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Detailed isometric buildings in After Effects

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Ina DeanDetailed isometric buildings in After Effects
by on Dec 4, 2016 at 3:44:20 pm


i'm currently working on a project for design school, where i need to do some basic animations (pop up graphics) in an isometric city environment.
I'd love to combine the easy approach in Illustrator to draw detailed buildings with the possibilites in After Effects to make some animations like 360° rotation around the building or a camera zoom.

I basically need to have advice on what's the best approach to reach the following combination:

1. I'd like to have an isometric (kind of 3d) perspective like here:

2. I'd love to have the buildings a bit more detailed like this:

3. I'd like to have the possibilitie to do some basic camera rotation around the building. It's not needed to have 360°rotation (although it would be nice to have it).

Here's a tutorial, where you can see a 3D building made in After Effects:

Now to my problem:)

I first considered to make everything (also the drawing) in After Effects, so that I can easily work in 3D space. That's because i did not really found enough information, how to turn my (already isometric) drawn buildings into a working 3d building in After effects.

Well, i turned out to find myself having big problems in After effects to make anything more detailed (details like seen in 2)
than just a basic shape with rectangles as windows. It's even very complicated to create some depth like the windows in example 1.

So i guess, the best way would be to draw everything in Illustrator and do the animation in After effects, but so far i have no idea how to import my footage to After Effects without only recieving a "flat" layer (so no possibility to rotate the camera around the building and having a 3d Look).

Do you have any idea? Or maybe some helpful links for this workflow beetween Illustrator and After effects? Any help would be really nice, as I'm trying to find a solution for almost one and a half week ☺

Thanks and i wish you a nice sunday!

best regards,


Design student and Catnerdgirl:)

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Dave LaRondeRe: Detailed isometric buildings in After Effects
by on Dec 4, 2016 at 9:01:21 pm

You mention the term, "isometric". How important is that to you? I ask because AE does not replicate isometric views. It can only approximate them in certain views, and never when it renders in 3D.

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA

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Ina DeanRe: Detailed isometric buildings in After Effects
by on Dec 5, 2016 at 8:11:08 am

Hi Dave!

Thanks for your quick answer and the advice to look up what isometric really means. After a research I have to say the term "isometric" is not that important for my task. It's more important to me to have a 3d impression after rendering the whole scene and being able to rotate the camera. So i guess i need some advice on how to set up a 3d scene in Illustrator and get it to work in 3d in After Effects.

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Cassius MarquesRe: Detailed isometric buildings in After Effects
by on Dec 5, 2016 at 1:11:19 pm

There is no such thing as a 3d scene in illustrator, just the perception of depth. There isn't even much 3d in After effects if your goal is to combine both (Illustrations and AE's 3d campabilities) you end up with a "2.5d" project, where you get flat layers displaced in the Z axis or rotated around other axis.

You should draw those buildings in a 3d application and render them with flat colors (C4d light comes with AE!). You'll have the best of both worlds.

Cassius Marques

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Daniel WaldronRe: Detailed isometric buildings in After Effects
by on Dec 5, 2016 at 3:25:54 pm

You can use this free script to make some fairly primitive 3D buildings. If you need anything fancier, unfortunately you will need to make 3D models. After Effects can't just guess what different sides of an object looks like.

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Ina DeanRe: Detailed isometric buildings in After Effects
by on Dec 6, 2016 at 10:44:17 am

Thanks for your answers so far! Do you think something like this:

would be possible to achieve with the Lite version of Cinema 4d, which is included in After effects? Can i do some basic animation in the Lite version like zooming on the building or some smoke effect?

(Would this question be better asked in the Cinema 4d forum, but i thought it's not good to open an extra topic)

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