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In After Effects CS5 Essential Training, author Chad Perkins discusses the basic tools, effects, and need-to-know techniques in Adobe After Effects CS5, the professional standard for motion graphics, compositing, and visual effects for video. The course provides an overview of the entire workflow, from import to export, as well as detailed coverage of each stage, including animating text and artwork, adding effects to compositions, working in 3D, and rendering and compressing footage. Exercise files are included with the course.
In this chapter, we are going to have another sweet project. We are going to take an Illustrator file, as a matter of fact, this one right here, and we are actually going to import this. And actually, I have broken up this Illustrator file into a series of layers. And we are going to animate the different components. Now if you are not very familiar with Adobe Illustrator, no big deal. I'll be explaining Adobe Illustrator, what it does and why you want to use this as an After Effects user later on this training series. But for now, it's good to know that this is the image that we are going to be importing. It's a flat, dead image. Illustrator is not like an animation tool.
It's just basically a flat art. And what I wanted to show you here in this movie is how to import Adobe Illustrator files. When we import layered files from Photoshop or Illustrator, we do so in kind of a different way than we import regular files. Let me show what I mean here. Let's do this together. In the Project panel, I am going to double-click here somewhere, anywhere in this gray area here to open up the Import File dialog box. Next, I want to go to the Graphics folder inside the Media folder of the Exercise Files, and I am going to choose the Explore California Logo layered.ai file.
Now if this were a movie file or a still image or an audio file, we would just Open, and that's it. But when we have a layered Illustrator file or a layered Photoshop file, we have additional options and choices. Now we can import this as Footage or as a Composition. Now a Composition is actually what we are going to eventually import this as, but for now let me just briefly explain what this is. If you import as a Composition, then all of the layers from the original file will be brought into After Effects, stored nicely in little folder.
And also, After Effects will create a composition for you that has all of the layers of the Illustrator or Photoshop document as layers in the After Effects composition it creates for you. And again, we are going to see that in just a moment. If you choose Footage and click Open, this will allow you to Merge layers. What this will do is it'll take all of these layers and smush them together into one file, or in other words, like one layer. So, if you don't want to actually break up pieces of this and animate different components of this file, then you could merge the layers, and it could be just one file.
So, let's say you had a background file or something like that that you made in Photoshop with some cool texture or pattern, and you just wanted to merge all those layers, then you could just choose Merge layers as long it's set to Footage here. You can also choose an individual layer. Going back to Illustrator, this sun image here, the sun graphic, is on as on layer. So, what we could do is go back to After Effects and from this dropdown choose Sun. If we only want to bring in the sun from the Illustrator file, then that's what we would choose.
This is really good. Let's say you do a lot of work for a client, and it may be they have given files in the past that their logo is in, and you might not want to import the entire document. You just want to import their logo layer. This is a good way to do that. So, these are the choices. You can either Merge the layers or Choose a specific layer if you are going as Footage, but we actually want to import this as a Composition. And we have two choices: Layer Size or Document Size. This will make more sense later on. But basically, this refers to where the anchor point is, which, again, will probably not too much sense until we get later on in this chapter.
So, for now I am going to choose Layer Size and click OK. Here is what has happened here. Here we have all of the layers from the Illustrator file. If I resize the Project panel by clicking on this vertical divider bar and moving to the right, we can expand this little bit and see the names this layers. So, it gives us the name of the layer and then a slash and then the name of the document that this layer is found in. It puts them in order, and it names them for us, all nicely stored in this folder.
And you could see even here the Sun layer. And as I click on it, as with most objects in the Project panel, you get a thumbnail here the top that gives you an idea of what's on that exact layer. If this were a movie file or image, we would also have a preview here. And as mentioned, it did create a composition for us. So, if we want to open this composition up, all we have to do is just double-click it, and we'll see that all of the layers from the Illustrator file have come here into After Effects, and we can take off the visibility, let's say, for example, the Biker Body layer.
We can take off the visibility of this layer. We can see that's a separate component that we can then animate and play with. So, that is what we were going to do in this chapter. We are going to take the various components of this Illustrator file and animate them here in After Effects. It's actually very common use for After Effects, to take a layered Photoshop or Illustrator file and then play with it here. So, now when we've got the Illustrator file import out of the way, let's talk about the basics of animation.
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