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Working with layers

From: Illustrator CS4 Essential Training

Video: Working with layers

Groups and layers are somewhat related to each other, because from a conceptual point of view they help us organize our documents. As we have seen so far with groups there is the added benefit of helping us control how our artwork looks in our file, and in reality there is more to layers as well. For this movie I'm going to use this file called working_layers; you can find it in Chapter 09 of the exercise files. I'm also going to go ahead and open up my Layers panel. In fact, I'll bring it up over here to the top of the screen, again, so you could just focus on what we are seeing inside of it. Before we get into actually using layers it's important to realize that, in my honest opinion, you don't have to use layers inside of any document. I think it's very difficult to get by without using groups, mainly because of how you use groups to affect your appearances, for example, when applying overall effects like Drop Shadows to entire logo elements.

Working with layers

Groups and layers are somewhat related to each other, because from a conceptual point of view they help us organize our documents. As we have seen so far with groups there is the added benefit of helping us control how our artwork looks in our file, and in reality there is more to layers as well. For this movie I'm going to use this file called working_layers; you can find it in Chapter 09 of the exercise files. I'm also going to go ahead and open up my Layers panel. In fact, I'll bring it up over here to the top of the screen, again, so you could just focus on what we are seeing inside of it. Before we get into actually using layers it's important to realize that, in my honest opinion, you don't have to use layers inside of any document. I think it's very difficult to get by without using groups, mainly because of how you use groups to affect your appearances, for example, when applying overall effects like Drop Shadows to entire logo elements.

However the reality is, if you are creating artwork that, A, is going to either be used by other people, that maybe used outside of Illustrator, for example, when going into applications like Flash, or when you are trying to build more complex things, like maps and charts, working with layers becomes extremely important. The great thing about Illustrator is you don't need to start thinking about layers when you first create your artwork, if you are really that well-organized you can first create a document with all of your layers inside of it and then add artwork later. But what I often find myself doing is taking some artwork at some point and realizing, boy, I should really start to create some layers here. Which is the case here in this particular file. Maybe I got to a point here when I realized I should start working with some layers. In fact, what we will do in this case here is we will actually create three layers in our document, one for the background, one for this element on the left side, and one for this element on the right side.

So let's begin first by creating a background layer for this nice little blue sky. I'll go to the Layers panel here and I'll click on this icon here to create a new layer. I'll double click on the name Layer 2 here to give it a name. Let's go ahead and call this one Background. We will discuss the options in the Layer Options dialog box momentarily, but for now I'm just going to click OK. Here's what I'm going to do, I'm going to click on the background itself; and you see that on the far right over here this little color dot; let's ignore the circles here for a moment, we will get to that shortly, but for right over here this little dot here, this dot indicates that I currently have artwork selected on that layer.

What's interesting about Illustrator is that it gives me this little notification that says, help me understand what is going on in my file. Right now I have one element of many that are selected on that layer, so I get a small dot, but if I were to select all the elements in my layer; for example, right now I'll just press Command+A to select everything. You see how that dot now becomes a big square. That tells me that I currently have everything selected on the layer. If I only have a small box there that means that I only have some elements in that layer selected. Again, it's just a little old thing that's there. But that little box has more importance than just a visual representation of what I have selected. It also allows me to make certain changes. For example, with this particular background now selected I can go ahead and take this particular square and drag it into another layer. For example, right now I'm dragging it to the Background layer.

Now, the way that my hierarchy is inside of Illustrator, remember everything is always built from the bottom up, so in this case I currently have Layer 1, which has all the artwork on it, but I just moved that background up into this layer, which is the Background layer, which means that its now covering over all the other elements beneath it. So while I have successfully moved the background into its correct layer the layer itself is in the wrong position. So what I'll do here is I'll actually take the Background layer and I'll drag that entire layer to be beneath Layer 1, so that allows me to change the Stacking Order. Again, this is important to realize when you have objects that are either above or below other objects, those only exist within a single layer. So just to give you an example, I'm going to undo this for a second here. I have the Background layer and currently the background is in that layer, and I realize, oh, you know something, this is covering that artwork, so maybe I'll think, oh, I'll just go to the Object menu, I'll choose Arrange, and I'll choose Send to Back.

Well, doing that simply sends it to the back of this Background layer, it doesn't send it beneath this layer here. So it's important to realize that the Stacking Order that we see here in the Object menu over here where it says Arrange, is all within one layer, but as soon as I start to work with multiple layers, then I have to realize that each layer on its own has its own Stacking Order. We will see more of this shortly, but for now I'm going to take this entire Background layer and in the Layers panel drag it beneath the Layer 1 layer, and now I see that I have the correct Stacking Order for my particular file.

