after effects Tutorial

After Effects: Rotating Parented Objects

Jenn Paulson
|3 min read
Written by Jenn Paulson



Welcome to another insightful After Effects tutorial where Jenn Paulson walks us through an ingenious method for rotating one object based on the position of another using the Pick Whip tool. In this guide, we dive deep into how Jenn created a box of crayons on an isometric grid, starting with an Illustrator file and moving into After Effects for the finishing touches.

Creating an Isometric Grid in Illustrator

Initial Setup

  1. Open Illustrator: Jenn starts by opening a new Illustrator file.
  2. Go to Preferences: Navigate to 'Preferences' under the 'Illustrator' menu, and then choose 'General.'
  3. Set Dimensions: She sets the dimensions to 0.125 inches and 0.38 inches. Hitting the 'Tab' key converts these measurements to pixels.

Pro Tip

Jenn uses the tab key to swiftly convert inches to pixels, streamlining the setup process.

Drawing the Grid Lines

  1. Draw a Line: Create a straight line by holding the 'Shift' key.
  2. Duplicate: Select the line and hold 'Shift + Alt,' then press the right arrow key to duplicate the line across the layout.

Adjustments and Grouping

  1. Select All Lines: After extending the lines across your layout, select all of them.
  2. Resize: Jenn recommends making the lines taller for easier handling.
  3. Group: After resizing, go ahead and group the lines together.

Rotating and Reflecting

  1. Copy & Paste: Copy the grouped lines and paste them in place.
  2. Rotation Tool: Use the rotation tool and type in 60 degrees, then hit 'Enter.'
  3. Reflect: Go to 'Object,' then 'Transform,' and finally 'Reflect.' Choose 'Vertical' and hit 'OK.'

Final Touches

  1. Scale: Depending on the size you want for your grid, you can scale it to fit within your Illustrator page.
  2. Group: Once scaled, group the entire grid.
  3. Clipping Mask: Create a clipping mask to remove any extra lines and to make the grid fit within the boundaries of the page.

Additional Tips

Jenn suggests lowering the opacity of the grid so it turns light gray. This allows you to see what you’re working on more clearly.

Importing into After Effects and Using the Pick Whip Tool

Although Jenn doesn't go into detail about how she imports the Illustrator grid into After Effects or how she uses the Pick Whip tool, her tutorial gives us a strong foundation to start our own projects. The Pick Whip tool is a versatile feature in After Effects that can link different properties of multiple layers. For example, you can rotate one object based on the position of another, bringing a dynamic element into your animations.


Jenn Paulson's tutorial is a step-by-step journey into creating an isometric grid in Illustrator and potentially linking objects in After Effects using the Pick Whip tool. While the tutorial focuses mainly on Illustrator, the techniques can be easily applied in After Effects, especially when using tools like Pick Whip for advanced object manipulation. Give it a try and add an extra layer of dynamism to your animations!


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