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Mastering Layers in CorelDRAW 8 and 9

© 1999 by Tom Anzai. All Rights Reserved.

Note: The article below is an early release of Tom Anzai's joint CorelWORLD '99 presentation with Pete McCormick on October 4, 1999 entitled Mastering Objects and Layers in DRAW and PAINT. The seminar is presented in two stages with Tom discussing using layers in DRAW and Pete demonstrating floating objects in PAINT.

The layering feature of CorelDRAW gives you added flexibility for organizing and editing the objects in your drawings. In its simplest form, and without knowing it, you can place all your objects on the default layer called Layer 1. Try it. Draw a rectangle on the page then look at the Status Bar. It displays "Rectangle on Layer 1". Now, in a more complex drawing, you can divide a drawing into multiple layers, each containing a portion of the drawing's contents. DRAW's layering feature allows you to have multiple layers, each with its own image content. Each layer can be configured to make them visible or invisible, locked, and whether or not they will be printed. You can also use the Master Layer option that allows you to repeat all objects on a designated layer to every page of the drawing. All layer options are saved with the document.

A classic example of using layers occurs when drawing an architectural plan for a building. You could organize the building's various components (floor plan, furniture, plants, etc.) by placing them on separate layers. You could then use the Object Manager docker to view, print, or edit specific layers or combinations of layers. Together, layers act as a hierarchy that helps determine the vertical arrangement of a drawing's components. In this arrangement (the stacking order), objects on the top layer always overlay objects on the layer below.

Figure 1 (shown above) is an example of an architectural drawing comprising over 1000 objects organized in 15 custom layers. (Drawing compliments of Daron Denton of George F. Tibsherany Inc. of Scottsdale, Arizona.)

Now if you're still not sure about the merits of using layers, let's use an email conversation I had with Daron Denton of George F. Tibsherany Inc. who drew the intricate building in Figure 1 to explain further:

Tom: "Daron, I had a look at your incredible DRAW drawing of the building. Wow. I can't believe you did that in DRAW. Now, you and I both know why you used layers, but if you were to explain the concept to users who don't know anything about layers, why do you use layers?"

Daron: "EDITING: The use of layers is the only real productive means to select many related objects in a complex file. This is especially helpful when making color changes when the items to be changed are behind other objects. (but then, who has ever worked on a graphic and had someone request a change - usually at the hardest possible stage of completion? <VBG>). The use of the Object Manager docker is the ideal tool for these global changes."

"PRINTING: The use of layers can be a great production increase in printing. If you have, for example, many files that have the same graphics, with different text layout, separate the text by layers. This will allow you to correct the background of all layouts by fixing only one. There are many other productive uses for layers in printing. Without the use of layers, you are left with no means of controlling the visibility of your objects. You will have to print everything in the file, or nothing at all."

"VIEWING: In a file that would contain three of these elevations, a simple Window refresh can take too long, even with a P3 550. Layers that contain complex objects such as lenses, image fills, etc. can be turned off while editing other objects."

Even if you don't intend to create drawings as intricate as Daron's, this presentation will show you that you can benefit from using layers for even simple drawings. Try the step-by-step exercises explained in this presentation and you'll see that working with layers is not at all complicated.

Please note: The exercises are designed to be simplistic and progressive in nature. You will be required to start at the first exercise then progressively learn by working with a few layer concepts at a time by completing successive exercises.

Using the Object Manager Docker

The Object Manager docker allows you to access the layer-related controls and options such as:

To activate Object Manager docker:

Do one of the following:

Default Layers Listed in Docker

You will see the following layers listed in the Object Manager docker shown at right:

Master Page Guides: Layer containing the guidelines. Using the docker, you can turn them off temporarily and you can print them for proofing purposes.

Master Page Desktop: Layer containing any object that is placed off the printable page. All pages will display these objects, therefore, its advantage is for copying purposes without having to use the clipboard (Cut & Paste and Copy & Paste). If the objects are dragged onto the printable page, they're placed on the nearest layer that is unlocked and visible.

Layer 1: Default drawing layer. All objects that you draw will be placed initially on this layer.

Master Page Grid: Layer containing the drawing grid. Using the docker you can turn them off temporarily, and you can print them for proofing purposes.

Editing Layers

To edit the layer options such as making the layer visible, printable, or editable you must activate the buttons in the Object Manager docker. If the button appears pressed, that feature is on; otherwise it is off.

Figure 3 (at right) "Visible", "Printable", "Editable" layer icons as displayed in the Object Manager docker.

To edit a layer:

  1. Do one of the following:
  2. The Object Manager docker appears.

  3. Do one of the following:

To activate a layer:

It's important to make sure one of the layers is set as the active layer. The active layer name is displayed in a red color in the Object Manager docker. To select another layer to be the active layer, click on it. It will display in red.

