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AD | Layers | How do they function?


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Can someone point me to a video explaining how the layers panel works?

Some trouble I'm having:

 1. I'm not sure how to control where new things I draw are being put.

     I can highlight a layer I want to work on and then draw something.

     The new thing I draw is put into the bottom-most layer (even though it is locked).

 2. Some layers are medium grey, some are dark grey. Why?

 3. How do I unlock things without having to dig through the layers panel?

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8 hours ago, desult said:

1. I'm not sure how to control where new things I draw are being put.

     I can highlight a layer I want to work on and then draw something.

     The new thing I draw is put into the bottom-most layer (even though it is locked).

In Affinity, by default each new shape you draw is put on its on layer, so it doesn't matter if you highlight an existing layer or not. However, by using the Insert Target buttons 59a2a3a697d42_Inserttarget.png.2d6448d04cb2557f1c733a4dde356fca.png you can change this to insert the new shape behind the currently selected layer, at the top of the layer stack, or inside the currently selected layer. For this last option, the new shape will still be on its own layer, but it will be a child layer clipped to the parent layer. The new shape should never be put on the bottom-most layer, so I'm not sure what is causing that to happen for you.

 

One thing that can be confusing is there is a special kind of layer that just contains other layers. It is identified in the Layers panel by a trailing "(Layer)" suffix after its name. If you select this type of layer, the next shape you draw will be placed in it, but if it already contains other shape, text, or other content layers, it should be placed at the top of the "(Layer)" layer.

All 3 1.10.6, & all 3 V2.03 Mac apps; 2020 iMac 27"; 3.8GHz i7, Radeon Pro 5700, 32GB RAM; macOS 10.15.7
Affinity Photo 
1.10.6; Affinity Designer 1.10.6; & all 3 V2 apps for iPad; 6th Generation iPad 32 GB; Apple Pencil; iPadOS 15.7

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Hi, desult,

 

I used Illustrator layers a few times when they were 1st introduced, and from my recollection Designer works quite a bit differently, tho' it achieves the same ends. 

 

I'm a little uncertain about your 1st questions. My guess is that when you have selected a layer, you have not then activated the "insert inside" widget before drawing the next shape. One may also just draw an object, and slide it to a different position in the layers panel to achieve the same thing.

 

I'm not sure why your bottom most layer is locked. Default is unlocked, unless it is a background image. AFAIK, layers can only be unlocked from the panel. I.E., no keyboard shortcut Locking makes the layer immobile, but still editable.

 

The term layer in AD is rather loosely applied to various things. Most often, it is just the term for a vector object. By default, each object as drawn gets its own layer, and is placed upon the previous layer, giving it visual precedence. But new objects can be placed inside the previous, on they can manually be dragged within. 

 

There are also pixel layers, which accept paint strokes. Pixel layers may also be nested within other pixels layers.

 

Both vector and pixel layers can be nested within each other. The "children" nested within can be locked, meaning they will not transform if the parent is transformed.

 

Layers may be grouped, but the group must be opened in the layer panel to change individual elements of the groups.

 

I'm sure making a transition will be awkward. Its very hard to overcome ingrown habits. Keyboard short cuts are particularly irksome. For instance, in some apps, command D deletes, and in others, it duplicates. That can cause all sorts of headaches.

 

 

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24 minutes ago, owenr said:

 

Press Cmd-L to lock and Shift-Cmd-L to unlock the active object. That's on a Mac. I guess Cmd will be Ctrl for Windows.

The Layers panel has an option to automatically scroll to the active object - see User Interface preferences (or the panel's menu in 1.6 beta).

 

 

Doh! Been working w. this for months now, and never even noticed the menu option. Which goes to show how little I've needed to lock things. But still, :o

iMac 27" Retina, c. 2015: OS X 10.11.5: 3.3 GHz I c-5: 32 Gb,  AMD Radeon R9 M290 2048 Mb

iPad 12.9" Retina, iOS 10, 512 Gb, Apple pencil

Huion WH1409 tablet

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Thanks for the replies. It's helpful to know about the Insert Behind/On top/Inside buttons, although they are a bit cumbersome to use. I did find out that I can double click a group to drill down inside of it, as owenr has said, then paste or create objects to have the same effect as depressing the Insert Inside button.

I think what is helping me as realizing that the layers panel is really a list objects and not layers in the sense I am expecting. That being said, I think aiming to have it be a list of groups rather than a list of layers might help me organize things.

 

I also realized that the reason things were always dropping down to the bottom-most "layer" is because that bottom-most layer was an artboard.

Edited: 9/29 . Fixed some typos and such.

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An interesting problem.

 

If you select layers in Photo, no shortcut but there is a "Lock" and an "Unlock" menu option.

 

Lock stops you selecting the layers. So, how do you use the Unlock menu item ?  

 

Well, other than using the layers panel.

Windows PCs. Photo and Designer, latest non-beta versions.

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16 minutes ago, desult said:

That being said, I think aiming to have it be a list of groups rather than a list of layers might help me organize things.

Groups are a great way to organize complex projects into logically related sets of items. For example, each of a cartoon character's eyes might be composed of quite a few different shapes, so they could be grouped together, & the two eye groups further grouped into an "Eyes" group.  Shapes composing the mouth, ears, & so on could also be put into their own groups, & all those elements & others could be grouped into a "Face" or "Head" group. This would be very handy if say you decide to change the angle of the head or create different eye or mouth sets for different expressions so you can hide all but one set & keep everything in the same document.

All 3 1.10.6, & all 3 V2.03 Mac apps; 2020 iMac 27"; 3.8GHz i7, Radeon Pro 5700, 32GB RAM; macOS 10.15.7
Affinity Photo 
1.10.6; Affinity Designer 1.10.6; & all 3 V2 apps for iPad; 6th Generation iPad 32 GB; Apple Pencil; iPadOS 15.7

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  • 1 month later...

Is there a way to step back up the layer hierarchy without using the layers panel? Say I drill down into a character, then his head,  then his eye. Once I'm down editing the eyes, I want to just back up to edit the head without having to search the layers panel.

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34 minutes ago, desult said:

Is there a way to step back up the layer hierarchy without using the layers panel? Say I drill down into a character, then his head,  then his eye. Once I'm down editing the eyes, I want to just back up to edit the head without having to search the layers panel.

It varies depending on the complexity, grouping, layer stacking, & position of everything in the document but often it is as simple as clicking somewhere else, like a different part of the head that the eye is not covering.

All 3 1.10.6, & all 3 V2.03 Mac apps; 2020 iMac 27"; 3.8GHz i7, Radeon Pro 5700, 32GB RAM; macOS 10.15.7
Affinity Photo 
1.10.6; Affinity Designer 1.10.6; & all 3 V2 apps for iPad; 6th Generation iPad 32 GB; Apple Pencil; iPadOS 15.7

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3 minutes ago, R C-R said:

It varies depending on the complexity, grouping, layer stacking, & position of everything in the document but often it is as simple as clicking somewhere else, like a different part of the head that the eye is not covering.

 

Thanks! I've created some complex objects and tested it out some and it works pretty well to be able to click around and hop in and out of groupings.

 

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