After Effects Tutorial – Using Illustrator Files

Illustrator is a great program for creating graphics and After Effects is a great program for creating motion graphics, so it’s no surprise that the two mesh really well together. The above video gives a great overview of using Illustrator files in After Effects.

If you’re more of the reading type, continue on good sir and I shall tell thee how to do so.

If you have any idea of how to use and manipulate layers in After Effects, you have enough knowledge to start using Illustrator files. Say you create a logo or an animated character in Illustrator and want to add some subtle motion for a video you’re creating. The key to transporting it to After Effects is the setup.

When creating your Illustrator file, make sure each layer that you are going to be manipulating separately are on separate layers. This may seem like common sense, but it’s easy to forget in Illustrator.

Note: Photoshop automatically creates a new layer for everything you add (text, image, shape), but Illustrator will pound everything into the same layer unless you specifically create new layers.

Once you have your awesome new Illustrator creation, go ahead and save it as a .ai file. Don’t worry about exporting a PNG or whatever, you don’t need to do it.

Head over to After Effects and navigate to your project panel. From there, navigate to the .ai file you just created. Once you’ve clicked on it, you should see an option to “Import As.” Select the option to import as “Composition: Retain Layer Sizes.” That option will ensure that everything comes out the way you want it.

After importing, you will be able to see that a new composition was created. Go ahead and open that composition. Inside the composition are all the layers you created in your Illustrator file. Pretty awesome right? Now all you have to do is manipulate those layers with the motion you want for your project. Happy tweaking!

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John Hartley is a Director of Product Engineering at Beam Dental in Columbus, OH. With 5+ years of leadership experience he has worked in startups, agencies, and began his career as a freelance Front End Developer. Always looking to iterate, this blog is a place for him to share his knowledge as well as hone his craft, challenge assumptions, and build a strong base of leadership and management knowledge. Connect with him on LinkedIn

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