How to group layers in Illustrator

After working with Illustrator for a while, you will find that the number of layers in larger projects can become overwhelming.

Grouping layers can save time when working on a project and will keep your layers panel cleaner.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open your Adobe Illustrator project
  2. With the Selection Tool (V) select all objects to be grouped (you can also select the object layers in the Layers Panel).
  3. In the top menu bar, choose Object > Group, or use the keyboard shortcut Command G (Control G on PC).
  4. To ungroup object layers, choose Object > Ungroup, or use the Command-G keyboard shortcut a second time.

Why layers should be grouped together:

Layering is an important skill when working with complex graphics or logos. Once you have a set of images or shapes in an order or placement that you like, grouping them together will allow you to move the layers as a single unit rather than having to adjust them individually.

Layer grouping is also important in larger projects if you want to remove unwanted objects. If you find that a part of your project is no longer needed, it may be quicker to group them together and delete them as one instead of deleting them individually.

How to group layers in Illustrator on iPad:

If you’re working on an iPad rather than a laptop or desktop computer, there are some key differences in using Illustrator.

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One of these differences is the way the layers are grouped. While on a desktop or laptop you can use the menu bar to group layers, the iPad does not offer that option.

This is how you can group layers in Illustrator on an iPad:

  1. Click and hold down the modifier key
  2. Select the layers to be grouped
  3. Select the object menu
  4. Click on the Group Icon

For a visual representation of this procedure, click here.

If you want to learn more about the differences of using Illustrator on an iPad beyond grouping layers, check out this article here.

How to ungroup layers:

Once you have finished with the now grouped layers, you can easily ungroup them using the same method.

This is how the layers are ungrouped after they have been grouped:

  1. Select the grouped layers that you want to ungroup.
  2. In the top menu, click on Object
  3. Select Ungroup (Shift + Command + G)

Tip: Once you have finished editing the layers you have grouped, you can also lock them to prevent any accidental changes. Simply select Lock from the Ungroup tab of the Object menu to lock the layer or layers in place.

How to merge layers:

If you want to merge layers or groups in a project, follow this simple keyboard shortcut to easily merge two or more layers.

  1. Press and hold Command (Mac) or Ctrl (Windows).
  2. In the Layers panel, click on the layers you want to merge
  3. In the upper right part of the layers panel, select the button with three horizontal lines
  4. In the pop-up window, select Merge selected layers to merge them.
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If you want to merge all the layers you have in a project, you can speed up the merging process by simply left-clicking and holding down the mouse button, and then dragging the mouse over the entire layers panel to select all the layers. From there, continue merging as shown above.

Tip: When merging layers, some aspects will not remain in the merge, such as clipping masks. However, all visible elements and objects will remain no matter how many merges you perform.

How to flatten layers:

Flattening your layers is extremely similar to grouping layers. The results are essentially the same but the process is a little different.

Flatten takes all visible objects on a workbench and consolidates them into a single layer. This is how you can do it:

  1. Press and hold Command (Mac) or Ctrl (Windows).
  2. In the layers pane, click on the layers you want to flatten
  3. In the upper right part of the layers panel, select the button with three horizontal lines
  4. In the pop-up window, select Flatten Artwork to flatten.

It is important to emphasize that before merging, flattening or grouping your layers, you must have the correct stacking order. You can easily click and drag your layers in the layers panel to change the stacking order. Once the layers are grouped, you cannot change the order without first ungrouping them.

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