I'm hoping I can make some sense of this in the question, but bear with me as I'm not super clued on all the jargon for these programs. I'm trying to work out the best way to move Illustrator layers to Photoshop for a Gif animation while preserving placing, layers etc.

I've created some artwork in Illustrator to be used in a Gif animation (using Photoshop for the entire process as I don't have access to After Effects or similar). In Illustrator I've separated each 'frame' on individual artboards (so each subsequent artboard contains the next frame of the animation, with parts edited/removed/added as needed for next frame of animation).

enter image description here

I created everything as individual layers in Illustrator, separated so that each component could be animated separately in Ps if so desired. So then Exported as a Psd. file and opened in Photoshop. It opened as the separated artboards as one long document. enter image description here

I then realised that for creating a video animation using timeline in Photoshop, this was a little confused as the background layer (the black and red blocks) that will not move for the entire animation, are in the document three times over, and moving from one frame to the next (or layer to the next) means the artwork appears shifted over across the canvas.

I decided in the end the best way was to set up the Photoshop canvas as the same size as one of the individual artboards in Illustrator and manually copy and paste the vector artwork as smart objects. However, this irritates me because I haven't been able to place in exactly the same position as on the original artwork.

I feel I'm missing some basic workaround or process, and this community is always so wise. How would you go about this?

1 Answer 1


In Illustrator, use a single artboard, and multiple layers.

That's it in a nutshell.

Other tips:

  • When you export the PSD from Illustrator, check "Use Artboards" to transfer the artboard size to Photoshop. Helpful if elements protrude outside the artboard edges.
  • You can set up your layers in one of two ways: (1) each layer is a complete frame of animation (as you seem to have done); (2) each frame is made up of a combination of layers – this method may make the artwork easier to update. For example, if the client wants to change the background colour, you only need to change it on the bottom-most layer, not all of them.
  • Ha of course. That makes sense, thank you!
    – user144750
    Commented Nov 15, 2019 at 12:32

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