Adobe Illustrator Tutorial #7 -- Working with Layers

Adobe Illustrator video tutorial how to use layers for digital cartoon illustration
Click on image - video will open in new window

This Adobe Illustrator video tutorial is all about using layers to help keep your your artwork manageable.

Adobe Illustrator tutorial using layers palette

For the SpongeBob cover illustration, I wanted to keep the hat on a separate level because I knew that the editor at Nickelodeon magazine might move it around to make room for some of the text on the cover. And sure enough, if you look at the finished version, you can see that they did move it.

SpongeBob hat original
Original Version
SpongeBob hat magazine cover
Published Version

We'll take a look at how to use the line tool, and how to reshape the line by using the reshape tool.

Adobe Illustrator tutorial how to use the reshape line tool

Both of these tools come in very handy, even in a freehand illustration like this one.
I also demonstrate my weird white-out technique , which can be very helpful when you have overlapping layers. The process may be a little bit complicated, but it does demonstrate how to use the arrange command to bring drawing elements either forward or backward within the same layer.

I used to use this white-out technique to do all my erasing, but since David de Rooij left a comment on Illustrator tutorial video #4 about how to use the "expand appearance" command along with the erase tool, I won't be using this technique for simple erasing any more.

If you haven't done it already, make sure to download the free Adobe illustrator cartoon inking template that I'm using throughout these Adobe Illustrator inking tutorial videos. You can download that digital inking template at:

...and here's a smaller version of today's video if you're having trouble viewing the larger version at the top of this post:

In case you missed them,
here are links to the first six
Adobe Illustrator Inking tutorial videos:


Thunderrobot said...

More Tutorials!!!!


Sherm said...

Thanks TR! There's two more coming this week ^_^

More comments = more videos!

Hey, everybody: Are you watching the big version at the top, or the YouTube version at the bottom?

Thunderrobot said...

I'm watching the Hi-rez

It loads really quickly for me, and looks great.

Julián Höek said...

nice tip about inking the hole hat even the parts we don't see in case the editor wants to move things around.
i'm watching the top ones and they load great!

Sherm said...

Hi Julian...I always try to put things in layers so the art director can move it without ruining it!

Thunder and Julian: Thanks for the feedback about the large videos!

jay fabares said...

these are great! I clean my work in illustrator, but it's always cool to see other ways of doing things :) i have been wanting to find a good video to show my friends about illustrator and I know they'll get a kick out of this! thank you!

Sherm said...

Hi Jay...It seems that everybody who works in Illustrator has their own way of doing things...glad to swap tips!

I really appreciate your nice words about the tutorial videos ^_^

FrankenBarry said...

Great tutorials... thanks for posting, Sherm! Big vrsion

Sherm said...

@ FrankenBarry...thanks!

...and thank you all for telling which vid yer watching! I wasn't sure if the large videos would load fast enough for poeple to watch them.

Anonymous said...


I was completely terrified of Adobe Illustrator with all the pens and brushes and fills it was a nightmare, but these tutorials are insightful and extremely helpful! Really Great!!

So just wanted to say Thanks Again for putting these videos up! They're a real help!


Sherm said...

Anonymous: you are very very welcome! ^_^

I love hearing from people like you that are gonna give Illustrator another try.

Brochure Printing said...

Thanks so much for sharing this! I've had a hard time using Illustrator before, but I'd really like to try again. This will be a great way to start!

Sherm said...

Hi Brochure...thanks for telling me that bit of good news. It makes me feel great to know that these vids might make illustration work a little easier for fellow artists ^_^

Edward said...

Hi Sherm. These tutorials are wonderful. I have been dabbling with illustrator for years, dipping into manuals now and again, but I have gained a lot of confidence watching your videos as well as learnt easy methods.
I am using the hi-res version and it loads and plays well. Thanks for taking the time to make these videos. You are a star!

Sherm said...

Hi Edward...thanks! That means a lot to hear that. That's why I made 'em! ^_^