Gradients in After Effects

This tutorial is on how to create gradients in After Effects. I’ll show you how to turn a solid into a gradient and text into a gradient. I’ll also show you how to keyframe a gradient’s colors and more.

Recapping Tutorial on Gradients in After Effects

Create Gradient on a Solid in After Effects

To begin, with a Comp open, doesn’t matter the resolution, create a new Solid. Do this by hitting Command+Y if you’re on a Mac or Control+Y if you’re on a PC.

Name the Solid whatever you want, make it the Comp Size, and pick any color. Next, in the Effects & Presets Panel start typing in “gradient” and find the Gradient Ramp effect.

Gradient Ramp Effect in Effects & Presents Panel in After Effects

Take the effect from the Effects & Presents Panel and drop it onto the Solid either in the Timeline or in the Composition Panel. This automatically creates a black and white ramp, or gradient, on the Solid.

Applying Gradient Ramp to Solid in After Effects

Using the Effect Controls Panel you can adjust the colors of the ramp, it’s angles, and other attributes. To change the color of the gradient click the black box next to Start Color and/or the white box next to End Color.

Change Start Color of Gradient in After Effects

Click the crosshairs at the top and bottom of the Composition Panel to adjust the angle of the gradient. Make sure Gradient Ramp is selected in the Effects Controls Panel to see these crosshairs. They’ll be hiding beneath the red squares at the top and bottom of the Composition Panel at first.

Change Angle of Gradient in After Effects
Extra red circles added for clarification about what the crosshairs are

Alternatively instead of clicking and dragging the crosshairs you can chance the Start of Ramp or End of Ramp values in the Effect Controls Panel.

Change the Ramp Shape from Linear Ramp to Radial Ramp to get a radial or circle gradient instead of the linear one.

Radial Ramp Gradient


You can stay in the same Comp you made the Solid gradient if you want for this tutorial. Create a new Text layer. Use the keyboard shortcut Command+T if you’re on a Mac or Control+T if you’re on a PC to activate the Text Tool. Next click in the Composition Panel and type in your text. Use the Character and Paragraph Panels as needed to adjust your text.

Next, repeat the same steps as you did for applying the Gradient Ramp to the Text layer. As a reminder, go to the Effects & Presets Panel and type in “Gradient”. Then select the Gradient Ramp effect and drop it onto the Text layer.

When you apply the Gradient Ramp effect it’s still the same black and white ramp that we saw on the Solid. But since the Text layer is so much smaller it’s going to look funky. Using the crosshairs at the top and bottom of the Composition Panel you can drag those to the start and end of the Text layer. This will help it look like an actual gradient.

From here, change the colors as needed like you did when you created the gradient for the Solid layer above.

Keyframing Colors of Gradients in After Effects

Just like most any attribute in After Effects you can keyframe Start Color and End Color under the Effect Controls Panel for Gradient Ramp.

Move your time position indicator to where you want the color to be set to start at. Click the stopwatch icon next to Start Color or End Color. Move the time position indicator to where you want the color to finish changing at. Then change the color.

Give it a RAM preview to see the final result. You can keyframe the Start of Ramp or End of Ramp as well for any of the gradients you create in After Effects.

Additional Suggested Viewing: After Effects Masks Tutorial

Did you enjoy this video? If so, I’d love to keep in touch. All you have to do is go here to stay in the loop on new blog posts, tutorials, and announcements.

– Josh

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