Figure 4 (fig04.tif) The importance of the active layer is that it's displayed in red, in this case Layer 1.

Exercise: Observing the Object Manager Docker

  1. In DRAW , create a new document
  2. Do one of the following:
  3. The Object Manager docker appears.

  4. Observe the default layer names Master Page Guides, Desktop, Layer 1, and Grids
  5. Observe Layer 1 is the active layer indicated by its red color
  6. Observe the following:
  7. Click the minimize arrows in the top left corner of the docker to temporarily collapse the docker

Setting Up a Master Layer

Setting up a master layer provides a way to allow objects on this layer to display on all pages of your document. This feature is effective for creating business presentations or drawings that require repetitive objects on multiple pages. For example, you may want a custom background with your business logo to appear on all pages.

You can add as many Master layers as you wish. You can hide the Master layer from selected pages by using the Apply layer changes to the current page only.

To create a new layer:

  1. In the Object Manager docker, click the New Layer button at the top
  2. Enter the desired layer name

To create a master layer:

In the Object Manager docker, do one of the following:

To hide the master layer on selected pages:

If you want to hide certain objects that you have placed on the master layer for the current page:

  1. In the docker, right-click the desired layer on the particular page and select Properties
  2. Check Apply layer changes to the current page only
  3. Disable the Visible check box

Exercise: Creating a Master Layer

This exercise will show you how to create a Master layer to automatically place objects on all pages. Figure 5 (above) shows the finished look of this exercise.

  1. Change the new document to a landscape orientation by clicking the Landscape button in the Property Bar (make sure nothing is selected to see the Landscape button)
  2. Double click on the Rectangle tool in the Toolbox to create a page-size rectangle
  3. Click on bright yellow in the Color Palette
  4. Point to the X at the top of the Color Palette and click the right mouse button to assign no outline
  5. Select the Text tool in the Toolbox and type ABC Architects followed by an address on successive lines at the bottom right corner of the page
  6. Format and size the text as desired
  7. Click the Object Manager docker's maximize button at the top of the docker tab to restore the docker
  8. Click the New Layer button at the top left corner of docker
  9. Type the name Repeat and press [Enter]. A new layer is created.
  10. Click on the Pick tool in the toolbox
  11. Right-click on the Repeat layer and select Master to place it within the Master Page list
  12. Within the Master Page list, click Layer 1 to make it the active layer. It turns red to indicate it is the active layer.
  13. Save the file as My floorplan

Moving, Copying, and Locking Layers

At times, you may need to move or copy objects to another available layer listed in the Object Manager docker. The objects you move or copy will take on the attributes defined in the new layer.

Another feature is to lock a layer to prevent any objects on that layer from being altered or even selected. If you need to alter any objects on a locked layer, you must first unlock the layer, then make the changes. When finished, lock the layer again.

To move or copy objects between layers:

  1. Select the object you want to move. Look at the Status Bar to find which layer the object is currently on.
  2. If you're using DRAW 9, click the Layer Manager View button. You do not have to do this step in DRAW 8.
  3. Click the flyout arrow in the Object Manager docker. The flyout menu appears.
  4. Do one of the following:
  5. A black arrow appears.

  6. Click on the desired layer in the Object Manager docker to which you want to move or copy the object. The object is moved or copied to the selected layer.

To lock layers:

In the Object Manager docker, click on the desired layer's Editable button to turn off and on.

Exercise: Moving Objects and Locking Layers

  1. Using My floorplan, double click on the Pick tool. Shortcut to select all objects.
  2. Observe the Status Bar to see what layer these objects are on. The objects are on the Layer 1 layer.
  3. If you're using DRAW 9, click the Layer Manager View button. This view shows only layers without objects or sublevels. You do not have to do this step if you're using DRAW 8.
  4. Figure 6 (shown at right): In DRAW 9, click the Layer Manager View button in order to activate the Move To and Copy To commands in the flyout menu.

  5. Click on the flyout arrow in the Object Manager docker
  6. Select Move To Layer. An arrow appears.
  7. Move the arrow on top of the Master Repeat name in the docker and click to move the objects from Layer 1 to the Repeat layer.
  8. Click on the Master Repeat name in the docker and observe the Status Bar. It indicates the objects are now on the Repeat layer.
  9. Click on the Master Repeat's Editable (pencil) button to dim it and lock all objects on the Master Repeat layer.
  10. Select Layout | Insert Page and enter 2 more Landscape pages After Page 1. Click OK to insert two new pages.
  11. Observe how all objects on the Master layer are repeated on these new pages.
  12. Attempt to select any of the objects on the page. You cannot select these objects since they are not editable (locked).
  13. In the docker, click on Layer 1 in the docker list to make it the active layer.
  14. Save the file to update My floorplan

Tips on Moving Objects and Locking

Reordering the Layers

To change the order of objects on the same layer, you use the Order commands in the Arrange menu such as To Front, To Back, and so on. However, the order of the layers still determines the absolute arrangement of all objects in your drawing. The order in which the layers are listed in the Object Manager is the order that appears in the drawing. To change their order in the drawing, you must change their order listed in the docker.

