How To Make 3D Text in After Effects - 3 EASY Steps

Creating 3D text in After Effects is achievable through three main methods: stacking 3D layers in space, using the built-in extrude function, and building with Cinema 4D Lite. By understanding the jargon and following step-by-step instructions, even someone with just three months of experience can create stunning 3D text effects for their video projects.

February 11, 2024
How To Make 3D Text in After Effects - 3 EASY Steps
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Creating 3D Text in Adobe After Effects Without Any Plugins

Creating 3D text in After Effects can be a game-changer for your video editing projects. It adds depth and dimension, especially for intros, making your work stand out. But what if you're relatively new to After Effects? Don't worry; I'm here to guide you through three easy ways to create 3D text. Let's dive in!

Stacking 3D Layers in Space

Creating a Simple Text Layer

First, create a simple text layer. Just type out your text, like "3D," and set it as a 3D layer by toggling the switch. It might not look like much yet, but that's where the magic begins.

Adding Duplicate Layers Along the Z-Axis

To make the text appear 3D, you'll need to add duplicate layers along the Z-axis. This can be done using a tiny little expression (a short line of code that automates a task). In After Effects, Alt-Click or Command + Left Click the stopwatch to open up the Expressions Menu, then type this command: [value[0],value[1],index*10];. This command will translate the formula across Z space, giving your text a 3D appearance. There are also presets available to help you do this with just one click.

Parenting to a Null Layer

Next, create a new Null layer and place it at the bottom. Select all the text layers and pickwhip them to the Null. Make sure the Null layer is also set as 3D. Now, your text should look 3D. How about playing with the colors of the lower layers to enhance the effect?

Using the Built-In Extrude Function

Extruding the Layer

The next method is to Extrude the layer. In After Effects, an Extruded object is one that appears to be 3D. Once you make the layer 3D, you'll see the Renderer button pop up. Select between Classic 3D and Cinema 4D (which allows you to extrude). Some options might be disabled, but don't worry; you're on the right track.

Adding Value Under Extrude

If you add value under Extrude and rotate on the Y-Axis, you'll see your type showing up as a real 3D object. You can even add Beveling if you want. In my opinion, this method is quite efficient, and you might as well explore various materials to find the best look for your text.

Building in Cinema 4D Lite

Using Cinema 4D Lite

Our final method for creating 3D text is to use Cinema 4D Lite, which is included in After Effects. If you're not familiar with C4D, that's okay. Let's walk through it together.

Creating a 3D Text Layer in C4D

Go to Layer > New > MAXON CINEMA 4D File. Once you open the new C4D file, select the Pen tool and create a 3D text layer. You can quickly type in the layer to change the text to "3D."

Extruding and Adding Effects

Click on the extrude icon and add an extrude object, then drag the text object under Extrude. You can change the extrude offset values to make it look how you'd like. Furthermore, you can add color, lights, and other effects to make it more realistic.

Tips and Considerations

Choosing the Right Method

All things considered, the method you choose depends on your project's needs. For simple animations, stacking 3D layers might be enough. On the other hand, for more complex and realistic effects, using Cinema 4D Lite might be the way to go.

Understanding the Jargon

I'd suggest taking the time to understand the jargon used in After Effects. For instance, "Extrude" means to extend an object into 3D space, and "Null Layer" is a layer that does not render in the final output but can be used to control other layers.