Importing Illustrator files (.ai) with layers

In Animate 1, I have experienced that:

When you import Adobe Illustrator files (.ai, in RGB color mode) into the library as Animate templates (.tpl), sequence of cells are generated in a single element, or layers in the same order as the source file according to the software version being used:

Adobe Illustrator 9 - 10 - CS - CS2 generate layers.
Adobe Illustrator CS3 - CS4 generate cells in a single element

For these latest versions (CS3 - CS4), the element can be duplicated in the timeline as many times as you have layers and then swap the cells in each element according to the contents of each layer in Adobe Illustrator.

When working layers with sublayers, they are integrated into the parent layer and generate corresponding merged layers (Adobe Illustrator 9 - 10 - CS - CS2) or cells in a single element (Adobe Illustrator CS3 - CS4)


yoryo- thanks posting your experience here. I don’t seem to get the same results. Are you saying that when you import an illustrator v9-CS2 file that animate imports that file with layers intact? If you have any example files you could post so that I could figure out what I’m doing wrong I would be very grateful. I know a lot of other people have had problems importing layers from .ai into animate.

Ok, 14greg,

In a simple image test I want to show you the behavior of illustrator CS2 files imported into Animate an in the first two pictures are displayed:


1 - CS2 file, become.tpl library imported in Animate Library
2 - The template as layers (elements) in the timeline, named MC0, MC1, MC2, MC3.

In other four images I can show you the same importing but with Illustrator CS4, you can see the library window with the template into the Animate Library folder, and then, you can see the timeline with the illustrator layers as cells in a single element. ( I have swapped the cells to show you the four exposures, because when import, only one is showed, an you need swap them as drawing substitution in the library slider) Two layer examples are showed.

If the links of the images do not work for some coding error, you can see that in:

Best Regards.

I am trying to import .ai files into Animate and after to unlock the library and start the import process using File menu nothing appears…what am doing wrong?

Hey yoryo-

thank you so much for taking the time to illustrate this for me. I can see that it is working just fine for you. It seems so simple but I can’t figure out why it’s not working for me. I will message you and see if I can get your .ai file. Maybe it will help me to troubleshoot.

Here’s a screen shot with the results I get from importing cs4 or cs2 illustrator files. each of the polygons is on a different layer in illustrator but in Animate they only show up as one layer with one drawing.

Here you have an option directly from ToonBoom service.


First thing you need to do is saving it with PDF compatible which causes not to show the image. In general, any ai files importing into Animate has to be PDF compatible to be able to work. To do this, open it again in Illustrator and save it again by choosing this option.

Other note is there are some features in new versions in any CS will not be fully delivered to Animate since they have hide the information from public after 9 or 10. If not all information are shown even you have enabled PDF compatible, save it as legacy version.

Lastly, if you are using PLE of 7.6, it is one of the limitation of PLE has in 7.6

Please let me know what happened.



is Illustrator layer import working for you? All of the information I have currently indicates I am exporting a correctly formatted Illustrator file. Yet I do not get the same results as Yoryo.
thanks for you input

Hello 14g, Totineta1,

Shown here in the first three images the normal import layered file CS4. .ai-RGB color- with pdf compatible file.

You can see how each layer is imported as a single cell element.

The fourth image shows the import of one blocked ai file (with the locks activated in layers) The result is identical.

The fifth image shows the import of a file with its layers ai blocked and invisible (with eyes off) The result is similar.

The sixth picture shows the import of a file which i created is not compatible PDF file. It imported a single cell without image.

Conclusion: when save the .ai always check create PDF compatible file. As said Totineta1 in his post.
I could not find yet a case in which all layers are merged into a single cell as I can saw in your posted image, 14 greg.
I asume that Animate Pro (ple?) are not identical Illustrator importation as Animate 1.
If Lilly can explain about, I´m sure that she can clear our doubts. Thanks in advance Toon Boom support.

The same in


Hi everyone!

Regarding importing AI with layers. For the products Animate Pro, Animate 2, and Animate Pro 2, there was a flag for the import AI that was turned off that allowed the import of AI layers. This flag was turned off at the request of a customer.

For future versions of the software, we are looking at making this a preference so that the user can decide themselves if they want to import with layers or not.

For the meantime, if you want to import with layers, please use the following script.

