Making a vector from Illustrator 3D in After Effects...

We will also ad some awesome special effects.

Today we are going to learn how to take nearly any vector object from Adobe Illustrator, take it into After Effects, make it 3D using the element 3D plugin, and then using the Red Giant suite to blow away our audience with stunning production quality visual effects. You are going to need the Element 3D plugin by Video Copilot and the Red Giant suite by Maxon to take part in this tutorial. There is a free trial of the Red Giant suite available but unfortunately there is no free trial of Element 3D so you will need to purchase that plugin if you want to take advantage of it’s capabilities on your future work. For my animation I am choosing to use a jungle scene for the background. You can use whatever you like. Since I got my background from Adobe Stock I will provide a link to a similar background that has some depth. It’s important to find an image with some depth you will see why later.  LINK TO BACKGROUND

Let's start with the logo.


For my purposes I am just going to re use this logo from a past project in school because it will work well for a 3D extrusion. I already checked to make sure it will work. Sometimes the logo is too complex for Element and it does a poor job extruding them. My main Sarge-Studios logo for example was too symmetric I think so I had to extrude the omega portion in 2 separate halves in order for it to extrude things nicely. Not to worry though. This method is very quick and you will know within 15 minutes or less if the logo you chose will work or not. Most shapes work great it’s just when they get very complex or very symmetrical when things become a problem. The only things that didn’t extrude perfect with this logo was the points on the crown were noticeably dull and not sharp points but I am OK with that. 

Open up the Logo file you want to use in Illustrator and open up After Effects. Create a new composition in After Effects I made mine 1920×1080 30 frames per second. You can make yours whatever you want I just like using 1920×1080 because it is a very common screen size and 30fps because it is also fairly common and easy to edit in. Alright, now that you’ve got everything ready, go back into illustrator and highlight everything with the selection tool. Select edit and copy or press ctrl + c on a PC or cmd + c on a MAC. Image #1 will show you what to look for here. Now go back into After Effects, select the pen tool. Now this is a bit tricky but you have to click once on your work area with the pen tool in order to establish a point. Now press ctrl + v on a PC or cmd + v on a MAC and your object should be pasted as a shape on your work area. Scale it to your desired size (this doesn’t really matter I just like to make mine bigger so I can see it better. Have a look at image #2 for an example of what mine looks like.

Awesome! now we’re ready to get into the fun stuff and really bring this logo to life using the Element 3D plugin! It’s 1 of my favorite plugins for After Effects and is extremely powerful! It can do many things but for today’s tutorial we will just use several of it’s useful extrusion and texturing functions. Also go ahead and close Illustrator now since we won’t be using that anymore and it only takes up valuable RAM.

In after Effects, press ctrl + y on a PC or cmd + y on a MAC to create a new solid layer and name it Element. Check out image #1 to see what mine looks like. Now with the Element layer selected go to effect, video co pilot and select the element effect to apply the element 3D effect. Within the effects controls panel for element, open up the custom layers dropdown and then the custom text and masks dropdown from within there. Set path layer 1 to your custom shape layer. I renamed mine to Lion-logo. Image #2 will show you what mine looks like. I will put an arrow towards the path layer/custom paths area. Now go ahead and press the scene setup button at the top of the effects controls panel in the element options. This will open up element 3D in a new window. But it’s empty!?!? That’s ok. Press the extrude button at the top of the screen and voila! You can use the mousewheel to zoom the camera in and out within element, holding the left mouse button and dragging will rotate your camera around the object and holding the space bar will pan the camera up and down or side to side. Go ahead and play with that until you are happy with how yours is centered etc. Mine looks like image #3. Don’t worry that the object is all plain and grey we will be taking care of that by adding some shaders to it in the next section. We’ll also add some lights to it from within element because that helps to give it some more life.  

