When making a Gradient Ramp in After Effects is there a convenient way for it to be tied to the object its applied to. I'm sure with Expressions I could somehow Pickwhip it together and adjust the code, but is there any check box or something more efficient?

It's a bit tedious when I make a Gradient Ramp and then have to move the object the Gradient Ramp gets left behind. Thinking there must be a better way.

Here's a screencap to try and illustrate. I decided to switch the order so it will be Blue on top then Red. I changed the position of the bottom two bars but the Gradient got left behind. That's why they look flat.

enter image description here

2 Answers 2


For a situation like this, your best approach is to pre-compose individual timelines consisting of just the bar, one for each color of bar in the final composition. You can use a ramp or a fill effect in the pre-comps, since you're rendering the effect only once.

Pre-comps are the equivalent of symbols in Ai, Fl or Edge Animate, or of Smart Objects in Photoshop.-- You can place multiple instances, and any change to the original updates all of them at once.

Add the pre-comps to your main timeline just the way you would any other object, and animate them in from off-screen.

The big advantages to this approach are improved rendering time and (just as with Smart Objects or Symbols) speed and efficiency updating the artwork when the client asks for tweaks.


Asked for the answer on the After Effects forum of the Adobe website:

If using Gradient Ramp then the best way to achieve this is to Pre-Compose the Shape along with Gradient. Then place the Pre-Composed piece into your timeline instead and it will work as one.

Alternatively you can use Gradient Fill directly on the Shape Layer instead of using Gradient Ramp at all:

enter image description here

  • In a situation like this, with multiple instances of essentially the same graphic, I'd use the ramp+precomp approach to improve render time for RAM preview and final output. Jun 23, 2014 at 18:13
  • @AlanGilbertson I'm not experienced enough to know if Pre-Comp would actually work or not for my needs. The bars are all animated using keyframes on the Path, so I think the only choice would be Gradient Fill
    – Ryan
    Jun 23, 2014 at 18:15

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