I need to animate a simple rising sun behind a horizon - aprox. 20 frames. Look at this quick drawing.

enter image description here

I need each frame outputted to a vector file because it's going to be used in a book for a flipping effect.

How would you practically approach this?

I thought about making the sun to a symbol and place each movement in separate layers? But a timeline would be nice and definitely make things much easier for testing the flow.

Is there a way to go from e.g. Adobe Animate to vector files?

  • Is there any specific reason you need vector files? Being printed in a book is no reason for it to be vector (photographs are printed in books all the time, right?)
    – Cai
    Commented Jun 1, 2018 at 15:13
  • True. But the client would need the need vector for other marketing purposes and therefore it has to be scaleable.
    – Juhlio
    Commented Jun 1, 2018 at 15:17

3 Answers 3


I personally wouldn't use Illustrator for any kind of animation... I would first create the vector assets is Illustrator (you then have the vector assets for whatever other uses you need them for), then import them in to After Effects* and create the animation there.

A few notes on setting up AE...

  • Place everything correctly in your Illustrator document with each element on its own layer, then import it in to After Effects as a composition (retaining layer sizes); this will give you a composition with all of the elements as distinct objects (which you can then animate).

  • Make sure your composition is large enough. Since this is being printed then it needs to be larger than any of the video presets. Just calculate the pixel size you need (the same as you would in e.g. Photoshop) and set your composition to that size...

    ...and/or make sure your Illustrator document is created at the pixel size it needs to be; After Effects has no "resolution" setting and will treat the physical dimensions of your AI document as if they were 72 PPI.

  • Since it is going to be printed the frame rate doesn't really matter but I would set it rather low (e. < 10) so you can preview the animation in a similar way to how it would be in flip book

  • Once you're finished you can render your animation as single frames (in a few formats; so you would have e.g. a PSD file for each frame). These should be OK to send to print (or place in your book layout) as-is.

* I suggest After Effects because that's what I use for animation and it has good(-ish) integration with Illustrator; if you're more familiar with different animation software then use that. The main point here is to use software that is designed to create animations to... well, create animations.


This tends to work best with complex objects. It may be a little bit of overkill for such a simple animation.

The easiest way is to use a blend and then Layer releasing...

Merely set up the art to have the sun at the high and low point... I started with the sun in the low position and then copied/duplicated it to the high position. Basically I stacked the objects I want from the start of the animation to the end of the animation. This matters.

enter image description here

Select both suns and choose Object > Blend > Make, then choose Object > Blend > Blend Options and set the Spacing drop down to Specified Steps, entering the number of iterations you want.

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Now choose Object > Expand, make certain the Object checkbox is checked and hit OKAY.

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The artwork should expand to show all instances selected and highlighted. Now choose Object > Ungroup (expanding blends groups them).

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Now move to the Layers Panel.

Highlight the layer with the suns and from the Layer Panel Menu choose Release to Layers (sequence).

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  • The existing stacking order of the objects matters here.
  • If you stacked your objects from the end position (bottom of stack) to the start position (top of stack) you would chose the other release option (build).
  • in short (Sequence) refers to start → end, (Build) refers to end → start as seen in the existing object stack.

You'll then have a layer for each stage of the sunrise.

enter image description here

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From here you can individually alter each layer/iteration if desired.

Then export the layers as files for use elsewhere.

If you want each iteration as a separate Illustrator file, check out Joojaa's Script in this answer: How to export a sequence of layers in illustrator? it'll export each layer as a separate file.

From there use whatever animation software you want. You'll have individual vector files. Illustrator itself is really only capable of .swf export for animation.. which is.. well. not very useful most of the time. Disclosure, I haven't jumped into Adobe Animate yet.. so I'm in the dark as to it's capabilities. Since it was Flash.. maybe it handles the .swf exported file fine. I don't know.

Also be aware that blends do not have to be straight paths. You can use the Replace Spine feature to make a blend use a more freeform path, then expand and follow the same steps.

enter image description here

  • Thank you Scott for the thorough walkthrough! I couldn't get the automation (layers > file) script to work, however I found this MultiExporter gist.github.com/TomByrne/7816376 that had more options.
    – Juhlio
    Commented Jun 3, 2018 at 20:58

You can simply create an action that exports (or save as a copy) your file and assign to it a function key.

Now just move the sun 1/20th of the way up and then run the function key.

Now repeat 20 times and it'll be complete quite quickly.

My answer here may be helpful on how to create an action (though this is for Photoshop, the proccess is the same).

  • Thank you! But could the same method be done with Artboards? In that way I could "control" some frames/positions?
    – Juhlio
    Commented Jun 1, 2018 at 15:22
  • What do you mean?
    – Welz
    Commented Jun 1, 2018 at 15:22
  • I mean - if I could spilt 20 frames out to each Artboard and afterwards run an action? Makes sense? Eitherway, I'm going to test the save as copy first :-)
    – Juhlio
    Commented Jun 1, 2018 at 15:24
  • No need to run an action if you manually place them all in a separate artboard, you can just save the whole doc to a pdf and each artboard will be another page.
    – Welz
    Commented Jun 1, 2018 at 15:27

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