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Creating Animated Characters in After Effects
Illustration by John Hersey

Importing Illustrator files into After Effects


From:

Creating Animated Characters in After Effects

with George Maestri

Video: Importing Illustrator files into After Effects

Once you have your character drawn, either in Illustrator or Photoshop, you can then save it out, and bring it into After Effects. So let's take a look at the workflow for Illustrator first. Now, I have my file here, and before I do any exporting here, I want to make sure I go into Edit > Preferences, and go up to File Handling & Clipboard. Just make sure that Preserve Paths is turned on. This can help later on if we want to create paths that we can animate in After Effects.
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  1. 1m 49s
    1. Welcome
      1m 17s
    2. Using the exercise files
      32s
  2. 27m 15s
    1. Creating characters in Illustrator
      5m 51s
    2. Creating characters in Photoshop
      7m 9s
    3. Designing joints
      3m 40s
    4. Drawing mouths
      2m 12s
    5. Drawing hands and eyelids
      2m 48s
    6. Importing Illustrator files into After Effects
      3m 26s
    7. Importing Photoshop files into After Effects
      2m 9s
  3. 7m 51s
    1. Drawing in After Effects
      3m 57s
    2. Copying paths from Illustrator
      2m 19s
    3. Animating shapes
      1m 35s
  4. 21m 9s
    1. Understanding how layer hierarchies work
      3m 58s
    2. Understanding the importance of the pivot point
      5m 42s
    3. Assembling the upper body
      4m 47s
    4. Creating leg hierarchies for efficient walks
      4m 27s
    5. Organizing scenes with null layers
      2m 15s
  5. 22m 26s
    1. Adding puppet pins to a character
      6m 51s
    2. Controlling mesh density
      2m 15s
    3. Creating overlap pins
      4m 43s
    4. Creating starch pins
      3m 1s
    5. Using the Puppet tool with hierarchies
      5m 36s
  6. 19m 7s
    1. Replacement animation using time remapping
      6m 47s
    2. Mouth replacement
      6m 6s
    3. Creating blinks
      6m 14s
  7. 27m 23s
    1. Creating a head turn: Head shape
      6m 45s
    2. Creating a head turn: Ears
      8m 7s
    3. Creating a head turn: Facial features
      6m 41s
    4. Creating a head turn: Hair shape
      5m 50s
  8. 1h 3m
    1. The basics of expressions: Controlling the wrist
      5m 20s
    2. Moving hands from front to back with expressions
      9m 2s
    3. Using expressions to control pupils
      7m 44s
    4. Creating a master control node with Expression Controls
      6m 30s
    5. Creating blinks that move with a head turn
      9m 28s
    6. Controlling blinks using opacity
      6m 34s
    7. Attaching mouth shapes to a slider
      3m 39s
    8. Creating mouths that move with a head turn
      8m 31s
    9. Working with absolute values
      6m 12s
  9. 14m 28s
    1. Setting up null objects as bones
      5m 39s
    2. Attaching puppet pins to bones
      4m 57s
    3. Strategies for parenting legs and feet
      3m 52s
  10. 28m 32s
    1. Setting up a scene for animation
      6m 3s
    2. Blocking out the shot
      11m 0s
    3. Animating dialogue
      5m 39s
    4. Animating blinks
      5m 50s
  11. 18s
    1. Goodbye
      18s

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Creating Animated Characters in After Effects
3h 53m Intermediate Sep 08, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Learn to create and animate highly controllable characters using After Effects. In this course, author George Maestri covers every step on the way, from designing the characters in Photoshop or Illustrator, or drawing them straight from After Effects; assembling characters with hierarchies; making realistic deformations with the Puppet tool; automating rigs with expressions; creating realistic head turns; and showing advanced techniques such as using null objects as bones. Finally, the course shows how to perform a basic animation with the character and ensure the rig works correctly.

Topics include:
  • Importing Illustrator or Photoshop files into After Effects
  • Animating shapes
  • Organizing scenes with null layers
  • Working with the Puppet tool
  • Creating replacement animation using time remapping
  • Automating head turns
  • Creating a master control node with Expression Controls effects
  • Setting up a scene for animation
  • Animating dialogue
Subjects:
3D + Animation Character Animation
Software:
After Effects
Author:
George Maestri

Importing Illustrator files into After Effects

Once you have your character drawn, either in Illustrator or Photoshop, you can then save it out, and bring it into After Effects. So let's take a look at the workflow for Illustrator first. Now, I have my file here, and before I do any exporting here, I want to make sure I go into Edit > Preferences, and go up to File Handling & Clipboard. Just make sure that Preserve Paths is turned on. This can help later on if we want to create paths that we can animate in After Effects.

Then once you do that, you can go ahead and do a File > Save As. Now in this case, I am just going to save over my old file, which is called Gus_Complete, and hit Save; yes, I want to replace it. The reason I did this is I want to make sure I bring up this menu here for Illustrator Options. Obviously, we can save it in a number of different formats, which is a nice thing that Illustrator does, but I am going to leave this at CS5. And then we want to make sure that we have Create a PDF Compatible File checked.

Once we do that, we hit OK, the file saves out, and we can go into After Effects. Now, we can import the file either through the File menu, File > Import, or we can just double-click on the Project menu. Again, our file is called Gus_Complete. Now, before we import it, we want to make sure that we import this as Composition-Retain layer Sizes. That will make sure that it shrinks the bounding boxes to the size of the layers, and that's kind of important.

Once we do that, we hit Open, and it brings it into After Effects. So I can just double-click on the Gus_ Complete layer here, and you can see we have the character, and all the parts, and each part is a separate layer in the composition. This is why we want to make sure that our layers are named properly in Illustrator, because they flow through to After Effects. So if I have descriptive names here, it makes it much easier to animate once you get into After Effects.

Now, if you are working with Illustrator files, typically you'll have vectors, and this is nice because this way they're kind of resolution independent. Now, for example, let's say I select this hand, and I scale it up. Typically, in After Effects, this will go ahead and scale evenly. The way we want to make sure that this happens is we want to make sure that we have this column turned on, which basically is called Continuous Rasterize.

Now, typically what I do is I just go ahead and select all of my layers, and make sure I click Continuously Rasterize for all of them. Now, notice how when I click it off it gets kind of fuzzy, and that's because it's just using a low res version of the object. But once I do this, it rasterizes, so if I scale, or if I shrink or scale it, it will go ahead and rasterize it, so I always have smooth edges, and that's one of the nice things to do when you're using Illustrator files.

Now, once you have all of your parts in place, you're pretty much ready to start assembling your character in After Effects.

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