Sure you can hand-animate keyboard typing for explainer videos, but depending on the amount of key taps that have to be animated, you might be in for a long haul. An automated system would be much better, but might prove trickier to set up.

create an iPad keyboard which will type out any input (letters, numbers or symbols) based on the contents of a text layer

Thankfully, No Magnolia’s Nick Hill recently did a project that required an iPad keyboard typing animation, and is here to walk us through how he made that all come together. The system will automatically type out any input, be it letters, numbers or symbols, all based on the contents of a text layer in After Effects.

The setup looks to an animated type layer’s unicode value for the most recent typed letter, based on the animated range selector. This will reference the position and scale of a shape layer that will act as the key tap highlight, from a series of JavaScript objects, which tells it where to go and what size to be. Size is necessary because the keys on an iPad keyboard are various sizes, in four arranged layouts.

Nick warns that the process contains a fairly elaborate Excel spreadsheet to work out the unicode values, sizes and position for the animated highlight. You can download the After Effects project as well as that spread sheet, and follow along with the tutorial for Creating A Dynamic Ipad Keyboard in After Effects.