After-Effects is one of the best visual effects and motion graphics softwares used by designers for making many types of videos, including animations. When After-Effects projects are unorganized, work can become quite challenging.

After Effects plugin tools , puppet tool, expression rigs, graph editor in after effects are some of the tools you maybe using widely. But sometimes it ends up unorganized, and it becomes difficult for someone to edit the files if required in the future. It can become tough and may take a lot of time to understand the file. 

As I have been working with After-Effects and having fun using them, through this blog, I will share a few must-know points so that you can keep your After Effects file organized. Making use of these pointers might help you later while working with After-Effects files in creating amazing videos.

How to Organize your After-Effects Project?

Let's begin…

Label and Color your Layers

Whenever you are working on big projects and have not named the layers in them, you might get the layers mixed up and might not find the layers you are looking for. When you start doing animation, it can also get confusing. If you have to animate and change the naming and color of their layers, then it will be very easy to do animation.

Therefore, the first thing you have to do to organize your After-Effects files is to change the naming of the layers. Additionally, you also have to change the colors of these layers. This will ensure that you don't have trouble finding the layers. 

Pre-Compose your Layers

Once you've arranged all of your layers in a logical manner, you can begin to separate them into separate parts. Identify and highlight all of the layers that are associated with a certain portion of your set-up scenario as a starting point. 

You may pre-compose a collection of layers by selecting the Layers tab from the top-level menu bar and clicking on it. Pre-compose may be found at the very bottom of the menu that appears. On a Mac, the shortcuts Shift+Control+C and Cmd+Shift+C can also be used. 

A Pre-compose menu will be displayed. Select Move all characteristics into the new composition from the drop-down menu and click OK.

Those layers will now be placed into a new composition that will be contained within the old composition. Go back to the first comp you had open in the background. Each of the layers that you previously chose will appear as a separate comp in this window. 

When organizing layers and working across a web of compositions, this is an excellent method to employ. The timeline indicator will refresh in all pre-comps as you scroll through the main composition because they all have the same duration. 

To discover a common point in time throughout all of your works, use the timeline indication to the right of the keyboard. All of the different animations will be easier to sync if you do this.

Organization of Project Panel

You must now arrange your project panel such that it corresponds to the process. In your project panel, create two folders for your work. One should be labeled as the MAIN COMP and the other as WORKING COMPS. 

Place the comps that break up your main scene in the WORKING COMPS folder and drag them into the folder. Afterwards, drag and drop your main comp folder, which contains all of your working compositions, into the MAIN COMP folder to save it.

The number of keyframes should be reduced, and we should attempt to reduce the number of layers by employing smart parenting.

An additional tip for keeping your keyframes to a bare minimum and your layer count to a minimum is to animate the parent layer and parent other layers to the one that is now being animated in order for them to follow along with that layer across the timeline. This is what we refer to as “smart parenting.”

It is possible to begin connecting layers in your projects if you already know how the finished video animation will appear or what you are doing in the process. That's even possible to do it while working on the animation portion of your video.

The rotation, position, scale, and other attributes of the layers that make up an item in your composition can be linked to one another if you have numerous layers that make up the item in your composition.

For a better understanding, consider the following scenario: you move one layer around and then need to apply the same animation to the rest of the layers. It will be extremely complicated and time-consuming to add keyframes to every single layer in the project.

By using the pick whip tool, you may simply parent one attribute or layer to another, and the result will be an identical replica of what was originally intended. It will assist you in saving a significant amount of time and avoiding being confused or overwhelmed by the assignment.

Delete all Unwanted Files

After you have completed the animation, the last step you should take is to delete all of the unnecessary files (AI, PSD, and so on) that you have imported into the project.

To accomplish this, navigate to the menu bar and choose the file; a popup window will appear; then select Dependencies, and, lastly, select Remove Unused Video to have the unnecessary footage removed from your project.

In a Crux

Maintaining a clean, organized, and optimized project will be the most beneficial thing you can do for your project. Being organized is not always simple or something you will be willing to put up with, but failing to be organized will consume a significant amount of time and brain memory if your project is not well-structured. It is critical that you acquire accustomed to organizing your tasks since, once you have established a habit of doing so, it will enhance your workflow and will become second nature.

Today, the first thing I do before starting a project is to arrange the source data that has been imported and rename the files appropriately. Maintaining solid organizing methods is essential for every professional motion graphics artist who wants to simplify and improve his or her workflow. By correctly arranging your After Effects projects, you will most certainly spare yourself and others numerous hours of frustration and uncertainty.

If you are looking to make videos for your business, head over to to know more about our video services. Or, even better, contact us!

                                                                                                                                 Editor: Amrutha

Frequently Asked Questions

Organizing your After Effects project is essential for efficient workflow and project management. Start by structuring your project folder on your computer, keeping all related assets, such as footage, images, and audio, in one location. Inside After Effects, use the Project panel to create folders and subfolders to categorize assets. You can also use color labels to visually group items, making it easier to locate and manage them.

Properly organizing your timeline in After Effects helps maintain clarity and streamline your editing process. Consider using composition markers and labels to identify key sections or moments within your composition. You can also use layer markers to provide notes or instructions for specific layers. To rearrange layers, simply drag and drop them in the timeline, and use precompositions to group related layers together for better organization.

Yes, you can create folders in After Effects to keep your project tidy. In the Project panel, right-click and choose “New Folder” to create a new folder. You can then name it and drag assets, compositions, or other folders into it. This hierarchical organization helps you maintain a clear and structured project.

To simplify a complex After Effects project, consider breaking it down into smaller, manageable compositions. Use precompositions to encapsulate groups of layers and effects, which can make your main composition more manageable. You can also use layer controls like shy layers to hide or reveal layers in the timeline as needed, reducing clutter. Lastly, naming conventions and color-coding can further enhance the organization and simplicity of your project.