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Adding effects to layers

From: Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials

Video: Adding effects to layers

As you can clearly see by looking at the Layers panel--in this file here called layers_2, I will just reveal the contents of these layers-- we can see that we actually have things that are inside of layers. In other words, the same way that we think about groups being some kind of a container inside of Illustrator and I have contents inside those containers, obviously layers are kind of these uber-containers. They contain groups and objects inside of them. Now we've already seen that we can apply attributes to groups themselves, to containers. We can add drop shadows.

Adding effects to layers

As you can clearly see by looking at the Layers panel--in this file here called layers_2, I will just reveal the contents of these layers-- we can see that we actually have things that are inside of layers. In other words, the same way that we think about groups being some kind of a container inside of Illustrator and I have contents inside those containers, obviously layers are kind of these uber-containers. They contain groups and objects inside of them. Now we've already seen that we can apply attributes to groups themselves, to containers. We can add drop shadows.

We can add strokes to groups themselves. Can we also add those kinds of elements to layers? The answer is, absolutely. Now here is the thing about Illustrator. We already learned this concept about Smart Targeting. We know that when we click on something, Illustrator tries to figure out what it is that we want to target and targets that for us. So if I have a group selected, Illustrator automatically targets the group, figuring that if I want to add a Live Effect I want that Live Effect to be applied to the group container. However, it's very rare that I might want to automatically add some kind of an effect to my layer container--meaning that everything on that layer gets that same type of an effect.

So Illustrator doesn't assume that there is never a time where Illustrator would automatically use Smart Targeting to target an entire layer. However, we can use the target circles inside the Layers panel to manually target something if we want to apply something to a layer. For example, let's take a look at the Roads and Tracks layer inside of this document. I currently have two paths inside of this document that are inside of that layer: one is called Main Street and one is called Train Tracks. Now, let's say I decide that I want to add a drop shadow to everything on that layer.

I want all the roads and train tracks to get drop shadows. Well, I could add drop shadows individually to each of those objects, but a) that could take some time, b) it could be that I just want to experiment with my file and see what it looks like with the drop shadows, so I don't want to have to be adding a whole bunch of drop shadows, then removing a whole bunch of them. So I may find it a lot more efficient for me, if I am already using layers, to apply that type of effect at the layer level. So let's see how that works. I already know that if I select both of these objects-- I am going to hold down the Shift key now and select both of these paths-- I can see that Main Street and Train Tracks are both selected.

All the elements on that layer are selected, but you can see that both the Main Street object and the Train Tracks objects are both targeted. That's because Illustrator's Smart Targeting targeted the objects themselves. However, in this case, I want to apply a drop shadow effect, not to the objects, but to the layer that they are on. So I am going to deselect everything here. I just want to show you that you don't have to do this, but you can actually do this without having to worry about selecting anything. I am simply going to come over here to the Layers panel, go to the Roads and Tracks layer, and on the far right, notice that that layer also has a target circle, meaning I have the ability to manually target that entire layer.

So if I now click on that target circle, you see how now a double-line appears around that circle? This means that right now while Main Street and Train Tracks, these two objects, are selected, what's actually targeted is the layer itself, meaning if I make an appearance change now, that appearance change happens to the layer. In fact, let's take a look at the Appearance panel. The Appearance panel now tells me that what is my target? My layer is the target. So anything that I make now as a change to the presentation of my artwork is going to happen to the layer itself. And the same way that we saw groups that have contents inside of it, notice over here that I have contents inside of my layer.

So if I now apply an effect--let's say I will go to Stylize and I will choose to add a drop shadow, and I will just use this setting here: an Opacity of 75, X and Y offsets of 1 point and a Blur of 2 points, and I will click OK-- you can now see that both the Road and the Train Tracks have a drop shadow applied to it. And it's important to realize here that if I were to actually click now to target specifically the Main Street path, if I scroll down here to the bottom of the Appearance panel, I see no drop shadow here. That's because this object does not have a drop shadow, but remember the Appearance panel is this wonderful tool to help me figure out what's going on inside of my file.

So it sure looks like there is a drop shadow on that right now, but if I take a look at my Appearance panel, I currently see that my path is targeted. I have the Road graphic style applied to it. But, by the way, that path right now is living inside of a layer that has an effect applied to it. So you see how easy it is for me now to reverse-engineer that's going on inside of my document. If I were to try to do this by looking strictly on my artboard and if I wouldn't have my Appearance panel or my Layers panel open, all this information would be invisible to me. I'd have a hard time trying to figure out exactly what's going on in this document.

Now, one of the benefits of applying effects to layers--and by the way, you can see now in the Layers panel that the Road and Tracks layer now has a filled target circle or a meatball in that target circle. And should I have open up this file now that somebody else had worked on, I would immediately know that there was some kind of an appearance they have applied to that layer. So this means one of several things. First of all, if I were to take now the Main Street object and drag that into a different layer--let's say for example somewhere down over here right above let's say the background-- I can see that right now that drop shadow is gone.

The drop shadow no longer applies to that road because the road is no longer in that layer that had the drop shadow applied to it. I will press Command+Z to kind of put that back where it belongs, and likewise, if I take some kind of other object inside of my document and I move that object into the Road and Tracks layer, then that object will automatically now take on the appearance of a drop shadow. So for example, if I take now let's say the Directions text and I simply drag that now into the Road and Tracks layer, right away I can see now that Directions takes on the appearance of a drop shadow.

No, the Directions text itself has no appearance on it. It has a basic appearance, yet it's living inside of a layer that has a complex appearance applied to it. Likewise, if I click on it to select it, once again I see that I have a type object that's currently targeted, but that type object is sitting inside of a layer that has an appearance on it. So now we come full circle, and we see how all these concepts are tied together inside of Illustrator. I have objects. Those objects can have appearances applied to them. I can put objects inside of groups. I can apply appearances to group. And I can put groups and objects inside of layers and apply appearances to layers.

And all that information is visible directly by using the Layers panel and also the Appearance panel. Now before we are done with this movie, I want to show you one thing that you really kind of have to be aware of, because of this power that you have inside of Illustrator. I am going to create a brand- new document here for a second. I am simply going to draw a regular shape. I am going to take a rectangle. I'm going to draw just a regular square right here. Let's fill this with 100% yellow, and let's get rid of the stroke of this object. Now remember that inside of Illustrator a group is a container. Now in the olden days, like during the Illustrator 8 or Illustrator 7, for example, there was no way to create a group of just one object because that concept made no sense at all.

However, it is entirely possible inside of Illustrator now to create a container that contains only one object inside of it. So even with one object selected, I could go now to the object menu, and I can choose group. So now I have a group. I have a container that has one object inside of it. Now here is what I am going to do. I am going to open up my Layers panel, and I am going to open up the group here, and I can see that I now have my path. I am going to target just my path itself. I am going to apply an opacity of 50%.

Now, I am also going to target the fill itself inside of my object, click on the little triangle here, and set my fill to have its own opacity of 50%. So now within a single object I have an Opacity setting set just for the fill itself and I have an Opacity setting for the object. Now I am going to target the entire group. I am going to set the group's Opacity because remember the group is the container. So I am changing the Opacity value for the container, so that will also have an Opacity of 50%. Now, I am actually going to target the layer, and I am going to set the opacity for the layer to 50% as well.

This is again one of the reasons of why it's so important to understand how the Layers and Appearance panels work hand in hand with each other. Let's say I get this file from somebody else. I take a look at this file, I use my regular selection tool, and I click on it. I look at my Color panel. My Color panel says that this object has a fill of 100% yellow. Really now, it certainly is not going to print at 100% yellow at all. Now I may look at the Transparency panel and I might see that there is an Opacity value of 50%, but again, that's a lie. It is not going to print at 50% yellow.

That's because this object right now has a layer opacity of 50%, it has a group opacity of 50%, it has a path opacity of 50%, and it has a fill opacity of 50%. The only way for me to figure that out is by looking at the Layers panel. Right away alarms should be going off of my head as soon as I see that there is a path, a group, and a layer 1 that all have meatballs on them. That's letting me know right now that there are some kind of effects, or some kind of appearance changes, that are happening at every possible layer of how that object was built.

