Creating Chronos - a futuristic interface kit for After Effects

I’ve always loved sci-fi, it’s my favourite genre by far. The world building, the rules, the foresight, just the wonderful creativity involved in creating something out of this world is what fascinates me the most.

As a motion designer, I’ve always wanted to have a go at creating a futuristic project in After Effects, creating my own little sci-fi world, a project that could have been pulled from the pages of William Gibson or Phillip K. Dick.

Well, I recently had the time to work on such a project, and I can finally reveal the result: Chronos a sci-fi UI kit for After Effects that gives people the power to create futuristic interfaces of their own.

From the get-go, the project quickly snowballed, I’d initially planned to create some pre-rendered screens other motion designers could use to drag and drop into their compositions. The more I thought about it though, the more I wanted to create a fully formed kit, something that would give designers the ability to create their own designs, something customisable.

I decided early on that I wanted the kit to have intricacy at its core, I always feel that sci-fi interfaces or futuristic heads-up displays in film look so good because of their complexity, the more elements making up an interface, the better!

Over the next couple of months, I added various categories, each one with a collection of unique components designed to be used in conjunction with the others.

The final project contains the following categories:

  • Backgrounds
  • Glyphs
  • Frames & Borders
  • Connectors
  • Targets
  • Dials & Dial Columns
  • Buttons & Ports
  • Text
  • Graphs
  • Pre-designed interfaces

Each category contains unique compositions, and even sub-categories to make it easy for designers to choose the elements they want.

Let’s take the dial buttons for example:

Each of these is a unique shape layer that can be used however you choose, create a keyboard perhaps, the choice is yours. As a suggested use in Chronos, each dial button is used in a unique dial like so:

future ui buttons in chronos

Here, the dial button has had some basic looping animation applied to it, that layer has then been rotated around an offset anchor point to create the dial. Each layer is then randomly offset to produce a cool looking dial style:

hud dial example chronos

Combining these different dial compositions, offsetting them in z-space, and varying the scale can produce some great results. This example dial from the trailer was accomplished by doing just that (along with some other elements like the targets, buttons & ports)

sci-fi hud dial

The rest of the Chronos kit is designed in much the same way; an interface can be created by dragging and dropping the elements needed and arranging them to suit the application.

This example contains quite a few different elements: buttons, dials, connectors, and some text elements too:

future screen phone design

I’ve had a lot of fun working on this project, it’s the type of project I’ve always wanted to work on and the type of project I’d love to do more of. The next stage is seeing how others use it, I can’t wait to see what people come up with!

The Chronos pack is available to buy via Loop

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Rewilding the planet with freelance animation and motion design

We've only got one planet, and right now it needs all the help it can get. Climate change and biodiversity loss are massive challenges that we need to tackle head on.

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