How to Make a Circle Outline or Hollow Circle in After Effects

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In this tutorial you’ll learn how to make a circle outline in Adobe After Effects. You may also call this a hollow circle or empty circle or circle border or circle stroke in After Effects. Whatever you call it, here’s how to easily create one.

Using the Ellipse Tool to Make a Circle in After Effects

To make a circle with an outline in After Effects you need to first make a circle. To do this, find the Ellipse Tool in the Toolbar. It’ll probably be hidden under the Rectangle Tool in the Toolbar. Alternatively you can hit the Q key multiple times to activate and cycle through the different Shape Layer Tools.

Finding the Ellipse Tool in After Effects to make a circle outline
Find the Ellipse Tool in the Toolbar

Make sure no layers are selected in the Timeline Panel. Now, draw a circle in the Composition Panel. You can hold the Shift key to constrain the tool to make a perfectly round circle. A new layer will appear in your Timeline Panel for this circle. Keep this layer active for the next steps.

Make a Circle with a Boarder

Now we need to get rid of the actual circle part and add a boarder or stroke to it to make the outline.

Toolbar with Ellipse Tool active in After Effects
This is where you’ll be living for most of this tutorial

Back up in the Toolbar find the “Fill” and “Stroke” options. Make sure the layer you created is active. Click on the word “Fill”. A new window called Fill Options will open. Click on the “None” icon (the first one on the left) then click OK. Your circle should now basically disappear. That’s what we want to happen. We’re going to create the outline for the circle next.

Fill Options for shape in After Effects with it set to None
Click the “None” option then OK

Go back to the Toolbar and click the color picker box to the right of Stroke. Choose the color you want for your circle outline in After Effects and click OK.

Color Picker box for a circle stroke in AE
Select the color of the outline and click OK

Once again, go back to the Toolbar. Find the number next to “px” next to the Stroke color picker box. This might just be a dash (-) instead of a number. Enter a number into this field. The larger the number, the bigger the outline will be. This is your Stroke Width. It can be changed at any time so don’t worry and feel free to mess around.

Ellipse Tool Fill, Stroke, and Stroke Width options in After Effects Toolbar
Set the stroke width

And that’s about it. You now have your circle outline (or hollow circle or see through circle) and if you want you can keyframe properties like scale and position to animate it on or off or just move it around the screen.

Circle Outline in After Effects Composition Panel
Here’s your circle outline!

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If you’ve now gone through this tutorial and you still need help, please leave a comment and I’ll do what I can to help troubleshoot it. But if you can create a circle outline in After Effects, I hope you stick around and check out some of the other After Effects tutorials on my website or consider signing up to get notified about new blog posts and happenings around EVF.

– Josh

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