Let’s add our bevel and our shader to the object. To do this press the presets tab select your desired bevel or shader and drag it onto the extrusion model. Now I’ve got some pretty crazy shader and bevel packs even some animated shaders but using those is almost a tutorial in itself so I won’t use those here. Yours might not look identical but that’s ok! We want to try and use a bevel that isn’t too complex and will allow us to rotate the logo easily without too much work duplicating everything and flipping it. I had to do that with my sarge-studios logo animation it was pretty fun! I chose 1 of the stock bevels from the physical folder called Round because my logo is so complex I went with a very simple bevel. Image #1 will show you an example of mine. If you hadn’t already noticed the extrusion model has a dropdown so let’s go ahead and open that up. It will allow us to change our shader by following the same process as we did with the bevel only this time we will be drag and dropping a shader onto the shader that currently says Gold_Basic if you chose the Round bevel option. You can change all the coloring options in the edit panel just next to all the shaders etc. You can also adjust your bevel settings and everything from here. I’ll let you play around with that for a minute then check out image #2 to see how mine looks with the shader I chose. For simplicity sake I chose an orange shader that already matches my desired colors well so I don’t have to edit it. I did change my bevel options slightly though. Now let’s add an environment. Since my background has lots of green in it I am going to use an environment with lots of green reflecting in it. Since I have the backlight pack I am going to use 1 of those you can use whatever 1 you like to match your scene. Have a look at image #3 for an example. Now press the OK button in the top right corner to save these settings and close the element window. If you ever need to edit things again in element just press the scene setup button to get back there. Let’s add our background now. Drag and drop your background image onto the workspace and make sure it is underneath all of the other layers. Rename it to background. Mine looks like image #4.

Now let’s start animating everything. To animate the logo that is done within the element effects control panel. Open up the group 1 dropdown within there and the particle replicator and rotation dropdowns from within group 1. Now let’s set the Z position so the logo fills the center of the screen well and then drag our keyframe indicator to about 5 seconds and set a keyframe for our positions by pressing the clock next to the position z and xy in the element effect controls panel. See what mine looks like in image #1 for an example. Now drag your keyframe selector back to the very beginning and adjust your element object to make it dissapear from the scene. I want mine to come in from out of the background as well so I am going to set some opacity keyframes as well as make it go very far back in Z space so it looks like it is appearing from out of the background. After you have all your keyframes set select them all, right click and select the easy ease option. My progress looks like image #2. Be sure to save your file and do a quick preview playback to ensure you are happy with the results. Now let’s add some rotation to our 3D logo. Move your keyframe selector to the very last keyframe in your sequence. In my case it is at the 5 second mark. Set a keyframe there for the Y Rotation option in the effects control panel. Now drag your keyframe selector all the way to the end and pick a number of rotations to rotate your logo that is about 1 rotation for every 1-2 seconds. In my case it was 14 rotations. I also made my background fade in over 1 second using the opacity. Check out image #3 for an example here.    

At the beginning of this tutorial I said we’d be using some production quality visual effects. Let’s quit wasting time and get to that. Make sure your project is set to 32bpc. These effects are in 32bpc and look best when rendered at 32bpc.  Select your element layer then select effect, RG Trapcode, Shine. Play around with the shimmer settings, the colorize settings, and the boost light option until you have achieved your desired look. I used the Forest setting and then changed the colors to match my scene better. You can make it as subtle or dramatic as you like. Have a look at image #1 for an example. Next let’s animate the shine effect so it isn’t so static. Create a new light and name it Shine. Make sure you name it exactly like that with the capitalization or this won’t work. Now in the element layer’s effects panel, under the shine effect. Select 3D light for the source point type and make sure the name below it has Shine selected. Now when you select the light layer named Shine and move it’s position, notice how the Shine effects move. Use this and position the light at 1 side of the scene at the start and the other at the end setting keyframes at each of the points. I also decided to slow my spin down by about half. Image #2 is an example of what I have done with mine. Now let’s add a few final touches. I set my shine opacity to 80% and adjusted the height of the light to match my scene better. Added a camera and panned it in over 2 seconds at the beginning and faded in the background over 1 second. I will do the opposite at the end as well as fade out the logo and scale it smaller. Mine is shown in image #3.

That’s it for the tutorial. I am going to leave it up to you to use the skills you learned to come up with something similar to the video at the top if you want to by adding in your own text and making it 3D etc. The video below is what mine looks like with no text and just the logo animated. Adding the text is a very similar process and I outlined everything that needs to be done in this tutorial. The only difference is instead of selecting a custom shape layer, you select the text layer within element, and turn off the visibility of the original text layer. If you need to know how to add sounds my previous tutorial on customizing an Envato template covers that. Have fun and thanks for showing interest in my blogs!

The End...

I hope you liked my tutorial on taking a vector logo, making it 3D and animating it using some of the latest and innovative techniques and plugins. If you found it helpful or have any suggestions on ways I can improve my content please feel free to let me know in the comments box.

Stay Safe.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *