Layers let you organize your work into distinct levels that can be edited and viewed as individual units. Every Inkscape document contains at least one layer. Creating multiple layers in your artwork lets you easily control how artwork is printed, displayed, and edited.
In this lesson, you’ll finish the artwork of a wall clock as you explore the various ways to use the Layers palette. Before you begin, you will open the finished art file for this lesson to see what you’ll create.
Download and File > Open file Tutorial06End.svg.
Separate layers are used for the objects that make up the clock’s frame, striped clock face, hands, and numbers – as indicated by their layer names in the Layers palette.
If you like, you may leave the file open as a visual reference. Do this by reducing the size of your Inkscape window, then press the number 5 to fit the artboard in the screen. If you don’t want to leave the image open, choose File > Close.
To begin working, you’ll open an existing file.
Choose File > Open, and open file Tutorial06Start.svg. If you left the earlier reduced-sized window open, Inkscape will show the new artwork in a new Inkscape workspace window. Otherwise, the new image will appear the reduced-size screen. Expand the screen to full size for your computer monitor.
Every document in Inkscape contains one layer by default. You can rename the layer and add more layers at any time as you create the artwork. Placing objects on separate layers lets you easily select and edit them by their organization. For example, by placing type on a separate layer, you can change the type all at once without affecting the rest of the artwork.
You’ll change the layer name to “Clock,” and then you’ll create another layer.
If the Layers palette isn’t visible on-screen, choose Layer > Layers to display it. Alternatively, you can click on the View Layers icon () in the Commands Bar.
Layer 1 (the default name for the first layer) is highlighted, indicating that it is active.
In the Layers palette, double-click the layer name to highlight it. Type Clock in the text box, and then press <Enter> to set the new name.
Now you’ll create a sublayer for the clock numbers.
Choose Layer > Add Layer… You can also right-click on the Clock layer bar in the Layers palette. The Layers short-cut menu appears.
Click on Add Layer…
The Add Layer Dialog box appears. The Layer name is Clock 1. It is highlighted, which means that you can edit it. Change the Layer name to Numbers.
Click on the down selector arrow () in the Position selection box and select As sublayer of current (as a sublayer of the current active layer). Click the Add button to create the Numbers layer as a sublayer to Clock.
By rearranging the layers in the Layers palette, you can reorder layered objects in your artwork. You can also move selected objects from one layer or sublayer to another.
First, you’ll move the clock numbers onto their own sublayer.
With the Select tool (), click on the numeral 1 on the clock face to select it.
Choose Layer > Move Selection to Layer Below. The Numbers layer bar in the Layers palette is highlighted, indicating that it is now the active layer and that the numeral 1 is now located on the Numbers layer.
Click on the numeral 2 on the clock face. The numeral 2
is now selected and the Clock layer is highlighted, indicating that
you have moved off the Numbers layer and onto the Clock layer,
where numeral 2 is actually located.
Again, choose Layer > Move Selection to Layer Below. The Numbers layer bar in the Layers palette is highlighted again. The numeral 2 is now on the Numbers layer.
Select numeral 3, but this time, press the hot-key combination <Shift>-<Page Down> to make the Numbers layer active and add the 3 onto this layer. Repeat this step for numbers 4, 5, and 6.
For numerals 7 through 12, move them to the Numbers layer as a group by <Shift>-clicking on them (see Tutorial 2, Using the Select Tool), and then pressing <Shift>-<Page Down>.
Choose Edit > Deselect. Then choose File > Save.
Now you’ll move the face of the clock to a new layer to use later when you add the stripes, hands, and brand name of the clock, and you’ll rename the Clock layer to reflect the new organization of the artwork.
Click on the Clock layer bar to highlight it. Then click on the boxed minus sign ()to collapse the Numbers layer bar underneath. This will help simplify your work. We will add the new layer above Clock."
Note how the boxed plus sign becomes a boxed plus sign (), indicating that the Clock layer contains a sublayer which becomes visible when you click on the plus sign.
