How To Merge Layers In Illustrator

Did you accidentally create more layers while working on your art than you could handle? It happens to the best of us. An easy way to deal with this issue is to merge some of the layers. We will teach you how to do this in Illustrator. 

To merge specific layers in Illustrator, select the layers from the layers panel, go to the options, and select the “Merge Selected” bar. If you wish to merge all of your layers in the artwork, go to the options in the Layers panel and select “Flatten Artwork” from the drop-down menu. 

Please continue reading the article if you wish to learn these methods in detail. We go into detail about merging layers using the two distinct methods and then show you how you can merge objects in Illustrator using two different techniques. 

Merging Layers In Illustrator

The method that is demonstrated below is the most recommended one by us. It gives artists adequate control over the layers they are working with. If you have ten layers, you can still choose only two or three to merge while leaving the rest alone. 

Follow the instructions below to try your hand at merging layers in Illustrator. 

  1. Decide the two layers that you want to merge.
  2. Go to the windows menu from the top panel. Select the Layers option.
  3. A window will open up on the right side of your screen.
  4. Now you need to select the layers. To do so, hold Shift and click on the layers you wish to merge together.
  5. Look for an icon that looks like multiple horizontal lines on the top right above the layers. 
  6. Click on this icon.
  7. In the drop-down menu, select the Merge Selected option. 
  8. All of your layers will stop showing as individual layers, and you will only be able to see one layer.

Merging Layers By Flattening The Image In Illustrator

Adobe always has a variety of ways of doing things. Another way to merge the layers in Illustrator is by flattening the image. The only difference while using this technique is that you need to be wary of the fact that this merges all the layers in the layers panel. This is a quick shortcut if you do not want to spend time selecting each layer individually. 

To do so, please follow the instructions given below. 

  1. Go to the Layers panel and select the icon which opens up the options.
  2. Go to Flatten artwork and select it.
  3. All the layers will be merged into one layer. You do not need to select specific layers because this tool consolidates each layer in the artwork by default. 

Here is a quick video that summarizes the two methods in less than 40 seconds:

Why Is Flattening Artwork Not Recommended?

This tool takes away some control from the artist. If you go for this shortcut, you do not get to select the specific layers that you wish to merge. It will automatically merge all the layers for you. 

On the other hand, the merge-selected options provide much more control and variety in maneuvering the layers according to your liking. 

Does Merging Layers In Illustrator Merge The Objects?

Merging layers only brings all the objects on the two layers together onto one layer. It does not merge all the objects or move them around; each object remains independent of all the other objects. 

How To Merge Objects Together In Illustrator Using The Shape Builder Tool?

The shape builder tool is one of the most useful tools in Illustrator, especially for artists who wish to draw complex shapes. 

To merge objects by using this tool, follow the steps given below. 

  1. Look at all the objects you have on a canvas in one layer. 
  2. Now, decide how you would like to set them together. 
  3. Once you have a rough mind map, begin setting them as close to each other as possible.
  4. Select all the objects when you have a final result you are happy with.
  5. Go to the Shape Builder Tool in the tools panel. 
  6. Now drag your cursor across all the objects drawing a line through them. 
  7. The objects will be merged to make a new shape. 

How To Merge Objects Together In Illustrator Using The Pathfinder?

The pathfinder tool is another wonderful way to merge objects together. It identifies the objects and allows you to unite them together. To achieve this, look at the steps given here. 

  1. Adjust your objects together to make the shape that you want. 
  2. Now in the properties panel, go to the Pathfinder tool. 
  3. Click on the icon that represents Uniting the objects together. This looks like two rectangles partially overlapping and colored in white. 
  4. The objects will be merged. 


Arranging and managing layers is a task of its own, but merging some of them makes it easier to move around the layers and make changes to your art the way you want. Similarly, merging objects helps to declutter the canvas. We walked you through both techniques to help you out.