Create a 3D Card Effect in After Effects with this FREE Project File
How To Create A 3d Card Effect In After Effects Tutorial.jpg

After Effects teaches you how to completely create a 3D trading card. Tutorial includes a free downloadable project file!

3D virtual maps have become increasingly popular over the past year. Visually they are pretty fascinating. These cards combine the nature of a flat playing card with images or animations that have depth and parallax. Designer Robbie Tilton creates some amazing 3D map samples.

This video tutorial will show you how to make your own 3D map entirely in After Effects. I recommend downloading the free project file, which has tons of elements you can use to create your own map.

Ready? Let's begin!


By downloading, you agree not to resell or redistribute these free assets.

The appearance of 3D maps

What makes 3D maps so unique is that we can see that the map is flat, but the image on the map has a depth far beyond that of the map.

3D map in After Effects.

This is possible with a little compositing trick (track mats to be precise – more on that later). You can create 3D versions of real cards that you scan yourself, or you can create an original card from scratch. The image on the card can be anything from flat planes to pictures or 3D models.

How to create a 3D map

First of all, you need to create your card shape with Solid or Shape levels. You will also need to create a layer called "Image window”For the 3D part of your card.

Card designCreate the card design with fixed layers and masks.

Make sure all the layers of your map are in place 3D planes in After Effects. You can also put custom text or descriptions on your card.

Create 3D planesCreate the map layers in 3D and add text descriptions to the map.

In another composition you will then have to create your 3D or 2.5D scene. (In the tutorial I titled my 3D composition Image window Comp.) You can do this with 3D layers or images, or you can use 3D plugins made for After Effects such as: B. Element 3D or Stardust.

Create the 3D sceneCreate the 3D scene in the Comp.

After you've created your 3D scene, add that Image window Comp under your Image window level in the original composition with your 3D map. Set the Track mat for the Comp to image window Alpha matte.

Set as Alpha MatteAdd the cameo composition below the cameo layer. Set Alpha Matte.

Next you need to turn it on Reduce transformations for cameo composition so that it appears correctly in 3D space. The "Reduce Transformations" icon looks like a little sun when switched on.

Reduce transformationsEnable the Reduce Transformations option for the Comp image window.

Finally create one 3D camera and circle your map to see the 3D effect.

3D camera orbitOrbiting the map with a 3D camera in After Effects.

Tips for refining the look

After you've made your 3D map, you can use other effects to enhance the look. I like to add one Setting level over the "hologram areas" of my card and add a glow cause.

Add glow effectAdd the glow effect to layers on the map.

You can fake some subtle reflections with that too CC Light Sweep Effect on your image window Comp. Simply keyframe for the animation of the passage of light.

CC Light SweepKeyframing reflections with CC Light Sweep.

Adding a Image background Also part of your 3D scene is a nice touch that can add more 3D parallax.

3D card effect with image background3D map with an image background.

Using 3D plugins

If you are using 3D plugins in your 3D scene, using collapse transforms will not work (so leave them disabled in your Image Window Comp). You actually have to copy and paste The keyframe 3D camera from your main scene into your 3D scene with your 3D plugin.

Using Element 3D3D card with 3D element.

Since both 3D cameras have the same movement, everything can look correct with the 3D map in the main scene.

Interested in the royalty-free tracks we made this video with? Listen again:

Learn more about animating in After Effects:


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