After Effects Apprentice Free Video: Copying Paths from Illustrator to After Effects

Revealing Illustrator paths requires a few intermediate steps, involving After Effects masks and effects.

Buried in the shuffle over the announcement of After Effects CS6 is that we concluded the video training series for our book After Effects Apprentice 2nd Edition with a nearly 3.5 hour course dedicated to that book's Final Project. Several movies from this course are available for free preview from; we'd like to share those with you here – including this movie on how to reveal Illustrator artwork by copying its paths into After Effects masks.

In this 3+ hour course recorded in After Effects CS5.5 and applicable to all recent versions including CS6, you will pull together skills you've learned in the previous Apprentice lessons, including using masks, effects, shape layers, text, layered Illustrator files, blending modes, track mattes, collapsed transformations, nested compositions, motion blur, expressions, animation presets, audio, a 3D camera and light, and more. Along the way, we share the mental process we go through as we design a video project, including unifying the overall look and handling client changes.

In this specific video, we show how to “wipe on” a dial user interface element by copying the original paths in Illustrator and pasting them into mask paths for the same artwork in After Effects. The Stroke effect can then be used to draw along theses mask paths. We cover issues such as revealing and selecting paths in Illustrator, plus identifying and re-ordering the corresponding mask paths in After Effects:

Later in the same course (available to subscribers of, as well as for individual purchase from Class On Demand) we also show how to recreate this element from scratch using Shape Layers in After Effects, and then reveal it using the Trim Paths shape operator. Plus, a new feature in After Effects CS6 is the ability to directly convert Illustrator files into Shape Layers – we discuss this briefly in our review of After Effects CS6 here on PVC, and demonstrate it our separate video course on After Effects CS6's new features (again, available both from and soon from Class On Demand).


FTC Disclosure: We make a bit of money whenever you purchase one of our courses from Class on Demand, or have a subscription and watch one of our courses. We do not make any money from either when you watch these free videos. We've worked with Adobe over the years, and they give us free access to their software in exchange for testing and consulting, but they did not subsidize the creation of these videos or the book they are derived from.

The content contained in After Effects Apprentice – as well as the CMG Blogs and CMG Keyframes posts on ProVideoCoalition – are copyright Crish Design, except where otherwise attributed.



Chris and Trish Meyer

Chris and Trish Meyer

Chris & Trish Meyer founded Crish Design (formerly known as CyberMotion) in the very earliest days of the desktop motion graphics industry. Their design and animation work has appeared on shows and promos for CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, HBO, PBS, and TLC; in opening titles for several movies including Cold Mountain and The Talented Mr. Ripley; at trade shows and press events for corporate clients ranging from Apple to Xerox; and in special venues encompassing IMAX, CircleVision, the NBC AstroVision sign in Times Square, and the four-block-long Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas. They were among the original users of CoSA (now Adobe) After Effects, and have written the numerous books including “Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects” and “After Effects Apprentice” both published by Focal Press. Both Chris and Trish have backgrounds as musicians, and are currently fascinated with exploring fine art and mixed media in addition to their normal commercial design work. They have recently relocated from Los Angeles to the mountains near Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico.