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Layers are an essential part of any composition, but when it comes to web design and all of the small intricate pieces that go into even the simplest of mockups, there's no panel more important than the Layers panel. The Layers panel is your window into your document, instantly giving you a bird's-eye- view of everything that's happening within your file. Let's open up the Layers panel and take a closer look. To access your Layers panel, just come over to the right-hand side and find it down at the bottom, or you can go to the Window menu and choose Layers to make sure that it's turned on, or hit the F7 key on your keyboard.
I'm going to drag my Layers panel out so you can actually see it a little better, and I'll expand it down so we can get a good look at it. So right now in this document, you see here at the bottom it's telling me I have 1 layer available to me, and that's just a background layer. That's because this has not been spread out into multiple layers yet. But the Layers panel itself gives me a great deal of information about this file. If I expand out this little triangle next to this, I can actually see all of the different sublayers that are available to me. And each one of these sub-layers has actually been named, so I have things like the buttons, the Logo Text, Clouds, the Robot Logo, Rays of Light and the Background element as well.
The great part about someone who names their layers and their sublayers is the fact they give you a roadmap to your file. And if you are going to be sending your designs off a developer or someone else to review or anything like that, you need to get in the habit of naming your layers in such a way that makes sense to them and to you so you can easily find anything that you are looking for. Let's take a look at some of the other options that we have available to us. To the left-hand side you are going to see this small visibility icon. It looks like a little eyeball. Turning this off by clicking means you just deactivate everything that's on the layer.
It's not gone, it didn't get thrown away; it's just temporarily hidden. If I turn it back on, everything comes right back. You can turn off individual elements as well by going next to them and clicking the small icon. As you can see, I can turn off individual elements one at a time as I go through pretty easily. At the bottom of the Layers panel we have other options as well. We have a Locate Object command. We have Make/Release Clipping Mask, Create a New Sublayer, Create a New Layer, and then Delete Selection.
Right now I don't have anything selected, so that is grayed out. I don't have any objects selected either, so this is grayed out for Locate Object as well. If you need to resize the Layers panel, you can go right here to this little rough-edge- looking thing in the bottom right-hand corner and you can drag that in and out to resize it, to give it a little bit more room; that way you can read more of the things in here. To the right-hand side you have what I call the target dots, and the target dots allow you instantly click on something and target that element. We're going to go over that in its own movie a little bit later on.
You also have access to the Layers panel menu, which is a very powerful command. And so inside of the Layers panel menu you can create a new layer, create a new sublayer, you can duplicate this layer. You can also delete a selection. You can go under the Options for a specific layer. If you click on that, it brings up the Layer Options, which you can then rename. You can change the color of the layer. You can say whether or not it is a template layer, whether or not it's locked, whether or not you should show it, whether or not it prints, whether or not you should preview it, and whether or not you should dim the images on this layer to a specific value.
So if you are working on let's say a template that you are trying to create for someone, you might dim the images on that template to 50% or 30% and also make that a template layer so that you can easily convey that message to them that this is the template that you need to be working on. For this, there's no real template. It's just the design, so I don't have to worry about that. But all of these options are available to you. The color of the layer refers to the color that you see here. If I were to change that from light blue to, say, green and then hit OK, you will notice that the green automatically appears right next to the overall layer.
It does not appear to the sublayers necessarily, because you'll have to individually change those as well. Sublayers are a separate entity from the overall layer that they're sitting on. So the Layers panel is, like I said, a roadmap into your document, and you should use the Layers panel as much as you can to locate smaller objects that might be hard to discern exactly what they are on the screen. For instance, let's say that I wanted to find the clouds, but I didn't know exactly where they were. So I click on this, and then I choose the Locate Object, and it's going to automatically drill down to show me the paths within that.
Now I can also do that by coming out here. Let's say that I didn't have any of these expanded whatsoever, and now I wanted to find this ROBOT text at the top. I wanted to find that in the Layers panel. That's easy to do. Even without anything expanded I can select the text here and then I can go and I can click on the Locate Object. It automatically goes and expands everything down and finds exactly what I'm looking for in the Layers panel. Really, really nice to have that. Collapse that back up and click away to deselect.
So in the end, the Layers panel is your roadmap into your document, and you should use it as much as possible to locate objects and organize objects so that when you are sending this off to a developer or anyone else that you might be working with, they know exactly what you were thinking while you were creating your file. Because the last thing you want to do as a designer is make the developer mad at you. Trust me on that.
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