Let's go ahead now and create two more layers. So I go ahead here and I'll say 1, 2; now I have Layer 3 and Layer 4. I'm going to call this one over here, Grouped Element, because this object in the right here is actually a group, and this one is not grouped, so we will call this one here -- double click on this Layer 3 here, I'm going to call this one Separate Objects. I'm just naming the layers right now, but now if I want to move the elements into there I can use the exact same method as before. I want to marquee select this area to select all these objects here, but if I were to click and drag right now I'm going to select that background. Instead of me having to lock the background object itself I can now simply go to the layer itself and click right over here. In doing so I now have locked that particular layer, so now I can no longer select that, so it makes it easy for me now to go ahead and marquee select that shape.

Working with layers, as you will find, also makes it far more easy to work within your file. By organizing things in this way you could very quickly lock down certain parts of the file that are not necessary to either be able to select or I could use this little eyeball to hide that layer completely. But I'm going to go ahead now and select all these elements right here. I now have this little dot right here. I can click and drag that into the Separate Objects layer. I'll now take these elements right here and I'll move those into the Grouped Element layer. Now, I can simply take Layer 1 and drag it right to the trashcan, because there is nothing in that particular layer right now.

So now I have the layers set up as I need to. If I were to use the eyeballs to toggle this right now I could see that I have a Background layer, I have that layer that contains all the Separated Objects, and I have the Grouped Element in that one as well. Now, if you notice I can click on this right now and you see how all the elements are highlighted in this blue color. But if I click on this one the elements are highlighted in this other color, this green color. That's because I have the ability to choose what color my layer's selection show in, and that helps me identify the layers as I select objects on the page itself. You can easily change these colors by simply double clicking on any layer. For example, let's go ahead and double click on the Separate Objects layer, and I see that I have a color specified here. No, this doesn't mean that the objects in my file are colored green or the objects in this layer are colored green, rather it's the selection color; whenever I have something selected the little lines that show up to highlight that particular object is being selected are green.

I can go ahead and I can choose any color that's here. I can even choose Other and choose from the Color Picker exactly what color I want that particular layer to be. I would suggest staying away from the color black or white. Obviously it makes it very difficult for you to see those selections when that happens. While we are here let's take a quick look at some of the options here in this particular dialog box. We will discuss the Template layer shortly. Lock obviously is the same thing as me choosing the Lock icon right here. Show is the same thing as me clicking on the eyeball that's in the left side here as well. Print allows me to actually tell Illustrator to not print an entire layer. For example, right now this by default is turned on so this layer will print, but if for example, I want to put some instructions in a file that I want someone else to see but I don't want to show up on a printout, I could simply uncheck this option.

Just to show you what it looks like. If I click OK, you will see that the word Separate Objects right now, the name in the layers appears in italics. Whenever you see a layer that appears in italics that means that that is a non-printing layer and that layer will not show up on a printout. Let me go ahead and turn that back on again. I also have the Preview option here. It is possible inside of Illustrator to have one layer be seen in Outline mode while the rest of your document is shown in Preview mode. So we showed you before in the past, where if you go to the View menu you could toggle between Outline and Preview, but that was the entire document in a whole. However, when you look over here and now you can see that there are certain layers that are inside of Preview mode and certain are in Outline mode.

I'll go ahead and double click on that layer again to turn the Preview back on. I also have the ability to dim any images on this layer to 50%. When we talk about Template layers in a few movies from now we will get a better understanding of what that particular feature is. So for now though, we have a better understanding of what our layers are here inside of Illustrator, and we can easily see how they can help us organize our artwork in our file. In the next movie we will see what the real power of layers are inside of Illustrator.

