By using the much overlooked .swf file format, you can have hand drawn animation that accepts almost all the filters and effects in After Effects.
The first step is always the planning. Nothing can get started without a map, and in animation it’s even more important. Hand drawn animation is extremely time consuming and going back to make changes after the fact can throw off all your work so far.
Once you know what you’re going to make, the next step is to create the animation in Adobe Animate (formerly known as Flash). There are a lot of really great built in features that will help make your production process as smooth as possible. There’s no need for additional ‘plugins’, though many are helpful time savers.
After you’ve completed your animation in Animate, select ‘export>movie’ and the swf will be the default file format. Pay attention where you save this file, because once you make the connection with After Effects, you don’t want to worry about a broken link. (Note: I’m not sure if Animate supports dynamic linking with After Effects, but I’ll check that for the next post.)
The next step is to go into After Effects and import your file. Place the file in your composition timeline, and apply any effects you would normally apply to a vector image. The video can accept filters and effects, and is infinitely scalable. This makes it a perfect format for rolling image zoom transitions and other special effect work.
With a few simple steps, you can achieve the hand drawn look of classic animation, that works great in After Effects.