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While there may be other issues, the biggest one that keeps catching me when trying to import Illustrator layers to After Effects is if the person creating the artwork forgot to check “save as PDF compatible file” when they saved it.  Without that check, the preview won’t show in Finder, and the file coming into After Effects will be in one flat layer.

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One Comment

  1. (Antifreeze Comment: This is a common mistake below for illustrators. They don’t need to save the file as a PDF. They need to CHECK the BOX: “CREATE PDF COMPATIBLE FILE” in the save dialog that we often ignore. If they don’t, on import to AE, we get a message with instructions to do this instead of our file. If you have a workaround please share! I’d love to be wrong on this one.)

    Tom’s comment:
    Actually you can import any .ai file to After Effects as separate layers rather easily without any need to save it as a PDF or differently than as a regular .ai file. On your end, in the Import screen (from AE), you need to have the “Import As” option set to “Composition – Retain Layer Sizes” (it’s set to “Footage” by default, which is why it’s appearing as a single, flat layer) and you’ll get every layer separately along with individual anchor points and etc.


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