I would like to know how to set it so that when I start a new shape with the pen tool in Illustrator it creates a new layer every time. I can't seem to find the setting for it, can anyone be of assistance?

  • If it turns out that you really need it, maybe there is a plugin out there that will do it for you. Otherwise, you can assign a button or key command to create a new layer. – 13ruce Jan 23 '19 at 21:02

There's no such setting. Illustrator simply does not function that way. You may be accustomed to Photoshop creating new layers for everything. Those are necessary in Photoshop. They aren't needed in Illustrator.

The only time Illustrator creates a new Layer is when the user tells it to. In other words, if you want a new layer you have to manually create it.

Paths do create new objects though. The Layers Panel in Illustrator is really a "Layers and Objects" panel. Each layer contains objects. If you don't see the objects you can adjust the Layer Panel Settings via the Panel Option item in the Layer Panel flyout menu:

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As long as that top checkbox is not ticked, your layers panel will show objects.

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You can create a new layer manually and then click-drag objects from one layer to another:

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And you can always create a new layer, highlight it in the Layers Panel and then any new objects will be placed on that layer.

But Illustrator, by default, simply won't create layers for you ever. It's possible to create the most complex, intricate, piece of artwork using Illustrator and have it all be on one single layer.

Illustrator layers are there as a tool for the user to make object management and organization easier. Illustrator layers, unlike Photoshop, aren't a technical necessity to maintain the appearance of whatever is being created.

In Photoshop, without a separate and independent type layer, the type would not be editable after it's created. In Illustrator, since type is an "object", it's always editable until you tell it not to be. Things like that.

All that being posted...

Photoshop's default shortcut for a new layer without dialog is Command/Ctrl+Option/Alt+Shift+N.

Illustrator's shortcut for the same function is Command/Ctrl+L.

How annoying it is that they use different shortcuts? I merely edit AI's shortcut to match Photoshop's Shortcut.

In Illustrator...

  • Choose Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts
  • In the dialog which opens choose Menu Commands from the dropdown menu at the top.
  • Scroll down to Other Panel and expand that item
  • Find New Layer and click the default shortcut (Command/CtrL-L), then click the little (x) to remove the shortcut
  • Place the cursor in that little text area and hit Command/Ctrl+Option/Alt+Shift+N on the keyboard
  • Click Okay (you may need to give your new keyboard configuration a name)

After that both Photoshop and Illustrator will use the same shortcut for "New Layer without a dialog".

You could easily edit Photoshops shortcut to match Illustrators. However in Photoshop Command/Ctrl+L brings up the Levels dialog, which I find way more useful. Since Illustrator has no default function using Command/Ctrl+Option/Alt+Shift+N I just find it best to alter AI's shortcut. And after years of use..... it's become like a muscle tick for me to use that shortcut for a new layer anyway.

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