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Working with Adobe Illustrator Files in After Effects: Video Tutorial

Working with Adobe Illustrator Files in After Effects: Video Tutorial

In this tutorial, you'll learn how to work with Adobe Illustrator files in Adobe After Effects.

Download Project Files from: Link to file:

Downloading File

  1. Go to to download the ferris wheel file.
  2. After unzipping, open in Adobe Illustrator. Delete every layer except for the ferris wheel one.
  3. Click on the ferris wheel object. Hit Ctrl-Shift-G (PC) / Cmd-Shift-G to ungroup it.
  4. Click the hamburger icon on the Layers panel, then click Release to Layers (Sequence).
  5. Shift-click on all the new sublayers. Drag them above the top layer. Delete the empty remaining layer.
  6. Save the file near the AE project you want to use it in.

Setting Up File in AI

  1. In AE, hit Ctrl-I (PC) / Cmd-I (Mac) to import the file. After clicking the file name in the folder, choose Composition (Retain Layer Sizes) from the Import As menu.
  2. Double click on the Main Comp precomp in the Project Panel.
  3. Drag the Ferris Wheel precomp from the Project Panel into the layer stack.
  4. Hit S for Scale, scale it down to 85%. Place it on the right of the composition.

Animating Rotation

  1. Double click on the Ferris Wheel precomp to go inside of it.
  2. Hit Enter (PC) / Return (Mac) to rename layers. Rename each layer to identify which object it holds, i.e. Car 1, Car 2, Outer Ring, etc.
  3. Hit Y to activate the Anchor Point tool. Drag the Anchor Point of each car up to the center middle of each one.
  4. Shift-click all the car layers. Click and drag the swirly pick whip from any selected layer to the Outer Ring layer.
  5. Click the Outer Ring layer. Hit R for Rotation.
  6. With the Playhead at the origin, hit the stopwatch to start keyframing.
  7. Move the Playhead to 0;00;02;00.
  8. Change the Rotation to 1 x 0 degrees, to have it rotate one full revolution.
  9. Alt-click (PC) / Option-click (Mac) the Rotation stopwatch to enter an Expression.

Type in LoopOut().

  1. On any car layer, Alt-click (PC) / Option-click (Mac) the Rotation stopwatch to enter an Expression.

Type in ;value - parent.rotation.value to keep the cars upright.

  1. Click on Main Comp in the top toolbar to return to the main composition.

Live Text

  1. In Illustrator, create a new file and use the Text tool to type some words.
  2. Import it into AE using the previous method. After placing it into the composition, note how this text is restricted to only the basic Transformation options (Position, Scale, Rotation.)
  3. To be able to actually animate text with Range Selectors and other text presets, Ctrl-C (PC) / Cmd-C (Mac) the text itself within AI.
  4. In AE, hit Ctrl-V (PC) / Cmd-V (Mac) to paste the text.
  5. In Effects and Presets, type in Flip Up.
  6. Drag and drop the preset onto the text.

Video Transcript

Hello. This is Tziporah Zions from Noble Desktop and in this tutorial I'm going to show you how to set up an Illustrator file for use in Adobe After Effects. So today we're going to be going through the steps of setting up an illustrator file to animate from start to finish. We're going to be getting a free for use file from a graphic site, organizing it with an illustrator so it's easy to animate after effects and putting it back into after effects.

Sorry, importing it back into After Effects itself. After animating that, we're going to finish up with some live text animation as well. So let me show you what the project looks like. So this is what it looks like when it's done. And we're going to be mainly focusing on like this first real portion with this bit of text.

To give you an idea of how to do this yourself, there's a couple of, you know, animations going on in the back. We're not going to worry about that. That's just to add some flair to the the file, but they're they're made exactly the same way as this process. So once you know how to do this first real, you could do everything else by yourself.

So this is a very useful thing to know as a designer because you're going to be getting files from other sources all the time, whether it's from a team member or for a freelance job. Motion graphics artists have to deal with outside files a ton. And for after effects, this is a particular way to set up a file so that animates correctly and neatly.

So while this tutorial is going to show you how to download, set up an animated illustrator file, I actually, as I mentioned, I have the background animated already, so you can focus on setting up just this first rule with text so that's going to be in already set up Illustrator file and that stuff's linked below in the description.

All right. So let's head over. I'm going to show you a couple of sites where you can get a free vector. So one such site is free pick free EP, OK, and if you put in resources like free and vectors, let's see, I know let's put a dog you'll see that they have all these super cute free, you know, files for your for your personal project a lot of these places will want you to give credit, like put a link to the site where you got it from.

That's very important. Please give credit whenever you are using an online asset so this is very easy. So that's how you get from there. And the site we're going to sorry, but that's free pick. The next site we're using is very easy. VPC pretty easy. Y same thing here. Vectors also put in dog. You know they have a different just dog please.

Thank you. And over here we'll put a free license again. You don't have to pay anything for these, but you do have to give credit when you use these assets so for our purposes, we're going to be using this file, the amusement park file so you could see attribution required for download, you know, copy the link to posted somewhere in the description of your project, you know, so you can give credit and we had free license and it's going to download as a zip and then you just extract it and open it up in Illustrator.

So I will see you over there. All right. Here we are in Illustrator. So a couple of things first before we get into it, but this should be let me check what kind of file. So this is an Illustrator file. You can see that it's a I, but very often when you are downloading a file from the Internet a vector file can be an EPS.

It's not a big deal. But the difference between these files is that an EPS and an encapsulated postscript, it's it's an older, larger more flexible kind of file. You seen a lot in publishing. You can use this like laser cutters. Both these can carry bit more info as well. Kind of like, you know, a pixel like a photo or anything in Photoshop.

So these guys both carry illustrations, Adobe Illustrator files, files, they're usually used for logos and that's the native file format for Illustrator. So now you know, but this one's already in Illustrator. So if you do want to convert it from one to the other, you go to save as and then you know, Adobe Illustrator or Illustrator EPS, that will do the trick all right.

So let's pick apart this file. So the first thing I'm going to do for my purposes, I don't need this background layer. So I'm going to and lock that thing. I'm going to delete it. I don't need this layer. So we're going to get rid of it and the other ones as well. I'm actually going to be getting rid of just because we're really focusing, as I mentioned, on the first rule.

So. All right. So what we're going to be doing next is that this thing, if you click on it you see the whole thing highlights. But if you toggle it open, there's all these pieces that mean this is already grouped. So if that's the case, go up to object on group. So now it's got all these sub sub pieces, right?

If I click on those now, it's all separate, but I want all of these, I want to separate layers. That's super important. If you're going to be animating it and after effects because after effects can't pass through the layers itself, it can't separate it itself. So we're going to go up again with this layer selected, go up to this little hamburger hamburger icon go to release toyour sequence and now they all have their own little sub layers.

So let's grab every single one of these layers, click and drag it on top of that main layer. And now they're all released. It does give us this leftover layer over here, so we're going to delete that. OK, so that's all done. So now we're going to be saving this file and doing shift control this on my PC and I am going to find the the folder where my after effects project is contained.

And the reason for that is because I want to be able to quickly and effectively access this file whatever I want. Now, if I save it somewhere else after effects, it's going to know where it is when I import it. But if something happens to it, I want to be able to like quickly relocate it. And it's just, you know, if you're packaging this file something and off to someone else working on a team, it's really best practice to have all your assets in one area.

So here we go. I'm saving it as an illustrator file. Yes, yes, yes. And now we can head into after effects so this is the demo file. Let's head into the fire we're going to be using. So you see, it's blank. There's no words as a first rule. Now a couple of things. So we are going to be importing with control I on a PC command, I on a Mac and let me tell you about your different options when importing your files.

So we put it in using a I files assets thank you. First real. All right. So I'm going to do this the wrong way first for this particular method, we're going to import it. You see the setting over here. We're going to go over these settings so footage and portrait as one layer, merge layer. See, now really want this footage if you're doing like a sequential animation like a bunch of pictures all together or literally footage, this is kind of big, but you see like it's massive and if I want to rotate it, adjust, the whole thing rotates.

I don't want that. So for this option, footage is not the best all right. So let me show you the other two. So the one we're going to be using is composition retain layer sizes because the regular one composition that puts the anchor point, the, the point that the program has like two animate the object around that puts it in the center of the file for every single layer.

And it's really even more useful for symmetrical pieces or if your work with work in progress graphic like it's useful for animating with earlier stage files and standing artwork. But we're going to be using composition retain layer sizes and that's the most common option that people use. I always use it. So let's drag and drop it into here.

I'm going to scale it down so it fits. Let's see, I'm going to move my anchor point with Y to the base over here, scale it just how I want it oh, OK. All right.

So now let's get to the nitty gritty. I'm going to double click to go inside of my first food layer. And here it is in the top right corner. So we've got all these layer names. What I'm going to be doing for neatness sake is I'm going to hit enter on my PC or turn on a Mac, and I'm going to be naming each of these so I'm just going to go down the row and do that with every single one.

