PI8 Basics #8: The Layer Manager


In PI, objects represent the layers construct common in other image editing programs, so the terms objects and layers are interchangeable in PI. If you are new to PhotoImpact, the number of options available in the Layer Manager may seem overwhelming to you at first. Indeed, many people seldom use the Layer Manager for anything except selecting objects within the base image. But it's good to know about the Layer Manager's powerful tools, because they can help you to work smarter and faster.

Access the Layer Manager by clicking its button, the first one in the Panel Manager. You'll see a thumbnail for each object (or layer) in the active image. As you can see in the screen shot below, there are 9 objects.

layer manager

When you have a lot of objects in an image, the Layer Manager makes it easy to select objects for editing. Clicking on an object's thumbnail in the Layer Manager selects it in the base image, and vice versa.

select object thumbnail

To give your object thumbnails more meaningful names instead of the default ("Obj-1"), just click on the default name, type in another name and hit Enter.

rename thumbnails

Note the circles in the screen shot above. The first object, the rosebud, is an Image object, as signified by the little rainbow box icon. In fact, all of the objects in the Layer Manager are Image objects, except the heart, which is a Path object. You can see that the little icon by the heart thumbnail is different. Text objects have a T icon on their thumbnail. The Z with the symbol for "no" on it, after the object type icon tells you that none of the objects have been Z-Merged.

To select several objects in a row, click on a thumbnail, then hold down on the shift key while selecting the last thumbnail in the sequence. Doing so will select all thumbnails between the first and last one selected.

select objects in a row

To select multiple objects which are not immediately next to each other in the Layer Manager, click a thumbnail to select it, then hold down on the Ctrl key while selecting other thumbnails.

select non-adjacent objects

To deselect all objects in the base image, tap in any empty area of the Layer Manager.

To Group objects, which temporarily keeps them together as a unit, select two or more object thumbnails, right click in the Layer Manager, and choose Group. In the screen shot below, the shoes and hatboxes were selected and Grouped.

grouped objects

Note that a new thumbnail was added for the Grouped objects. To Ungroup objects, right click on their thumbnail and choose Ungroup. In fact, if you right click on any object thumbnail in the Layer Manager, you can choose from a menu of items, many of which are available through right clicking on the object itself in the base image as well.

right click on thumbnails

You can drag thumbnails around in the Layer Manager to re-order them. For example, in the screen shot below the heart thumbnail, which was last, was dragged up to the top left of the Layer Manager's thumbnails.

drag thumbnails to re-order

At the top of the Layer Manager are buttons which allow you to alter its functions. Click the Global Viewer button to display the Global Viewer at the bottom of the Layer Manager. Drag the slider to magnify the objects in the base image. Drag the little bounding box around in the thumbnail to view selected areas of the object within the base image. Click the Global Viewer button again to toggle out.

global viewer

Toggle in and out of Thumbnail view (circled) to see expanded information about each object, including its X,Y coordinates within the base image and its height and width. Click the button again to return to simple thumbnail view.

Click the Eye icon to toggle in and out of showing/hiding the base image. When the eye is closed, the base image is replaced by a gray and white checkerboard pattern indicating a transparent background.

show or hide base image

To Delete an object from the base image, select its thumbnail in the Layer Manager and click the Delete button.

delete object

Click the Thumbnail Menu Commands button to display a menu of objects for selected object(s).

thumbnail menu commands

Click Layer Manager Options button to display a menu that allows you to search for objects, or regulate the way in which the Layer Manager is displayed.

Click the Thumbnail Size button to edit size in pixels.

thumbnail size options

Edit a selected object's Merge method by selecting an option from the Merge dropdown list at the top of the Layer Manager.

edit merge method

Edit object transparency by selecting a thumbnail and editing directly from the Layer Manager Transparency option.

edit transparency

Like the other Panels in the Panel Manager, the Layer Manager can be resized by dragging on its borders. You can minimize or "roll it up" by double clicking on its blue title bar and drag it to a convenient area in the work place to get it out of your way. Double click on its blue title bar again to maximize it.

Uploaded 9/22/02

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