After Effects Tutorial

After Effects Tutorial: Rotating Spiral Illusion

Shaydan Bayless
|3 min read
Written by Shaydan Bayless


Shaydan Bayless takes you on a journey to create a visually captivating rotating black and white spiral illusion in Adobe After Effects. Spirals have always intrigued us due to their geometric precision and the illusion of motion they convey. Animated spirals can intensify this effect, captivating viewers even more.

1. Setting Up The Composition:

Construct the canvas for your visual masterpiece.

  • Begin by initiating a New Composition. Label it as "spiral effect".
  • Configure the settings to 1920x1080 px. Let the background color remain white and confirm with "okay".

2. Layer Creation:

Build a base layer to apply effects upon.

  • Move to Layer > New > Solid.
  • For a composition set at 1920 by 1080, adjust the solid layer to 2500 by 2500 dimensions. Maintain its color as black and then affirm with "okay".

3. Implementing Stripes with Venetian Blinds Effect:

This effect helps craft parallel lines, mirroring the appearance of window blinds.

Inspired by the physical Venetian blinds — which are window coverings made of horizontal slats, the Venetian blinds effect in After Effects recreates this look by producing evenly spaced horizontal or vertical lines.

From a perception perspective, our eyes are keen at detecting contrast, like the one between the black and white in this effect. These high contrast regions naturally become focal points.

  • Within the Effects and Presets panel, search for "venetian blinds".
  • Activate Transition > Venetian Blinds through a double-click.
  • Modify the Transition Completion to around 56%. Adjust the Width to an approximate value of 86.

4. Morphing Stripes to Spiral with Polar Coordinates:

Employ polar coordinates to transmute the linear pattern into a captivating spiral.

Polar coordinates are a two-dimensional coordinate system wherein each point on a plane is defined by its distance from a reference point (usually the origin) and its angle from a reference direction (typically the positive x-axis). It's an alternative to the regular Cartesian coordinate system, which uses x and y coordinates. In visual effects, converting rectangular (or Cartesian) coordinates to polar coordinates can twist a rectangular image into a circular pattern, hence creating a spiral.

  • Revert to Effects and Presets and enter "polar".
  • Opt for Polar Coordinates under the "distort" category through a double-click.
  • Alter the Type of Conversion to "Rect to Polar".
  • Elevate the effect gradually until the stripes evolve into a spiral.

5. Infusing Depth with Twirl:

Augment the illusion's allure by incorporating a twirl.

  • Revisit Effects and Presets and seek "twirl".
  • Engage Distort > Twirl via double-clicking.
  • Tweak the twirl effect to match your vision.
  • For a pronounced effect, set the Twirl Radius to 100.

6. Animation:

Breathe life into the spiral by inducing movement.

  • Direct yourself to the Transform properties.
  • Trigger the Rotation Stopwatch.
  • Whilst holding the "option" key (or "alt" key for Windows users), tap the stopwatch.
  • Embed the following expression: time * 10 + value. This command ensures a consistent and rhythmic rotation for the illusion.
  • Add personal elements, tweaks, or styles to make the animation uniquely yours.

By the end of this tutorial, you should be equipped with the skills to produce a basic spiral illusion in After Effects. Remember, the essence of creativity lies in experimentation. With these foundational steps, you can delve into the vast realms of animation, playing with layers and effects to manifest even more stunning visual treats.


after effects
Effects and Presets
Spiral Illusion
Twirl Effect
Venetian Blinds Effect
Distort Effect

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