In this tutorial I will be teaching you how to create and edit Layers within Illustrator.
Let’s begin by looking at the Layers Panel. Go to the right side of the workspace and open the Layers Panel. If you do not see the Layers Panel icon go to Windows and choose Layers.
When you create a new document, Illustrator will create a brand new layer called “Layer 1.”
Inside the Layers Panel you see several options at the bottom. There is a search option which allows you to find a specific object. You also have the Make and Release Clipping Mask button. Next is the Create New Sublayer Button which allows you to add a sublayer within your layers. Then you have the Create New Layer button. Finally, you have the trash can.
In Illustrator there are two kinds of layers: Regular Layers and Sublayers. Sublayers are layers that are nested inside the regular layers. For example, if I draw a square on the Artboard you will see a sublayer under the Layer 1 layer.
Within the Layers Panel you have the ability to control the visibility of any layer or sublayer. Simply click on the eyeball to turn the visibility of a layer or sublayer off. You can also lock layers and sublayers by clicking next to the eyeball and turning on the lock.
The circle to the right of the layer name allows you to target a specific object or layer and then move it to another layer. For example, if I make another layer – Layer 2 – I can then target the square and move it to the new layer. Simply click in the circle (notice it turns into a double-circle) and then move the square to the right up to the new layer.
Now let’s look at the Layers Panel dropdown in the upper-right-hand corner. Under this dropdown menu we have several options.
CREATING AND EDITING LAYERS
Now that we have explored the Layers Panel let’s learn how to use it.
If I open up the Layers Panel you will see that I have a layer titled Layer 1 where this graphic currently resides. Let’s say I want to break this graphic into three separate layers. The first thing I need to do is to add two more layers.
At the bottom of the Layers Panel you will see the Create New Layer Icon. Click on this icon twice to make two new layers in the Layers Panel. Now we have Layer 1, Layer 2, and Layer 3.
It is good practice to name the layers in the Layers Panel as you create them. If you have more than just a few layers it can become very confusing as to what is on each layer. Also, if you are sharing or collaborating the file the other person will also need to know what is on each layer in the Layers Panel.
In order to rename a layer simply double-click on the layer name and type in a new name. Then hit the Enter key to accept the changes. I will rename Layer 1 to Graphic since this is where I will keep the pen-tip graphic. Layer 2 will be renamed Circle and Layer 3 will be renamed Text.
If you want to make any changes to a layer you can go to the top-right and open the drop-down menu. Here you will choose Options for “Layer Name.” When you click on this option you will be presented with a dialogue box. Here you can rename your layer, change the color of the layer, and choose multiple options such as making the layer a template or printing the layer. When you have made all of your changes hit OK or Cancel if you do not want to make any changes.
Now that we know how to make new layers we are going to begin to move the different pieces of the icon onto their respective layers.
Let’s begin by moving the circle to its own layer. Open up the Graphic layer by clicking on the small white arrow to the left of the thumbnail. In order to target the Ellipse sublayer, click on the small circle to the right of the layer name. Notice that when you do that a small blue box is shown next to the target and the object is highlighted with a bounding box on the Artboard.
In order to move the Ellipse sublayer onto the Circle layer simply left-click on the small blue box and then, while holding down your mouse button, drag it up onto the Circle layer. When you see a red box appear next to the target on the Circle layer you can release your mouse. If you open the Circle layer you will now see the Ellipse layer and the Ellipse is surrounded by a red bounding box on the Artboard.
Now, let’s do the same thing for the Text sublayer. Click on the small circle to the right of the layer name. Notice that when you do that a small blue box is shown next to the target and the object is highlighted with a bounding box on the Artboard.
In order to move the Graphic/VectorArt sublayer onto the Text layer simply left-click on the small blue box and then, while holding down your mouse button, drag it up onto the Circle layer. When you see a green box appear next to the target on the Text layer you can release your mouse. If you open the Text layer you will now see the Graphic/VectorArt layer and the layer is surrounded by a green bounding box on the Artboard.
HIDE, LOCK, AND DELETE LAYERS
You also have the ability to hide, lock, and delete layers within the Layers Panel.
If you wish to hide a layer or sublayer all you need to do is click on the eyeball for that layer or sublayer. This will temporarily hide the layer. For example, if I click on the eyeball next to the Text layer that text will become hidden. To unhide a layer or sublayer simply click in the box on the far left to unhide the layer or sublayer.
It can also be useful at times to lock a certain layer or sublayer. In order to lock a layer or sublayer simply click in the box next to the eyeball and you will see a lock icon appear. For example, let’s say I want the Text layer to be locked so I cannot accidently select it or make any changes to it. If I click next to the eyeball for the Text layer you will see a small lock icon and if I try to select it on the Artboard I am unable to do so. In order to unlock a layer of sublayer simply click on the lock icon.
If you want to delete a layer or sublayer simply target the layer or sublayer by clicking on the layer name. Then, on the bottom of the Layers Panel click on the trash icon. For example, if I want to delete the Text layer I will choose that layer by single-clicking on the layer name and then click on the trash icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel. You will then receive a dialogue box asking if you wish to delete the layer. If you say yes the layer will be deleted.
If you accidently deleted the layer you can restore the layer by using the keyboard shortcut CTRL + Z (on a PC) or CMD + Z (on a Mac).