To reorder layers:

In the Object Manager, do one of the following:

Exercise: Reordering Layers

  1. Go to page one of My floorplan
  2. Draw a large rectangle almost as wide as the page and above the ABC business address and color it white
  3. Hold on! The rectangle does a vanishing act and seems to be hiding behind the yellow background. What's going on?! Well, the answer is displayed in the docker. Notice that Layer 1 is listed below the Master Repeat layer.

  4. To fix the disappearing rectangle, drag the Layer 1 name in the docker above Master Repeat.
  5. Figure 7 (at right): Drag Layer 1 above Master Repeat to reorder the layers.

  6. Click the New Layer button in the docker
  7. Enter Office rooms as the new layer name
  8. Observe that the Office room layer is listed above Layer 1. This means that any object on this layer will be placed on top of any objects on Layer 1.
  9. We'll use a series of smaller rectangles to simulate the look of rooms in the floorplan. Draw about six smaller rectangles forming a 2 row by three-column formation within the larger rectangle. Look at Figure 8 to give you an idea of what's expected.

  10. Figure 8 (shown above): Draw a total of six smaller rectangles inside the larger rectangle.

  11. Color the six smaller rectangles blue
  12. Select each blue rectangle and confirm that they are all on the Office rooms layer (by looking at the Status Bar)
  13. Click the New Layer button in the docker
  14. Enter Furniture as the new layer name
  15. Now we'll use a series of small, red circles to simulate the look of office furniture. Place the small circles within every blue rectangle as illustrated in Figure 9.

  16. Figure 9 (shown above): Place small, red circles to represent office furniture within each blue rectangle.

  17. Select each red circle and confirm that they are all on the Furniture layer (by looking at the Status Bar).
  18. Save to update My floorplan

In a complex architectural drawing you could continue to add a layer for plants, a layer for electrical components, and so on. In our case, we'll keep it simple and quickly show you the benefits of using layers.

Exercise: Demonstrating the Benefits of Layers

  1. Using page one of My floorplan, click the Visible (eye) icon beside Furniture in the docker. Notice all furniture (red circles) is temporarily hidden. Hiding layers and their objects in a complex drawing can save valuable time by avoiding frequent screen refreshes when editing the document.
  2. Click the Printable (printer) icon beside Furniture in the docker
  3. Select File, Print Preview. If prompted to automatically change orientation of printer, click Yes. Notice that the furniture (red circles) is not displayed, therefore will not print out.
  4. Click Close to exit back to the DRAW screen
  5. Make the Furniture layer's objects visible and printable (click the Visible and Printable icons)
  6. This time, make the Master Repeat layer not visible (click the Visible icon)
  7. Check pages two and three. Notice that the objects on the Repeat layer are not visible on any page.
  8. Continue by making the Master Repeat layer visible again (click the Visible icon)
  9. On page two and three, continue by drawing shapes and objects on specific layers. Experiment with the options in the docker to become more familiar with the concepts of layers in DRAW.
  10. Close the Object Manager docker. Click the X in the top right corner.
  11. Save and close the file to update My floorplan

To assess whether you understand the concept of layers, try the following Self-Check Questionnaire. These types of review questions are at the end of each section in our Anzai! Inc. step-by-step training manuals ( in order to make sure you understand the section's concepts. Good luck!

Self-Check Questionnaire

  1. How do you access the Object Manager docker?
  2. What is the CorelDRAW default layer called?
  3. List the layer icons that appear in Figure 10 below:

  4. Figure 10: What are these icons in the docker?

  5. How do you know what layer is currently active?
  6. What is a master layer?
  7. How do you create a master layer?
  8. List how you move objects from one layer to another.


  1. Select Window | Dockers | Object Manager.
  2. Layer 1.
  3. Visible, printable, editable (left to right).
  4. It displays in red.
  5. Master layer is an option to repeat objects on this layer to all pages.
  6. Right-click on the desired layer in the docker and select Master.
  7. Make sure the Layer Manager View button is pressed, select the object, click on the flyout arrow in the Object Manager docker, and select Move To Layer. Click arrow on desired layer listed in the docker. Alternatively, you can drag the object(s) from the page to the desired layer in the docker.

Graphics Unleashed
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Tom Anzai's Step-By-Step Tutorials

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Graphics Unleashed
Last Updated July 19, 1999.

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