Creating a YouTube Intro

I have never truly been a "YouTuber," but I do use YouTube to upload videos that I include in blog posts. Many YouTubers have short introductions at the beginning of their videos, kind of like the title sequence of a television show. It's often their name with a cool effect, but I decided to take that one step further - what if it was directly related to the Spiral as well?

Collecting Images

Having just learned Adobe After Effects, the program I'd be using, I didn't know how to create three-dimensional objects, and it'd be pretty tough to replicate Wizard101's creations anyway. What would be easier is using existing images taken from around the Spiral to be placed in 3D space.


Most people go to Morganthe's chamber for amulets. I go for screenshots. If you step up against the walls, you can just see outside and get a glimpse of some very cool space textures. I initially planned on using a lot of these, but they ultimately didn't work out and were not placed in the intro.

Stormgates of the Spiral

Stormgates are one of the best places to get images because they're some of the most colorful places in the Spiral. I took several images of worlds to be used and clouds to be placed. I erased out the ship and most of the windlanes, but the colors and textures of the clouds became a part of the finished product.

Wizard City Concept Art

Being the magical center of the Spiral, Wizard City had to be placed separately, and since it was too far away in any Pirate stormgate to get a good picture of, I pulled the concept art and quickly did some erasing and planned to let blending modes do the rest in cleaning up the image.

Our Galaxy and Beyond

As beautiful as the Spiral is, it could use a few extra colors. A quick Google search provided a few additional images to be used for the background.

Building Up Layers

It's one thing to find some cool pictures, but it's another thing entirely to use them in a way that makes for a great look.

Rendering and Erasing

Rendering takes time and rendering lots of objects takes lots of time. It was handy, instead, to rely more heavily on blending modes, which will knock out a black background on stars, or clean up your soft-brush erasing around the Wizard City concept art. Not only did Wizard City have to be semi-rendered and erased, but so did the rest of the worlds. The spheres that contain them are clear and the worlds are not, so that was a dilemma that had to be dealt with.

Adobe After Effects

After Effects can import various videos, images, audio, and just about whatever else to create a composition. Just like an edited image document in Photoshop or GIMP, you have layers of these objects on a canvas. The difference is that you use different camera tools and recordings to move around the space you create.

Blending Modes and Effects

One of the greatest parts of any editing program is some of the blending modes and effects they provide you. This is how images are utilized for additional color, how stars are placed, and how you can make something look less like a general space scene, and more like the Spiral.

Using 3D Space

With the images imported, they were ready to be moved around. Playing in 3D space, however, isn't quite like editing an image.

X, Y, and Z

In 2D space, you have an "x" and "y" axis. In 3D space, you have a "z" too. This means that not only can you scale images up and down, you can move them forward and backward in space. When scaling them up and down, you change how many pixels per inch there are. When you move them backward in space, they appear to get smaller, but maintain their resolution. This allows you to do long-range zooms with no loss of quality. And that was exactly what I intended to do.

I took the layers of worlds and space and everything else and placed them according to how they might look in 3D space, with attention to how close or far things would be from the camera. I created "Swordroll's Blog" in some three-dimensional text and placed it as a high-quality layer as well.

Creating Cameras and Lights

You use camera and lights just like you use images. They become layers in your composition and you can place and move them in 3D space, through your layers and images. This is how the end of the introduction is created - the light is moved backward through all of the layers. Without using a light and these layers, I would not have been able to accomplish a fade to black that wasn't just a vignette closing around the space. Instead, things are literally going dark.


The camera operates using keyframes. You select one position, move your camera in the x, y, and z directions as you see fit, and create another keyframe. Keyframes can be used for cameras, lights, and any other effects or objects you add to the composition.

Here's the final product!

Share Your Intros!

I'm curious - if you're a YouTuber, do you have an intro? How'd you make yours?

Thanks for reading and see you in the Spiral!


  1. I myself don't have one. I don't really have the tools or the artistic ability to create any kind of intro, let alone something stunning like this. Wonderful job. :D

  2. Just brilliant. You used terminology that was beyond me but that is only because I haven't messed with After effects in like 10 years. Whole nother animal now. I wish I could sit beside you and watch you do this but oh well. This is almost as good. Very well explained. Thank you for sharing such a facinating process. :D


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