7 Ways to Make Extruded 3D Text in After Effects

User question: How can I create 3D extruded text right in AE? I don’t want to have to learn a 3D application but I want it to look good. Thanks!!

Updated 1 October 2014 with more info on Mettle ShapeShifter AE and a note about broadcastGEMs TypeGEMs. 

3D Text

I remember when there just wasn't a lot of ways to create extruded text in After Effects. Zaxwerks plug-ins kicked was the first option to extrude text in AE. I remember there was an  a script that would create tens or hundreds of duplicate copies of your text or layer and offset them in 3D space to give the look of extruded text. It was not the most flexible method of creating 3D text!

Extruded text or an extruded object is one that looks as if it is 3D. When the object rotates, moves or bends, you can see bevels and the around the edges.

There are now easier ways to extrude 3D text within After Effects. Here is a quick rundown of several options, including examples and tutorials. Many work in other NLE's and I'll make mention of that fact too. 

1. After Effects Ray-traced 3D

To use the Ray-traced 3D features in After Effects, introduced in CS6, you must first set the rendering plug-in to Ray-traced 3D. In the Composition Settings dialog box, click the Advanced tab. Under Renderer, choose Ray-traced 3D. 

Ray-traced 3D

There is also an Options button which brings up a Ray-traced 3D Render Options dialog box. This is where you can specify Quality and the Anti-aliasing Filter that you want to use. 

render options

Ray-traced 3D Examples

Here are a couple of nice examples of Ray-traced 3D, culled from YouTube.

Ray-traced 3D Tutorials

After Effects Top Tip: Extrude 2D Shapes and Text into 3D Objects
Here's one from Digital Tutors, explaining how to extrude items in AE.

Extruding 3D Shapes in After Effects CS6
Rampant Design Tools also has a nice little tutorial on the topic.

Note: You may also want to check out broadcastGEMs TypeGEMS which can utilize After Effects ray-tracing feature.

2. Zaxwerks 3D ProAnimator AE

Zaxwerks had one of the first 3D plug-ins available for After Effects with 3D Invigorator. 3D Invigorator is a fantastic tool, but I'm going to point you toward 3D ProAnimator today, specifically the version for After Effects. 

Examples of Zaxwerks 3D ProAnimator AE

Zaxwerks 3D Text Write On
Ryan Snyder shows off some text he designed with Zaxwerks 3D ProAnimator.

3D ProAnimator Example Reel
Let's just get right to the good stuff!

3D ProAnimator Tutorials

Creating A Professional Lower-Third with 3D ProAnimator
Alex Dow explains how to create a lower third in After Effects.

3D ProAnimator 8 Walkthrough
Zax Dow explains the new features in 3D ProAnimator 8.

More info

Zaxwerks ProAnimator AE

Price and Host Support:

Zaxwerks ProAnimator AE. Price: $499, Toolfarm Price: $474.05
Hosts: Adobe After Effects CS5 – CS6 & After Effects CC

Zaxwerks ProAnimator Standalone. Price: $499, Toolfarm Price: $474.05

Zaxwerks ProAnimator AE & Standalone Combo. Price: $599, Toolfarm: $569.05

Download here

3. Boris Continuum Complete 3D Objects

I've demo'd for Boris on a number of occasions and I even did a webinar on their 3D Objects. I have to say, I love this tool! It's easy to use and the effects are really attractive. 


Fox Tech Take Intro
Ian Jopson, who is a friend of mine and works for Fox, put together this techy intro with After Effects and 3D Objects. 

BCC Extruded Text
Here's an example that Boris FX put together.


Webinar Replay: Creating FOX's Fringe 3D Text Effect and the TRON Legacy Title Animation Effect
Here's that webinar I mentioned above. 

Extrude Adobe Illustrator Logos and Graphics in Adobe After Effects
Here's one from Creative Cow that uses an Illustrator logo but you could use text as well.

More info:
Boris Continuum Unit: 3D Objects

Price and Host Support:

Boris Continuum Unit: 3D Objects  – $299
Hosts: After Effects CC 2014, CC, CS6, CS5, CS4; Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2014, CC, CS6, CS5, CS4, Avid Media Composer; Sony Vegas Pro 12, 11, 10; Apple Final Cut Pro X

Boris Continuum Complete After Effects compatible – $995.00
Hosts: After Effects CS4+, Premiere Pro CS4+

Boris Continuum Complete FxPlug for Final Cut Pro & Motion – $995

Boris Continuum Complete FxPlug & AE Bundle – $1,095

Boris Continuum Complete AVX for Avid Media Composer, NewsCutter, and Symphony – $1,995

Boris Continuum Complete for OFX – $695
Hosts: Assimilate Scratch, DaVinci Resolve, Sony Vegas Pro

Free Trial
Download here

4. NewBlueFX Titler Pro

NewBlueFX Titler Pro works in a slew of hosts, including After Effects, Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro 7/X, Avid, Edius and Sony Vegas.