Add a new layer by clicking on the plus sign icon () on the bottom left of the Layers palette. Label the new layer Face.
Click on the Add button. The Face layer is added above the Clock layer and becomes active.
In the artwork, click behind the numbers to select the clock face. Notice that the Clock layer bar is highlighted, signaling that it is now the active layer.
Press <Shift>-<Page Up> to make the Face layer active and have it contain the clock’s face.
Deselect the clock face by clicking anywhere off the face.
What we have done now is put the clock face over the numbers so we can’t see them. It is as if we pulled a sheet of tracing paper with the face circle drawn on it out of a stack of tracing paper sheets, each sheet having a drawing of the clock frame, clock face, and numbers, and put the face drawing on the very top of the stack, covering up the numbers.
We will now relocate the numbers so that they are on top of the clock face.
The numbers for the hours are covered over now by the image of the clock face. The clock face is topmost in the stack of layers that make up the artwork. The numbers that represent the hours are on the Numbers sublayer. This sublayer is subordinate to the Clock layer.
Click on the Numbers sublayer bar and drag it up until you see the Placement line appear above the Face layer. Release the mouse button.
You will see the Move Indicator () as you drag the bar.
Release the mouse button. The Numbers bar settles into place above the Face layer bar and the numbers appear on the artwork on the clock face.
Double-click the Clock layer to highlight the layer name. Change the layer name to Frame and press <Enter> to set the name.
Choose Edit > Deselect to deselect all active objects, and then choose File > Save.
As you edit objects on a layer, use the Layers palette to lock other layers and prevent selecting or changing the rest of the artwork.
Now you’ll lock all the layers except the Numbers layer so that you can easily edit the clock numbers without affecting objects on other layers. Locked layers cannot be selected or edited in any way.
Click on the open padlock icon () in the Face and Frame layer bars to lock them. The closed padlock icon () indicates that a layer is locked. You cannot select it or make any changes to it.
Now you’ll change the type size and font of the numbers.
Click on the Numbers bar to make the Numbers layer active.
Press the <Ctrl>-A (case-insensitive) hot key pair to select
all the numbers on the clock face. Notice that only the numbers are
selected. The clock face and frame are unaffected because they are in layers
that have been locked.
Click on the Text and Font icon () in the Commands menu bar. The Text and Font palette appears. Select the Font tab if it isn’t selected already. Select another font or size for the group of numbers. (We used Myriad Pro Bold, size 28 points.)
If you wish, use the Color palette or Swatches palette to change the color of the selected numbers.
Click on the Apply button. The numbers change font and size.
Click on the Select tool () and then click anywhere away from the numbers to deselect them.
In the Layers palette, click the padlock icons in the Face and Frame layers to unlock them.
The Layers palette lets you hide layers, sublayers, or individual objects from view. When a layer is hidden, objects on that layer are also locked and cannot be selected or printed. You can also use the Layers palette to display layers or objects in Outline mode, Grayscale mode, or No Filters mode to view independently from other layers in the artwork.
Now you’ll edit the frame on the clock, using gradient-painting techniques to create a three-dimensional effect on the frame.
You will start by creating sublayers to the Frame layer that will contain individual parts of the frame that you can modify without affecting other neighboring parts.
In the Layers palette, right-click the Frame layer to select it and bring up the Layers short-cut menu.
Click on Show/hide other layers to hide the other layers. The Show/hide Layer icons () on the Face and Numbers layer bars are now closed (), indicating that those layers are hidden.
Using the Select tool (), click on the locked padlock icon to the Frame layer to unlock it. Click on the plus sign icon () on the bottom left of the Layers palette. Label the new layer Outer Lower Frame. Select As sublayer of current from the drop-down selection box. Click on Add.
Select the outermost circle of the outer frame. Note that the Frame layer bar is highlighted.
