I'm afraid this is the way it works, each Shape in Illustrator will be brought in a an individual shape in Ae. You have two choices, either re-group the shapes in AE - probably not practical! Or, in Illustrator, create layers for each body part. This can be done by selecting each character and choosing "Release to Layers" in the wing menu of the Layers panel. You can then import the file as a comp. double click the comp to open it and then animate the layers - don't bother making them into shape layers. If you click on the Continuous Rasterization switch, this will ensure the vector images stay sharp despite scaling etc. So, unless there is a pressing reason for using Shape layers, in this situation, best to steer clear
Not a huge Illustrator person either but I think that you would have to combine all of the elements of each person on to it's own layer inside of illustrator and then take the illustrator file in the AE. Example body, head, legs of the person on to one layer.
I'd find a base layer of the person (body for example) in the layer panel then select another layer that makes up the person with the direct select tool. There should be a colored square when you select that item. Drag the colored square up to the base layer until that person is complete on its own layer. Save as an AI and bring it in to AE as a composition. That person and all of the details should be its own layer.
In AI you'd have to make each person one layer.
Hope that this helps.
If he wants to animate the characters in AE, each of the body parts would need to be on separate layers. You could use parenting to set up the hirearchy of body parts in AE
....and don't forget, you can re-name layers in Illustrator. It's very handy to import the file as a comp with the layers already named, "Head", "Left Thigh", "Right Shin", "Torso".... what have you.
I'm not getting it. I tried the "Release to layer" and it didn't change anything when I imported into After Effects. I tried importing as layered comp and it still appeared as just one file.
What I need is some way to "Flatten" each layer (I know that's photoshop speak) before I import into After Effects.
I'm so lost here. Why is this not simpler?!
Here is the project in Illustrator:
Yes but that has no relevance to my question... I'm trying to ELIMINATE "Head", "Left Thigh", "Right Shin", "Torso" and just have "body 1" with all those smaller elements flattened into one layer. I can not find any way to do this.
I have to ask, why are you converting your vector artwork to shape layers. The only reason that I can think of to do so would be to use some of the shape animator tools under the add button at the top right corner of the Switches/Modes column or to animate the shape of a path over time. If you are just creating puppets you are wasting time converting to shape layers and loosing important design tools available in AI that do not translate to shapes. You also may run into problems when animating shape layers with the puppet pin tools.
I recently did an explainer video using about 40 character images from Adobe Stock. Most of these images had multiple characters arranged in different scenes in the image. Each individual character was moved to a separate artboard in AI, all of the appropriate parts were organized, converted to layers and named, each of the artboards was saved as a separate AI file for each character and imported as a composition. Puppet pin or character animator was used to bring the characters to life. The individual character comps were placed in a main comp to complete the scene. Not one of the original images was properly organized and only 2 of the 40 images I downloaded had any kind of meaningful names for the layers, or were organized for animation but not having to create the artwork from scratch probably saved me 100 hours.
Open the image in Illustrator. Create a layer. Move everything into the layer. Save the file. Import the file into AE -- NOT as a composition.. There's your single image.
I don't have to change them to shape layers.... I've just gotten into the habit of doing so as I usually morph my shape layers into different shapes.
I downloaded this as an EPS from a stock image site as I wanted to animate each individual character (person).
Thanks Dave, but I think you're still not understanding my original post.
I don't want ONE single image. As stated above I want each GROUP to be a single layer (or shape layer) in the image or comp.
I have an EPS file with about 200 little people. When I open the EPS file the little person is a GROUP in the file, and there are roughly 200 of them. (you can see what I mean by the image I attached above)
However, WITHIN each group (little person) there are about 6-10 different layer files (such as foot left, foot right, head, hair, etc.) so when I import this EPS into After Effects and try to break the little people up, I have over a thousand different items I have to dig through.
I'm trying to find a way to FLATTEN each group (person) so that when I import that file into AE all I have is those 200 people. Instead of those 200 people AND all their little pieces in different layers.
Does that make sense now?
I do apologize for misunderstanding your request. I thought you wanted to animate the character.
It sounds like you want to flatten the artwork. In Illustrator, select each character, one-at-a-time, making sure to select all the body parts. Once you have done this, go to the Wing menu of the Layers panel and choose "Flatten artwork".
In AE, import the file once you've done this to all characters. DO NOT convert them to shape layers, just double click the comp (in the project panel) to open it and you should have all the individual characters, each on one layer.
Thanks Angie, it's probably my lack of understanding of AI that is why you didn't understand.
I tried what you are recommending before, and it did nothing. I thought it would flatten that group, but I click it and nothing happens This is why I'm so confused.
Then when I import it into After Effects. It still just appears as ONE file, and doesn't allow me to show any of the individual groups (people). Just one file, UNLESS I Convert to Shape Layer, and then it does the same thing and gives me 1600 different shapes in the one layer.
you need to put each character on it's own Layer in illustrator. Then, when you import the Illustrator file, choose Import as Composition. Then, in the comp panel, double-click the composition icon to open the comp. each character should now be on its own layer and ready to animate
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I'm not sure if this was addressed yet.
After doing Release to Layers, you have to promote the resulting layers to the root level of the document as the released layers are still sub-layers (that is, they're inside of a layer).
When you release to layers you have to drag those layers above the original layer. Maybe this will help. It's on morphing with AI but it shows you how to release to layers and create an AI file that will import as a comp:
You may have to do some grouping. It's a bit tedious on files with a lot of layers. For your particular file you might be able to use the direct selection tool (keyboard shortcut in AI - a) and drag a selection around a whole person, then note the selected paths in the layer panel and either group them (Ctrl/Cmnd + g) or create a new layer as Dave suggested and click on the little colored icon to the far right in the layer panel and drag the selection to the new layer.
Judging from the screenshot, if you want each person on a separate layer and they are not already grouped the work of separating them and grouping them may take close to an hour.
BTW, cropped screenshots are not as helpful as a full screenshot. Here's an image from Adobe Stock I recently separated into layers during the selection process of grouping the character so I could move him to a new layer. The first step in selecting Man 1 was to expand the layer panel, click on one of the paths associated with Man 1, then start selecting everything I thought was associated with Man 1 in the layer panel. I think I've got everything here so it's time to group the selection.
To make sure I got everything the visibility for the group was turned off:
Success, now I turn the group back on and make sure it is selected, create a new layer called Man 1 and select little blue dot at the top right corner of Layer 1.
Then I drag to Man 1 - Success:
He is in front of Man 2 but I'll fix that after I get man 2 on a separate layer.
Next step - Turn off Layer 1, expand Man 1 and start separating the layers into body parts. The direct selection tool (a) is used to drag a selection around everything that I think is part of his head.
Not all of the points need to be selected. Note how far apart some of the paths are in the layer panel. I group them, name the group head, turn it off and move on. When I have all of the parts I'm going to animate with puppet pin separated and grouped it is time to release to layers. I want to maintain the groups so I just select the layer, not all the groups and choose Release To Layers Sequence:
That turns the 3 groups into layers. I Rename them and then drag them above Man 1 layer. Man 1 layer is now empty so it can be deleted and it's time to move on to Man 2, then the desk, then the background.
When all of the components in this illustration are separated into layers I import them into AE as a comp and do the animation. In the actual project I even separated Man 1's eyes, eyebrows and mouth so could get excited and blink. I converted the Mouth layers only to a path so I could animate the path and give him a bigger grin when the product popped up on the screen.
Total time to prepare this illustration for animation was about a half hour. It covered about 8 seconds of narration and took me about another half hour to animate.
That's how I do it. I hope this helps.
This! You sir are a god. Thank you so much.