You just receive an illustrator file to animate and you are not sure how to import it correctly in After Effects? Well you landed on the right place, my goal here is to teach you the best workflow to import an illustrator file into After Effects and show you some tips and tricks to import vector files easily in After Effects. I will share some plug-ins you can use to get your illustrator file ready quickly and improve your workflow and make your life easier when you animate.

First let me list what might happen if your Illustrator file is NOT ready for After Effects

  • After effects is not importing all your illustrator path and layers.
  • After Effects shows a blank layer from your illustrator file.
  • After Effects doesn’t show your gradient, it shows a solid gray color.

Now I am going to resolve each of the issue above, let’s get started!

Just expand the tab below to explore different ways to work with Illustrator and After Effects.

For this tutorial I will use this vector coffee cup image below. file here

  1. Open your Ai file in Illustrator
  2. Open your layers window

    As you can see there is multiple path those wont be recognize in After Effects, to solve this let’s continue.
  3. Click on Layer 1 and click on Release to Layers (Sequence). Demo below
  4. Now that your layers are created drag all of them outside Layer 1
  5. Finally rename each layers so it is organized and click SAVE.
  6. Your Illustrator file should now be ready to import into After Effects.

Convert Illustrator vector Layer to After Effects Shape layer is fairly easy.

Once you have imported all your vector layers on After Effects

– Select your layer
– Right click and go to Create then click on Create Shapes from Vector Layer
Create Shapes From Vector Layers

Here I am going to show you 2 solutions on how to import your Illustrator gradient layers to After Effects.

Solution 1

The first solution to import your Illustrator gradient to After Effects I learned it from Eran Stern big kudos to him.

  1. Make sure you have Adobe XD installed on your computer.
  2. Open your Illustrator file in Adobe XD for this example I will you this gradient ai file
  3. Click on your gradient such as below
  4. Click on File > Export > After Effects…
  5. Boom! After Effects will open automatically your layer with the gradient.

Here is the video of Eran Stern at Adobe Max explaining a work around to get your gradient from Illustrator to After Effects.

Solution 2

The other way to import your illustrator layers and gradient to After Effects is to use a plug in called Overlord.
Overlord allow you to transfer Illustrator shape directly into After Effects without importing the AI file. When you install the Overlord plug-in on After Effects it add a series of tool that allows you to customize what you would like to import. For Illustrator artist this is huge because to don’t have to waste your time in Illustrator to organize your shapes in layers.
You can purchase it here for $45.

Here is a demo video that show you how Overload plug in works

I have to say overload is a must have plug in if you deal with the lot of Illustrator files

Let’s try to resolve some bugs that have happen to me and other motion designers when importing Illustrator file into After Effects

Your illustrator file or layer shows black or empty in After Effects ?

Here are some solutions you might want to try out below.

  1. Make sure you have only 1 artboard in Illustrator before you import, multiple artboards are not recognized in After Effects
  2. Make sure your path is in the artboard not outside like below
  3. When saving illustrator file make sure “Create PDF Compatible File” is ticked
  4. Maybe your keyboard caps lock is ON

Wait! you have other question concerning Illustrator to After Effects ? Just drop me a comment below I will try my best to answer it.