This is a continuation of a previous question where I asked how to animate a waving flag drawn in Illustrator. I received a really useful answer from @poor and I've followed it as closely as I could in addition to a useful tutorial by Adobe titled 'Animating Organic Illustrator Paths in After Effects'. I'm not sure if my drawing is too complicated for this process but I am near to getting the result I want, with just one last problem. I'll explain below and any help is greatly appreciated.

I've drawn each 'keyframe' of the flag waving and would like to smoothly transition in between them. This is what each stage of the flag looks like (each one is a different layer): Flags

Each flag ends up being composed of 6 masks when I paste them into the Path value of Mask in After Effects (because they aren't entirely closed). I paste the first flag, keyframe all 6 masks, then with the 6 masks highlighted paste the next flag in, and keyframe it:

6 Masks

When I play this as is, it does a really weird maneuver. I've tried setting the 'First Vertex' with no luck either:

Flag animation

Even the pole, which is consistent throughout, changes shape a little. Is what I'm trying to accomplish possible, or perhaps are the 'organic shapes' a little too complicated for smooth transitions between? Thanks a lot for any input or advice.

  • Could you please add your illustrator file to the question? That would make it easier to find a solution...
    – p2or
    Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 13:40
  • @poor Sure, here is the file for CC and CS6: dropbox.com/sh/718zdo0stwk2mef/AAB9VOEncuua2_vnd1NiEYTsa?dl=0
    – sstaccato
    Commented Mar 2, 2015 at 3:40
  • Thanks for the ai files - tested it today. I thought, this easily can fixed by setting the first vertex mentioned in the video here: tv.adobe.com/watch/no-stupid-questions-with-colin-smith/… Right Click > Mask and Shape Path > Set First Vertex, Sometimes it really helps, but not for the whole animation. The shape seems to be too complex for after effects - maybe there is too much movement. I will test it in the next days again.
    – p2or
    Commented Mar 12, 2015 at 18:22
  • Thanks for trying. I found this flag (aniconslibrary.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/…) as part of an animated icons library in After Effects. Maybe I should aim for a flag with no folds. Do you think that would work with the method you mentioned? A lot simpler.
    – sstaccato
    Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 1:42
  • It helps to remember that when you animate masks in AE the points always go in a straight line between where they are at one keyframe to where they are at the next.
    – stib
    Commented Mar 5, 2016 at 12:40

1 Answer 1


Like @stib said above, masks interpolate in a straight line. However, you can also use tools like the Smart Mask Interpolation panel to tell After Effects to re-examine how the masks are interpolated between each other and find a better route, but this creates a TON of keyframes (one per frame actually) so if you plan to make additional changes to the masks later, this isn't the best option.

If it were me, I would just do each line as its own animation, and use a 10-15 frame hand animated loop, so you have control over each individual line itself...once the first crease in the flag moves from one end to the other, you can just loop that part over and over...

More info on Smart Mask Interpolation here:


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