Layers are essential elements for creating designs in Vectornator. Shapes, Groups, Masks, and Artboards are all defined as different types of layers.
✨ Reworked and redesigned Layers ~ic-layers-tab~~ic-layers-tab~ – With the 4.8.0 update, Layers have been wholly re-built in Vectornator.
Create and organize complex artworks with layers that allow you to apply more advanced features such as masks, groups, and nested objects. Realize artistic projects professionally with a simple and intuitive layer structure and hierarchy with precise navigation.
The Layers Panel on Mac is located as a separate panel on the left side of your screen. From this tab, you can access, create and organize all your Layers ~ic-layers-tab~~ic-layers-tab~ and Artboards ~ic-artboard~~ic-artboard~.
Pro Tip – If you're using Vectornator on a Mac, you can use the ~key~ ⌥⌘1 ~key~ key button to open and close the Layers Panel. Another option is to click on the Sidebar button ~ic-sidebar~~ic-sidebar~ at the top of your screen to open and close the Layers Panel.
How to Add a New Layer
Inside the header section of the Layers Panel, click the ~ic-create-doc~~ic-create-doc~ icon, or in the opening popover menu select New Layer ~ic-add-layer~~ic-add-layer~ to add a new Layer.
By default, the newly created layer will be inserted above the active layer.
You can change the layer insertion behavior in the Preferences. You can set if the newly created layer will be inserted above the selected elements or at the top of the active layer. You can do it by using the following path: Menubar > Vectornator > Preferences > Canvas. Here, you can choose one of the following options:
- The newly created layer will be inserted above the selected elements.
- The newly created layer will be inserted at the top of the active layer.
How to Select Layers
You can select any element on the canvas by clicking on it. A bounding box will appear on the selected element and the Layers Panel will automatically scroll up or down to the selected element which is highlighted in blue.
Another option is to select any element by directly clicking on its name in the Layers Panel. Again, the bounding box appears on the selected element and the layer is highlighted in blue in the Layers Panel.
How to Select Multiple Layers
You have several options available in Vectornator to select multiple elements at once:
Click on the layer you want to select and press ~key~ ⌘ ~key~ to select non-consecutive layers, or press ~key~ ⇧ ~key~ to select consecutive layers.
Press ~key~ ⌘ ~key~ and click on a specific layer to deselect it.
⚠️ You can’t select a parent layer and a child layer simultaneously. But you can select multiple child layers. You can even select multiple child layers from different parent layers.
How to Select Nested Elements
Nested Elements is a new 4.8.0 update feature and allows you to group an infinite number of groups inside groups. To select a single element within the nested group, you can expand the group by clicking the toggle and then clicking directly on the element you want to select.
Pro Tip – If you want to avoid clicking countless times inside nested groups to select a specific element, you can activate the Click-Through Mode ~ic-click-through~~ic-click-through~. This feature allows you to directly select the element you want in just one click. To discover more about how this feature, hop over to the Selection Tool section of our Learning Hub.
How to Organize Layers
You can browse and organize all of your objects (such as Artboards, layers, groups, masks, or simple shapes) from the Layers Tab. You can change the order of your elements by dragging and dropping your selections from one layer, Artboard, or group to another Artboard, group, or layer.
How to Move Layers
To move elements within layers, click on the element you want to move and hold and drag it to its new position.
You can move an element between two layers by dragging it between two layers and then releasing it. You can also move elements into different groups by selecting and then dragging them directly over the group and then releasing them.
You can move multiple layers at once by selecting the layers individually before dragging them to another position in the layers stack. Another option is to group elements in the Layers list before moving them simultaneously as a unit.
Note – You have the option in Vectornator to move a layer from one Artboard to another Artboard into a specific position within the internal layers hierarchy of the Artboard. Learn more in our Artboards section →
How to Rename a Layer
By default, Layers will be given sequentially numbered titles. To change the name of a layer, click on the name of the layer.
When you import any image into Vectornator, it automatically recognizes any existing Layers inside the image, thanks to Apple’s machine learning framework CoreML. It auto-renames the Layer to what it thinks the content depicts. You have the option to rename the layer afterward.
How to Hide and Show a Layer
Click the Hide ~ic-hide~~ic-hide~ /Show ~ic-show~~ic-show~ icon to toggle the visibility of your selected layers or sublayers on or off.
How to Lock a Layer
Click the Lock ~ic-lock~~ic-lock~ /Unlock ~ic-unlock~~ic-unlock~ icon to lock or unlock a Layer on the current Artboard. If a Layer is locked, it can't be moved or edited.
How to Adjust the Layer Opacity
If you want to adjust the opacity of a layer, click on the displayed percentage value of your layer and enter a numeric percentage value in the Indicator field. Every element that is included within that layer will be affected by the adjustment of the opacity value.
Another option is to select your layer and click and drag on the Opacity Slider or enter a numeric value in the Appearance Tab to the right side of your screen.
Get Access to the Layers Options
By right-clicking on a layer, you will get access to the options in the popover menu, such as Export To (A), Show/Hide (B), Lock/Unlock (C), Mask/Unmask (D), and Delete (E).
How to Delete a Layer
In Vectornator for Mac, you have two options to delete a layer. The first option is to click on the layer you wish to select and press delete on your keyboard. The second option is to right-click on a layer and then click in the popover menu on delete. But be careful because this operation cannot be reversed.
How to Merge Layers
To merge layers in Vectornator, at least two or more layers must be selected.
You have two techniques available to merge the selected layers:
- Drag & drop - You can drag & drop one layer on top of another. When you use this technique, the dropped layer will be organized on top within the layer hierarchy.
- Select & right-click – Select the layers you want to merge, then right-click and select the option Merge layers in the Context Menu. The right-clicked layer will be considered the destination of the merging process.
How to Merge Layers via Drag & Drop
You have three options available if you want to merge layers in Vectornator with the drag & drop technique,
- Drag & drop a layer on top of another layer - Select a Parent Layer and drag & drop it on top of another layer.
- Drag & drop your layer inside an open layer - Select a layer and then drag & drop it directly between the elements of an open layer.
- Drop a Parent Layer inside a Group - Drag & drop a selected Parent Layer directly into a group.
How to Duplicate a Layer
You have several options available in Vectornator for Mac to duplicate your layer.
- Click on the layer and press ~key~ ⌘C ~key~ to copy your layer, and then press ~key~ ⌘V ~key~ to insert a copy of your selected layer into the layer stack.
- The other option to duplicate a layer is to click on the layer, hold and swipe with two fingers on the trackpad from right to left.
How to Export a Layer
You can export a single layer with one click and without having to leave your canvas or copy-paste your objects into a new document.
Select the layer you want to export and then right-click on it and select Export to and the export format. You can export the single layer as a .jpg, .png, .svg, and .pdf file.
If you are using Vectornator on an iPad, click the toggle at the top right of this page to switch to the iPad section of the Learning Hub and learn everything about layers in the iPad version of Vectornator.