Organizing Your Artwork with Layers - Adobe Illustrator CC Classroom in a Book 2015 release (2016) 

Adobe Illustrator CC Classroom in a Book 2015 release (2016)

9. Organizing Your Artwork with Layers

Lesson overview

In this lesson, you’ll learn how to do the following:

• Work with the Layers panel.

• Create, rearrange, and lock layers and sublayers.

• Move objects between layers.

• Copy and paste objects and their layers from one file to another.

• Merge layers into a single layer.

• Locate objects in the Layers panel.

• Isolate content in a layer.

• Make a layer clipping mask.

• Apply an appearance attribute to objects and layers.

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This lesson takes approximately 45 minutes to complete.

Download the project files for this lesson from the Lesson & Update Files tab on your Account page at www.peachpit.com and store them on your computer in a convenient location, as described in the “Getting Started” section of this book.

Your Account page is also where you’ll find any updates to the chapters or to the lesson files. Look on the Lesson & Update Files tab to access the most current content.

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Layers let you organize your work into distinct levels that can be edited and viewed individually or together. Every Adobe Illustrator CC document has at least one layer. Creating multiple layers in your artwork lets you easily control how artwork is printed, displayed, selected, and edited.

Getting started

In this lesson, you’ll organize the artwork for several shirts as you explore the various ways to use the Layers panel.

1. To ensure that the tools and panels function exactly as described in this lesson, delete or deactivate (by renaming) the Adobe Illustrator CC preferences file. See “Restoring default preferences” in the “Getting Started” section at the beginning of the book.


Image Note

If you have not already downloaded the project files for this lesson to your computer from your Account page, make sure to do so now. See the “Getting Started” section at the beginning of this book.


2. Start Adobe Illustrator CC.

3. Choose File > Open, and open the L9_end.ai file in the Lessons > Lesson09 folder, located on your hard disk.

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4. Choose View > Fit Artboard In Window.

5. Choose Window > Workspace > Reset Essentials.


Image Note

If you don’t see Reset Essentials in the Workspace menu, choose Window > Workspace > Essentials before choosing Window > Workspace > Reset Essentials.


Understanding layers

Layers are like invisible folders to help you hold and manage all of the items (some of which can be difficult to select or track) that make up your artwork. If you shuffle those folders, you change the stacking order of the items in your artwork. (You learned about stacking order in Lesson 2, “Techniques for Selecting Artwork.”)

The structure of layers in your document can be as simple or as complex as you want. When you create a new Illustrator document, all of the content you create is organized in a single layer. However, you can create new layers and sublayers (like subfolders) to organize your artwork, as you’ll learn about in this lesson.

1. Click the Layers panel icon (Image) on the right side of the workspace, or choose Window > Layers.

In addition to organizing content, the Layers panel offers an easy way to select, hide, lock, and change your artwork’s appearance attributes. In the next figure, the Layers panel you see will not look exactly the same, and that’s okay. You can refer to this figure as you progress through the lesson.

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A. Layer color
B. Visibility column
C. Template Layer icon
D. Edit column (lock/unlock)
E. Disclosure triangle (expand/collapse)
F. Locate Object
G. Make/Release Clipping Mask
H. Create New Sublayer
I. Create New Layer
J. Delete Selection
K. Target column
L. Selection column
M. Current layer indicator (the small triangle)

To begin working, you’ll open an existing art file that is incomplete.

2. Choose File > Open. If a panel appears, click Open in the panel. You could also choose File > Open again. In the Open dialog box, navigate to the Lessons > Lesson09 folder and select the L9_start.ai file on your hard disk. Click Open to open the file.

The Missing Fonts dialog box will most likely appear, indicating that a font (CreteRound-Regular) was used in the file that Illustrator can’t find. The file uses a Typekit font that you most likely don’t have synced with your machine, so you will fix the missing font before moving on.

3. In the Missing Fonts dialog box, ensure that Sync is selected in the Sync column (circled in the figure), and click Sync Fonts. The font should be synced with your machine, and you should see a success message in the Missing Fonts dialog box. Click Close.

