Basic Logo Animation With Adobe Illustrator and After Effects

For a recent project I was assigned the responsibility of shooting and editing a short 1 minute promotion for the Technology Engagement Center.  Initially I came up with a nifty electric laser title for the piece but it came off as potentially intimidating to the target audience of faculty, staff, and students in the Duke community who aren’t that tech savvy.  Instead, it was requested that I take the existing logo and get creative with it.  No problem.  The initial logo was designed in Adobe Illustrator.  It’s a fairly simple and straightforward design with four overlapping hexagons and a title at the bottom.Illustrator works in layers with each element occupying its own layer with a respective transfer mode that affects how that layer interacts visually with the layers beneath it.  If the elements were “flattened” into one layer each overlapping region of the hexagons would be its own shape.  This wouldn’t do for my application and would also result in my needing to animate seven shapes (three overlapping regions) instead of the initial four.  I noted that the layer transfer mode was “Multiply” with the color of the topmost layer multiplying the color values of the layer beneath it.  This comes in handy later so note this in your own projects if you copy this workflow!  The next step after noting the characteristics of the logo was to export for After Effects.  I exported each layer separately.

I exported utilizing the PSD export option as  that option yields the option to utilize layers.  You could export separate PNGs but I know that After Effects handles PSD files fine.  You must use CMYK  and check “write layers” as an option.  The other settings were fine.  Now it’s time to open Adobe After Effects!

I created a new comp in After Effects that reflected the size of the video that I’m using: 1280 x 720.  I then imported my Photoshop layers into the project panel then dragged them down into the comp.  Each layer popped up perfectly sized and in position.  Now it was time to animate.  This was quite honestly the easiest part but it can be more complicated based on what you do.  I had five layers.  One for each hexagon and one layer for the text which I decided to animate as one object.

First I changed my transfer mode for the hexagon layers to multiply to copy the same visual effect that existed in the Illustrator file.  Told you that information was going to be handy!

I left the bottom text layer and hexagon layer modes as normal as there was no need for them to interact with anything behind them.  I wanted to give the illusion of a “fly in” effect so I created position and size key-frames for each hexagon about 3 seconds in.  I then went to the beginning of the comp and enlarged each heaxagon significantly and moved them off screen with each hexagon going to a different quadrant of the screen.  Four hexagons.  Four quadrants.  Simple.

Lastly I did a horizontal blur and opacity fade in on the bottom text layer to bring in the text.  Here’s the result in animated GIF format.

That’s it!  The entire process (assuming that your files aren’t flattened and too complex) took only about 30 minutes from start to finish.  Given you can get as complex as you like with your logos when you get them into After Effects, but the process is still the same and straightforward.  Try it out and let me know how it works out for you!

3D Animation Process For The TEC

Since joining OIT as a video producer last year, my responsibilities have broadened to include animation and its integration into our production workflow.  Our process normally incorporates 2D animation however we see a need for 3D animation/modeling rising on the horizon.  Utilizing Adobe Illustrator, After Effects, and Cinema 4D lite, I created a short sequence intended to illustrate and encapsulate the nature of our newly renovated home here in the Telcom building:  The Technology Engagement Center (TEC)


As with any production project, I started with research and a previsualization.  The TEC center is home to 3D printers, laser cutters, and CNC routers.  It’s a workspace designed specifically for the collaboration and creation of ideas.  This guiding principle informed my process.


I decided to animate three robots working together to create the logo for the space thereby illustrating the intersection of cooperation and cutting edge technology that the TEC embodies.


Modeling is the first step of the actual creation process.  I “built” the robot arms in Cinema 4D out of basic geometric shapes with three articulation points for movement that turned my models into virtual puppets.  I created two 3D printer bots and one router bot.  Rigging is the second step of the process.  Each arm section needed to move in tandem with other attached sections.


I then took the Adobe Illustrator file of the TEC logo and broke it into individual pieces as prep for animation.  Each letter would be 3D printed with the multicolored hexagon portion of the logo, “etched” into the placard I was creating.

The next step is animation.  This is the most difficult part in my opinion as timing has to be perfect for each puppets’ role on the virtual stage.  I decided to coordinate the animation from the ground up.  I first animated each of the individual characters of the logo to “rise” out of the placard.  I then animated each of the two 3d printing arms to match the “rising” of the letters so that they could be completed in two “passes” and simulate the feel of the 3D printing process.  Next, I matched the “router” arm’s movements with the progressive “embedding” of the multi-colored hexagons.  Finally, “lit” the scene with virtual lights and animated a camera to sweep around the screen to give it a more cinematic feel.

This completed the 3D animation part of the sequence.  Finally, Steve requested that I create a laser etched “burn-in” of the Duke logo in the lower left to represent the laser cutter.  I brought the animated 3D sequence into After Effects and did a progressive write on of the Illustrator logo that was revealed via an animated mask.  I then used two particle emitter layers.  One followed the animation with sparks and the second followed with smoke.  I then attached the end of a generated laser layer to follow the two emitters.  After reviewing the final animation, I felt that another emitter layer needed to be added to the 3D animation to simulate flakes coming off of the placard while the hexagons were etched in.  I’m pretty happy with the result!  The whole project took about 12 hours and was both a professional development exercise for me and a useful end product for the TEC. Check it out and feel free to come over to explore the TEC!