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Aw, I remember using ParticleIllusion! I haven't touched it in over a decade! I had so much fun with it back in the day! Happy memories...
Anyway, you can get ParticleIllusion for After Effects as long as you're fine using an older version. CC 2014 is the latest version of AE that the ParticleIllusion plugin can work with.
Now, AE has a number of particle effects built into it and a few third-party plugins that are great. AE's built-in effects don't come with a ton of presets - nothing like ParticleIllusion. But you can do some really neat things with them. CC Particle World, Foam, Particle Playground, and CC Particle Systems II are the effects to look at. They all do very different things and they are all much more powerful than they look at first glance. After Effects isn't so much about presets; it's more about giving you powerful tools so you can build what you want. And, with After Effects you can pile effects on top of effects. So, for example, CC Vector Blur can really help sell smoke effects if you plop it on top of something. Also, a lot of the particle effects can use AE compositions to be the particle itself. So you can make a smokey animation in a composition and use that as your sprite.
But, if you want real particle power, you should look at Particular: Red Giant | Trapcode Particular, 3D Effects & Motion Graphics
It is currently the industry standard for particle effects in After Effects. Red Giant has said that they are planning a major update for Particular for some time next year and I am very excited to see what they have in it. I've sent them a few feature requests myself! I love working with particles!
There is a new product that's about to come out "soon" called Stardust. More info here: Stardust - aescripts + aeplugins - aescripts.com and I haven't used it yet.
Thanks for your answer! It does clear up some things for me. I really like having a library to use as a base and I can edit a particle so it's how I want it. I'm concerned because I have the feeling Genarts won't be supporting Particle Illusion much longer and I'll need to find something else that does the same thing. Sadly it looks like I'll have to spend a lot more money to get the same results. Will keep looking around. Thanks for the links, I'll be saving them for later. Very helpful!!
sounds like particular is perfect plugin for you. the effects builder that was introduced in version 2.6 is an easy and intuitive way to select different particle presets or build it from scratch with a lot of visual cues as to what you are actually doing Overview of the Effects Builder | Red Giant