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Image Note

If the font is unable to sync, you may not have an Internet connection or you may need to launch the Creative Cloud desktop application, sign in with your Adobe ID, choose Assets > Fonts, and click Turn Typekit On. If you went through Lesson 8, “Adding Type to a Poster,” you would have this already turned on. For more information, visit http://helpx.adobe.com/creative-cloud/help/add-fonts-typekit.html.


This will sync the Typekit font to your computer and ensure that the font shows as intended in Illustrator.


Image Note

If you see a warning message in the Missing Fonts dialog box or cannot select Sync, you can click Find Fonts to replace the font with a local font. In the Find Font dialog box, make sure that CreteRound-Regular is selected in the Fonts in Document section, and choose System from the Replace With Font From menu. This shows all the local fonts that are available to Illustrator. Select a font from the Fonts In System section, and click Change All to replace the font. Click Done.


4. Choose File > Save As, name the file Shirts.ai, and select the Lesson09 folder. Leave the Format option set to Adobe Illustrator (ai) (Mac OS) or the Save As Type option set to Adobe Illustrator (*.AI) (Windows), and then click Save. In the Illustrator Options dialog box, leave the Illustrator options at their default settings, and then click OK.

5. Choose Select > Deselect (if available).

6. Choose View > Fit Artboard In Window.

Creating layers and sublayers

By default, every document begins with one layer, named “Layer 1.” As you create artwork, you can rename and add layers and sublayers at any time. Placing objects on separate layers lets you more easily select and edit them. For example, by placing type on a separate layer, you can change the type all at once without affecting the rest of the artwork.

Create new layers

Next, you’ll change the default layer name and then create new layers using different methods. The idea for this project is to organize the artwork so you can more easily work with it later.

1. If the Layers panel isn’t visible, click the Layers panel icon (Image) on the right side of the workspace, or choose Window > Layers. Layer 1 (the default name for the first layer) is highlighted, indicating that it is active.

2. In the Layers panel, double-click the layer name “Layer 1” to edit it inline. Type Shirt Front, and then press Enter or Return.

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Image Note

If you double-click just to the right or left of a layer name, the Layer Options dialog box will open. You can also change the layer name there.


Instead of keeping all the content on one single layer, you’ll create several layers and sublayers to better organize the content and to make it easier to select content later.

3. Click the Create New Layer button (Image) at the bottom of the Layers panel.

Layers and sublayers that aren’t named are numbered in sequence. For example, the second layer is named Layer 2. When a layer or sublayer in the Layers panel contains other items, a disclosure triangle (Image) appears to the left of the layer or sublayer name. You can click the disclosure triangle to show or hide the contents. If no triangle appears, the layer has no content on it.

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Image Tip

You can easily delete a layer by selecting the layer or sublayer and clicking the Delete Selection button (Image) at the bottom of the Layers panel. This deletes the layer or sublayer and all content on it.


4. Double-click to the right or left of the layer name “Layer 2” to open the Layer Options dialog box. Change the name to Shirt Back, and notice all the other options available. Click OK.

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By default, the new layer is added above the currently selected layer (Shirt Front) in the Layers panel and becomes active. Notice that the new layer has a different layer color (a light red) to the left of the layer name. This will become more important later, as you select content.

Next, you will create a few layers and name them in one step, using a modifier key.

5. Option-click (Mac OS) or Alt-click (Windows) the Create New Layer button (Image) at the bottom of the Layers panel. In the Layer Options dialog box, change the name to Pattern Front, and then click OK.

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Image Tip

Choosing New Layer from the Layers panel menu (Image) will also create a new layer and open the Layer Options dialog box.


6. Option-click (Mac OS) or Alt-click (Windows) the Create New Layer button (Image) at the bottom of the Layers panel. In the Layer Options dialog box, change the name to Labels, and then click OK.

7. Drag the Pattern Front layer to the Create New Layer button. This creates a copy of the layer and names it “Pattern Front copy.” Double-click directly on the new layer name in the panel, and change it to Pattern Back.

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Create sublayers

Next, you’ll create a sublayer, which is a layer nested within a layer.

1. Click the layer named Shirt Front to select it, and then click the Create New Sublayer button (Image) at the bottom of the Layers panel to create a new sublayer in the Shirt Front layer.

