Illustrator: a crash-course (ie-how to make stuff look awsome)

How to use layers.

Layers are helpful to group and isolate elements of a drawing. When tracing from a picture, for example, it is very helpful to have the picture in a separate layer from the what you are drawing.

The layer panel can be opened from the right tools palette. You can add a new layer using the new layer button. It is a good practice to give each layer a name with what it contains instead of the default name "Layer #". When working on a complicated drawing, you could have many layers and naming them will save time later.

The order of the layers in the panel shows which layers are on top of the other layers. The layer at the top of the list will show up in front of the other layers behind it in the panel. Changing the order of the layers in the panel can drastically change how your image looks.

The two indicators next to the layer in the panel have important meanings. The eyeball indicator denotes whether a layer is visible or not. Clicking on the eye will hide a layer, and clicking it again will show it. This is useful to quickly check how a layer looks without other layers in the way. The lock next to the layer denotes whether or not a layer is locked. Locked layers cannot be selected or edited. When working on a layer it is good practice to have all other layers locked so you don't accidentally change a layer that you didn't mean to.

To draw in a specific layer, you will need to select that layer in the panel and then start drawing. If other layers are unlocked and you click on something in a different layer, the program switches you to that layer. You can tell what layer something is in by its selection color, which will match up to the color in the panel next to its name. If you are tracing from a picture, you should put the picture in a layer behind the layer you will draw in and lock it.


You have now finished the lessons section! Go try one of the projects! :)