Tutorial: InDesign to After Effects

So, if you’ve ever tried making a demo reel from your graphic design pieces using After Effects I’m sure you’ve run into the problem of getting your files imported into After Effects in such a way that they have separate, manipulatable layers. For most design programs, like Photoshop and Illustrator, it’s pretty straight forward: get your layers straight in your original document, then import into After Effects using a new comp. If you’ve ever tried doing this with an InDesign document you may have run into some of the same problems as I did. After many hours of happy fun times *bang head on desk* I discovered a way to get the files from ID into AE with all of the layers I needed.


Depending on some of the settings in your InDesign document, you may also be able to save it as an EPS (be sure to check the box for “spreads” if you’re planning on animating them as such). The EPS can be imported directly into Illustrator and the layers arranged as described below

Here’s how we do it:

Open your document in ID and select all of the layers you want.

Ctrl + C

Now go to Photoshop and create a new document

Ctrl + V all your stuff from ID into this new document

You’ll now have a smart object

(If you do not know what a smart object is, I should tell you mean things but instead I tell you to google it!)

Double-click on the smart object image icon in the layers panel to open the smart object in Illustrator

Now, you’ll see that every little thing will be in one big, huge, layer

You need to group these into layers (NOT groups, actual LAYERS) as you’ll want them in your AE animation

Now that you’ve got all of that squared away you need to save this document [Ctrl + shift + S] in your sources folder of your animation project file. Or wherever you stick your crap for your projects.

On to After Effects! Go to File > Import > File to get your newly created and organized illustrator document

You’ll get a pop-up window asking about how you’d like to import this file.

Select ‘composition’ as you’ll want animatable layers.

Now you have a new composition with all of your layers as you need them for animating in After Effects.

Good luck and happy animating!