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Image Note

Depending on your operating system, the selection color of objects (the bounding box) may be different colors, and that’s okay.


2. Drag the left edge of the Layers panel to the left to make it wider so that you can more easily read the layer names.

3. Double-click the new sublayer name (Layer 6, in our case), change the name to Front Collar, and then press Enter or Return.

The new sublayer appears directly beneath its main layer, Shirt Front, and is selected. Creating a new sublayer opens the selected layer to show existing sublayers. Sublayers are used to organize content within a layer without grouping or ungrouping content.

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Image Note

To create a new sublayer and name it in one step, Option-click (Mac OS) or Alt-click (Windows) the Create New Sublayer button or choose New Sublayer from the Layers panel menu to open the Layer Options dialog box.


4. Click the disclosure triangle (Image) to the left of the Shirt Front layer to hide the content of the layer.

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Layers and color

By default, Illustrator assigns a unique color to each layer in the Layers panel. The color displays next to the layer name in the panel. The same color displays in the artwork bounding box, path, anchor points, and center point of a selected object.

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You can use this color to quickly locate an object’s corresponding layer in the Layers panel, and you can change the layer color to suit your needs.

—From Illustrator Help


Editing layers and objects

By rearranging the layers in the Layers panel, you can change the stacking order of objects in your artwork. On an artboard, objects in layers that are higher in the Layers panel list are in front of objects located on layers lower in the list, and each layer has its own stacking order as well. Layers are useful for a variety of reasons, including the ability to move objects between layers and sublayers to organize and more easily select your artwork.

Locating layers

When working in artwork, there may be times when you select content on the artboard and then want to locate that same content in the Layers panel. This can help you to determine how content is organized.

1. With the Selection tool (Image), click to select the yellow/green sleeves on the shirt below the word “Front.” Click the Locate Object button (Image) at the bottom of the Layers panel to reveal the group of objects within the Layers panel.

Clicking the Locate Object button will open the layer so that the layer content can be seen, and the Layers panel will scroll, if necessary, to reveal the selected content. With an Illustrator file that has a lot of layered content, this can be helpful. In the Layers panel, you will see the selection indicator to the far right of the <Group> object (it’s the small colored box to the far right in the figure that the arrow is pointing to), as well as the two <Path> objects in the group.

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2. In the Layers panel, double-click the <Group> text, and rename it Front Sleeves.

By default, when content is grouped, a group object is created that contains the grouped content. Look on the left end of the Control panel to see the word “Group” in the selection indicator. Renaming a group doesn’t change the fact that it’s a group, but it can make it easier to find in the Layers panel.

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3. Choose Select > Deselect.

4. Click the disclosure triangle (Image) for the main Shirt Front layer to hide the contents of the layer (you most likely will need to scroll up in the Layers panel to see it).

The Shirt Front layer is the only layer with a disclosure triangle because it’s currently the only layer with content on it.

Moving layers and content between layers

Next, you’ll move the artwork to the different layers so that the artwork is better organized and later add content from another Illustrator file.

1. Choose View > Outline to enter Outline mode.

2. In the artwork, using the Selection tool (Image), drag a marquee selection across the artwork for the Back shirt content to select it (see the figure for what to select).

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In the Layers panel, notice that the Shirt Front layer name has the selected-art indicator (color square); an arrow is pointing to it in the figure.

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Also notice that the color of the bounding box, paths, and anchor points of the selected artwork matches the color of the layer. If you want to move selected artwork from one layer to another, you can either drag the selected-art indicator to the right of each sublayer or drag the selected-art indicator to the right of the layer name.

3. Drag the selected-art indicator (the little blue box) from the right of the Shirt Front layer name straight up to the right of the target icon (Image) on the Shirt Back layer.

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This action moves all of the selected artwork to the Shirt Back layer. The color of the bounding box, paths, and anchor points in the artwork changes to the color of the Shirt Back layer, which is red.

4. Choose Select > Deselect.

5. Choose View > GPU Preview if available or View > Preview on CPU if not.

6. Click the disclosure triangle (Image) to the left of the Shirt Front layer to show the layer content. Drag the bottom of the Layers panel down to see more layers.

7. Click the <Group> layer that contains the Front type shapes, press the Shift key and click the Back <Group> object to select both sublayers without selecting the artwork on the artboard. Drag either <Group> object to the Labels layer at the top of the list. When the Labels layer is highlighted, release the mouse button.

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This is another way to move artwork between layers. Any content that is dragged to another layer is automatically at the top of the layer stack on that layer.

8. Click the disclosure triangle (Image) to the left of the Shirt Front layer to hide the layer contents.


Image Tip

Keeping layers and sublayers closed can make it easier to navigate content in the Layers panel.


9. Shift-click the Shirt Front and Shirt Back layers to select them. Drag either of them up, below the Labels layer in the Layers panel. When a line appears below the Labels layer, release the mouse button to reorder the layers.

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Image Note

Be careful not to drag the layer into one of the other layers. If the Shirt Back and Shirt Front layers disappear, you can choose Edit > Undo Reorder Layers and then try again.


10. With the Selection tool, click the white shirt shape for the shirt labeled Front on the artboard. Choose Edit > Cut.

11. Select the Pattern Front layer in the Layers panel, and choose Edit > Paste In Front.

The cut artwork is pasted onto the layer named “Pattern Front” in the same location.

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12. Click to select the other white shirt shape under the Back label on the artboard.

13. Choose Edit > Cut, select the Pattern Back layer, and then choose Edit > Paste In Front.

14. Choose Select > Deselect, and you can see what the Layers panel should now look like in the figure.

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Duplicating layer content

In previous lessons, you’ve worked with the Edit > Copy and Edit > Cut commands. You can also use the Layers panel as another method for duplicating layers and other content. Next, you’ll duplicate content between layers.

1. Click the disclosure triangle (Image) to the left of the Shirt Front layer to show the layer content.

2. Press the Option (Mac OS) or Alt (Windows) key, and click the Front Sleeves sublayer to select the content on the artboard. You may need to scroll down in the panel or make the panel taller to see it (I made it taller).

3. While still pressing the Option (Mac OS) or Alt (Windows) key, drag the Front Sleeves row up onto the Shirt Back layer. When the layer is highlighted and a plus sign (+) appears to the right of the pointer, release the mouse button, and then release the key. Leave the artwork selected on the artboard.

This copies the Front Sleeves content onto the Shirt Back layer. Notice that the new copied artwork has a red color on the bounding box, paths, and anchor points, indicating that it’s on the Shirt Back layer now. Dragging with the modifier key copies the selected content. This is the same as selecting the content on the artboard, choosing Edit > Copy, selecting the Shirt Back layer in the Layers panel, and then choosing Edit > Paste In Place.

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Image Tip

You can also Option-drag (Mac OS) or Alt-drag (Windows) the selected-art indicator to duplicate content. You can also select the Front Sleeves row in the Layers panel and choose Duplicate “Front Sleeves” from the Layers panel menu to create a copy of the same content.


4. Click the disclosure triangle to the left of the Shirt Front layer to hide the contents, and click the disclosure triangle to the left of the Shirt Back layer to see its contents.

5. With the yellow/green sleeves artwork still selected on the artboard, Shift-click the white shirt shape on the right side of the artboard (under Back) to select both objects. Release the Shift key. Click again on the white shirt shape to make it the key object. Click the Horizontal Align Center button (Image) in the Control panel to align the objects to each other.

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6. Choose Object > Arrange > Send To Back. In the Layers panel, notice that the stacking order of the sublayers on the Shirt Back layer is now different, reflecting how the artwork is arranged on the artboard.

7. Choose Select > Deselect.

Merging layers

To streamline your artwork, you can merge layers, sublayers, content, or groups to combine the contents into one layer or sublayer. Note that items will be merged into the layer or group that you selected last. Next, you will merge content into a new layer and then merge a few sublayers into one.

1. In the content for the Shirt Back layer in the Layers panel, click the top <Path> object in the Layers panel to highlight it, and then Shift-click the bottom <Path> object in the layer to select four <Path> objects.


Image Tip

You can also Command-click (Mac OS) or Ctrl-click (Windows) layers or sublayers in the Layers panel to select multiple, nonsequential layers.



