Tutorial 2: Animating vector data in AFX

Step 1: Set Up Your Illustrator File

To properly animate the Illustrator file in After Effects, all assets must be separated into their own individual layers. It is also important to name each layer appropriately as to not become confused layer in After Effects.

Make sure the Document Color Mode is set to “RGB Color” 

Then save your Illustrator file as a *.ai file.

Step 2: Import Illustrator file into After Effects

File>Import file (or Command/Option + I).

Make sure “Composition” is selected rather than “Footage.” This ensures the Illustrator file will not import as a flattened image, but rather with your named layers. For animation purposes, this is very important.

Step 3: Animation

The first step to animating any asset is to set the anchor point. The anchor point affects how the object will move once animation keyframes are set. 

The shadow layer position is animated from its position.

This animation overshoots the space allotted in the composition. In this case, the letters need to stay within the ribbon space. Combining the letter layers into their own composition allows a single mask to do the trick. The mask needs to be present on the composition, and not the individual layers.

For the brain, the opacity was simply animated from 0–100%, and the cursor’s position was animated. This is entirely up to the artist on how this looks, but I chose to have the cursor come in from behind the laptop lid layer.

There are many ways to reveal the text and graphics at the bottom of the composition, and in this case I decided to start the animation with the left piece of the ribbon. After moving the anchor point to the center of the image, I animated the scale and rotation. I made sure to ease the rotation animation as to avoid any abrupt movement. The other part of the ribbon will animate its position across the screen. Animate a mask reveal for the text that grows alongside the ribbon as it crosses the screen.

Step 4: Secondary Animations

To avoid any static periods of time. secondary animations can be added.

Secondary animations help keep the piece interesting by using subtle movement.


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