Motionize Help

Thanks for downloading Motionize! Motionize is a plug-in for Adobe Illustrator that allows the conversion of Illustrator shapes to Apple Motion shapes. Although not all shapes can be exported, most can.

Installing Motionize

motionize install
Files for installing Motionize

There are two options to install Motionize. The first is to use the “Install Motionize” installer. This will likely require an override of Apple’s Gatekeeper settings in Lion, Mountain Lion and Mavericks. If you do not feel comfortable allowing the installer to run you can also install the file “Motionize” manually. It should reside in your Adobe Illustrator application folder under Presets/[your localization (eg. en_US)]/Scripts.

install location
Manual install location

The installer will automatically quit Illustrator if it’s already open. If installing manually you will need to restart Illustrator for Motionize to be used.

Required Illustrator Shape Structure

Motionize works by converting PostScript shapes in Illustrator to Motion XML shapes. It can export complex shapes, lines and compound shapes as well. It will also export a grouping of these shapes. A sample file is included for you to play with and is called “” saved in Illustrator CS format (first version of CS). The following instructions will reference the included sample file.

Sample Illustrator file

The sample file has a document size of 1920×1080 pixels and is in color mode RGB as Motion uses RGB explicitly. Although Motionize can convert CMYK colors to RGB you will experience more consistent color between Illustrator and Motion if your Illustrator files are already in RGB mode.

With your file open you should see an image of a woman’s head with blue hair. I drew this as a reference for you. Feel free to use this woman’s head in any of your own animations or print material. It’s now yours!

head illustration
Illustrated woman’s head

The included sample file has a grouping of shapes which comprise a woman’s head. Take a look at the layer panel in Illustrator to see the structure of this grouping. Typically for animation of vector art I name all layers. This isn’t necessary but I find it very helpful when it comes time to animate elements of large groupings.

vector layers
Illustration’s layers revealed

This layer ordering and naming will be preserved in the Motion shape file. The exception to this is compound paths. Compound paths are a special case on export. Motion does not support this path type so we have to be a little clever. Using masking techniques it is possible to simulate an Illustrator compound path in Motion.

If you take a closer look at the provided sample you’ll notice there is a slit of transparency in the woman’s hair. This slit is subtracted from the overall hair shape which creates a compound path in Illustrator. Since Motion does not support compound paths we use masking to simulate the effect. As such you will find all of the elements of a single compound path expanded in Motion. It’s a good idea to name the parts of a compound path in Illustrator before converting the shapes into a compound path so you’ll know what you’re working with when the shapes are brought into Motion.

Another benefit of naming shapes before creating a compound path is that Motionize will ask you on export what the master path is. That is, which path you would like others in the compound path to be subtracted from. In the case of the woman this is a path called “Main Hair”. Release the compound path in Illustrator to see this.

Exporting Shapes

Motionize currently supports the export of only one shape or grouping at a time. To export a shape it must be selected first. Select the woman’s head grouping and go to File > Scripts > Motionize to export the shape.

exporting shape
Exporting shape with Motionize

If your shape is a compound shape or a grouping which contains compound shapes, as does the sample file, you’ll notice that you’re given a prompt to choose a master path of these compound shapes. Enter the master path’s name* here (options are listed for you on export). By default Motionize selects the largest path in a compound shape. You will be given this prompt for each compound shape in your grouping.

compound path
Compound path conversion dialog

Next you will be given a place to save your file. By default this file will be given the name of the parent item in a grouping or the shape’s name if not a grouping. The exported file is a standard Motion shape file.

Working with Your Exported Shape

You will be able to import your Motionized shape directly into any Motion project you have. Notice that the shape’s preview is given and that all layers are intact.

preview window
Motion preview window showing exported shape(s)

Heading over to the layers panel in Motion you should see the layers of the woman’s head. Select any layer you would like to edit. Notice that each layer is properly aligned and the offset of the object, if dragged into the layer panel, will retain its positioning from the original Illustrator file.

motion layers
Layers of woman’s head in Motion

You may need to tweak how Motion renders some paths. For instance, the teeth and hair cutout of the woman illustration are slightly larger in Motion and could use some modification. Your illustrations may vary.

