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Introduction to the Shatter Effect in After Effects 5.5

Article Focus:
Now that Shatter is included in the filter set of After Effects 5.5, many users are asking how to use this effect. In this tutorial, Ben Unguren demonstrates a very simple technique to help get you started with Shatter.

I still feel like an amateur when I use this effect, but I think the following tutorial might be helpful for beginners that want to acquaint themselves with Shatter.


A key to making Shatter work the way you want is to use a gradient layer, or a separate layer that tells the Shattter effect how to behave (this will make more sense later on). You can make your gradient layer in Photoshop, Illustrator, or another graphic program, then import the file into After Effects. You can also make the layer in After Effects itself, which it what we will do:

  • Open After Effects
  • Make a new Composition (Composition New Composition…)
  • Name your new comp ramp, choose the Medium, 320×240 preset, and set your duration to about 10 seconds:

  • In your new ramp composition, create a new Solid (Layer New Solid…)

  • Name your Solid ramp and click Make Comp Size. Click OK.

  • Apply the Ramp filter to your Solid (Effect Render Ramp)

  • For now, leave all the effects settings as they are. Your gradient is complete:


The Shatter effect, well, shatters a layer. Therefore, we are going to make something for it to shatter. For this tutorial (as the above movie shows) we are going to shatter text. We will make this in After Effects again, though again you can make this layer in another graphics program like Photoshop or Illustrator.

  • Make another new Composition (Composition New Composition…)
  • Name it text, choose the Medium 320×240 preset again, and click OK.
  • In your text composition, create a new Solid. (Layer New Solid…)
  • Name your Solid text and click Make Comp Size, just as before. Click OK
  • To your text Solid, apply the Basic Text effect (Effect Text Basic Text)

  • In the window that appears, type in a nice message and click OK:

  • Adjust the Basic Text Settings as desired (try to fill as much of the screen as possible for this exercise):

    I used the above settings to get this: