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Working with Layers

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star.jpg ACA Objective 3.1a

star.jpg ACA Objective 3.1b

star.jpg ACA Objective 4.3a

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Before we create additional layers for the back of the business card, there are a few details to add first. There’s one street that protrudes beyond the diagonal street in the upper-right corner of the card. That street needs to end where it meets the diagonal street. So, using your tool of choice, cut the path so that it abuts the diagonal line, as shown in Figure 4.12. The video uses the Eraser tool, but you can use any tool that you wish.

Figure 4.12

Figure 4.12 Using the Eraser tool to remove the excess length from the overlapping path

Next we’ll draw a shape that represents a grassy area on the map.

  1. Begin by drawing a rectangle just big enough to cover the triangular area of the card in the upper-right corner and extend it beyond the edge of the artboard. Don’t extend the rectangle beyond the diagonal line any more than necessary.

  2. Give the new rectangle a stroke of None and fill with a green color to represent a grassy area. Use whatever green color you wish, and create a new swatch from that color and name it Grass Green.

  3. Select the green rectangle and the diagonal path using the Selection tool.

  4. Select the Shape Builder tool p0051_01.jpg, and while holding Option (macOS) or Alt (Windows), click the lower-left corner of the rectangle to remove that part of the rectangle (Figure 4.13).

    Figure 4.13

    Figure 4.13 Using the Shape Builder tool to remove the lower-left portion of the rectangle

The Layers Panel

We’ll now begin to organize the elements on the back of the business card using layers. Layers help to isolate and manage the objects in the document, making it easier to control them. The Layers panel shows you the stacking order (depth order) of the objects in a document. Just as objects have a stacking order in a document, so too do the layers themselves.

  1. Open the Layers panel by choosing Window > Layers.

  2. Double-click Layer 1 and rename the layer Streets. Press Return (macOS)/Enter (Windows) to commit the change.

  3. Option-click (macOS) or Alt-click (Windows) the Create New Layer button p0075_01.jpg to create a new layer and display the Layer Options dialog box so that you can name the layer while you create it. Type Landmarks in the Name field and click OK.

  4. Drag the Landmarks layer below the Streets layer to change the stacking order of the layers (Figure 4.14).

    Figure 4.14

    Figure 4.14 Dragging the Landmarks layer below the Streets layer

With the layers created and the stacking order of the layers in place, you’re now ready to begin organizing the elements on the card onto their appropriate layers. At this point, all of the objects in the file are on the Streets layer since that is the original layer that we started with. We’ve created the Landmarks layer, but currently it’s empty.

  1. Using the Selection tool, select the green triangle in the upper-right corner of the card.

    Notice that in the Layers panel, there’s a small blue square at the far right side of the Streets layer. That blue square is in the Layers panel selection column and indicates that the selected object is currently on the Streets layer.

  2. Drag the blue square down and drop it on the Landmarks layer (Figure 4.15).

    Figure 4.15

    Figure 4.15 Moving the green triangle object from the Streets layer to the Landmarks layer by dragging the square at the right side of the Layers panel

    You’ll notice a few things happen as soon as you let go of the mouse button. The square is now on the Landmarks layer and the bounding box around the green triangle, as well as the path that makes up the triangle, is now red because the Landmarks layer was assigned the red color by default when it was created.

The card is really taking shape! However, the streets on the map now overlap one another, which is not how those streets actually look. This is because we’ve applied the graphic style to each individual object, so each object has its own separate appearance. In the next steps, we’ll adjust that to make the lines intersect the way that streets actually should appear.

  1. In the Layers panel, click the far right of the Streets layer to select all of the paths on that layer.

  2. In the Appearance panel, choose Clear Appearance from the panel menu. This removes any appearance attributes from the selected objects, essentially setting the stroke and fill to none (Figure 4.16).

    Figure 4.16

    Figure 4.16 Clearing the appearance attributes of the selected object

  3. In the Layers panel again, click the small circle (the target icon) to the right of the Streets layer (in the targeting and appearance column of the Layers panel) to target the objects on the layer (Figure 4.17).

    Figure 4.17

    Figure 4.17 Clicking the target icon to target the entire Streets layer

  4. In the Graphic Styles panel, click the Streets graphic style to apply the graphic style to the entire layer this time instead of the individual paths (streets). You’ll notice the circle changes from a hollow circle to a filled circle to indicate that the layer now has appearance attributes applied.

Notice that the street intersections show a more natural merging of the paths because the style is applied to the entire layer as a whole instead of the individual paths (Figure 4.18). Any path that you now draw on the Streets layer will inherit the appearance attributes applied to the layer, making the process of adding more streets to the map incredibly easy and efficient. Understanding the concept of targeting will give you the ability to harness the power of Illustrator when creating your own designs.

Figure 4.18

Figure 4.18 Applying the graphic style to the layer

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