Things to know when creating Adobe Illustrator artwork for After Effects

Are you planning to use Adobe Illustrator to create artwork for your After Effects projects? Great choice! Illustrator is a powerful tool for creating vector graphics that can be easily imported into After Effects. However, there are some important considerations to keep in mind to ensure a smooth workflow and the best results. Here are some key things to know:

  1. Start with the Right Document Settings: When creating your Illustrator file, make sure to set up your document with the appropriate dimensions and resolution. This will depend on the final output size and quality you need for your After Effects project.
  2. Use Vector Graphics: Illustrator excels at creating vector graphics, which are resolution-independent. Use vector shapes and text whenever possible to ensure your artwork remains crisp and sharp when scaled within After Effects.
  3. Organize Your Layers: Properly organizing your layers in Illustrator will save you a lot of time when you import your artwork into After Effects. Use descriptive layer names and group related elements together.
  4. Avoid Raster Effects: After Effects doesn’t handle raster effects well. Avoid using raster-based effects like drop shadows or glows in Illustrator, as they may not translate correctly into After Effects.
  5. Convert Text to Outlines: To ensure your text appears correctly in After Effects, convert it to outlines (vector shapes) by selecting the text and going to Type > Create Outlines. This prevents font compatibility issues.
  6. Save as AI or EPS: When saving your Illustrator file, use the AI (Adobe Illustrator) or EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) format. After Effects can import these formats seamlessly.
  7. Mind the Anchor Points: Be cautious with the placement of anchor points in your vector shapes. After Effects uses anchor points as pivot points for transformations, so ensure they’re where you want them to be.
  8. Trim Your Artboard: If your Illustrator document has a large artboard with empty space, consider trimming it to fit your artwork. After Effects will import the entire artboard, so reducing its size can save you some workspace clutter.
  9. Maintain Transparency: If you want to preserve transparency in your Illustrator artwork, ensure that your document has a transparent background or use the appropriate blending modes and opacity settings.
  10. Choose Compatible Effects: When applying effects in Illustrator (such as gradients or strokes), be aware that not all effects are supported in After Effects. Test your artwork to ensure it appears as expected.
  11. Check Color Profiles: Be consistent with color profiles. Ensure that your Illustrator document and After Effects project are set to the same color profile to prevent color shifts.
  12. Save Versions: To avoid irreversible changes, save different versions of your Illustrator file as you work. This allows you to backtrack if necessary.
  13. Layers: There are some differences in the way layers work, between After Effects and Illustrator. The most obvious difference is that After Effects will only see the top-level layers of an imported Illustrator file. After Effects won’t see the nested layers in the composition timeline; These will all be flattened into a single layer. Consequently, anything that needs to be animated as separate elements, must be in a suitably named top-level layer of its own. It should not be nested away somewhere.

By keeping these considerations in mind, you’ll be better prepared to create Adobe Illustrator artwork that seamlessly integrates into your After Effects projects. This will not only save you time but also help you achieve the desired visual results with ease. Happy designing!