after effects Tutorial

Animate Ukulele Strings Like a Pro with After Effects

Anna Lee
|3 min read
Written by Anna Lee



Hey everyone, welcome to today's tutorial on how to animate the plucking of ukulele strings using Adobe After Effects. Anna Lee is here to guide us through her process, and by the end of this tutorial, you'll be ready to bring your musical illustrations to life. Let's strum into action!

Starting with the Ukulele Illustration

First off, you're going to need an illustration of a ukulele. Anna begins with a pre-made illustration but emphasizes that you can easily create your own using the path tool. Essentially, the strings are paths that will be manipulated to mimic the movement of real ukulele strings.

Creating Paths for Strings

To make a new string, simply grab the path tool and create a straight line representing your ukulele string. Adjust the color and thickness as needed. These paths act as the basis for your string animation.

Enter the Wave Warp Effect

Now it's time to bring in the real MVP of this tutorial: the Wave Warp effect. Once you've selected your path, go to the effects panel and search for 'Wave Warp.' Double-click on it to apply the effect to your string.

Tweaking the Wave Settings

Here’s where the customization comes into play. The Wave Warp effect comes with several parameters, including:

  • Wave Type: Anna recommends keeping this on "Sine" for a smooth, rounded wave.

  • Wave Height and Width: These parameters control the amplitude and wavelength of your wave. In Anna's example, she uses a height of 3 and a width of 50.

  • Speed: This dictates how fast your wave (or string in this case) will oscillate. Anna opts for a speed of 7.

  • Direction: For vertical movement, as you’d expect in a string plucking motion, set this to 0 degrees.

The Plucking Animation

To mimic the plucking effect, you can keyframe the wave height parameter. Start with a value that represents a resting string (in Anna's case, that’s 0), and adjust it to mimic the motion of a string being plucked and released.

Finishing Touches

If you find that your string appears too thick or too thin, you can easily adjust this by revisiting the original path layer. Make the necessary adjustments and you’re good to go.

Duplicate and Play

For multiple strings, you can duplicate the layer with all these effects applied, and reposition them accordingly. Hit play, and voila! Your ukulele strings are alive and well, ready to serenade anyone within earshot.

And there you have it! Now you know how to animate ukulele strings in Adobe After Effects, thanks to Anna Lee. Whether you're working on a music video or a playful animation, you've just added another skill to your creative repertoire.

The Result



2D Animation
after effects
Animating a Ukulele
Motion Design

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