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Exploring the Layers panel

From: Illustrator for Web Design

Video: Exploring the Layers panel

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.

Exploring the Layers panel

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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This video is part of

Image for Illustrator for Web Design
Illustrator for Web Design

67 video lessons · 25416 viewers

Justin Seeley
Author

 
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  1. 1m 13s
    1. Welcome
      50s
    2. Using the exercise files
      23s
  2. 43m 51s
    1. Designing for screens
      1m 57s
    2. Decoding screen size and resolution
      2m 40s
    3. Exploring the Illustrator to HTML workflow
      3m 42s
    4. Setting up Illustrator for web work
      6m 55s
    5. Creating a new document for web
      6m 25s
    6. Creating a new document for mobile
      3m 31s
    7. Using artboards for responsive layouts
      7m 42s
    8. Creating email newsletter documents
      4m 31s
    9. Working with Pixel Preview and anti-aliasing
      6m 28s
  3. 25m 28s
    1. Adjusting color settings
      6m 47s
    2. Understanding web color
      3m 47s
    3. Creating a color palette
      5m 4s
    4. Creating custom swatches
      4m 50s
    5. Working with fills and strokes
      5m 0s
  4. 13m 15s
    1. Exploring the Layers panel
      5m 21s
    2. Renaming and grouping layers
      7m 54s
  5. 24m 5s
    1. Drawing simple shapes
      4m 16s
    2. Working with Pathfinder
      5m 4s
    3. Using the Shape Builder tool
      4m 33s
    4. Creating symbols
      6m 24s
    5. Editing and replacing symbols
      3m 48s
  6. 20m 22s
    1. Planning your project
      2m 56s
    2. Using guides and rulers
      5m 56s
    3. Developing a layout with shapes
      6m 21s
    4. Using a grid system
      5m 9s
  7. 25m 53s
    1. Exploring the rules of typography
      4m 1s
    2. Using text as text vs. using text as an image
      3m 37s
    3. Understanding web-safe fonts
      1m 46s
    4. Creating and using paragraph styles
      5m 16s
    5. Creating and using character styles
      3m 2s
    6. Simulating the CSS box model
      8m 11s
  8. 21m 17s
    1. Understanding object appearance
      4m 43s
    2. Applying and editing live effects
      3m 34s
    3. Creating and using drop shadows
      3m 13s
    4. Creating more flexible rounded rectangles
      3m 17s
    5. Saving appearance as graphic styles
      6m 30s
  9. 35m 57s
    1. Starting with a wireframe
      5m 23s
    2. Adding master elements
      6m 45s
    3. Creating navigation buttons
      13m 34s
    4. Working with photographs
      5m 50s
    5. Simulating pages with artboards
      4m 25s
  10. 54m 45s
    1. Creating video placeholders
      10m 33s
    2. Creating buttons
      13m 1s
    3. Creating form fields
      8m 15s
    4. Creating radio boxes and checkboxes
      5m 11s
    5. Creating progress bars
      10m 12s
    6. Creating tabbed interfaces
      7m 33s
  11. 35m 28s
    1. Understanding slicing
      3m 26s
    2. Slicing up a mockup
      3m 6s
    3. Understanding web file formats
      5m 33s
    4. Exploring the Save for Web dialog
      3m 50s
    5. Optimizing photographs
      4m 29s
    6. Optimizing transparent graphics
      4m 43s
    7. Saving Retina display graphics
      3m 46s
    8. Exporting SVG graphics
      6m 35s
  12. 9m 29s
    1. Understanding image sprites
      3m 4s
    2. Creating a sprite grid
      4m 36s
    3. Optimizing sprites for the web
      1m 49s
  13. 15m 29s
    1. Placing Illustrator Smart Objects
      3m 22s
    2. Sharing color swatches between apps
      2m 9s
    3. Exporting Illustrator artwork as a PSD
      3m 49s
    4. Importing artwork into Fireworks
      2m 41s
    5. Exporting HTML from Illustrator
      3m 28s
  14. 1m 19s
    1. Taking the next step
      1m 1s
    2. Goodbye
      18s

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