Press <Shift>-<Page Down> to highlight the Outer Lower Frame layer bar. The outermost circle has now been added to the Outer Lower Frame layer bar. Note that it has changed to a dark brown circle.
Click on the Open Eye icon () in the Outer Lower Frame layer bar to hide () the brown circle.
The bronze ring is the upper part of the outer frame that will help create a quasi-three-dimensional effect using a gradient. You will isolate the bronze ring, which is actually a circle, by putting it into its own layer.
Click on the plus sign icon () on the bottom left of the Layers palette. In the Position field, select Below current to make a second sublayer. Change its name to Inner Lower Frame
Click on the bronze ring. Note that the Frame layer bar is highlighted.
Press <Shift>-<Page Down> twice to highlight the Inner Lower Frame sublayer. The bronze ring, actually a bronze circle, now resides in the Inner Lower Frame sublayer.
Click on the Open Eye icon () in the Inner Lower Frame layer bar to hide () the bronze circle.
Finally, create a new sublayer to the Frame layer and name it Inner Frame. Select the remaining medium-sized brown circle, press <Shift>-<Page Down> once to highlight the Inner Frame layer bar, and click off the circle to deselect it.
Hide all the layers and then turn them on individually. See how each circle has its own layer that you can control. Turn them off and on in different combinations. Finally, make them all visible.
Your result should be similar to the figure above. The bronze ring that makes up the second outer circle isn’t there. It turns out that it is, but it’s covered over by the Outer Lower Frame circle. The bottommost two sublayers are in opposite order. You will now move the Outer Upper Frame layer above the Outer Lower Frame layer to make the bronze circle visible. It will be as if you interchanged two sheets of tracing paper with drawings on them.
Click on the lowest layer bar (Outer Upper Frame) to highlight it. Then click on the Raise current layer arrow () to reposition the layer above the Outer Lower Frame layer.
With each circle in its own layer, you can now create gradients to achieve a quasi-three-dimensional effect with your artwork.
Hide the Numbers and Face layers, and the Inner Frame sublayer. Lock the Outer Lower Frame but keep it visible.
If the Fill and Stroke palette isn’t visible, then click on the Fill and Stroke icon in the Commands menu bar () to bring it up. Select the bronze circle. If the Fill isn’t selected in the Fill and Stroke palette, select it. Click on the Linear gradient button. The bronze circle will now show a color gradient changing from bronze to brown.
You will now create a second inner circle with its gradient changing in a vertical direction.
Click on the Closed Eye icon () in the Inner Frame layer bar to make it visible, and click on the Open Eye icon () in the Outer Upper Frame and Outer Lower Frame sublayer bars to hide them.
To create a gradient in the Inner Frame circle, you need to make a second circle that will contain the semi-transparent gradient underlain by the dark brown circle. You will make a duplicate layer containing a duplicate of the first circle.
Right-click on the Inner Frame layer and click on Duplicate Current Layer.
The new layer is automatically named Inner Frame copy. It contains a similar dark brown circle, which is positioned directly over the original circle in the original Inner Frame layer. You can test for duplication by hiding the original Inner Frame sublayer and then hiding the Inner Frame copy sublayer. The circle disappears only after you hide the duplicated layer.
Have both Inner Frame copy and Inner Frame sublayers visible. You need them to make the gradient.
Lock the Inner Frame sublayer but keep it visible.
Click on the circle. The Inner Frame copy sublayer is highlighted.
Bring up the Fill and Stroke palette, type the following hexadecimal code for a light bronze into the RGBA field: b39a47ff. Press <Enter> to set the code.
RGBA means Red, Green, Blue, and Alpha channel. The alpha channel controls an object’s degree of transparency from 0% (totally transparent) to 100% (totally opaque). Check the Stroke palette. There should be no stroke as shown by a message: Paint is undefined.
You will now change the direction of the gradient from a horizontal change to a vertical change.
Click on the Linear gradient button in the Fill palette. The bronze circle now shows a color gradient.
