After Effects Tutorial

Turbulent Displace to Make Clouds

Simon Turner
|3 min read
Written by Simon Turner

In this tuturial, Simon Turner covers how to use the effect Turbulent Displace to achieve a cloud-like distortion effect.


For this tutorial, I'm going to be showing you how to use Turbulent Displace to achieve a cloudy effect on your illustrations. I have a very simple blue background with a pin tool cloud that I made in After Effects.

Come up to the effects and presets panel and type in “turbulent displace”. You can either drag it onto the object or the layer down here. This is something that I've used in my first animation with trying to simulate the string physics on my light and with my second to make a cool, wavy, distortion for the clouds to make them a little bit more believable so they're not just swaying back and back. Once I dragged that onto here, it immediately distorted it and made everything a little bit wavy, and it brought everything down.

You can do a ton of animations with this. You can either control it from the top left or in the actual timeline down here, which is usually what I do.I like to key frame the amount, size, and complexity. That's pretty much all you'd need for a cloud. You could do other things, but I don't think it would be necessary.

Let's go to three and a half seconds, re-key frame a second position. If you drag right, it brings the cloud down, and if you drag left, it brings your object up. So play with that. You can make it underlay up and down in between separate key frames. So let's make it go up a bit.

For the size, this affects the waves of distortion. It distorts it much further because the actual strokes of the distortion are pushing it away. If you get small, you can see the object starts to get really wavy in these little increments. If you were doing water or a jellyfish or something, that'd be cool.

“Complexity” is basically the amount of detail or the amount of waves in the distortion it actually has. If I crank it all the way up, it looks kind of jittery. I usually to keep that lower.

Since we moved it up a bit, let's come over here and key frame it again and let's move it. It's really just a matter of playing with it to see how much you like. Let's turn complexity about the same. Now it kind of moves up and then it distorts and comes back down a little bit. But it's always safe to just put an easy ease on every single key frame and it'll look a little bit more natural when it's transitioning between the positions.

That's pretty much it. It's a simple tool and you can do a lot with it. You just have to really experiment. Evolution changes how many times it moves in a certain amount of time.


after effects
After Effects Clouds
Effects Presets
Turbulent Displace
Warp Tool
AE Effects

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