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How to Animate Impossible Shapes in After Effects

By Sander van Dijk
After EffectsIllustrator

Learn some advanced tricks and approaches to difficult shape animations with After Effects wizard Sander van Dijk.

Sander van Dijk has worked with some of the top studios and brands in the world. His unique and supremely clever approaches to using After Effects has earned him a reputation as an incredible animator and problem solver. He has also helped create some incredible tools for motion designers, like Ray Dynamic Color. In short, he's pretty good at this stuff.
In this tutorial Sander, who also teaches Advanced Motion Methods, will take you through the process and workflow he used to animate a very tricky piece of geometry, the Penrose Triangle. Animating "impossible" shapes like this one can leave you wondering... where do I start?
After this tutorial, you'll know.

Advanced Animation Approaches in After Effects

Want to learn even more? Check out Part 2 of this tutorial where Sander shows you how he completed the animation of this element from the Blend Manifesto video.

Download the Project Files & Assets

Want to follow along with Sander? Grab his project files and assets from this video for free below. We've also included some additional "impossible" shapes for you to play with if you want to expand on Sander's technique.

Download Sander's project files plus some free bonus shapes!

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​​What are you going to learn in this tutorial?

This lesson is a peek into the way Sander's brain works. You'll pick up a dozen or more workflow tips, and hopefully gain a deeper understanding of the way he approaches complex animation tasks in After Effects. Put on your best learning pants.

How to approach building animatable shapes

One aspect of an animator's job that doesn't get talked about much is the asset preparation phase. Sander talks about how to create (or modify) assets so that you can use them to animate.

Illustrator to After Effects workflows

Now that you've got your artwork, how do you transfer it into After Effects with the correct position, anchor point, and other properties?

A dozen or more tips for working faster

One of Sander's superpowers is working extremely efficiently in After Effects. By sitting over his shoulder and watching him work, you'll pick up many time-saving tricks.

Animation Retiming Techniques

There are many ways to animate a shape, but in the end you still want lots of control over things like timing and spacing. Sander shows you how to maintain control over complex animation setups.

Learn Advanced After Effects Techniques from Sander

If you're ready to go to the next level with your After Effects and animation skills, check out Sander's class Advanced Motion Methods. It will transform the way you work and give you a set of motion design superpowers that you'll use for the rest of your career.
Our team is standing by to answer any questions you have about this course or any other class in our curriculum. Please let us know if we can help you in any way!