Image Note

Layers can merge only with other layers that are on the same hierarchical level in the Layers panel. Likewise, sublayers can only merge with other sublayers that are in the same layer and on the same hierarchical level. Objects can’t be merged with other objects.


2. Click the Layers panel menu icon (Image), and choose Collect In New Layer to create a new sublayer (in this case) and put the <Path> objects in it.

The objects in the new sublayer retain their original stacking order.

3. Double-click the thumbnail to the left of or directly to the right of the new layer name (mine is Layer 7). In the Layer Options dialog box, change the name to Shirt Back Stitching, and choose Light Red from the Color menu. Click OK.

Changing the layer color to match the main layer isn’t necessary. The Layer Options dialog box has a lot of the options you’ve already worked with, including naming layers, Preview or Outline mode, locking layers, and showing and hiding layers. You can also deselect the Print option in the Layer Options dialog box, and any content on that layer will not print.

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Image Tip

Choose Merge Selected from the Layers panel menu to merge selected content into a single layer. The last layer you select determines the name and color of the merged layer.


Next, you’ll do the same thing to the stitching artwork on the Shirt Front layer.

4. Click the disclosure triangle to the left of the Shirt Back layer to hide its contents, and click the disclosure triangle to the left of the Shirt Front layer to show the contents.

5. Command-click (Mac OS) or Ctrl-click (Windows) the four <Path> objects on the Shirt Front layer, like you see in the first part of the following figure, to select them all (they have shaded circles to the far right of their names).

6. Choose Collect In New Layer from the Layers panel menu (Image) to create a new sublayer (in this case), and put the <Path> objects in it.

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7. Double-click the new sublayer name (mine is Layer 8; see the previous figure), and change the name to Shirt Front Stitching by double-clicking the name in the Layers panel. Press Enter or Return to accept the name.

8. In the Shirt Front layer, drag the remaining <Path> object up into the <Group> object above it.

The <Path> object is now a part of the group (<Group>), but it appears on top of the other objects in the group.

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Look at the collar on the shirt under the word “Front” (on the artboard). After completing the next step, take a look at it again.

9. Click the disclosure triangle to the left of the <Group> object to show the contents. Drag the top <Path> object to just below the bottom <Path> object in the group. When a line appears, release the mouse button.

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This changes the stacking order of the artwork in your project and is the same as choosing Object > Arrange > Send To Back.

10. Click the disclosure triangle to the left of the <Group> object to hide the contents of the group.

11. Click the top <Group> object to select it in the Shirt Front layer. Command-click (Mac OS) or Ctrl-click (Windows) the other <Group> beneath it in the layer to select both (see the figure for what to select). Drag the selected <Group> objects onto the Front Collar sublayer to move them.

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Image Tip

If you want to merge layers or groups, you could also select the layers or content to merge in the Layers panel and then choose Merge Selected from the Layers panel menu (Image). In the case of the two groups you selected, it simply creates a single group that contains the artwork from the original two groups. If you were to merge selected sublayers, a single sublayer would be created.


12. Click the disclosure triangle to the left of the Shirt Front layer to hide the contents.

13. Choose File > Save.


Image Note

You cannot merge selected content that is not either a layer, sublayer, or group. For instance, if you were to select a <Path> object and a sublayer or group in the Layers panel, the Merge Selected command would be available, but it wouldn’t work.


Pasting layers

To complete the shirts, you’ll copy and paste the remaining pieces of artwork from another file. You can paste a layered file into another file and even keep the layers intact. In this section, you’ll also learn a few new things, including how to apply appearance attributes to layers and reordering layers.

1. Choose Window > Workspace > Reset Essentials.

2. Choose File > Open. If a panel appears, click Open in the panel. You could also choose File > Open again. Open the Pattern.ai file in the Lessons > Lesson09 folder on your hard disk.

3. Choose View > Fit Artboard In Window.

4. Click the Layers panel icon (Image) to show the panel. To see how the objects in each layer are organized, Option-click (Mac OS) or Alt-click (Windows) the eye icon (Image) for each layer in the Layers panel to show one layer and hide the others. You can also click the disclosure triangle (Image) to the left of each layer name to expand and collapse the layers for further inspection. When you’re finished, make sure that all the layers are showing and that they are collapsed.

