Today we are creating custom worship backgrounds for our worship experiences in After Effects and creating this glowing pixelated stain glass window effect!

The first thing you want to do is create the shapes of the stain glass window. I just used a picture for reference and started making shapes with the pen tool. Making sure every shape I create is all in one single shape layer. To do this, just keep that layer selected as you keep making shapes. This will be important later.

Once we have our basic window shape, I want to make another 1920×1080 composition that is going to be the color effects inside this shape.  A quick way to get a bunch of blending colors into this composition is to add a 4 color gradient onto a new solid. Right off the bat, these are extremely bright and bold colors that don’t really work well together so let’s go in and create a little nicer color scheme for this effect. Personally, I really like this warm look with a hint of purple added in.

Once we picked out our colors, we can jump back into our main composition with the window shape layer, and scale the window and position it to the place we are going to want it. Next, we can drop in our new Color Effects composition below our shape layer. Then at the bottom of the screen under your Track Matte, set the Track Matte of your Color Effects layer to Alpha Matte. This will create a cutout of that color composition using the window shape.

So to add that pixelated effect we want to add a new adjustment layer and drop the effect called CC Ball Action on that layer. immediately we get what sort of looks like a pixelated image but there are some tweaks that need to be made! Especially because what you generated with this effect isn’t even pixels, it’s small balls, hence the name CC Ball Action.

So let’s increase the pixel size by increasing the grid spacing to 14 and the ball size to 84. And this is looking good so far but I want to add some more variety in the pixels. Right now it’s just a little to perfect of a gradient.

Back in the Color Effects comp, we will add what’s called turbulent noise on a new solid that we will call Noise. To get rid of the black and just deal with the white of this layer we will set the blending mode to “Screen” so we are just left with the white elements. So I’m just for the sake of mixing it up and getting an interesting look, I’m going to set the fractal type to SMEARY and if we play with the Contrast and Brightness we can begin to get much more defined shapes. And if we play with the evolution slider those shapes start to evolve. So we want this movement lasting through the animation so to quickly do this I’ll ALT CLICK on the stopwatch and type “time*30”. I just picked “30” as a random number because I know the higher that number, the faster that evolution animation happens.

Next, I’ll duplicate this layer to add another noise layer. We want this one to just be a different color. But one thing to note is that these have the same evolution settings so the shapes it’s forming will be identical. To fix that I’ll just go into the settings and type +200 to offset the animation by 200 degrees so they are not identical. Then we’ll add a tint effect and change the white color to like a bright orange/yellow color.

So now we can see what this cool animation looks like. But even more importantly, in our pixelated composition, you can see we now get some variety int he pixels, making it much more interesting.

This is looking pretty cool but I want to add a background to complement our window look. So adding a new solid I’ll just copy and past the 4 color gradient I made earlier. I’ll make another dark gray solid under that layer and set the color background layer to multiply giving it a subtle color in the backgr

ound. This background will also make these pixels look less like balls and more like Pixels as well so it really serves two purposes.

Now, this does infect look like pixels but one thing we’re not seeing much is the illumination feeling of the pixels. So to fix that you just add a glow effect to the adjustment layer and tweak the Threshold, radius, and intensity settings until you find something that’s subtle and not too harsh.


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