Pasting Paths "In Place" Between Shape Layers Impossible?

New Here ,
May 05, 2022 May 05, 2022

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I seem to be really stuggling to find a method to copy a path or group from one shape layer and paste it into another shape layer so they both line up perfectly (like paste-in-place in Illustrator). I figured this would be a basic function but after hours of searching I have not made any progress on this and was hoping to get some help here.

 

I've modified a graphic I made in Illustrator and would like to update the graphic in a simple animation I made in AE. So I have imported the updated Illustrator file into AE and converted it into a shape layer. At this point, everything lines up perfectly - my AE layers have the exact same alignment as my Illustrator artboard. But when I attempt to copy a path from my new shape layer into my old layer (so I can continue to use my old animated mask path), the pasted path is not aligned and I can't make sense of the logic behind its placement. Each layer has been made from an imported 1920x1080 Illustrator file and my AE comp is also 1920x1080 and I haven't scaled, moved or transformed any of the shapes in AE - they're all exactly positioned as they are in Illustrator and as they first were when I imported them into AE.

 

Is there really no way for me to neatly move paths or groups from one shape layer to another without their alignment shifting? I don't have a lot of experience with AE but this seems like a glaring omission of a basic feature. If I could move paths and have the anchor points snap to the anchor points of another path then that could be a work-around to get the alignment I want but I can't seem to do this kind of snapping.

Any help is appreciated!

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Community Expert ,
May 05, 2022 May 05, 2022

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Select your shape layer and press the 'u' key twice to reveal all modified properties. You will see Transform properties for every object and every group. The group changes the coordinates for the object, so a copy and paste will not work. If you need to copy and paste objects inside a group to another shape layer, copy the entire group, then delete the unneeded contents. If you need to copy a path and paste it to a mask, you must remove the path from the group, making sure the shape layer is not out of position or scaled. Again, revealing the modified properties of the layer is critical. If any transform properties are not at their default values, the mask will be out of position.

 

Unless you use shape layer animators, animate a fill color, or extrude a shape layer, there is no reason to convert Illustrator layers to shape layers. The rendering time usually also goes up. 

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New Here ,
May 06, 2022 May 06, 2022

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Thanks for your replies, Rick and Mylenium. Ok, after some more serious trial and error, I think I have a better understanding of the shape layer coordinates. My new and old shape layers have mismatched anchor point and position coordinates. My new shapelayer has 960,540 (center of 1920x1080) for both anchor and position while my old shape layer has different numbers for both anchor and position. And the group I want to copy from the new shape layer also has different anchor and position values, but I looks like the anchor point value of this group is what I need to focus on, which starts at 0,0. When I copied this group from the new to the old shape layer, things do not align, as previously described. But when I took the old shape layer's position value and subtracted the anchor value from it (doing this indivudually for both X and Y), then input this resulting value into the pasted group's achor point coordinates, everthing appears to align perfectly.

 

Wowza! Thanks for helping me through this. But I still think there should be an option in AE that does a kind of 'relative' pasting and does this math for me in order to execute a past-in-place. Also, I am animating the path for part of my graphic so that's why I converted everything to shape layers but maybe I could simplify things by only coverting some of my Illustrator layers.

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New Here ,
May 06, 2022 May 06, 2022

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Actually, it looks like subtracting from the new group's position is probably a better idea instead of messing around with its 0,0 anchor point coordinates.

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Community Expert ,
May 06, 2022 May 06, 2022

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Vector path coordinates are based on the layer size. You cannot force them to be based on the size of the composition.  If you import a layered AI file as a Composition - Retaining Layer Size, then the position of each layer will be all over the place. If you import the same AI file as a Composition, every layer will be the same size as the comp. The position will be at the comp center for every layer. That should help the Vector layers you copy and paste line up with any new shape layer or mask.

 

Shape layers start with the Anchor Point at 0, 0 because an empty shape layer has no size. The position will be at the comp center. The coordinates for a path on a shape layer assume the empty layer is the same size as the comp, so paths that are copied to masks or other shape layers will stay lined up unless you fiddle with the transform properties of the shape or a group that contains a shape.

 

If you have any shapes in a group and you transform the group, a copied and pasted shape will not line up, just like a mask on a layer that has had any transform properties applied, will not paste to the same comp position on a new layer. It will paste to the same layer position, so if you match the transform properties of the new layer with the original, the masks will line up.

 

The easiest solution to your workflow problem is to import your layered AI file as a Composition. Then the starting point for every layer AE creates will always be at the comp center. That will make your life easier. 

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New Here ,
May 06, 2022 May 06, 2022

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Thanks, Rick. I will keep all this in mind for future work. It would also be amazing if AE had an ability to "zero" the transform coordinated - keep everything in place but make all the transform values 0.

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Community Expert ,
May 06, 2022 May 06, 2022

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As Rick already said, you need to pay more attention to the actual structure of the shape layers and their various transform options. And I'd also second his suggestion to not convert anything that doesn't need to be parametrically animated with a Trim Paths or other such unique features.

 

Mylenium

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