That’s it! Animate away. Thanks again for downloading Motionize and have a great day.

* As noted by some users, Motionize does not currently handle the full international set of characters. If you have trouble with object export the use of non-English characters may be an issue for you.

26 Replies to “Motionize Help”

  1. Hi Scott,

    this is an awesome idea, but I’m afraid I can’t get Motionize to work even with your sample illustrator file. I’m using Illustrator CC and Motion 5.1.

    The installer seems to work fine, script is available in Illustrator, seems to run ok, generates woman.motn, Motion seems to open the file ok, but it’s empty.

    I also tried the script with a new illustrator file with only a square in it, named the square path, saved the file, ran the script but the generated square.motn, although it opened in motion, still seemed to have nothing in it.

    I’d love to help you get this working, it would be so useful.

    1. Thanks for trying, I’m sorry it isn’t working for you. I happen to have developed Motionize using CS6 and Motion 5 but have tested as far back as CS4 and Motion 1 with success. Motionize exports in Motion version 1 format and is compatible with any version of Illustrator allowing scripting. Most people are having success with it so I’d recommend taking another shot at it.

  2. Your plugin looks promising Scott, however, no file (.motn or anything else) is created when running your script – using the latest version of OS X 10.9.1 together with the latest version of Illustrator CC (17.1.0).

    Would be nice if I actually got it to work properly…

    1. Andre, thanks for trying. Motionize was developed on a Mavericks machine (10.9) running Motion 5 and CS6 but has been tested as far back as CS4 and Motion 1 on Snow Leopart (10.6) with success. Feel free to send me your file and I’ll take a look at what might be awry.

  3. Great plugin!
    I was able to successfully export shapes from AI CC.

    Few observations:
    – Installation failed on both OS X 10.9.1 and 10.8.5 at the very last step.
    – When exporting, I don’t see my layer names (“This compound path is made of the following paths: “,”.”). Minor thing as the export still works but maybe something worth looking at. BTW your example file works well.
    – I can’t cancel the export once initiated. The windows keep popping up (e.g. “‘null’ is not a valid directory” when I hit Cancel) until I select a folder. A bit annoying.
    – Another minor thing. When selecting a folder surely the button should be “Save” not “Open”?

    Lastly, I wonder if it would be possible for the script to automatically use all the ‘cutout’ paths as masks in Motion file when exporting a compound path?

    Thanks again for the great plugin!

  4. I was so happy to find this script. It works with your sample file but not with my own illustrator files.
    I can’t find out what it is 🙁
    When i put my illustrator shape to your sample file, it also doesn’t work 🙁

    Any hints?


    1. Maik –

      Thanks for giving Motionize a try! Let’s see if we can get this resolved. In general it shouldn’t matter what version of Illustrator file you’re using so let’s rule that out for now. However, the script only works on simple shapes, compound shapes and paths. If there are rendered items in your grouping or applied effects that haven’t been expanded in your illustration the script may fail.

      I would recommend reviewing the structure of the object you’d like to export and hunting for potential culprits (elements not of the aforementioned type). If you would like me to review your file please email me a copy and I’ll gladly take a look. I would be happy to update Motionize to accommodate reasonable object complexities.

      Thanks again, Maik.

    2. Maik – I had the same issue with my first tests of this plug-in… I think that if you do not (re)name your layers in illustrator, the file-naming process in motionize comes up null and it doesn’t create a file. So try naming your layers and try again.

      Scott – Nice work on this plug-in (which seems like a no-brainer)! I’ve only begun to explore the tool but I think it will be quite useful!

    3. I ran into the same problem and here is what worked for me.

      Make sure the graphics in your illustrator file are grouped and rename the group from the default to anything else, that’s it.

      It looks like the script uses the name of the group as the name of the exported file so if you don’t name the group you will be exporting a file without a name, just an “.motn” file, the finder hides all files that start with a “.” and therefore you can’t see what you just exported.

      I just discovered a bunch of invisible “.motn” files on my desktop.

      To show invisible files in the Finder you can use an app like invisibliX

      Hope this help.

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