How to Create a Solid Background in After Effects

Updated on: September 23, 2022

When creating a new composition in After Effects, the program may display a black screen or a transparent background by default. Surely, there will be times when this type of canvas is the one you need. But what happens when you want to have some color to work with?

There are several methods to set a different backdrop than the default. So, if you're wondering how to create a more striking composition, we'll introduce you to three ways to create a solid background in After Effects.

Creating a solid background with the shape tool

If you've created shapes with After Effects before, making a solid backdrop with this tool is probably the first idea that comes to mind. That is not the best way to create a background, but it still works. To add color to your canvas with this technique:

  1. Go to the toolbar at the top of After Effects and click on the square-shaped button, or simply tap Q on your keyboard to activate the Shape option.
  2. Select the Rectangle option and click and drag the cursor on the composition screen. This way, the shape will play a background role in your project.
  3. Choose the color of your background and its border by clicking on the Fill and Stroke options in the top toolbar of After Effects.
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While this method is simple, there are other more professional techniques for creating colorful backgrounds that you can activate with commands on your computer. 

How to open solid background settings with your keyboard

If you are working on a PC, press Ctrl + Y simultaneously. If you have a Mac, click Cmd + Y. Then:

  1. When the solid background settings open, name your background as you like.
  2. Select the color of your choice in the bottom box of the window and hit Ok.
  3. Look at the Timeline and notice how instead of having a Shape layer, you have a special one for your solid background.
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In addition to this second way of creating backgrounds with color, there is a manual method of the technique we have just mentioned. To activate it go to the Main Menu.

How to create a color background with the After Effects main menu options

In the Main Menu select Layer and then New. When the list of options is displayed:

  1.  Select Solid.
  2. When the Solid Setup window opens, follow the same steps as the second method.
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As you can see, the solids are the backgrounds you are going to work with. Use the second or third option to create them, move them, and center them easily without altering the anchor point, instead of making them with the shape tool. Check our more Adobe After Effects tutorials here.

Andrea Mercado is a tech-focused journalist and copywriter with over 5 years of experience covering innovation, edtech, AI, and internet trends across media outlets. She is passionate about how technology can democratize access to education and is an avid learner when it comes to emerging tech like AI. Her articles and webinars help readers stay informed on the latest tech developments.
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