Daniel Savage shows you how to take advantage of isometric projection in your After Effects projects
- Software Illustrator and After Effects CS5 or later
- Time needed 1-2 hours
- Fake 3D animation with isometric projection
- Use Illustrator paths as position keyframes
- Pre-comp 3D vector files
Savage Factory is an animated world of colourful conveyor belts, bleeps and bloops, inspired by video games of my childhood, such as Marble Madness and Captain Skyhawk. These games used isometric projection to visually represent three-dimensional objects in two dimensions. By designing in Illustrator and animating in After Effects, you can stay true to the 2D nature of retro video games.
In this tutorial, we break down one of the scenes from Savage Factory and walk though the techniques involved. We’ll focus on the animation portion of the project, so I’ve provided pre-made Illustrator files. Once you’ve completed this project, you’ll be able to easily animate your own isometric designs.
01 Open the After Effects template provided in the support files – this is the file system that I generally use. Since this project was only going to live on the web, I made the composition size 1,280x720.
02 Import the Illustrator files named Savage_Factory_icicles_1.ae and Savage_Factory_ Scene_04.ae. Make sure you select ‘Composition – Retain Layer Sizes’ from the Import As options. Now organise these in the proper folders.
03 Open the Savage_Factory_Master composition and drop Savage_Factory_Scene_04 into the timeline. Turn 3D and Continually Rasterize on.
04 Open each of your precomps and turn 3D and Continually Rasterize on for every layer. Place Savage_Factory_icicles_1 into Savage_Factory_ Scene_04 below layer 10.
05 Back in the master comp, add a camera and parent it to a 3D null. Using the null to control your camera, you can now move closer using the Z-space position property.