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AI (illustrator) layers not showing up in AE (after effects) CC 2014

Explorer ,
May 01, 2015

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I've just come across this issue for the first time. I've imported AI files into AE many times before and had no issues like this one.


After importing the layered AI doc into AE, only one layer will show up. Attached is a video I recorded of what happens. If you can make sense of it, please let me know.
Note: I can save out eps as separate files and use those in AE no problem.

I'm working on a macbook pro retina and just did a fresh format about 2 weeks ago so everything is up to date. I've tried restarting AE and my computer. Also recreating a new AI file with different dimensions.

I blocked out the files on my computer in respect to my clients (in case you're confused).



I figured it out... you can't have more than one artboard in your illustrator file. I didn't know that but it makes sense now that I've come across the answer.

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AI (illustrator) layers not showing up in AE (after effects) CC 2014

Explorer ,
May 01, 2015

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I've just come across this issue for the first time. I've imported AI files into AE many times before and had no issues like this one.


After importing the layered AI doc into AE, only one layer will show up. Attached is a video I recorded of what happens. If you can make sense of it, please let me know.
Note: I can save out eps as separate files and use those in AE no problem.

I'm working on a macbook pro retina and just did a fresh format about 2 weeks ago so everything is up to date. I've tried restarting AE and my computer. Also recreating a new AI file with different dimensions.

I blocked out the files on my computer in respect to my clients (in case you're confused).



I figured it out... you can't have more than one artboard in your illustrator file. I didn't know that but it makes sense now that I've come across the answer.

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May 01, 2015 3
Explorer ,
May 01, 2015

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Sorry for the low res. I had compressed it before I realized it was an embedded link from youtube.

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May 01, 2015 0
Explorer ,
May 01, 2015

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the error message at the end says "After Effects warning. Could not create outlines. Empty or unsupported content."

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May 01, 2015 0
LEGEND ,
May 02, 2015

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My experience is that Illustrator folks DO NOT create layers.  They think that a groups and stuff like that constitute layers... and they don't.  There's a "make a new layer" switch in Illustrator that goes mostly ignored.  So check that you've actually made layers first.

Next, make sure the document color mode is RGB and not CMYK.

And then in AE, import the illustrator document as a composition.  If happiness doesn't ensue, you have other issues.

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May 02, 2015 2
Explorer ,
May 04, 2015

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Thanks for your reply, but unfortunately that's not it.

I've tried: having all the assets on separate layers, making sure the doc was in RGB, renaming the illustrator file, saving it back to different versions of AI, loading into a different AE file, and so on. I have a feeling it has something to do with the paint bucket tool. I've outlined/expanded my graphics just incase, so it shouldn't be.


OH HEY! I've seen a lot of your posts on creative cow as well in the last few years. You're kind of like a AE community celebrity to me haha.

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May 04, 2015 0
LEGEND ,
May 04, 2015

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Couldn't create outlines..... are you building a design out of text characters, perhaps?    It's easily solved by using the convert to outlines command in Illustrator.

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May 04, 2015 0
Explorer ,
May 04, 2015

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sorry, that's what I meant. I've forced everything to vector. There's nothing "live" about the graphics. I've also double checked that the layers aren't checked off as templates.

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May 04, 2015 0
Explorer ,
May 04, 2015

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I figured it out... you can't have more than one artboard in your illustrator file. I didn't know that but it makes sense now that I've come across the answer.

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May 04, 2015 10
Community Beginner ,
Jul 04, 2018

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I deleted one artboard but I still get same error? Help.

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Jul 04, 2018 1
New Here ,
Jan 18, 2016

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man, you helped me so much!!!

thank you for writing that answer...

saved me a lot of nerves and stress

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Jan 18, 2016 0
Most Valuable Participant ,
Sep 13, 2016

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you can't have more than one artboard in your illustrator file.

this statement is actually not accurate. you can work with 2 artboards when importing an illustrator file to After Effects and sometimes you really should. different sized artboards are great for the design process in Ai, but when you want to prepare your files for Ae. you should work within your final output dimensions. for example a common output is HD (1920x1080) so you would to work with an artboard at that size, and if you got objects bleeding to the pasteboard - you want another artboard that is bigger than HD and contains the partly cropped object. for this reason there are video templates in Ai and they have 2 Artboards and not one so that object that are on the pasteboard (or partly on the pasteboard) won't be cropped in Ae.

let's see for example the HDTV1080 Preset.

it comes with 2 artboards and this is a good thing:

it's an HD artboard on top of a very big 14400x14400 artboard. as stated in the tutorial later in this post, this is said to be a magic size for this trick to work and not crop layers, but I have found that any artboard that is larger then the HD artboard and contains the cropped elements this is good

when I import it to Ae, it will not be cropped

this is actually very useful. but what am I explaining this when you actually have the lovely Trish Meyer to explain it to you in this free video from Lynda: After Effects Hidden Gems

more about preparing your work from Ai to Ae in here: Preparing and importing still images in After Effects

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Sep 13, 2016 2
New Here ,
Feb 27, 2017

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Thanks for posting the 'Preparing and importing still images' guide, the solution for this issue for me was this:

To ensure that Illustrator files appear correctly in After Effects, select Create PDF Compatible File in the Illustrator Options dialog box.

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Feb 27, 2017 3
New Here ,
Mar 15, 2018

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Thanks man..You saved me

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Mar 15, 2018 0
New Here ,
Oct 01, 2020

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Selecting 'Create PDF Compatible File' in the Illustrator Options dialog box totally worked for me!
I had tried several things but this was the one. Thanks a lot!

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Oct 01, 2020 0
New Here ,
Feb 08, 2018

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you saved my life

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Feb 08, 2018 0