So I know what all the pieces are. So let's cut to that all right. So with all this selected, if you don't have this plug in, it's pretty easy to get, but you could just hit one on your keyboard and drag all the anchor points to the top middle of all the cars like that. They look like that.

And I'm going to be animating our outside rank here. I'm going to get my plate at the origin, our what's outside of ring selected now it's like ring being like this red, you know, outside ring. So I'm going to hit the stopwatch to start key framing. I'm going to move it like 2 seconds in and I'm going to put one over here, which will tell it to do one entire revolution.

And if I play it, you'll see that the like the cars. Oh, sorry about that. What I meant to do first was that I was going to select all these cars and I want to pick RIP. That's really, really thing. You grab on any selected layer, drag it over to outside, ring there we go. Please behave. And if you get this thing playing, you'll see they all rotate as well, which is not typical Ferris wheel behavior unless you've been on some real exciting Ferris wheels.

So now what I'm going to be doing is I'm going to be making sure that they all, like, see upright while they rotate. So I'm going to have on car one, I'm going to open up rotation by hitting R with it selected and I'm a PC, so I hit alt. If you have a Mac, you would probably be hitting you'd be hitting the option key.

But over here in expressions, I'm going to be typing in just a little bit of code. First of all, I'm going to do semicolon value and then this like hyphen and then parent dot rotation dot value and what that's going to do, it's that it's going to keep this car upright. All right. So with that in place, we're going to be going up to you have to have the rotation like highlighted here.

It's very picky. We go up to edit Cobb expression only and then you just, you know, paste it with command V Control V into every single car player you could see on rotation. Once it turns red, that means it's got an expression added to six, seven, eight. And also another expression we're going to be adding is heading over to the rotation on the outside ring and we're going to be putting in loop out.

So that was just going to make this continue on forever and ever. Now you'll see that like the cars look a little bit funky once they start rotating out of place, that more has to do with their own individual anchor points. What I suggest in that case is to go through each of these cars and they're looking kind of weird when they rotate.

I would suggest like altering the anchor point. So like playing with an anchor point to get it just so where it, you know, rotates correctly. All right. We've had done we head back to our main comp and it's rotating a little bit off. But, you know, you could like I say, you could always alter those little cars afterwards.

You know, with the anchor point in a position. But you got the general idea. It's just a little bit of detailing from here on out. All right. So the last thing that we're going to be doing is I want to show the difference between live text and importing text from Illustrator. So let's see. I'm going to make a new file so I'm going to call it Ferris wheel text.

And I'm just going to type something in here. Let's make that nice and big something in here. Reason being now, there's a difference between importing the text directly to after effects and just copy paste it. And then I of something called live text. The live text is editable, but if you import this, it will probably come in as an object which is not editable in the same way.

So. So I'm going to save it for this route. Ferris Wheel Text. Yes, please. I'm going to import it. I'm going to import a composition or change layer sizes and drag and drop it onto here. Now, if you're, you see, I can't really animate it in the same way I can do text itself. I can really just animate it as if it were a, you know, an object, which is not really what you want with text.

Generally speaking, the better thing to do is to let's say let's go back in, try after effects so that way layer and text I haven't have this text like saved. So I just paste it over there. But you type in anything now it's an after effects. Now, what I would rather do here to make sure that I can edit it is actually copy it.

Control C, command C, and I'm going to make a layer new text layer and I'm going to paste that in right like that. And the reason being is because I actually want this to be and I'm like, I want to animate this in the same way that I can animate any other text in my file. So I'm going to go to Effects Presets I am going to do my text text presets.

That's how they're kind of in fade up and flip like that. I'm actually going to grab the little range here. But yeah, you see, I wouldn't be able to do that if I had imported the text like I had done before. So yeah, this workflow happens a lot. Designers get handed logo files with all the pieces stuck together and one layer or we'll have to animate a car, for instance.

And that's also just drawn up all together in a single layer. Sometimes we'll be tasked with a general animated jungle scene and we'll have to go digging for a free file that has assets and then set it up so we can work with it all this kind of workflow is also super useful to know if you're making your own illustrator assets too.

Now you're going to be familiar with how to best several layers in an API so we can animate them without hassle. So that's all for this tutorial. I hope you've enjoyed learning how to set up an Illustrator file for animating and Adobe After Effects. This has been Tziporah Zions for Noble Desktop.

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