Now again, Illustrator does a really good job in helping me understand that. If I simply click on this, I can see right here that I have contents. I have a group. I have a layer. If I double-click on the contents for example, I can easily see exactly what's going on here. My object as a whole has 50% opacity, my fill has its own 50% opacity, and remember that path now is living inside of a group that has opacity, and that group is living inside of a layer that has opacity. So right here I can kind of read up the ladder, figure out exactly what's going on inside of my document, and never again will I ever look at an Illustrator document in the same way again.

I will now know exactly what's going on, whether I created the file or whether anyone else has created the file as well.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials
 
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  1. 8m 22s
    1. Welcome
      1m 15s
    2. Exploring the Illustrator Timeline
      5m 12s
    3. Getting the most out of this training
      1m 30s
    4. Using the exercise files
      25s
  2. 16m 27s
    1. Starting off on the right foot
      27s
    2. Knowing the difference between structure and presentation
      4m 38s
    3. Understanding paths and attributes
      4m 56s
    4. Distributing stroke weight along a path
      2m 25s
    5. Bottoms up: Object hierarchy and stacking order
      4m 1s
  3. 51m 9s
    1. The all-important Appearance panel
      37s
    2. Understanding attribute stacking order
      6m 45s
    3. Targeting individual object attributes
      7m 32s
    4. Adding multiple attributes to a single object
      9m 31s
    5. Modifying appearances with Live Effects
      7m 11s
    6. Using multiple strokes to create a border design
      4m 36s
    7. Using multiple strokes to create a map
      5m 52s
    8. Using multiple fills to mix spot colors
      4m 59s
    9. Using multiple fills to create textures
      4m 6s
  4. 46m 2s
    1. Learning to live with appearances
      30s
    2. Basic appearance vs. complex appearance
      4m 27s
    3. Clearing or expanding an appearance
      10m 52s
    4. Controlling the appearance of newly drawn art
      5m 11s
    5. Saving appearances with graphic styles
      6m 54s
    6. Changing artwork by modifying a graphic style
      7m 39s
    7. Uncovering a treasure trove of graphic styles
      5m 1s
    8. Copying appearances with the Eyedropper tool
      5m 28s
  5. 33m 28s
    1. Why do we create groups?
      1m 48s
    2. Applying an effect to a group
      4m 38s
    3. Understanding the difference between targeting and selecting
      4m 44s
    4. Knowing the dangers of ungrouping artwork
      2m 21s
    5. Using Isolation mode to preserve group structure
      6m 59s
    6. Adding a stroke to a group
      6m 13s
    7. Adding a 3D effect to a group
      3m 36s
    8. Extending the concept of groups to type objects
      3m 9s
  6. 46m 34s
    1. Are you a layers person?
      33s
    2. Learning to use the Layers and Objects panel
      9m 27s
    3. Making selections and editing stacking order
      6m 38s
    4. Reading and using the target circles
      8m 43s
    5. Copying artwork and appearances
      5m 37s
    6. Adding effects to layers
      9m 56s
    7. Getting the most out of the Layers panel
      5m 40s
  7. 47m 19s
    1. It's more than just a drop shadow?
      48s
    2. Adding basic texture with Mezzotint
      7m 50s
    3. Generating custom textures with Texturizer
      12m 22s
    4. Adding a stroke to an image with Outline Object
      5m 54s
    5. Aligning text precisely with Outline Object
      6m 31s
    6. Adding callout numbers with Convert to Shape
      4m 36s
    7. Enhancing performance with Rasterize
      2m 30s
    8. Avoiding pitfalls when using effects
      6m 48s
  8. 31m 59s
    1. Asking yourself the "what if?" question
      33s
    2. Outlining artwork with Offset Path and Pathfinder Add
      5m 36s
    3. Adding captions with Convert to Shape and Transform
      7m 1s
    4. Creating a crosshatch effect with Scribble
      5m 44s
    5. Creating buttons with Round Corners and Transform
      13m 5s
  9. 25m 21s
    1. Working with other people's files
      36s
    2. Setting up a workspace that makes sense
      9m 43s
    3. Learning to "read" an Illustrator file
      5m 48s
    4. Controlling pixel resolution
      9m 14s
  10. 1m 2s
    1. Next steps
      1m 2s

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