How To Separate Layers In Illustrator

We all know that one of the most important parts of working on any project is to be able to create layers. Having different layers allows you to adjust and change how objects look and apply effects and transformations with ease. In Photoshop, all new objects become new layers – when using Adobe Illustrator, that is not always the case.

Many users wonder how to separate objects out if they forget to make them into a new layer. Luckily, this is a simple process you can complete in just a few steps. There is a built-in function within Adobe Illustrator that allows you to separate the group of objects into their own distinct layer, even if you forgot to make new layers manually.

If you want to learn how this process works, you are in the right place! Keep reading this article for more information on how layers work in Adobe Illustrator, why you need to make manual changes to the layers, and of course, how you can separate layers if you accidentally create objects within the same layer. Let’s get started!

Creating Separate Layers In Adobe Illustrator

It’s a common mistake. You are almost done with your new Illustrator project and then realize you forgot to add layers! If you are working on Illustrator, you may have noticed that layers are created manually instead of automatically, like on some other software such as Photoshop. 

If that is the case, what can you do?

While it may seem like a huge mistake you can’t reverse, there is still one way that you can still separate layers on Adobe Illustrator. 

To do so, you will need to follow a simple two-step process. So, if you are ready to get started, follow the instructions below!

  1. Launch Illustrator on your device of preference.
  2. Now, open up the project you want to separate into different layers.
  3. Click on the Windows menu from the top bar on Illustrator.
  4. From here, choose the option ‘Layers’ to open up the Layer Menu.
  5. Select the layer containing all the objects you want to separate out.
  6. Now, choose the option ‘Release to layers (sequence).’
  7. All of the groups under your layer will become layers.
  8. Since these layers are still grouped under the main layer, you will need to separate them out. Click and drag all of the layers from outside the grouping.
  9. Once all the layers are removed from the original one, it will become an empty layer.
  10. You can now delete this layer.

As you will note, there will now be distinct layers for each object you used in your Adobe Illustrator project. This will give you the chance to apply specific changes to each layer without disturbing the rest of the work. 

Drag Method To Separate Objects To A New Layer

There is also another method that you can use to create a separate layer, especially on just one object at a time. This method will allow you to carefully select just one or two elements from your graphics and move them to a new layer! Here’s how you can do this:

  1. Create a new layer over the existing layer that you have in your document.
  2. Select the object that you want to move from your original layer. 
  3. When you select the object, the layer will have a blue marker within the Layers panel to indicate that an object has been selected.
  4. Now, simply drag the blue marker over to the same area on the new layer.
  5. The object will remain in the same position but be moved to another layer.

This method is helpful in two ways – it helps to keep the object in the same position (which is difficult to achieve when you use the copy-paste method) and it also helps you quickly move one or two objects instead of separating out the entire layer. 

If you want to see how this process works in action, make sure to watch this excellent video tutorial about how to create separate layers using Adobe Illustrator:

Final Thoughts

Creating new layers is a manual process on Illustrator, but you can still make it happen after the fact in just a few steps! We hope this article helped you solve your problem!