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This video is part of

Image for Illustrator CS4 Essential Training
Illustrator CS4 Essential Training

116 video lessons · 48485 viewers

Mordy Golding
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 59s
    1. Welcome
      59s
  2. 33m 17s
    1. Why use Illustrator?
      2m 22s
    2. What are vector graphics?
      8m 4s
    3. Understanding paths
      4m 13s
    4. Fill and Stroke attributes
      5m 32s
    5. Selections and stacking order
      8m 31s
    6. Isolation mode
      4m 35s
  3. 23m 43s
    1. The Welcome screen
      1m 11s
    2. New Document Profiles
      4m 36s
    3. Using multiple artboards
      7m 17s
    4. Libraries and content
      3m 52s
    5. Illustrator templates
      2m 56s
    6. Adding XMP metadata
      3m 51s
  4. 43m 55s
    1. Exploring panels
      4m 18s
    2. Using the Control panel
      5m 25s
    3. Navigating within a document
      5m 27s
    4. Using rulers and guides
      5m 23s
    5. Using grids
      2m 12s
    6. Utilizing the bounding box
      3m 3s
    7. Using Smart Guides
      4m 59s
    8. The Hide Edges command
      3m 31s
    9. Preview and Outline modes
      2m 18s
    10. Using workspaces
      7m 19s
  5. 38m 3s
    1. The importance of modifier keys
      1m 9s
    2. Drawing closed-path primitives
      7m 15s
    3. Drawing open-path primitives
      5m 5s
    4. Simple drawing with the Pen tool
      7m 28s
    5. Advanced drawing with the Pen tool
      10m 33s
    6. Drawing with the Pencil tool
      6m 33s
  6. 46m 37s
    1. Editing anchor points
      13m 7s
    2. Creating compound shapes
      5m 55s
    3. Utilizing Pathfinder functions
      5m 11s
    4. Joining and averaging paths
      5m 37s
    5. Outlining strokes
      3m 24s
    6. Simplifying paths
      5m 41s
    7. Using Offset Path
      2m 43s
    8. Dividing an object into a grid
      1m 41s
    9. Cleaning up errant paths
      3m 18s
  7. 35m 23s
    1. Creating point text
      4m 4s
    2. Creating area text
      4m 19s
    3. Applying basic character settings
      6m 27s
    4. Applying basic paragraph settings
      4m 4s
    5. Creating text threads
      5m 28s
    6. Creating text on open paths
      5m 18s
    7. Creating text on closed paths
      3m 57s
    8. Converting text to outlines
      1m 46s
  8. 20m 15s
    1. Using the basic selection tools
      7m 53s
    2. Using the Magic Wand and Lasso tools
      6m 34s
    3. Selecting objects by attribute
      2m 38s
    4. Saving and reusing selections
      3m 10s
  9. 40m 35s
    1. Using the Appearance panel
      6m 48s
    2. Targeting object attributes
      3m 26s
    3. Adding multiple attributes
      7m 6s
    4. Applying Live Effects
      8m 9s
    5. Expanding appearances
      4m 48s
    6. Appearance panel settings
      6m 51s
    7. Copying appearances
      3m 27s
  10. 37m 15s
    1. Defining groups
      7m 2s
    2. Editing groups
      5m 28s
    3. Working with layers
      8m 10s
    4. Layer and object hierarchy
      6m 57s
    5. Creating template layers
      2m 3s
    6. Object, group, and layer attributes
      7m 35s
  11. 44m 4s
    1. Applying colors
      3m 18s
    2. Creating solid color swatches
      4m 48s
    3. Creating global process swatches
      5m 1s
    4. Using spot color swatches
      4m 27s
    5. Creating swatch groups and libraries
      6m 50s
    6. Working with linear gradient fills
      6m 34s
    7. Working with radial gradient fills
      2m 19s
    8. Applying and manipulating pattern fills
      4m 51s
    9. Defining simple patterns
      5m 56s
  12. 22m 43s
    1. Moving and copying objects
      2m 1s
    2. Scaling objects
      4m 49s
    3. Rotating objects
      3m 14s
    4. Reflecting and skewing objects
      2m 27s
    5. Using the Free Transform tool
      2m 9s
    6. Aligning objects
      5m 15s
    7. Distributing objects
      2m 48s
  13. 25m 13s
    1. Using a pressure-sensitive tablet
      1m 38s
    2. Using the Calligraphic brush
      6m 10s
    3. Using the Scatter brush
      4m 0s
    4. Using the Art brush
      2m 26s
    5. Using the Pattern brush
      3m 21s
    6. Using the Paintbrush tool
      1m 41s
    7. Using the Blob Brush tool
      3m 42s
    8. Using the Eraser tool
      2m 15s
  14. 16m 36s
    1. Using symbols
      3m 9s
    2. Defining your own symbols
      2m 1s
    3. Editing symbols
      4m 4s
    4. Using the Symbol Sprayer tool
      2m 32s
    5. Using the Symbolism toolset
      4m 50s
  15. 35m 37s
    1. Minding your resolution settings
      6m 15s
    2. Applying basic 3D extrusions
      6m 43s
    3. Applying basic 3D revolves
      2m 31s
    4. Basic artwork mapping
      5m 9s
    5. Using the Stylize effects
      5m 35s
    6. Using the Scribble effect
      5m 43s
    7. Using the Warp effect
      3m 41s
  16. 21m 37s
    1. Placing images
      4m 51s
    2. Using the Links panel
      2m 47s
    3. The Edit Original workflow
      2m 0s
    4. Converting images to vectors with Live Trace
      5m 29s
    5. Rasterizing artwork
      1m 55s
    6. Cropping images with a mask
      4m 35s
  17. 10m 35s
    1. Saving your Illustrator document
      8m 18s
    2. Printing your Illustrator document
      2m 17s
  18. 6m 25s
    1. Exporting files for use in QuarkXPress
      1m 8s
    2. Exporting files for use in InDesign
      39s
    3. Exporting files for use in Word/Excel/PowerPoint
      45s
    4. Exporting files for use in Photoshop
      1m 25s
    5. Exporting files for use in Flash
      1m 15s
    6. Exporting files for use in After Effects
      19s
    7. Migrating from FreeHand
      54s
  19. 2m 23s
    1. Finding additional help
      2m 0s
    2. Goodbye
      23s

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