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Creation Effects: Swarms

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Creation Effects: Swarms

Animate custom swarms of insects in After Effects with "Swarms"

Swarms lets users easily create realistic, 3D insect animations in Adobe After Effects. Animate bugs individually, or combine them in almost unlimited numbers to form a 3D swarm that automatically moves with realistic swarming behavior – you just tell them where to fly!

Choose from 18 species of bugs, each with their own pre-set flight behavior. The flight behavior and appearance of the insects are completely customizable using convenient controls. With Swarms, even After Effects beginners can create high-quality, 3D swarms for compositing into their shots!

Choose from 18 insect species with pre-programmed flight and swarming behavior.

swarm of locust over farm

Swarms Features:

  • 18 Species – Includes 18 high-resolution 3D models: A bee, dragonfly, firefly, housefly, grasshopper, ladybug, mayfly, mosquito, praying mantis, rhinoceros beetle, wasp, and 7 species of butterfly (monarch, swallowtail, bredow’s sister, duskywing, melissa blue, orange sulfur, and sagebrush white).​
  • Controlled Flight and Landing – Control where the swarm flies in three dimensions simply by adding two or more Position keyframes. Their customizable, automatic random behavior adds realistic variation to the individual insects’ flight path. Land your insects, and even fold back their wings to a resting pose.
  • Completely Customizable – Using easy controls, you can customize each insect’s physical appearance, its wing flapping, and the swarm’s flight behavior. Adjust or keyframe the swarm’s density, speed, direction, synchronization, random flight behavior, and much more.
  • Swarms Of Any Size – Animate a single insect, or a swarm of tens of thousands. Choose between 2D or 3D insects to optimize your render speed.
  • Works With 3D Lights & Cameras – The insects are created with 3D layers, allowing them to work with light and camera layers. Adjust the lighting to match the angle, instensity, and color of the light source in your background footage. Cast realistic shadows from the insects to help sell the effect. Adjust the camera position and angle to match your background footage for realistic compositing.
  • Add Your Own Species – Create new insects by swapping out the images. (You will need a profile image, a bottom-view or top-view image, and a wing image, all with transparent backgrounds.)
  • Demo Animations Included – A separate project file for the Swarms demo video is included. Dissect the comps to see how each animation was made.

swarms ladybugs in ui

Tell your bug (or swarms of bugs) where to fly in three dimensions with as few as two Position keyframes, then composite the swarm with your footage.

swarms yellow butterflies


Need to Know

This template is compatible with Adobe After Effects, v.CS5 and all later versions. Works on both PCs and Macs. No plugins required. Last Update: 01/28/2021.

The project file for the demo video is included, and is compatible with CC 2019 and up. The title animation from the demo video can be customized with your own text or logo, and used in your videos.

The insects in this template are composed of multiple 2D images arranged in three dimensions, which gives them the appearance of having mass and depth, but they are not true 3D models.

At full scale, the insects range from 450 to 1100 pixels long (from head to tail).

Unless the insect is small enough, this effect is not ideal for animating walking insects, since the feet do not move.

All comps are HD, 1920×1080. You can change the comp size to 4K or any other resolution and the effect will work the same.

Detailed instructions are found throughout the template, as well as in the two video tutorials (see links above).

Music and background footage in demo video are not included. Some animations used images as the backgrounds instead of footage. These images are included.

This template has been “universalized”, so it will work in After Effects running in any language.

The Swarms template is not a plugin, so there is nothing to install. A template is an Adobe After Effects project file, in which most of the work is already done and the user needs only to make their own customizations. This template is compatible with version CS5 as well as all later versions of After Effects.

All insect images in this template have been released to the public domain (Creative Commons CC0 license). All images were taken from,, or Wikimedia Commons.

Adobe After Effects CS5 and later

creation effects swarms tutorial

Creation Effects: Swarms Tutorial #gettingstarted

This tutorial shows you how to make a realistic 3D swarm of insects in After Effects using the "Swarms" template from Creation Effects, for compositing into your shots.


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