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Layers in QuarkXPress work similarly to the way layers work in any other application you may have encountered. The concept is, yes, you have got items on a page that are on top of each other and in relation to each other on one layer but if you add additional layers, you can then have collections of items that are logically connected on the page that you can turn on and off, meaning you can show them or hide them, you can even control how they print. This can be tremendously handy when working with any kind of complex layout or when working with multi-lingual projects where, perhaps you could put one language on one layer, another on the other and then show, hide and print them separately.
So, here is how this works. I'm going to get the Item tool and I'm going to select an item such as this blue box right here. Now, over in the Layers palette, let me just collapse-up the ones we are not using right now. In the Layers palette, we can see that the blue item is on the default layer. Now, the default layer is included with every new QuarkXPress project that you create. If you don't create any new layers, everything goes on the default layer, but let's say for some reason, we wanted to make all the blue boxes appear on their own layer. Well first, you create a new layer and in the Layers palette that's as simple as clicking on the Plus button.
Now, you may want to give your layer a more specific name other than layer 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. And to do that, you simply double-click it and give it a name. Let's call it Blue boxes. Okay, the little Pencil icon indicates that the Blue boxes layer is now active, meaning any new item I create is going to be on that Blue boxes layer. The eyeball indicates that it's visible. But what we want to do right now is move these blue boxes, which are currently on the default layer, up to the Blue boxes layer.
To do that, we just select them and notice this little icon that appears over here now in the Layers palette. That indicates what layer the currently selected items are on. By dragging that up to the Blue boxes layer, they are now on the Blue boxes layer and I can confirm that by toggling the visibility of that layer and they go away. So, clearly those blue boxes are on that Blue box layer. Now, let's do the same thing for the red boxes. We'll create a new layer, double- click it and call it Red boxes.
We select the two red boxes. Now, we can go to the Layers palette and move the icon that represents them up to the Red boxes layer. Well, it turns out that the Layers palette has a funny little glitch where, unless all the layers are showing, it may not go in the right layer. So, I have extended the Layers palette a little bit and I'm going to drag this little icon up to the Red boxes layer and now they are on the Red boxes layer which we can confirm by making it invisible, there we go. You may be asking yourself is there some kind of logic to the order of these layers.
Well, yes indeed. The ones on top, the items on those layers are actually on top of or above the items on the layers that are below that. So, let's say we have these items overlapping. That's your red items and your blue items and you wanted the red ones on top and the blue ones underneath. All you have to do is drag its layer to the appropriate position. So, if I take my blue boxes and drag them below my Red boxes layer, now the blue is below the red. Drag the red ones back underneath the blue and now they are below the Blue boxes.
And that's another reason for using layers, so that you can take items randomly across the page and move them all above or below the other items. One clever feature of the Layers palette is that you can select all the items that are on that layer by simply selecting the layer and then Ctrl-clicking or right-clicking on it and choosing Select All Items on that layer, because I have selected the Blue boxes layer, all the blue boxes become selected and now I can do something with them, if I want to. Other controls are hidden underneath that little contextual menu as well.
Control-click or right-click and you can delete this layer, change this layer, duplicate this layer and everything on it which is helpful and then showing all your layers, hiding all your layers etcetera. Now notice the locking layers. That's an interesting thing because then you can take all the items that are on a particular layer and make sure that nobody is going to move them. So now, when I go to the page to try to select them, they are locked, but I can move the other items around without any trouble. If we look at the icons at the top of the Layers palette, we look at the New Layer icon to create a new layer.
This Move Item to Layer icon is the same thing as dragging the little proxy from here to the layer to the layer you want it to be on. And the third one is Merge Layers. So, if you have more than one layer selected here, you can merge them into one layer. For example, if we wanted to take the red and blue boxes and put them all on the Red boxes layer, first we just unlock the Blue boxes layer and then hold down the Shift key to select both layers and if you need to select more than two and they are not all right next to each other, you can also hold down the Command key on a Mac and click on the other one or the Ctrl key on Windows, and click on the additional one you want to add.
But right now, let's just take the blue and the red boxes and merge them. So, clicking on the Merge Layers button, it then asks us, what layer do we want to merge them on to and you have a choice of the ones that you've selected. Let's put them both on the Red boxes layer and say OK. So, now all the items that were on the Blue boxes layer are now on the Red boxes layer with the original items that were on the Red boxes layers. To delete a layer, you simply click the Trashcan icon or Ctrl-click and choose Delete that layer. But let's look at the Edit box.
And if we click on Edit, we get the dialog up again that looked just like the one when we created the layer to begin with and the controls down here are kind of interesting. You may have noticed that on the page, this red box has yellow-orange control points around it. That indicates that it's on the layer that has that color assigned to it. Now, you can make this color any color you want to make it convenient for you. Quark assigns sort of a random color each time you create a new layer so that you don't have to go through that trouble. But if you want to change it because maybe it's getting in the way of the other work you are doing, because the color matches something you are working on, you can simply click it and choose any other color you'd like.
Since these are red boxes, maybe we'll choose red. Okay, so now, when we click OK, this red box has a set of red control points around it and it shows up as red in the Layers palette. So, this is actually a very convenient way to visually see which layer these items are on. So, this blue one has the red control points, points which means it's on this layer right here with the red color assigned to it. This little paw down here is on the default layer because it has a blue set of handles. This one has this pinkish set of handles which means it's on this layer right here.
Let's look at one more thing in the Layer Setup box. We will go back to edit that layer. Notice it indicates that it's visible, which is indicated also by this eyeball here, but also you can suppress its output, meaning that if you make a PDF from it or an EPS or a Flash file, or you print it, that layer won't print. Also this Keep Runaround button is very interesting. By default, it's turned on, which means that if an item is on a layer and the layer is invisible, if that item had Runaround assigned to it, so the text, when it bumped up against, it would run around it.
The runaround still happens even though the item is invisible. So, by having this on, you can make sure that your text runaround is never changed, regardless of which layers are visible or not. That's a good thing to know when you are running into unusual text runaround situations. Look to see if the Keep Runaround is turned on or off for that layer and as a sidenote, all of these items are also available in the Preferences for layers, so that each time you create a new layer, it will have those preferences assigned to it.
And as you may or may not know, when you change the Preferences, if a document is open, you are changing the preferences for that document only. So, if you were to go down here to Layers, and make some changes, it would affect this document only but if there were no document open, you would be affecting it for every new document that you create after that. Using Layers can vastly improve the efficiency of your work, especially when you need to rework it later and I encourage you to use them whenever possible.
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