After Effects Tutorial: Cut out an Object with Masks

 In the realm of video editing and motion graphics, masks are fundamental tools for isolating specific elements or areas within a video frame. They provide a versatile way to cut out objects, create transparent overlays, and achieve various visual effects. After Effects offers a comprehensive set of masking tools, enabling you to precisely control and manipulate mask shapes and properties.

Step 1: Import Your Footage

Begin by importing the video footage containing the object you want to isolate. Go to File > Import > File and select the desired video file. The imported footage will appear in the Project panel.

Step 2: Create a New Composition

To create a new composition for your masked footage, go to Composition > New Composition. In the New Composition window, specify the desired composition name, width, and height. Click OK to create the composition.

Step 3: Create a New Layer for Your Footage

To add the imported footage to your composition, go to Layer > New > Video. In the New Video Layer window, select the imported footage from the Project panel and click OK. The footage will appear in the Timeline panel and the Composition window.

Step 4: Select the Mask Tool

Activate the Mask Tool by clicking on its icon in the Tools panel or pressing the “M” key. The Mask Tool allows you to draw and manipulate mask shapes directly on the Composition window.

Step 5: Create a Mask Shape

Click and drag on the Composition window to draw the outline of the object you want to isolate. You can create simple shapes like rectangles or ellipses, or use the Mask Tool’s Bézier curves to draw more complex outlines.

Step 6: Adjust the Mask Path

Once you’ve drawn the initial mask shape, you can refine its outline using anchor points and handles. Click on an anchor point to move it, and drag on a handle to adjust the curve of the path.

Step 7: Fine-tune the Mask Feather

The Feather property controls the softness of the mask’s edges. To adjust the feather, open the Effect Controls panel (Option/Alt + 5) and change the Feather value. A higher feather value creates a softer edge, while a lower value creates a sharper edge.

Step 8: Preview the Masked Footage

To preview the effect of the mask, press the Spacebar to play the composition. The masked object should now be isolated from the background.

Step 9: Add Additional Masks

If you need to isolate multiple objects or create complex masking effects, you can add additional masks. Each mask will layer on top of the previous ones, allowing for precise control over different areas of the footage.

Step 10: Animate the Mask

To create dynamic effects, you can animate the mask’s shape or position over time. Select the mask layer in the Timeline panel and add keyframes to its Mask Path or Transform properties. This enables you to create motion tracking effects, reveal animations, or other dynamic masking sequences.

Step 11: Save Your Project

Regularly save your project to avoid losing your work. Go to File > Save or File > Save As to create a new project file or save your changes to an existing project.


Masks provide a powerful and versatile toolset for isolating objects, creating transparent overlays, and achieving various visual effects in After Effects. By mastering the Mask Tool and understanding its properties, you can enhance your video editing and motion graphics projects with precision and creativity. Experiment with different masking techniques and explore the possibilities of animating masks to create visually captivating content.


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