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Making selections and editing stacking order

From: Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials

Video: Making selections and editing stacking order

Let's take a look at some other ways that we can use the Layers panel to help us get around and work within our documents. Now remember, all these things that we're discussing here really don't require us to have any layers at all inside of our documents; every document that we create inside of Illustrator always has at least one layer already set inside of it. But all the techniques that we're talking about here really apply to almost any document, because we're dealing more with objects than we are with layers at this point. Now, as we've already learned anything, that has a white background inside the Layers panel is an object or group, and only the ones that have gray shaded backgrounds are actual layers themselves.

Making selections and editing stacking order

Let's take a look at some other ways that we can use the Layers panel to help us get around and work within our documents. Now remember, all these things that we're discussing here really don't require us to have any layers at all inside of our documents; every document that we create inside of Illustrator always has at least one layer already set inside of it. But all the techniques that we're talking about here really apply to almost any document, because we're dealing more with objects than we are with layers at this point. Now, as we've already learned anything, that has a white background inside the Layers panel is an object or group, and only the ones that have gray shaded backgrounds are actual layers themselves.

This is helpful to note, because we have the concept of something called sublayers inside of Illustrator as well, meaning we can have a layer within other layers. For example, I can take the entire Roads and Tracks layers, simply click on that and drag it so that it then appears inside of the Background layer. So, now I have a Background layer with the Roads and Tracks layer that is now inside of the Background layer, kind of within the hierarchy of that layer, so we can call it a sublayer. In fact, at the bottom of the Layers panel, you'll find an option here to create new layers, but there is also an option here to create a new sublayer.

To be honest with you, I almost never use that option, because if I really wanted to create a sublayer, I could take any layer and drag it into another layer like I've just done here. I'm going to press Undo though to go back to the original hierarchy of this document. Now, let's talk about selections for a moment here. I know that in my document, for example, if I wanted to select just the railroad tracks, I can click on it right here to select it. And let's take a look at the actual Layers panel itself. Here is my Train Tracks, and if I go all the way to the far right of that layer, I see a blue box right here.

That blue box indicates that that object is now selected. So we actually see some kind of visual feedback, or some indicator, inside of the Layers panel that identifies what right now is currently selected inside of my document. If I wanted to select, for example, the Main Street object, if I click on it right here notice now that Main Street has a Blue box here. By the way, the box is blue because that's the color of the layer. So just as an example, if I were to select this text here for Directions, not only is it highlighted red here on my artboard, it also shows up as red here in the selection icon that appears on that object itself.

Now you can note, by the way, that the box that appears here is a big red box, but there is a little red box that appears on the layer itself, on the layer named Background. This is just yet another way to have Illustrator help me identify where my objects are inside of the hierarchy. A big box here means that everything on that object, or everything in that group, or everything on that layer, is currently selected. A small box indicates that there are only some elements that are selected on that layer or within that group. So for example, let's look back again at the Main Street and the Train Tracks.

If I select the train tracks, I see now a blue box here. It's a big blue box, but there is a small blue box here in the Roads and Tracks layer because only one of the two elements are selected. If I hold the Shift key down and also select the train tracks, now I see that the Roads and Tracks layers gets a big box because now all the elements on that layer are currently selected. Now I'm selecting artwork here directly on the screen, but I don't need to. In fact, many times when my document is very complex, I may find it difficult to make certain selections. If I've gone to the trouble of actually naming all of my elements here inside the Layers panel, I may find it easier to make selections directly through the Layers panel.

For example, if I want to select just the train tracks, I can move my cursor all the way to this blank area right here on the far right side of the Layers panel. And even though there is nothing here, if I click on that area, that will allow me to select that object. Now I know that there are some people who actually click on these little circles here to try the select objects. That actually is a completely different concept. We'll cover that in the next movie. And those circles refer specifically to targeting. But what we're talking about right now is selecting artwork, which I can do by clicking on the blank area that appears in the far right.

If I hold down the Shift key now and I click on this area, I now have added to my selections, so now both Main Street and the Train Tracks are both selected. If for some reason you want to select everything on a layer at once--for example, if I want to select everything on the Background layer--I can click to the far right of the layer, and now all the elements on that layer become selected. Now of course, making selections in this way inside the Layers panel can certainly make it a lot easier for me to make my selections, but I can also do a little bit more inside the Layers panel when it comes to editing my artwork.

For example, I'm going to deselect all of my objects just by clicking on a blank area here on the artboard. Now as you can see, the train tracks travel beneath the road here. And let's say I get some kind of feedback from my creative director who says they would actually like to see the train tracks up here on top of the road in the stacking order. I don't actually need to select the artwork and then choose Bring to Front or things like that. I can actually go right to my Layers panel. I know where my Main Street and my Train Tracks objects are because I've named them, and I could simply click and drag to change their order right here inside of the Layers panel.

Now remember, this document itself is not too complex, but you can easily imagine that if I had a lot of objects inside of my file, it could be a lot easier to make changes in this way than trying to first select them and then bringing them to the back or to the front and worrying about how they might affect other objects inside of my layout. I'll press Command+Z just to return this to the order that it was before, but I want to leave you with one other thought here on this concept of being able to both select my artwork and also to manage my artwork directly through the Layers panel. You know, 9 times out of 10 we have a lot of objects in our file, so it's really going to be impossible to have all those little triangles opened up and revealing every single object in our file.

In fact, many times, if we are using layers, we probably have them closed, but we can still find the Layers panel really helpful. For example, say I am working inside of this document. I didn't create it, but maybe somebody else worked on it, so I am not really that familiar with the structure of the document. And I click on this object here called Directions. I'm not really sure where that exists inside of my file, or maybe there is something that I'm looking at right now that I'm not fully understanding how that file was created. If I look at my Layers panel, I can see that there is now a dot on the Background layer. This immediately indicates to me that the object that I'm looking at right now is located on that layer.

And if I open up the triangle here, I could right away kind of see where the bigger box is and identify that's that object right here. This could help me find that if maybe that object may be inside of a group, or maybe it's inside some kind of a mask, but in either case the Layers panel helps me quickly find out where all of my artwork is inside of the object hierarchy so that I can quickly get my work done.

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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