Hey everyone, IndieWhip here with a potentially helpful/insightful blog from our 3D artist Gabriel. Let us know what you think, and we’ll add more to this series! Creating your assets in Illustrator for animation in After Effects has a number of benefits. These two programs work together pretty fluidly, allowing you all the advantages of Illustrator’s drawing tools inside of your Ae timeline. Along with the flexibility you get with vector graphics, your Ai files will automatically update in your Ae composition when you save any modifications. Working between the two programs however requires a modicum of organization. So today we’ll be going over some of the ways to organize your files, and make sure they are imported to After Effects properly. First and foremost, you’re going to want to make sure your file’s settings are correct. Make sure the size of your art board is the same of that of your Ae composition and that your file is set to RGB values, not CMYK. Layering your assets properly is one of the more important aspects of this process as it will determine how your assets are organized in Ae. The way Ae reads Illustrator files, only the names of the primary layers are detected. Any artwork placed beneath this 1st level will be imported as shapes within the layer, labeled group 01, 02, etc. You will often have to reorganize your layer structure in order for your file to import into Ae in the manner you intend it to. In many cases when working for clients you will inherit assets that you didn’t design, but will become responsible for their preparation for animation. Few would argue that this is the most exciting part of the process, but in these instances you will quickly become familiar with the ‘Release to Layers (Sequence)’ command. Illustrator will not allow you to simply drag the layers you need up to the top of the hierarchy. In the example below we have a square, triangle, and circle. In their current state however they will be imported into After Effects as one layer. With the primary layer selected, open up the drop down menu and select ‘Release to Layers (Sequence)’ This will release the layers to their own groups which you can then drag to the top of the hierarchy. Due to the way these assets are imported, some designers use two separate files in their workflow, a construction file, and a file for animation. You can see in the image below I have saved out two different versions of a file for the design of the UI in a client project. The file on the left is the mock up design denoting the general look and feel of the end product, on the right, the file cleaned up and prepared for animation. Most notably the background, guides, and text have been removed from the construction file. This is to do away with any elements that won’t be necessary for animation, but will still appear as layers in your composition. The masks for the overlaid patterns have also been removed to be reapplied within Ae. Blending layers and clipping masks are generally things you will want to avoid bringing into After Effects since they usually will not work properly. In the animation file the layers have also been organized so they will import properly to After Effects. All of the elements I knew would be animated as groups have been layered together under a primary group, and the solitary elements have been isolated into their own. Next we will go over importing Illustrator files to After Effects. Once your assets are ready for animation, double click in Ae’s project window to import your project. Generally you will want to import your file as a composition, which will bring it in with all of its layers, and set up a composition for you. Your footage dimensions will determine where your anchor point is centered to. Setting footage dimensions to layer size will set the anchor points to the center of each asset. If you need to modify your layers within After Effects, you can right click on the Illustrator layer and select ‘Create Shapes from Vector Layer’ This will turn off the visibility for the Ai layer and create a shape layer from/for the artwork. Last but certainly not least, (what?) Make sure you have ‘Continuously Rasterize’ checked for your Ai layers. This is important in regards to scaling your assets. After Effects will scale footage normally as it would with pixels, increasing size with a cap on the level of resolution. With Continuously Rasterize on Ae will use the algorithms applied to the vector layers, allowing it to scale appropriately. If you’ve read this far, thank you for reading, and hopefully this information was useful to you! If you have any questions or comments feel free to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org! I’ve pocketed this to read later. At a glance.. it looks like good stuff. I expect nothing less from IndieWhip! Want to embed a video? Just paste the URL, no need to mess with embed codes. Get your Wistia video’s direct URL by navigating to that video within a project. Source.