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Hey, I notice on the latest AE upgrade 18.2.1 (2021) that the 'convert to layered comp' feature has disappeared. Does anyone know where they've hidden it??? It was a really handy feature for splitting out the elements of .ai file from illustrator into separate layers. I hope I'm just being stupid and that's it's hidden in plain sight! Thanks.
Yes, it's still there if you right-click the selected layer based on AI source footage or use the Layer pulldown menu (Layer > Create > Conver to Layered Comp).
Thanks Warren. But it doesn't work the same way the previous version use to. I use to be able to take in an .ai file with everything on one layer in the Illustrator file and it would separate each element out into an individual AE layer. From what I can see this will only work if you've already separated the layers out in Illustrator. Hmmmm....
Actually, no, when importing an Illustrator document as a Comp or creating a Comp from AI source footage later, After Effects does not see objects nor sub-layers as separate. AE only sees AI Layers and all AI layer contents are merged onto the corresponding AE Layer.
So, we've always had to move any Illustrator objects that we want to animate separately on the AE side to their own layer at the root level of the Illustrator document (that is, the object cannot be on a sub-layer). The "Release to Layers - Sequence" option in the Illustrator Layer panel pop-up menu can be helpful for this as it promotes each object on the selected Layer to its own sub-layer which can then be renamed and promoted to Layers.
Have you tried using Adobe XD yet to export to After Effects?
You open the Illustrator document in XD (File > Open) and then choose File > Export > After Effects. With this approach, the Illustrator objects become AE Layers in a Comp. If you take this approach, be sure to review Supported features when you export to After Effects from the Adobe XD User Guide. What's not listed here that probably should be is that the Illustrator document Layer structure is not supported. If I could make any change to how exporting to AE from XD works it is that the AI Layer structure would be maintained via AE Comps and pre-Comps on the After Effects side. That said, Groups, Artboards, and Text Layers are supported.
This is all great. Thanks. The XD tip is a great one too. I'll give that a go. 👍🏻
For what it's worth, you can edit the Illustrator file after having imported it into After Effects such that the objects that you want to animate are each on their own layer, save the changes on the AI side, and then return to AE to do Create Layers.
It sounds like the short answer is "you can't do this anymore, you have to go through XD now." Is that correct?
Not at all.
The options to import a layered Illustrator file as footage, choose a layer, as Comp (maintain Layer Size), and as Comp are all still present and accounted for. Converting vector layers to Shape Layers after the import is also still present.
Going through XD is just a new option.
There's also a great 3rd party option called Overlord by Battle Axe (https://www.battleaxe.co/overlord/). If you want to design leveraging Illustrator's tools and send it to an AE comp immediately, it's well worth it.