Usage: Run the script. A dialog will prompt where you can browse to the AI file you want to import. The script will then create a template IN THAT DIRECTORY of the illustrator file. After the script has been run, in the left side of the library, right-click and select “Open Library”. Now browse to the same location where the original illustrator file was. This should now contain a .tpl file with the same name as the illustrator file. Drag and drop this into your scene and voila! You should now have your illustrator file with layers.

function importIllustrator()
var filename = FileDialog.getOpenFileName( “.ai;.pdf” );
if (filename) {
System.println(“importing " + filename);
var arguments = new Array;
var pdfImport = Application.specialFolders.bin + “/Pdfimport”;

var folderPos = filename.findRev("/");
if (folderPos != -1)
var folder = filename.left(folderPos);
System.println(“folder = " + folder);
if (!folder.isEmpty())


var ret = Process.execute(arguments, “”);
System.println("returned " + ret);

Thanks Lilly!

Works like a charm and I even built a nice little button to run the script with!

Thanks very much Lilly for the support. Awesome way!


Hey guys,

I have a similar issue to totineta, where I import an ai file and nothing comes up. I already have pdf campatiblity checked and I even tried to save as cs3, cs2 even as an older legacy. I’m not getting anything imported.

I also used the script Lilly provided, nothing worked.

Any suggestions?


Go ahead and send an email to with the ai file that you’re trying to import attached and we’ll take a look at it and see what’s going on.

Toon Boom Support

hey ericN
I think you posted about this issue earlier. I think it’s an issue with putting layers inside of layers inside of layers… As a test create a copy of your illustrator file and copy/paste your art to 1 layer and then try and import that into Animate. I have only had the problem you describe when I have multiple layers buried inside each other.

Just to clarify what we are talking about. My observation is this (and i could be wrong about what the actual issue is). I’m going to abstract this a little so we can model the problem easier.

In Illustrator lets say you have 4 TOP layers:


In older version of illustrator you couldn’t do this but I think starting with CS3 this was a feature they added. Here’s what you can do now with these same four layers I have listed above

– L1
– L3

I will describe the above. layer 4 has layer 1 nested inside it. Layer 1 has Layer 3 nested inside it. Layer 3 has layer 2 nested inside it and all of them are nesting inside layer 4. Essentially there is 1 layer sitting in Illustrator with 3 Layers nested inside of it similar to a Russian Matryoshka Doll Does this make sense?

In this example my observations have shown that L1 nested into L4 will probably import just fine. If I nest it more than one layer deep that’s when I start running into problems importing into Animate. The above example Layering will most likely NOT import into Animate and you will get the result you have been getting. Which is just a drawing layer with nothing in it.

Hope this helps

Hey 14g and Lilly,

14g you are right, I did post it earlier, but I had forgotten about it…sorry

Interesting enough I’m still running into the same issue. So it just out of curiosity I downloaded PLE of animate 2. Then all problem solved…

I’m not quite sure what exactly is going on, but the same file on the same computer would nicely import into Animate 2, but wouldn’t show anything in Animate.

btw 14g, I remember you mention something about doing a lot of Ai work and transferring those into TBA? I have come to terms with my issue and decided to just trace over all the old work and startover. It’s not a lot and I suppose I can get familar with TBA at the meantime.


yeah I do a ton of work in .Ai and import it into Animate. The only hiccups I’ve had have been the layer import which has been solved and then sometimes nested layers seem to give me trouble. Which is what I thought your problem was but apparently its not related. Oh well… maybe the information I have provided will help someone in the future. :slight_smile:

Thankyou to everyone who has contributed to this topic! FINALLY I can get my Illustrator files into Animate Pro! :-*

hi all,

the import with layers using lilly`s script works perfectly, BUT…
it seems to lose all transparency in the process.
Is there a way to keep the transparency?


Hmm when I run it I don’t get a loss of transparency. What version of illustrator are you using? And what settings are you using when you save your illustrator file? When you save make sure you have “Make PDF compatible file” enabled.

Toon Boom Support


it`s cs4 and i saved it as standard cs4 and also as illustrator 10. both pdf compatible.
both loose all transparency. for example i have two circles for a sun. the inner circle is white and 100% opaque, the outer circle is 50% percent transparent to create a kind of halo around the sun. but upon import i just get 2 completely opaque white circles (looking like one big white circle).