Creating Text Behind Mask Effect in Adobe After Effects CC

Creating text behind a mask is one of the most-liked, eye-catching effects one can generally do in After Effects CC. We have all seen this visual trick on numerous TV shows, short films, commercials, music videos, narrative productions and everything in-between. Depending on the complexity of the scene you tend to manipulate, it could be a bit time-consuming to complete, but overall, it’s very simple and straightforward process. Even filmmakers who haven’t got much experience with After Effects can pull off that effect effortlessly, so without further ado let’s see how you can achieve it through the easy to follow workflow provided by Flow Graphics in the video below.

First and foremost, import your media into After Effects, drop it on your timeline and create a new composition. Then scrub through the clip and find the part where you want to add your text. Next step of the process is creating a new layer by right-clicking in your timeline, navigating to New in the drop-down menu and selecting Text. Make sure that the new layer is placed above the original video on your timeline and enter the text you want to add.


If you want to customize your text further, you can save a screenshot of the original footage, bring it into Photoshop and do all the additional tweaks there. After that, import it as a .png file back in After Effects. Everything you need to do from there is applying a mask, just make sure you’ve selected your text layer first.

Now, pick the Pen Tool, zoom in and look for the point where your subject in the foreground initially exposes part of the text in the frame. Start drawing your mask around that point just as shown in the video above. Once you’ve completed the mask and fix up the loop, the function will automatically create a mask.


You can tweak the shape of the mask further to match the outline of your main subject in the frame. Bear in mind, though, it doesn’t have to be perfect to get the desired effect. After you’ve completed this initial step of the process, you have to keyframe the mask. Open the Text object, go to Masks, select the mask you’ve just created and enable the stopwatch icon next to Mask Path. This step will create a keyframe on your timeline. Now scrub through the video a few frames forward and then reshape the mask by manipulating the anchor points instead of moving the entire mask.

Repeat the last step every few frames until your text is fully exposed. It’s worth noting that you can change the type of anchor points you are modifying so be patient and go through the whole process by tweaking these points accordingly. An extra step you can do to make the mask a little bit more realistic is to find a frame where the form is overlapping in a couple of different areas, then go again to the Mask settings and adjust the Mask Feather feature.


There you go! That’s probably the simplest and most straightforward way to create text behind mask effect in Adobe After Effects CC. Even though it might be a bit intimidating, the final result will certainly impress your clients and collaborators, maybe even yourself included.

[source: Flow Graphics]

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