Using Overlord



Whether you're drawing your own illustrations and spending hours prepping Illustrator files for import, or working with a team and constantly having to remind designers how to split art onto layers, there should be a smarter way to work. 

Organizing, importing, converting, exploding, redrawing just to have editable shape layers is dumb.

Work with shapes, not files.

Open Host apps

  • Open up Illustrator and After Effects
  • Open the Overlord extension in both apps
    • Window > Extensions > Overlord

Select and send

The buttons on each app's panel will send selected layers to the other app. The Illustrator panel will send selected shapes to After Effects, and vice versa.

Is that it?

Yep. No sense complicating things with extra intermediate steps, so Overlord takes care of as much as possible to keep you moving. 



Illustrator => AE

Push Shapes.png

Selected Shapes to AE

All selected shapes will be passed to a new AE shape layer. It's feels really simple.

Fills, strokes, grouping and hierarchy will be preserved. Some AI features are unsupported simply because AE works different than AI.

This process is meant to be repeated multiple times to allow you (the animator) to split your art as needed, rather than have to organize a file before starting even starting motion. 


Holding ALT will explode the highest level of groups into their own layers.

Holding SHIFT will add selected AI shapes to the selected AE layers.


Not supporting live text from an imported Illustrator file is kind of silly. When a text layer is selected it will be rebuilt as an AE text layer using the main button.



These special layers are invisible (like in AE) but do not actually import along with art in Illustrator files. Clicking this will send all guides to AE in relation to the current artboard. 

Push Swatches.png


Color swatches live in the swatch palette. Select a set of colors and click to send to AE. There are a couple different transfer options available based on context and in Settings.

  • Transfer to the current comp as a guide layer
    • This is the default action
    • The size and orientation is selectable in Settings
  • Create a new Ray palette
    • Enabling this preference (along with having Ray installed) will create a new Ray palette comp
  • Add to and replace a Ray palette
    • If you are currently inside of a Ray palette, sending swatches will add colors to the current palette
    • Holding ALT on the keyboard will create a new layer to add colors to –nondestructively replacing the palette
Update Path.png

Update AE Shape

After modifying a shape in AI, it is possible to send this shape back to AE and replace the currently selected shape. This will add new keyframes as necessary.

** This needs a bit of work to support more than one shape at a time ** 

Update Color.png

Update AE Fill/Stroke

This will update and recolor fills and strokes of all shapes nested within the selection (all shapes within a layer, all shapes within a group), or single shapes.

** Needs a bit of work to add strokes/fills if not present**


After Effects => Illustrator

Selected shapes to AI

Overlord is first of all a tool for After Effects, so most of the functionality is on the Illustrator side. But to add a bit of extra power, it is possible to send shape layers back to AI for editing. This will effectively allow Illustrator to be used as the drawing interface for shape layers. 

Holding ALT will clear the AI document before adding sending shapes to it. It's a good idea to create a new dedicated document if this is how you plan to work. 

New Matching Artboard

Artboards in Illustrator may be any size, but it's a good idea to work at the same size and aspect as your comp in AE. This button will create a new artboard (or new document if selected in Settings) matching the size of the comp to send shapes to.

Unsupported features😕

Illustrator => After Effects

  • Masks
  • Blends
  • Transform duplications
  • Unexpanded Pathfinder shapes
  • Text kerning
  • Gradient colors
  • Tapered strokes

After Effects => Illustrator

  • Gradient fills/strokes *coming soon*
  • Stroke dashes *coming soon*
  • Layer transforms
  • All shape layer effects
    • Trim Paths
    • Repeater
    • etc.


Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 10.54.05 AM.png

Licensing and updates

**Licensing hasn't been built out yet**

Updates will appear hear as available. Click to download and the panel will reload with no need for restarting or manually installing ZXPs. 

Default layer name

Unnamed objects and groups will be incrementally named with this. I'm not saying to stop being organized, but I am saying that it's now ok.

Gradient Swatches

*Not yet built* Since the gradient color panel in AE is not scriptable, it is not possible to add the colors from AI. This will create swatches to manually select these missing colors.

Parametric shapes

All shapes in Illustrator are basic paths, but by selecting this preference in Settings, the system will automatically detect Ellipses and Rectangles. 

Vertical and horizontal scaling of a shape is fine, but any path manipulation or rotation to the shape will make it impossible for Overlord to detect these parametric shapes

Anchor point

There are a lot of strong opinions of anchor point location. With this preference enabled, anchors will be repositioned to the center of the object. Disabled will place the anchor point at the comp center.

Center layer in comp

If you're working off an oversized artboard and just want to send objects to AE, this will center the anchor point and center the layer to comp center. 


Define the vertical or horizontal orientation, along with the swatch size.

Swatches may also be added to a new Ray Dynamic Color palette. Ray must be installed to enable this feature.