The gradient changes from left to right. You will now make the gradient change from bottom to top.
Click on the double arrow button () at the bottom of the toolbox to bring up the hidden tools box.
Click on the Gradient option. A gradient guide line appears across the circle. The cursor also changes into a Gradient Control cursor ().
Change the direction of the gradient by dragging the square marker to the top of the circle and the circular marker to the bottom of the circle. Choose Edit > Deselect to deselect the circle.
Choose Edit > Deselect to deselect the artwork, and then choose File > Save.
In the Layers palette, right-click on any layer bar and select Show all layers from the short-cut menu.
As you edit objects in layered artwork, you can hide individual layers, keeping the others in Normal view. Click on the Show/hide Layer icon (Open Eye icon – ) on the Face layer to hide that layer.
Click on the Show/hide Layer icon (Closed Eye icon – ) in the Face layer to return to Normal view for that layer.
To complete the clock, you’ll copy and paste the finishing parts of artwork from another file. You can paste layered files into another file while keeping all the layers intact.
Download and File > Open file Details.svg.
The font for the brand might look different on your computer than what you see in the example below. The font is called Ametist. If this font is not installed on your computer and you want to use it, you can download it here (Ametist). After installing the Ametist font, exit Inkscape if it is active, and then restart it so it will “see” and include Ametist in its font library.
If you want to see how the objects in Details.svg are organized in the layers, right-click on any of the layers in the Layers and select Show/hide other layers to alternately display each layer and hide the others. When you’ve finished, make sure that all the layers are showing and that they are unlocked.
If a layer is hidden, its objects are locked and cannot be selected or copied.
Choose Edit > Select All in All Layers and then Edit > Copy to select and copy the clock details to the Clipboard.
Choose File > Close to close the Details.svg file. Do not save any changes if asked.
In the Clock.svg file, create a new layer between the Face and Numbers layers and name it Details. Details is now the currently active layer.
Choose Edit > Paste In Place to paste the Details artwork into the Details layer.
Now you’ll move the highlight, brand, hands, and stripes into their own layers.
Choose the Select tool () and click away from the artwork to deselect it.
In the Layers palette, create a new layer Highlight above the Numbers layer.
Click on the highlight in the artwork. The Details layer becomes the active layer.
Press <Shift>-<Page Up> twice to put the highlight into its own layer.
Click anywhere off the highlight object to deselect it. Click on the Show/hide icon in the Highlight layer to verify that the highlight object is indeed where it is supposed to be. Click the Show/hide icon again to bring the highlight back into view.
Choose File > Save to save the changes.
The Layers palette lets you create clipping masks to control how artwork on a layer (or in a group) is hidden or revealed. A clipping mask is an object or group of objects whose shape masks artwork below it so that only artwork within the shape is visible.
Now you’ll create a clipping mask with the circle shape in the Face layer. You’ll group it with the Stripes layer so that only the stripes show through the circle shape.
In the Layers palette, drag the Stripes layer so that it is located immediately underneath the Face layer. If the Stripes layer ends up as a sublayer to the Face layer, that is absolutely fine. The important thing is that the Face be immediately above the Stripes layer.
A masking object must reside above the objects it will mask in the Layers palette. Since you want to mask only the stripes, you’ll move the circular Face object to above the Stripes layer before you create the clipping mask.
In the Layers palette, right-click on the Face layer and choose Lock/Unlock Other layers in the short-cut menu. All layers other than Face are now locked. Unlock the Stripes layer by clicking on its Show/hide icon.
Both the masking object above and object to be masked below must be selected in order for clipping to happen.
Using the Select tool (), marquee select the Stripes object and the Face object in the artwork. (See Tutorial 2, Marquee Select, for review.)
Choose Object > Clip > Set.
Choose File > Save.
You can apply appearance attributes such as styles, effects, and transparency to layers, groups, and objects with the Layers palette. When an appearance attribute is applied to a layer, any object on that layer will take 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.
