After Effects Tutorial

Crafting a Dynamic Mouth Rig in Adobe After Effects

Shae Thompson
|5 min read
Written by Shae Thompson



Hey animation lovers! Welcome to a down-to-earth yet comprehensive tutorial that will guide you through creating a mouth rig in Adobe After Effects. If you've been on the hunt to give your animations a voice—quite literally—with some lip-sync pizzazz, Shea Thompson has got you covered. Buckle up for this hands-on tutorial that will walk you through the process step-by-step, perfect for Instagram's square video format.

Initial Setup

Setting Up the Composition

  1. Launch a New Composition: Go to File > New > New Composition to get the ball rolling.
  2. Choose the Dimensions: Opt for a 1920x1920 resolution to stay in tune with Instagram's square video specifications.

Additional Info

A 1920x1920 resolution is ideal for Instagram but feel free to adapt the dimensions to suit other platforms or needs.

Crafting the Lips

  1. Select the Rectangle Tool: It's time to start drawing. Locate the Rectangle Tool on the tool panel and sketch a basic rectangle shape on your canvas.
  2. Adobe Color Integration: Here's a neat trick. Head over to Adobe Color to pick some snazzy color codes for your mouth. Ctrl+V to paste these into your rectangle’s stroke settings.
  3. Naming Conventions: Rename this layer to mouth-lips to keep things organized.
  4. Add Round Corners: Navigate to the "Add" dropdown menu within the layer and choose "Round Corners." Crank up the roundness to give it a lip-like appearance.

Expert Insight

Shea suggests setting the stroke at a high value to mimic the natural curvature of lips. Don't hesitate to experiment and find what works best for you.

Building the Interior of the Mouth

The Initial Shape

  1. Create Another Rectangle: Use the Rectangle Tool again to draw another shape. This time, however, remove the stroke.
  2. Fill it In: Choose a distinct color to signify the interior of the mouth.
  3. Proper Layering: Place this newly created shape below the mouth-lips layer. Resize it so it fits snugly within the lips.
  4. Naming: Consistency is key. Name this layer mouth-inside and add "Round Corners" as you did before.

Why This Matters

The inside of the mouth is crucial for realism in your animation. Make sure the color contrasts well with the lips for the best visual effect.

Let's Add Some Teeth

Crafting the Upper Set

  1. Draw a New Rectangle: Yes, it's Rectangle Tool time again. Create a fresh rectangle to serve as the upper teeth.
  2. Smooth It Out: Add "Round Corners" to eliminate any sharp edges.
  3. Positioning Is Key: Place this new layer beneath the mouth-lips layer to make it visible yet properly contained.
  4. Layer Naming: To keep things straightforward, name this layer teeth-top.

Designing the Lower Set

  1. Simple Duplication: Make a duplicate of the teeth-top layer by hitting Cmd+D.
  2. Position Adjustment: Slide this layer below the upper set of teeth.
  3. New Name: Rename this layer teeth-bottom for clarity's sake.

Aligning All Elements

Take a moment to select all your layers (mouth-lips, mouth-inside, teeth-top, teeth-bottom) and use the alignment tools to center them perfectly within your composition.

Animation Time

Setting the Duration

Before diving into the animation, adjust your composition's timeline to last for 2 minutes. This avoids the need for a cumbersome six-minute render that you most likely don't need.

The Lip-Sync Process

Shea recommends starting your animation with the word "wheat," as it provides a wide range of mouth shapes to animate (W, E, A, T). Here's how to go about it:

  1. Resting Position: Set the "E" mouth shape as your default or rest position. Do this by placing keyframes for both the Position and Scale attributes on your layers.
  2. Animating for 'T': To simulate the "T" sound, add keyframes that narrow the mouth shape.


The "W" is the trickiest of the bunch and will require adjustments to the rounded corners of various elements in your composition.

Pro Tip for Advanced Users

Shea chose to include Position keyframes because her animated mouth had some unplanned movements. If your mouth rig is fairly stable, you might not need these extra keyframes. However, they can add a dynamic touch to your animation.

Masking for Perfection

Why Masking is Important

  1. Create a Duplicate: Duplicate your mouth-inside layer and rename one of them as mask.
  2. Alpha Matte: Position mask above teeth-top and teeth-bottom and change their Track Matte setting to "Alpha Matte."

Why Do This?

The masking ensures that you can't see where the teeth begin or end, adding to the realism of your animated mouth rig.


And there you go! You've now created a dynamic, fully functional mouth rig in Adobe After Effects. Shea's method is adaptable, so feel free to tweak settings or add embellishments to suit your specific project needs. The sky's the limit, so get out there and make your animations talk! 🌟


after effects
Character Design
Joysticks N Sliders
Making a mouth move
Mouth Rig
character rigging

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