How to Create a New Layer in Adobe Illustrator

Working on layers in Illustrator can only bring you benefits. It keeps your artwork more organized and allows you to edit a specific part of an image without affecting the rest. That’s why it’s important to know how to work with layers in Adobe Illustrator.  

To be honest, I didn’t have the habit of using layers in Illustrator, because for me it was a Photoshop thing. But from experiences, I have learned that it’s important to work with layers in Illustrator as well. 

I have deleted or moved parts that I didn’t mean to so many times that actually took me a lot of time to re-do my artwork. Yeah, lessons learned. Use layers! I’m not exaggerating at all, you will see. 

In this article, you will learn how to create and edit layers. You’ll then understand why it is important to work on layers in Illustrator. It’s not just a Photoshop thing. 

Get your software ready. 

Understanding Layers

So, what are layers and why should we use them? 

You can understand layers as folders that contain contents. Each layer has one or multiple objects that can be text, images, or shapes. Layers help you manage your artwork. There’s no specific rule on how you manage them, so feel free to create whatever works for you. 

You can see what exactly is in each layer by clicking on the folder icon. 

When you work on a specific layer, other layers will stay untouched. This is actually one of the greatest advantages of working with layers. Sometimes you spend hours, even days, creating an image. For sure you don’t want to edit it by mistake. 

Creating a New Layer in Illustrator 

Creating a new layer will only take you less than ten seconds. But first of all, find your layer panel. 

The newer versions of Illustrator should automatically have the Layers panel on the right side of the window. 

If not, you can set it up by going to the overhead menu Window  > Layers 

There are two common ways to create a new layer. Let’s start with the quickest way. Two Clicks: Layers > Create New Layer. The newest layer will appear on the top. In this case, Layer 5 is the newest layer.

I told you, less than ten seconds. 

Another way to create a new layer is also simple and allows you to customize some settings. 

Step 1: Click the hidden menu. 

Step 2: Click New Layer.

Step 3: You can customize Layer Options, or simply hit OK

Oh, remember, always make sure if you are working on the correct layer. The layer you are working on should be highlighted, or you can see the outline color on the Artboard. 

For example, I know I’m working on the shape 1 layer because the outline is red. 

And on the Layers panel, shape 1 layer is highlighted. 

Editing Layers in Illustrator 

As you get more layers during the creating process, maybe you would like to name them or change orders to keep your work organized. 

How to change the layer name? 

To name the layer, simply double-click on the text part of the layer on the Layers panel. You can either change the name directly on the panel. Sometimes a Layer Options pop-up box will show, and you can change it from there as well.

How to change layer order? 

I guess you always want the text to show above the image, right? So you might want to move the text layer above the image. You can achieve this by clicking on the text and dragging it before the image layer. Or vice versa, click on the image layer and drag it after the text layer. 

For example, I moved the text layer on top of the image layer here. 


Now you have learned how to create layers and how they work. Take advantage of this great feature that Adobe Illustrator offers you to manage and organize your creative work. It’s quick and easy, no excuse to be lazy 😉 

About June Escalada
Graduated from Creative Advertising major, worked more than eight years as a graphic designer focusing in branding and Illustration. Yes, Adobe Illustrator is my best friend and I’m passionate about art and design.

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