Adobe Illustrator is by far the best program to use for Motion Graphics in conjunction with Adobe After Effects. Please don’t use In-Design for your motion graphic illustrations as there are serious issues with bounding boxes and groups that just don’t play well with After Effects.
Illustration and file preparation is perhaps the most important part of any motion graphic workflow. Once you import the files into After Effects it’s much harder to fix little mistakes, split layers and shapes up.
Before jumping in and separating all your elements it’s best to strategize what individual items you want to control and animate. Think of every item in terms of its anchor points, how it will hinge, rotation and scale. Because each wheel will rotate from its centre point, we will need each wheel to be on separate layers
Think of a car illustration. The wheels will need to rotate independently of the car body so the wheels will need to be on a separate layer to the car body. The shadow will also need to be on a separate layer as shadows do not move off the ground.
There are a few ways but I will run through the simplest.
Unfortunately, at this stage After Effects only imports images that are on artboard number one. It will import all of your layers across but they will be empty layers unless the illustration is within the bounds of your artboard.
One last thing! Make sure you change the colour mode to RGB
Tips for Importing your Illustrator file into After Effects
To bring your file into after effects you have a few options.
Once you select your file you will be presented a few options
In almost every case you will want to import composition with retained layer sizes. We will get into the other options in more detail layer on.
If you want the flexibility to edit your layers within After Effects this process works most of the time, but also slows down your render time by a huge amount. At any stage you can go back into your illustrator file and adjust your illustration, alternatively you can do this:
Right click your layer in the composition and select create shapes from layers
This will create a new shape layer within After Effects and turn the visibility off on your original layer.
When After Effects imports your Adobe Illustrator file it rasterises it as a image (much like a JPG). So when you scale it up past 100% it actually starts to break apart and look terrible. There is a simple fix for this within After Effects. It’s called Continuously Rasterize and it’s located in your layer controls. It’s that little star icon to the right of your layer name. If you can’t see it, press F4 to toggle your layer styles. This will enable you to scale your image up and down as required. Note it will also slow down your render times, so unless you need it don’t use it.
Sometimes I still do it the way outlined above, especially when I have a complex illustration and don’t need to animate every individual part of it. For other times there is a plugin that a very talented guy named ‘Adam Plouff’ made called Overlord. It basically transfers your shapes from Illustrator across to After Effects with the click of a button. It works most of the time, although it can be a little buggy. Make sure both your After Effects file and Illustrator files are saved before using his plugin.