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5. Choose Select > All, and then choose Edit > Copy to select and copy the content to the clipboard.

6. Choose File > Close to close the Pattern.ai file without saving any changes. If a warning dialog box appears, click No (Windows) or Don’t Save (Mac OS).

7. In the Shirts.ai file, choose Paste Remembers Layers from the Layers panel menu (Image). A checkmark next to the option indicates that it’s selected.


Image Note

If the target document has a layer of the same name, Illustrator combines the pasted content into a layer of the same name.


When Paste Remembers Layers is selected, artwork is pasted into the layer(s) from which it was copied, regardless of which layer is active in the Layers panel. If the option is not selected, all objects are pasted into the active layer, and the layers from the original file are not pasted in.

8. Choose Edit > Paste to paste the pattern content into the center of the artboard.

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The Paste Remembers Layers option causes the Pattern.ai layers to be pasted as three separate layers at the top of the Layers panel (print3, print2, print1).

Now you’ll move the newly pasted layers into the Pattern Front layer and then change the ordering of the layers.

9. Drag the bottom of the Layers panel down so that you can see the new layers (print3, print2, print1) and the Pattern Front layer.

10. In the Layers panel, select the print3 layer (if it’s not already selected), and Shift-click the print1 layer name. Drag any of the three selected layers down on top of the Pattern Front layer to move it to the new layer.

The three pasted layers become sublayers of the Pattern Front layer. Notice that they keep their individual layer colors.

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11. Choose Select > Deselect, and then choose File > Save.

Changing layer order

As you’ve seen, you can easily drag layers, sublayers, groups, and other content in the Layers panel to reorganize the layer ordering. There are also several Layers panel options for commands like reversing layer ordering and more that can make reorganizing layers easier.

1. Click the print3 layer, and Shift-click the print1 layer names to select all three layers again.

2. Choose Reverse Order from the Layers panel menu (Image) to reverse the layer ordering.

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3. Choose Select > Deselect (if available), and then click the disclosure triangle for the Pattern Front and Shirt Front layers, if need be, to hide their contents.

Viewing layers

The Layers panel lets you hide layers, sublayers, or individual objects from view. When a layer is hidden, the content on the layer is also locked and cannot be selected or printed. You can also use the Layers panel to display layers or objects individually, in either Preview or Outline mode. In this section, you’ll learn how to view layers in Outline mode to make artwork potentially easier to select.

1. Select the Zoom tool (Image), and click three times on the gray collar (top part of the shirt) for the Front shirt to zoom in.

2. Choose View > Outline. This displays the artwork so that only its outlines (or paths) are visible and you can see the “TEE” text that is hidden.

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3. Choose View > GPU Preview if available or View > Preview on CPU if not.

Sometimes, you may want to view part of the artwork in outline mode while retaining the strokes and fills for the rest of the artwork. This can be useful if you need to see all artwork in a given layer, sublayer, or group.

4. In the Layers panel, click the disclosure triangle for the Shirt Front layer to reveal the layer content. Command-click (Mac OS) or Ctrl-click (Windows) the eye icon (Image) to the left of the Front Collar layer name to show the content for that layer in Outline mode.

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Displaying a layer in Outline mode is also useful for selecting the anchor points or center points on objects.


Image Tip

To view layer artwork in Outline mode, you can also double-click either the layer thumbnail or just to the right of the layer name to open the Layer Options dialog box. You can then deselect Preview and click OK.


5. Select the Selection tool (Image), and attempt to click the “TEE” text. You’ll most likely select the group of content that is on top of it.

6. Click the Locate Object (Image) button at the bottom of the Layers panel to see where the selected group is in the Layers panel. Drag the left edge of the Layers panel to the left so you can see more of the layer names.

7. Choose Object > Arrange > Send To Back to send the selected group to the bottom of the Front Collar layer.

8. Command-click (Mac OS) or Ctrl-click (Windows) the eye icon (Image) to the left of the Front Collar layer name to show the content for that layer in Preview mode again.

