i want to make replicas of a complex illustration to play with color schemes but when I duplicate the artboard all the layers get jacked up. Is there a better way of doing this?
Instead of duplicating the artboard, you could create a new layer, then copy and paste the artwork onto a new artboard, thus keeping the duplicated objects on a layer of their own. Doing it that way will ensure the original artboard's layer structure is not touched.
See this example:
Copy the layer(s) first.
Lock the original layer(s).
Then create a new artboard and move the new layer you created.
The unlocked layer(s) will move when copying an artboard (if that option is checked) while the locked layer(s) will remain on the original artboard. Only unlocked layers will move with any artboard.