Importing editable text from Illustrator to After Effects

Adobe Illustrator is often used to create the original artwork used in After Effect projects. But unfortunately, any text created in Adobe Illustrator is not editable when imported into After Effects. That reduces the methods available to edit or animate the text, leaving many After Effect users with the task of remaking the text in After Effects.

Above is the original illustration in Adobe Illustrator, comprised of two layers called text and banner. Let’s take a look how we can import this illustration into After Effects and keep the text editable. The example shown above contains a little bit of text so it might be quicker just to remake the text in After Effects. But we will use the example to demonstrate the method so if you do get an Adobe Illustrator file containing lots of text you’ll know how to do it. Just make sure you have moved your text on to their own layers in Adobe Illustrator.

So here is a workaround with the help of  the Adobe Photoshop .psd format…

In Adobe Illustrator:

1. In Adobe Illustrator go to File > Export and choose a destination where you want to save the file
2. Choose the Format > Photoshop (psd)
3. In the Photoshop Export Options panel, ensure that Preserve Text Editability is selected – see below

4. Click OK – that will create you a .psd file

In Adobe After Effects:

1. In After Effects go to File > Import, select the .psd file and import as a Composition or Composition – Retain Layer  Sizes (see above left image above). In the second dialog box, ensure Composition or Composition – Retain Layer  Sizes is still selected (see above right image)

2. Next open the composition by, double-clicking on it in the Project panel using the Selection Tool (see above image highlighted in red). The composition will open and you’ll see the layers in the Timeline, as shown below.

3. The text layer has also been converted into a composition (highlighted above in red). Double-clicking on it will allow you to access the text inside.

4. The above image shows the text layer that was inside the composition.

4. Select the layer that contains the text, then go to Layer > Convert to Editable Text (see above).
5. You now have editable text – so you can edit it, animate it and so much more

So until text can be directly brought in from Illustrator this is a possible workaround for you.

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4 replies on “Importing editable text from Illustrator to After Effects

  • Jeff

    hmmm…This process did not work for me. The .psd file which is exported from Illustrator doesn’t keep the Illustrator layers intact. It flattens them. When that file is imported as a composition into AE I just end up with a single layer.

    I’m using CC 2017. Has something changed since this article was written?

    • Sev (Academy Class)

      Some of the menu names are different, but this tutorial still works for the latest versions.

      Maybe you missed something when exporting from Illustrator or importing into After Effects.

      • Christine

        I’ve also tried this and it doesn’t work. There isn’t a “Convert to Editable Text” option…is there any other way around this, I’ve tried every bit of info I’ve found online (still researching, as I am sure there has to be a way). I am currently trying to import a text created from an outlined image (needed the text to appear in a wave format while adding the effects of typing within AE but since I cannot maintain the text version of it due to AE not importing the layers of this format (neither ai nor psd works), if it’s a simple text, then yes, it works, but when it’s made from an outlined shape, it doesn’t allow this whatsoever. Any help on this would be appreciated.

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