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Layers are the building blocks for creating designs in Vectornator. Shapes, Groups, Masks, and Artboards are all defined as different types of layers.

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✨ New Layers – With the 4.8.0 update, Layers have been completely re-built in Vectornator.

Layers help you to create and organize complex artworks and allow you to edit more advanced features such as masks, groups, and nested objects. A clear and intuitive layer structure and hierarchy with precise navigation are indispensable to creating artwork on a professional level.

The Layers Tab ~ic-layers-tab~~ic-layers-tab~ is the fourth tab from the left in the Inspector. You can access, create, and organize all your Layers ~ic-add-layer~~ic-add-layer~ A and Artboards ~ic-add-artboard~~ic-add-artboard~ B from this tab.

Pro Tip – If you're using Vectornator on an iPad with an external keyboard, you can use the ~key~ \ ~key~ key to open and close the Inspector.

How to Add a New Layer

Inside the header section of the Layers Tab, tap the ~ic-create-doc~~ic-create-doc~ icon, and in the opening popover menu, select New Layer ~ic-add-layer~~ic-add-layer~ to add a new Layer.

The newly created layer will be inserted above the active layer by default.

You can change the layer insertion behavior in the Preferences. You can set in the canvas preferences if the newly created layer is inserted above the selected elements or at the top of the active layer. Go to Preferences ~ic-settings~~ic-settings~ , select the Canvas Tab ~ic-canvas-tab~~ic-canvas-tab~ , and choose one of the Insert Elements options mentioned above.

⚠️ In Vectornator, you can create as many Layers as you want.

How to Select Layers

You can select any element on the canvas by tapping on it. A bounding box will appear on the selected element, and the Layers Tab will automatically scroll up or down to the selected element, highlighted in blue.

Another option is to select any element by directly tapping on its name in the Layers Tab ~ic-layers-tab~~ic-layers-tab~. Again, the bounding box appears on the selected element, and the layer is highlighted in blue in the Layers Tab.

How to Select Multiple Layers

You have several options available in Vectornator to select multiple elements at once:

One option is to use the newly introduced Select button located at the top left corner of the Layers Tab. If you tap the button the Multi-Select Mode ~ic-multiselect~~ic-multiselect~ will be activated.  After tapping the Select button tap each element you want to add to your selection.

⚠️ 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.

Alternatively, you can swipe from left to right along an element's name in the Layers Tab to select more than one element at once. Swipe from left to right to select a Layer, then repeat the action on the additional element you want to select.

Swipe again from left to right on the selected Layer to deselect it.

You have a third option available to multi-select elements inside the Layers Tab on iPad and iPhone. Just drag two fingers on top of the Layers. This allows you to select multiple layers in a row.

⚠️ This option is disabled on iOS 14.

The last and final option to select multiple layers is by using the Multi Select Mode ~ic-multiselect~~ic-multiselect~ . You can activate the mode from the Toolbar.

Go to Toolbar > Selection Tool ~ic-selection~~ic-selection~ and then choose the Multi Select Mode ~ic-multiselect~~ic-multiselect~. Tap the elements you want to select from the canvas or the Layers Tab.

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 and then tap directly on the one you want to select.

Pro Tip – To avoid tapping countless times inside nested groups to select a specific element, you can activate the Click-Through Mode. This feature allows you to select the nested element you want directly with just one tap.To discover more about this feature, hop over to the Selection Tool section of our Learning Hub →

How to Organize Layers

While creating artworks and illustrations, a simple organization of the layer structure is indispensable. Most intricate designs contain many layers, and a simple structure and navigation allow for an easy and manageable workflow.

From the Layers Tab, you can browse and organize all of your objects (such as Artboards, layers, groups, masks, or simple shapes). 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, tap 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 releasing them.

Furthermore, you can move multiple layers at once by selecting them 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.

How to Edit Multiple Elements

You can hide, delete, and lock multiple elements in just one step. First, select the multiple elements within the Layers Tab (by using any of the methods shown above ) and then long-press on them. A popover menu will show up, from which you can select any of the options you desire.

How to Rename a Layer

By default, Layers will be given sequentially numbered titles. To change the name of a layer, tap on the layer's name and then type the new title you want to associate with that element.

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

Tap the Hide ~ic-show~~ic-show~ /Show ~ic-hide~~ic-hide~ icon to toggle the visibility of your selected layers or sublayers on or off.

How to Lock a Layer

Tap 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, select the layer and enter a percentage value numerically into the corresponding Percentage Indicator field. Every element included within that layer will be affected by the adjustment of the opacity value.

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Learn how to create your next design by using this Vectornator sample document.

Get Access to the Layers Options

Swipe left along the name of a layer to access these further options: Export (1), Duplicate (2), and Delete (3).

How to Delete a Layer

Select the element you want to delete, and then swipe to the left and tap Delete to remove the element from your document.

Swipe to the left to delete all the elements contained in your layer. 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 simultaneously.

After you’ve selected the layers, two merging options are available:

  • Drag & drop a layer on top of another layer - When you use this technique, the dragged and dropped layer will reside on top within the layer hierarchy.
  • Select & long-press - Select the layers you want to merge, then long-press to activate the Context Menu and tap Merge Layers ~ic-merge-layers~~ic-merge-layers~. The long-pressed layer will be considered the destination of the merging process.
Long press to merge layers

How to Merge Layers with Drag & Drop

If you want to merge your layers with the drag & drop technique you have two options available:

  1. Drag & drop one layer on top of another layer - Select and drag & drop a Parent Layer on top of another layer.
  2. Drag & drop a layer inside an open layer - Select a layer and then drag & drop it directly between the elements of an open layer.
  3. Drop a Parent Layer into a group - Select a layer and then drag & drop it directly into a group.

How to Duplicate a Layer

If you want to duplicate a layer, select the layer you want to duplicate and tap the Duplicate button. A copy of your duplicated layer will be inserted above the original layer. This is an excellent method to make changes without affecting the original layer.

How to Export a Layer

You can export a single layer with one tap 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 tap Export. You can export the layer as a .jpg, .png, .svg, and .pdf file.

Video Recap

With 4.8.0, Vectornator’s user experience has been completely redesigned, with tremendous improvements to the Layers Tab, groups, and masks.

A streamlined workflow is vital for any digital creative. Having organized documents and simplified processes helps you keep a clear head so that you can focus on executing your brilliant ideas. We learned that a great Layers Tab experience should resemble a file manager, like Finder or the Files app. With that, we built new Layers that makes browsing and managing the contents of your document easier than ever. Check out the full demo to find out everything there is to know about it.

If you are using Vectornator on your Mac, click the toggle at the top right of this page to switch to the Mac Hub and learn everything about layers on the Mac version of Vectornator.
Download the PDF version here.
Last Updated on Sep 30, 2022
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