You will apply an effect to an object on a layer. Then you’ll copy that effect to a layer to change all objects on that layer.
In the Layers palette, collapse the Face layer and expand the Frame layer to reveal all its objects.
Right-click on any layer bar and choose Lock all layers. Then, unlock the Frame layer and Outer Lower Frame sublayer. You will apply an effect to the Outer Lower Frame sublayer.
Select the bottom path in the Frame layer (Outer Lower Frame) and then click on the artwork to select the bottommost circle in the artwork.
Choose Filters > Shadows and Glows > Drop Shadow…
The Drop Shadow dialog box appears. Choose:
check the Live preview checkbox so you can see the immediate effect of the drop shadow.
You will now add drop shadows to the clock hands and numbers. You will group the hands and numbers and copy them into their own layer and use the blur feature to make shadows out of them, and reposition them all as a group.
Rename the Details layer by double-clicking on the name and typing Drop Shadows. Press <Enter> to set the name. This layer should already be located below the Numbers and Hands layers. This position indicates that the drop shadow objects are indeed located underneath the artwork’s original numbers and hands, giving an illusion of depth.
Lock all the layers except for the Numbers, Hands, and Drop Shadow layers.
Marquee select the artwork and then press <Ctrl>-D to make a copy of the numbers and hands as a group. Even though you made a group copy of these details, they are still individual objects. Choose Object > Group to group the numbers and hands into one object.
Press <Shift>-<Page Down> until the Drop Shadows layer is highlighted. At this point, the grouped copies of the numbers and hands are located in the Drop Shadows layer.
Open the Fill and Stroke palette. With the duplicated numbers and clock hands still selected, set the Blur (%) feature to 2.0. Click off the artwork to set the blur and then reselect the artwork for repositioning. Press the down arrow twice and the right arrow twice to offset the shadows’ positions to the lower right of their supposed shadow source.
You have completed building a layered file.
In some cases after the artwork is complete, you may want to place all the layers of art onto a single layer and delete the empty layers. This is called flattening artwork. Delivering finished artwork in a single layer file can prevent accidents, such as hiding layers, and not printing parts of the artwork, from happening.
Resource: For a complete list of shortcuts that you can use with the Layers palette, see Help > Keys and Mouse Reference > Layers in the navigation list on the left side of the screen.
Name two benefits of using layrs when creating artwork.
How do you hide layers? Display individual layers?
Describe how to reorder layers in a file.
How can you lock layers?
How do you move objects from one layer to another?
How do you create a layer clipping mask?
How do you apply an effect to a layer?
Benefits of using layers when creating artwork include: You can protect artwork that you don’t want to change, you can hide artwork that you aren’t working with so that it’s not distracting, and you can control what prints.
To hide a layer, you click the eye icon The Open Eye icons () to the left of the layer name. To redisplay a layer, click the Closed Eye icon () to the left of the layer name.
You reorder layers by selecting a layer name in the Layers palette and dragging the layer to its new location. You can also click on a layer to be moved to select it, and then click on the Up Arrow () or Down Arrow () at the bottom of the Layers palette to move that layer up or down in the layer order. The order of layers in the Layers palette controls the document’s layer order – topmost in the palette is frontmost in the artwork.
You can lock layers in a few different ways:
You can choose Lock All Layers from the Layers palette menu to lock all layers.
You can choose Lock Others from the Layers palette menu to lock all layers but the active layer.
You can hide a layer to protect it.
Select the object you want to move. Press <Shift>-<Page Up> or <Shift>-<Page Down> to highlight the layer bar of the destination layer.
Create a clipping mask on a layer by selecting the layer and then choosing Object > Clip > Set. The topmost object in the layer will become the clipping mask.
Select the layer bar of the layer to which you want to apply an effect. Make sure that the layer is visible () and unlocked () so you can edit it. Select all objects in the layer (you might need to do a marquee select) and then apply the desired effect.