After Effects – 3D Box

We returned to the “meat and potatoes” of After Effects in class today, covering some of the basics we’d learned through various other lessons. Our goal was to create a 3D box with flat shapes, change the rotation point, and add some lighting. We also learned a bit about different camera views.

To start with, we created a new solid object and then changed our camera to a different view (making sure that we’ve made the square 3D). From there, we only needed to duplicate the solid 3 times to have the walls of our box. Using the Snapping option, it was easy to line up the edges of the walls with one another. As a result, we ended up with a very colourful box.

After that, we could then create a null object to put all our parts into, like we’ve learned in previous lessons – I’ve discovered this grouping method is extremely useful and now reminds me so much of how we work in Unity, with the parent/child parts in our hierarchy. Using a new tool shown to us called “Pan Behind (Anchor Point)” (which looks like this in the main toolbar panbehind ), we could change the anchor point of the null so that it’s in the center of the box, without altering our shapes or positions.

Creating a second null object to be our controller (making the first null a child of the second null), the bulk of the box is complete. The layers and settings ended up looking like this:


From here, we were told to try out lighting our scene. While possibly not as complicated as lighting/rendering in Maya, it’s interesting to know that there are ways to light our After Effects’ projects. We’ll likely be learning more about lighting as we continue past the basic VFX lessons, but it’s important to know how to add lights – it’s simply a matter of going into Layer, adding a New Light, and position it where you want it.


While this may have seemed like a simple task, I feel like it’s solidified my confidence in After Effects. I’m becoming more comfortable with the tools and how to use the program, which will become very important as I start work on my company logo. We also did some work/play with the built-in particle systems in After Effects, but I think I’ll save that for my next post (because I would like to do some extra testing and show examples).


Wim Crouwel


We were introduced to another name in the industry, Wim Crouwel, whose work balanced between two elements: emotional and rational. He believed in the use of machines to do work, but also knew there needed to be a balance and that nothing could replace the artist’s eye or heart.

I fund his work very utilitarian in design; it feels as though function meets form in a perfect way. However, according to what I’ve read, if he had to chose between the functionality (or legibility in most cases) of his work of the aesthetics, he always chose the aesthetics.

Throughout his massive career, he also designed a number of typefaces, the most recognisable one being the New Alphabet. It was so popular in commercial use that, 30 years after its conception, Crouwel was asked to digitise it for more modern use.

I also found it very fascinating that he was asked to design the number postage stamps for the Nederlands, which were in circulation until as recent as 2002. In my mind, the most iconic one could be on the left in the above photo compilation, where it shows the Dutch pavilion Crouwel designed for Expo ’70 in Osaka, Japan.

Overall, he seems to remain a well-respected and renowned designer with his own style. It’s always interesting to find designers such as these, if only to serve as inspiration for the work we’re doing in class.

Posted in VFX

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