9. Choose View > Fit Artboard In Window.

10. Option-click (Mac OS) or Alt-click (Windows) the eye icon (Image) to the left of the Shirt Back layer to hide the other layers.


Image Note

This will hide and show all other layers, even sublayers on the Shirt Back layer.


Hiding all layers except those that you want to work with can be very useful.

11. Choose Show All Layers from the Layers panel menu (Image).

12. Click the disclosure triangle to the left of each of the layers to ensure that they are all closed.

Applying appearance attributes to layers

You can apply appearance attributes, such as styles, effects, and transparency, to layers, groups, and objects, using the Layers panel. When an appearance attribute is applied to a layer, any object on that layer takes on that attribute. If an appearance attribute is applied only to a specific object on a layer, it affects only that object, not the entire layer.


Image Note

To learn more about working with appearance attributes, see Lesson 12, “Exploring Creative Uses of Effects and Graphic Styles.”


Next, you’ll apply an effect to an object on one layer, and then you’ll copy that effect to another layer to change all objects on that layer.

1. Click the disclosure triangle to the left of the Pattern Front layer name to show its contents, and then click the target icon (Image) to the right of the print1 layer in the target column.

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Image Note

Clicking the target icon also selects the object(s) on the artboard. You could simply select the content on the artboard to apply an effect.


Clicking the target icon indicates that you want to apply an effect, style, or transparency change to that layer, sublayer, group, or object. In other words, the layer, sublayer, group, or object is targeted. The content is also selected in the Document window. When the target button appears as a double-ring icon (either Image or Image), the item is targeted; a single-ring icon indicates that the item is not targeted.

2. Click the Opacity link in the Control panel to show the Transparency panel. Choose Overlay from the Blending Mode menu, which shows as Normal by default.

For the print1 layer, the target icon (Image) in the Layers panel is now shaded, indicating that the layer has at least one appearance attribute (a blending mode) applied to it.

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3. Click the target icon (Image) to the right of the print2 layer in the Layers panel.

4. Click the Opacity link in the Control panel to show the Transparency panel. Choose Luminosity from the Blending Mode menu, which shows as Normal by default. Change the Opacity to 20.

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5. Choose Select > Deselect.

6. Choose Window > Workspace > Reset Essentials.

Creating a clipping mask

The Layers panel lets you create clipping masks to control whether artwork on a layer (or in a group) is hidden or revealed. A clipping mask is an object or group of objects that masks (with its shape) artwork below it in the same layer or sublayer, so that only artwork within the shape is visible. In Lesson 14, “Using Illustrator CC with Other Adobe Applications,” you will learn about creating clipping masks that are independent of the Layers panel.

Now you’ll create a clipping mask for the pattern for each shirt. As you create the clipping mask, you’ll learn about working with Isolation mode so that you can focus on specific parts of the artwork.

1. Choose Window > Layers to open the Layers panel. Click the disclosure triangle to the left of all main layers to hide their content. Select the layer named Pattern Front, and choose Enter Isolation Mode from the Layers panel menu (Image).

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When a layer is in Isolation mode, objects on all layers except that layer are dimmed and temporarily locked, much like when you enter Isolation mode for a group, so that you can easily edit items being isolated without affecting other layers. The Layers panel now shows a layer called Isolation Mode and a layer that contains the Pattern Front layer content.

2. In the Layers panel, click the disclosure triangle for the Pattern Front layer to reveal the layer contents. Choose Select > All, and then Shift-click the selection column (little red box) to the right of the <Path> object (the shirt shape) in the Layers panel to deselect it.

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3. With the Selection tool selected, drag any of the selected shapes on the artboard to the left and onto the shirt shape until it’s positioned roughly as in the figure.

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In the Layers panel, a masking object must be above the objects it masks. You can create a clipping mask for an entire layer, a sublayer, or a group of objects. You want to mask the content in the Pattern Front layer, so the clipping object needs to be at the top of the Pattern Front layer, which is what you did in the previous section.

4. Choose Object > Arrange > Send To Back.

The white shirt shape will now be on top of the pattern artwork on the Pattern Front layer.


Image Note

Deselecting the artwork on the artboard is not necessary to complete the next steps, but it can be helpful for viewing the artwork.


