited to achieve some incredible artwork and animation videos? Start morphing with after effects now!

Wrapping Up

Don't worry about a little hard work because it will pay off well in the end. When it comes to morphing shapes in After Effects, you will surely have to put your head down and do some key-framing. 

Of course, it may perhaps feel a little tiresome with all the back and forth processes; however, the final outcome is totally worth all the efforts.

And if you have any questions for us, do let us know.

Frequently Asked Questions

Creating morphing animations involves transitioning one shape or object smoothly into another over a sequence of frames. In software like Adobe After Effects, you can achieve this by using keyframes to define the transformation from the initial shape to the final shape. The software will then interpolate the changes between these keyframes to create the morphing effect. Precise control over timing, easing, and shape points is essential for a seamless morphing transition.

To morph text into a shape in After Effects, you can follow these steps:

  • Create a text layer and a shape layer in your composition.
  • Animate the position and properties of both layers to achieve the desired transformation effect.
  • Use masking or track mattes to control how the text appears within the shape.
  • Add keyframes to control the timing and ease of the morphing transition.
  • Preview and adjust the animation as needed to achieve the desired result.

Morphing a video involves transforming one video clip into another smoothly. Specialized software like Adobe After Effects or dedicated morphing software can be used for this purpose. You'll typically create keyframes to define the transformation over time, specifying how the pixels in the initial frame should transition into those in the final frame. The software will then generate the intermediate frames to create the morphing effect.

Learning morphing techniques requires practice and familiarity with animation and video editing software. You can start by exploring tutorials and courses available online for software like Adobe After Effects or dedicated morphing software. These resources provide step-by-step guidance on creating various morphing effects, both for shapes and videos. Additionally, experimenting with your own projects and gradually increasing complexity will help you gain expertise in morphing. Practice, along with a strong understanding of animation principles, is key to mastering the art of morphing.