Do you use layers in Illustrator?

So this is basically a workflow question but I wanted to find out if I’m wasting time or doing extra work for no benefit. In illustrator I use layers consistently to separate out different aspects of my project so I can make quick edits, view different options, or just to remove extra noise so I can see the page better, etc. For me layers are hugely helpful and the gains far out way the negatives.

I have been working with several other designers who consistently do not use layers and have WAY more design experience than my self-taught background. They refuse to use layers and I’m often required to go into their files and make “quick” edits.

So big question is am I being ridiculous in my frustration and using an antiquated illustrator tool or am I completely justified?

Everybody has their own workflow. I know a designer who uses Layers as Artboards! :astonished:
I think keeping files clean through labeled layers and organization helps overall. It’s certainly refreshing when I work with files that have a certain level of structure. I think same goes for Solidworks files: clean and organized feature tree simplifies not only the file, but also your own mental organization of the design.

Whatever works for you. I also use layers in Ill & PSD unless I need to do it super fast, but then I always regret it when i have to go back to do edits.
I typically have a background layer, drop shadow, larger forms, smaller (top) forms, details, logos & text, shadows & highlights, etc.

It’s never a waste of time especially if you plan on making revisions. Imo it’s lazy not to organize your artwork into layers and will end up taking extra time later when you need to isolate an object and group or if you work with seperations and text. Unless it’s crazy simple artwork, there’s no compelling reason NOT to use them and anyone who has to work on your files will thank you. Also, years of experience does not always translate into expertise. Lot’s of veterans who don’t know or care about production and let their printer figure it out for them.

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I use a lot of layers in both PS and AI.

You’d need to be pretty OCD about your layer management for it to be a waste of time. Maybe look into creating a template for yourself to speed things up.

I find it easier to focus on the task at hand when there’s not a thousand unrelated things just floating about and messing up with your selection tools.

I find it even more critical in CAD because things get complicated fast and spending your time searching and managing what’s being shown is not worthwhile, breaks your concentration and ultimately forces you to work in a sloppy way.

It becomes even more important when you hand documents off. Your project and your skills look bad when the document is all over the place and you have Atlantis hidden away in a corner. If I’m being handed a poorly organised file, besides the obvious frustration that comes from having to do some detective work. I know I’m much more weary of the quality of the work and usually end up deconstructing and reorganising.

Getting back to the original question, I think as you develop you will naturally use less layers. You’ll find ways to consolidate your work and take shortcuts.

Having said that, there are no rules. Concentrate on doing exceptional work and the rest will take care of itself.

I have always felt that fewer layers are better especially in AI. The reason for this is it will start to create a very heavy file if you go more then 5 layers. I usually keep it to a max of 3 layers in AI. 1 layer for the art it self, 1 layer for dimensions and 1 layer for title block. I make a lot of files even without doing this. I tend to use the hide command or lock to help me move through the file quickly. But as said everyone has different work flow but I have found this is pretty standard among designers.

Keno, that image is spot on. I had an old supervisor that did everything down and dirty while never organizing a thing and never naming layers. He’d get upset when it took others forever to make revisions to the PSD files. talk about a frustrating experience.

I don’t think AI layers are as essential as Photoshop groups and organization, but still nice and don’t really take that much longer to set up than otherwise. Likeb building a Solidworks model cleanly, you will appreciate it later down the road. However, it is just too cruel that one of the AI layer defaults is a pale yellow …

Yes, use layers!
The only profession that I can think of where layers are undesirable are matte painting artists. Even in that field, there are some layer painters.
And if filesize is an issue, invest in backup drives and a good workstation with SSD, or for firms invest in a server that all employees can store and access their files in. I am a firm proponent of introducing consistency in workflow across entire organizations, including layer and file naming.

I took over a sketch assignment once with about 100 layers, most unnamed. It is no big deal, naming them doesn’t take much time if you understand the structure of the sketch. I use layers for all features that can be edited separately, at least in Photoshop. Every highlight of a render I want to edit separately, I’ll put in a separate layer and then I group the layers. I also group features in folders in Solidworks and name about 50% of features I create, 80% when others have to use my file. In illustrator, say when working on a logo design, I mostly use different layers for text and graphics. I create a lot of experiments and the ones I like the least I drag outside the bounds of the artboard. The concepts I pick from a sketch layer I turn onto a concept layer where I refine the idea, then I put the refined concept in a new layer to export. So yes, lots of layers.

Im another layer user. The structure makes it much easier to edit a file after not editing it for a while (aka I’ve forgotten how I made the file the last time). You never know when something might need to be exported to someone else, so you might as well do it properly the first time.

I use layers in illustrator when doing line drawings for brochures.

Very useful.