NewBlueFX Titler Pro AE Rich Text Styles

NewBlueFX Webinar: Introducing Titler Pro 3
Travis White presents everything you need to know about Titler Pro 3 in this one hour webinar.

More info:

NewBlueFX Titler Pro AE + NLE

Price and Host Support:

NewBlueFX Titler Pro AE + NLE. Price: $349.95, Toolfarm Price: $332.45
Hosts: Adobe After Effects 7.0 +, Adobe Premiere Pro CS6/6.5, CC, Apple Final Cut Pro 6, 7, and X, Avid Media Composer & Symphony 5, 6/6.5, 7, Grass Valley Edius 5/5.5, 6/6.5, 7, Sony Vegas Pro 9, 10, 11, 12 (32-bit/64-bit OpenFX/DirectX)

NewBlueFX Titler Pro NLE. Price: $299.95, Toolfarm Price: $284.95
Hosts: Adobe After Effects 7.0 +, Adobe Premiere Pro CS6/6.5, CC, Apple Final Cut Pro 6, 7, and X, Avid Media Composer & Symphony 5, 6/6.5, 7, Grass Valley Edius 5/5.5, 6/6.5, 7. Sony Vegas Pro 9, 10, 11, 12 (32-bit/64-bit OpenFX/DirectX)

Download here

5. Video Copilot Element 3D

Of course you know that Element 3D can render airplanes and nuclear war heads, but it also does an excellent job on text… and it's easy to use! Andrew Kramer just announced that Element 3D v2 will be out in November and I know you're all stoked about that news! 

Samples of Element 3D

Element 3d Text Animation
Daninga1983 shows some cool work. 

Slomo Pictures Intro (Element 3D)

Element 3D Text Tutorials

Extrude Text with Element 3D
Andrew Kramer shows you how it's done.

After Effects Tutorial: Crystal Text with Element 3D
BakerTuts shows you how to make some crystalline text. 

More info:

Video Copilot Element 3D

Price and Host Support:

Video Copilot Element 3D. Price: $149.95, Toolfarm Price: $142.45
Hosts:After Effects CS3, CS4, CS5, CS5.5, CS6

Mettle ShapeShifter AE and FreeForm Pro

ShapeShifter is great for 3D text extrusions, animated shapes and logos as well as particles. FreeForm Pro is the mesh warp plug-in for After Effects that allows users to create morphs, character animation, stereo 3D and of course, extruded text. 

Download these free FreeForm Pro project files from Mettle, some of which include extruded text!


3D Text Morph | FreeForm Pro + After Effects CS5 + CS6
Here's a cool example from Mettle

FreeForm CS5 Promo Concept
Lutz Albrecht put together this nice concept with FreeForm.


ShapeShifter AE – The Ultimate Guide

ShapeShifter AE | Bevels & Styles Tutorial VinhSon Nguyen from creativedojo.net shows you how it's done!

3D extrusion logo loop for FreeForm Pro and ShapeShifter
Ben Griggs creates an 3D extruded loop with ShapeShifter or FreeForm Pro.

More info:

Price and Host Support:

Mettle ShapeShifter AE. Price: $249.00, Toolfarm Price: $236.55
Hosts: After Effects CS5, CS6 and CC

Mettle FreeForm Pro. Price: $299.00, Toolfarm Price: $285.05
Hosts: After Effects CS5, CS6 & CC

Demo versions of both products are available at Toolfarm Downloads.

Bonus: MAXON Cineware with After Effects

With After Effects CC and CINEMA 4D Lite/Cineware, you can create 3D text and bring it into AE for compositing. Is this cheating since it's not really in After Effects? Probably, but it can be part of a simple workflow if you're willing to jump into CINEMA 4D Lite.

AE: Compositing 3D Objects Using Cineware & CINEMA 4D
VinhSon Nguyen put together this great little tutorial explaining workflow between AE and CINEMA 4D using Cineware.

Other Cineware Tutorials

More info:


Host Support:

Posted by Michele Yamazaki