FX Recipe: Cracked Screen

FX Recipe: Cracked Screen

Motion Graphics Level: Intermediate

Breaking stuff is fun, especially the fourth wall. That’s why we’ve laid out four steps for creating a boss Cracked Screen FX in AE (without any plugins).

This is what we’ll be creating:

Final Product.gif


  • Cracked screen PNG

  • Footage of you “breaking” your camera lens (not for reals tho, that camera expensive)

Step 1: Choose your shape ⚾️

The shape of the shatter matters. In our example, we used a golf ball to “smash the glass”, so the shatter has a small round impact. If your asset is on a black background, simply change the blending mode to “Screen” or “Lighten”.

❒ AE Top Tip: If you don't see this option, press F4 or click Toggle Switches/Modes.
Cracked Glass.gif

Step 2: Shake that Cam 🍑

You can't have an impact without camera shakes. First, create a “Null Layer” and add “Wiggler” from the windows panel. Then parent the layer you want to shake.


For a more organic feel, put a strong wiggler with high magnitude, then a second less intense one as a ripple effect.

Step 3: Make it Shine ✨

You can bring this effect to the next level with focus pull and some glass distortion. Increase the believability of your glass effect by emphasising certain parts of the cracks. Start by taking an “Adjustment Layer” and applying the following: “Transform” and “Exposure”.

Transform and Exposure .png

Adjusting “Transform>scale/skew” will stop it looking flat. Additionally, playing with “exposure” will create more realistic lighting. Lastly, mask your “Adjustment Layer to match a few cracks of the broken screen. 


Step 4: Focus 🔬

To finish it all, you can add little focus pull. 

  • Insert another “Adjustment Layer” on top of everything apart from cracked screen image layer.

  • Add a “Gaussian Blur” effect that strikes on impact and then eases out again.

  • Add a “Gaussian Blur” effect to your crack layer that has opposing keyframes.

Gaussian Blur.png
focus pull.gif

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Text Funk: Vol.1

Text Funk: Vol.1