How to Import Illustrator Files to After Effects

In this guide, we’ll explore two efficient methods for seamlessly importing your artwork from Adobe Illustrator into After Effects for animation. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting your journey in animation, these techniques will help you streamline your workflow.

Method 1: Using Illustrator Working File

The first method involves using your native Illustrator working file. The first step is to ensure that all your layers are on their own top-level layer. As you can see, I have one layer and when I drop down, I have various sub-layers and groups that After Effects won’t recognize.

To fix this, toggle on your layer, select the fly-out menu, and go down to “Release Layers Sequence”. Select all layers within your top-level layer and drag them out, now you can delete your original layer. You’ll want to rename all your new layers as they will be the same name when imported into After Effects.

In After Effects, import the working file by going to “File”, “Import”, and selecting “File”. When Importing, make sure you select the option to Import as “Composition – Retain Layer Sizes” and ensure “Create Composition” is checked.

When you open the composition After Effect created, you will see all of your separate Illustrator layers in the timeline. Highlight all of your layers then go to “Layer”, “Create”, and select “Create Shapes from Vector Layer” to create objects you can animate.

Method 2: Manual Composition Creation

The second way to import your artwork is to manually create a composition with imported images. The easiest way to do this is by using the Asset Export panel in Illustrator.

If you don’t see this panel, go to “Window” and select “Asset Export.” All you need to do is drag and drop the assets you want to export into this panel then select your output type such as a JPG or PNG.

In After Effects, import your images exported from the Asset Export panel in a new composition. You can simply just drag and drop the images from your folder into your timeline.


Two different methods you can use for importing your artwork into After Effects. By using either the Illustrator working file or by exporting your assets using the asset export panel. Whichever method you choose, you can now seamlessly transition your Illustrator artwork into animations in After Effects.

Discover more helpful tips and techniques like this on our blog.