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Working with Map Drawing Layers

A new drawing has a single drawing layer that can contain multiple drawing objects. The number of additional layers you can add to a drawing is limited only by your computer’s parameters. In addition to creating simple drawing layers in Ortelius, you can create layers by duplicating currently existing layers, or by converting a selection into a new layer.

About Layers:

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Ortelius’ layers are discrete, like a stack of tracing paper (or transparent mylar). Just like drawing on paper, each layer can hold multiple graphics in your drawing. You can use each layer as its own “page” to organize your graphics. Within each layer, drawing objects have their own stack order and objects can be moved in front of or behind each other.

Just like with a stack of tracing paper, your graphics on upper layers are shown “drawn on top” of objects in lower layers. Create your drawing with one or more drawing layers. Use layers to stack objects in front of or behind each other, to organize for printing or exporting, and to show, hide or isolate objects for easy editing.

The Layers panel lists all layers in a drawing. The layer that you are working on is highlighted for easy identification. So it’s a good idea always to check which layer is active. For instance, if you try to choose an object and nothing happens, check whether you are in the right layer.

A Guide layer, Index Grid layer, and Graph Paper layer are available in every drawing file. Click the “show” (eye) icon to show (or hide) them.

To work with layers, you should have the Layers panel visible. Using the Layers panel in Ortelius, you can select layers, create new layers, remove layers, show and hide layers, arrange the stack order of layers, and create layer masks.

To Create a New Layer:

Do one of the following:

  • Click the ‘+’ icon at the bottom of the Layers panel.
  • Choose Layer > New Drawing Layer from the main menu.

To Select and Edit Objects within a Layer

  1. Click a layer in the Layers panel. The layer is now active for editing.
  2. Use the Select [s] tool to select objects, and other drawing tools to add and edit objects as desired.

A layer’s color-well, to the right of the layer Show/Hide icon, indicates the color of the selection handles when an object on that layer is selected. To set the color, click the color-well and choose a new color from the pop-up palette.

To Select a Layer in the Layers panel:

  1. Click a layer in the Layers panel. The layer is now active for editing.

The active layer is highlighted and shown with a white arrow to the left of the layer name. Layers that are not active, but contain a selected object, are indicated with a white dot to the left of the layer name.

To Name or Rename a Layer:

Do one of the following:

  • When a layer is added and its name is highlighted for editing, type to add the layer name.
  • Double-click the layer name of the layer you’d like to rename in the Layers panel, then type the new layer name.
  • Right-click a layer and choose ‘Rename’ from the contextual menu.

To Show or Hide a Layer:

Do one of the following:

  • Click the Show / Hide icon to the right of the layer name and lock icon (looks like an eye).
  • Choose Layer > Hide (or Show) from the main menu.

To Lock or Unlock a Layer:

Do one of the following:

  • Click the Lock icon to the right of the layer name to toggle between unlocked (open lock icon) and locked (closed lock icon).
  • Choose Layer > Lock (or Unlock) from the main menu.

To Arrange Layers:

Do one of the following:

  • Press and drag a layer in the Layers panel to rearrange its order in the layers list.
  • Click a layer and choose Layer > Arrange > Bring To Front / Bring Forward / Send To Back / Send Backward from the main menu.

To Create a Layer Group:

  1. Do one of the following:
  • Click the ‘New Layer Group’ icon at the bottom of the Layers panel.
  • Choose Layer > New Layer Group from the main menu.

2. Then do one of the following:

  • With the Layer Group selected, create a new layer. The new layer will be contained within the layer group.
  • Select and drag existing layer(s) into the new layer group.

To Expand and Collapse a Layer Group:

  1. Click the triangle to the left of the layer group name.

To Select a Layer in a Group:

  1. Make sure the layer group Show/Hide icon (looks like an eye) is visible.
  2. Click the individual layer in the group.

To Duplicate a Layer:

  1. Click a layer in the layers panel.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • Choose Layer > Duplicate from the main menu.
  • Right-click the layer and choose ‘Duplicate Layer’ from the contextual menu.

To Delete a Layer:

  1. Click a layer in the layers panel (the layer must be unlocked to delete it).
  2. Do one of the following:
  • Choose Layer > Delete Layer… from the main menu.
  • Right-click the layer and choose ‘Delete Layer…’ from the contextual menu.

A dialog appears indicating the number of objects contained on the layer with a confirmation required to delete the layer.

To Convert the Content of a Selection into a New Layer:

  1. Make a selection of object(s) in your drawing.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • Choose Layer > Move To > New Layer from the main menu.
  • Copy and Paste the selection to a new layer that has been added.
  • Cut and Paste the selection to a new layer that has been added.

To Move the Content of a Selection Among Layers:

  1. Make a selection of object(s) in your drawing.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • Choose Layer > Move To > … choose from the list of existing layers from the main menu. Note, the move-to layer must be visible and unlocked to accept the objects.
  • Copy and Paste the selection to a different layer.
  • Cut and Paste the selection to a different layer.

To Show (or Hide) the Sidebar Layers:

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Do one of the following:

  • Click the ‘Sidebar’ icon in the Toolbar to show and hide the layers list.
  • Drag the sidebar open and closed using your cursor.
  • Choose View > Show (or Hide) Sidebar from the main menu.

To Enable (or Disable) Auto-Activate Clicked Layer:

Ortelius layers are discrete, similar to layers of transparent mylar – select one layer at a time to work with the objects contained within that layer. A preference enables auto-activating a layer when ever an object contained within that layer is clicked.

  1. Open (app) > Preferences… Options pane.
  2. Check ‘Auto-activate Clicked Layer’.
  3. With the Select [s] tool, click on an object in your drawing. As needed, the layer containing the object is activated dynamically.

To Clip (or Unclip) Objects To Map Area:

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By default, Ortelius visually constrains drawing objects to within the map margins. Map margins are set during drawing setup and coincide with the Index Grid and Borders. On occasion, it may be desirable to have a map feature fall outside of the map margins. For example, Title text and legends may be placed outside the map margins. Or, for aesthetic reasons you may desire a portion of your map graphic fall outside the formal map margins.

  1. Click a layer in the Layers list that contains the objects for which you want this setting to apply.
  2. Choose Layer > from the main menu.
  3. Check (or uncheck) ‘Clip objects to map area’ from the Layer menu.