How to Separate Layers in Inkscape

Inkscape is a great program to use when you are creating digital art, whether it is for intricate pieces or when you are using simple logos. Sometimes we need to edit pictures and put them into different layers.

When you download an image into Inkscape, there is only one layer, but you can separate them. Here is everything you need to know to separate the layers so you can edit and fix the image on these layers.

How to Separate Layers in Inkscape

Separating layers can be a little difficult if you don’t know where to start. But after you learn these simple steps, you will be separating those layers in no time.

Here is what you need to do:

  1. Import image
  2. Separate design
  3. Add new layers
  4. Move to the desired layer
  5. Edit each layer
  6. Save your project

As you continue to use these steps and work within Inkscape, you will be quicker and quicker at finishing your projects.

Import Image

First, you must import the image in which you want to separate layers. This can be an image saved to your computer, or it could be one online. There are several ways you can do this. If the image is saved to your computer, then open the image in Inkscape.

If you search the internet, you don’t have to save the image to your computer. You can just copy the image and paste it into the Inkscape program. This can save you the step of saving the image and then searching for it to open.

You can use the shortcut CTRL+C to copy the image and CTRL+V to paste the image. This will make things easier. Or you can right-click on the image and choose to copy it. There are many options for how to do this.

Separate Design

You can separate the design into groups or each part individually. This is up to you. If you want to separate into groups, select everything you want to be in that group. Once you have done this, you can use CTRL+G, and it will separate that group.

Or you can separate each individual part, say you want one layer to be a girl’s hair in an image, while another layer the facial features. You would have to separate each of these by selecting the individual image and copy or cut it.

The shortcut to using the “cut” feature is CTRL+X. This will remove the selected item from the original layer, so you won’t have to delete it later, unlike copying the item. You will have to take an extra step to delete it from the original later when you use copy.

Add New Layers

Once you have copied the first group or individual piece, you must create a new layer within Inkscape. There should be a plus sign that you can press to add a new layer. At this point, it is best to do a few layers if you plan on having several layers.

You can also add the layers as you go so you don’t have extra layers. It is up to you how you want to add the layers. You can even name these layers, which will help you if you are using many layers. You don’t have to search through them to see what is on each layer.

Move to Desired Layer

Now it is time to move the first group or individual piece to your new layer. You just need to paste it into that layer. You will repeat the previous steps until you have separated each group and individual piece.

Remember to name your layers if you plan on using a lot of layers. This will help you keep everything organized, and it is better to do the renaming as you go than to wait until the end. You would then have to search through each layer to determine what is on each.

If you don’t name your layers, it automatically assigns them by number. It really isn’t necessary to name your layers if you are only using a few. This is usually the case for less complex images or when you group parts of the original image.

Edit Each Layer

Now that you have separated your image into layers, you can edit each layer. You can resize the image, change colors, and move it around. You can pretty much edit the layer however you want more easily than if it were one image.

Save Your Project

Always, always, always save your project.  You don’t want to make all those edits and have it all disappear. Ensure you have saved the project before leaving the program. It would suck to lose all the work you spent time on.

You can automatically save your image by using the shortcut CTRL+S or as you exit from the program, and it will ask you to save it. It is best to save the project as a new file and rename it to something that will be easy for you to find.

Why Should You Separate Layers in Inkscape?

So why should you separate layers when downloading an image? You can easily save the image and try to edit the entire image as a whole rather than separating the image. You can do this, but you may not get the best outcome of the image.

You cannot make specific edits when you edit an image on one layer. It can also make the image distorted or blurry. It makes it harder to edit the image as well.

Separating the image into different layers will make it easier for you to edit it. This is the best option if you are trying to go for details. You can edit each layer of the image and provide more detail and edit with precision.


Separating your image into layers is not only easy but beneficial for you. You can do so much more with the image, and you don’t have to worry about the entire image becoming distorted. It will help you create a better, edited image.