Everyone has been looking for a simple way to create 3D text in After Effects. You may have searched all 300,000 results only to hear 'it's not possible yet' or 'here's a workaround - millions of layers!' And then you sigh in despair because your project is due in 2 hours.
Well without further delay, here is the easiest way to create 3D text! Keep in mind, this shortcut does NOT work with 3D layers, but you can rotate your text on its own to look 3D.
YouTube video: 3D Text in After Effects 5:50 minutes.
The video above is by Chad Perkins, author of How to Cheat in AE, VFX supervisor, musician, filmmaker, founder of Movies & Computers, and co-founder of Wedgekase Games - from Seattle! Movies and Computers. This man saved my project and all credit goes towards him.
For those who can't watch the video
Open your project and start with two simple objects. Go to Layer » New » Text and type in your text. Make sure to remove the stoke on your text as well. Import an image or even just go to Layer » New » Solid to create a shape and change the color.
Now turn off your Text layer using the eye on the left of the layer. The text is actually going to be used as a controller for your 3D text, meaning this layer will be used to change the font or font size of your 3D text.
Next, select your image or solid. Go to Effect » Simulation » Shatter. You will notice that your image or solid has changed to some wireframe thing, so go to your left to the Effect Controls panel and find View. Change that option to Rendered so you can see your solid or image again.
Scroll a little on your timeline to see what Shatter actually does to your solid (or image). It is a very nice effect, keep it in mind for later projects. But what we want is 3D text from here. Go to the Shape option in your Effect Controls panel and for Pattern instead of Bricks, choose Custom. You are going to apply your own custom Shatter effect.
Your image or solid will disappear since you have not yet assigned your custom shatter pattern. So the Custom Shatter you should choose from the dropdown menu should be your text layer, mine is CBS.
It will still look 2D even though it is now in 3D, so the final step to make it look more 3D, will be to change the Extrusion Depth in your Effects Control panel. This will help you make thicker or thinner 3D characters. You may start to see the extruded sides in between your letters.
Don't worry yet! You text IS in 3D but you are going to want to change the camera angle to see it better. Go to Camera Position in your Effects Control panel. Play with the Y Rotation and you will see your 3D text! Play some more with the Extrusion Depth to make your 3D text thicker or thinner.
If you made a spelling mistake with your text or just want to change what it says, simply click the eye next to your text layer and change the text there. In the video, Chad uses Webdings to create 3D extruded hand symbols.
So there you have it! 3D text in After Effects with no extra plugins or add-ons! Remember you can animate your text by pressing the stopwatch next to any of the controls in the Effects Control panel, moving to different spots on your timeline, and changing the settings again.
For some free After Effects news and tricks, get CGW magazine or Videographer magazine for free subscription. :)
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