5. Select the Pattern Front layer to highlight it in the Layers panel. Click the Make/Release Clipping Mask button (Image) at the bottom of the Layers panel.

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The name of the <Path> sublayer is underlined to indicate that it is the masking shape, and it has been renamed to “Clipping Path.” On the artboard, the <Path> sublayer has hidden the parts of the pattern content that extended outside of the shape.


Image Tip

To release the clipping mask, you can select the Pattern Front layer again and click the same Make/Release Clipping Mask button (Image).


6. Click the selection column for the <Clipping Path> layer to select the shirt path. Change the Fill color to Black in the Control panel.

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7. Press the Escape key to exit Isolation mode.

Next, you will practice creating a clipping mask by performing the same steps on the Back shirt.


Image Note

You can also double-click in a blank area of the artboard to exit Isolation mode.


8. In the Pattern Front layer, click the print1 layer, and Shift-click the print3 layer to select all three layers.

9. Option-drag (Mac OS) or Alt-drag (Windows) any of the layers to the Pattern Back layer to copy them there. Make sure you release the mouse button and then the modifier key.

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10. Select the Pattern Back layer, and choose Enter Isolation Mode from the Layers panel menu (Image).

11. Drag a selection marquee across the pattern objects to select them all. Begin dragging to the right, and as you drag, press the Shift key to constrain the movement. Drag them into position like you see in the figure. Release the mouse button and then the key.

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12. Choose Object > Arrange > Send To Back to put the pattern content behind the white shirt.

13. Select the Pattern Back layer to highlight it in the Layers panel. Click the Make/Release Clipping Mask button (Image) at the bottom of the Layers panel.

14. Click the selection column for the <Clipping Path> layer to select the shirt path. Change the Fill color to Black in the Control panel.

15. Double-click in a blank area of the artboard to exit Isolation mode.

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Now that the artwork is complete, you may want to combine all the layers into a single layer and then delete the empty layers. This is called flattening artwork. Delivering finished artwork in a single-layer file can prevent accidents, such as hiding layers or omitting parts of the artwork during printing. To flatten specific layers without deleting hidden layers, you can select the layers you want to flatten and then choose Merge Selected from the Layers panel menu.


Image Note

For a complete list of shortcuts that you can use with the Layers panel, see “Keyboard shortcuts” in Illustrator Help (Help > Illustrator Help).


16. Choose File > Save, and then choose File > Close.

Review questions

1. Name at least two benefits of using layers when creating artwork.

2. How do you hide layers? How do you show individual layers?

3. Describe how to reorder layers in a file.

4. What is the purpose of changing the color for a layer?

5. What happens if you paste a layered file into another file? Why is the Paste Remembers Layers option useful?

6. How do you create a layer clipping mask?

7. How do you apply an effect to a layer? How can you edit that effect?

Review answers

1. The benefits of using layers when creating artwork include organizing content, selecting content more easily, protecting artwork that you don’t want to change, hiding artwork that you aren’t working with so that it’s not distracting, and controlling what prints.

2. To hide a layer, click to deselect the eye icon (Image) to the left of the layer name in the Layers panel. Select the blank, leftmost column (the Visibility column) to show a layer.

3. You reorder layers by selecting a layer name in the Layers panel and dragging the layer to its new location. The order of layers in the Layers panel controls the document’s layer order—topmost in the panel is frontmost in the artwork.

4. The color for a layer controls how selected anchor points and direction lines are displayed on a layer and helps you identify which layer an object resides on in your document.

5. The paste commands paste layered files or objects copied from different layers into the active layer by default. The Paste Remembers Layers option keeps the original layers intact when the objects are pasted.

6. Create a clipping mask on a layer by selecting the layer and clicking the Make/Release Clipping Mask button (Image) in the Layers panel. The topmost object in the layer becomes the clipping mask.

7. Click the target icon for the layer to which you want to apply an effect. Then, choose an effect by using the Effect menu or by clicking the Add New Effect button (Image) in the Appearance panel. To edit the effect, make sure that the layer is selected, and then click the name of the effect in the Appearance panel. The effect’s dialog box opens, and you can change the values.