I need sometimes re-edit Illustrator files made by somebody else and i have noticed that all objects are in same layer and it's sublayers. Elements might be also combined with each others (texts are combined with background images for instance).

What is the purpose of this, how it is made and can elements "restored" back to original state (text is not combined with other elements)?

  • 2
    I don't think there is anyway to restore it to different layers, if you've had it that way before chances are you have to manually select the elements and place them onto different layers. If you mean some of the elements are merged then they definitely cannot be restored. they would have to be remade.
    – Far
    Nov 21, 2012 at 18:05

5 Answers 5


First check if the objects are grouped than you can simply ungroup them, else you need to redraw.


Are you trying to say that text has been flattened onto the image or they are in the same layer/group?

The arrangement of layers is certainly a subjective thing. There is no functional concern outside of the special case of groups (which also relates to clipping masks).

Appearance settings (effects and the like) can also be applied at the group or layer level. When reorganizing things you have to watch for those little shaded circles in the layers panel.

  • I think your second paragraph hits the nail on the proverbial head.
    – Scott
    Nov 21, 2012 at 21:07
  • It's almost embarrassing when I think about the debates I've had about layer organization :/ Nov 21, 2012 at 21:26

Some designers just tend to design everything on a single layer and use "bring forward" and "send backward" functions instead of layering. It tends to be old school designers who've been working with vector pre-layers. It's def bad practice nowadays, but such is life when you're collaborating.

  • Nat sure I'd call it "bad practice". It's merely a different method of working. Layers in vector files can be somewhat superfluous at times.
    – Scott
    Nov 22, 2012 at 1:43
  • Sure, "at times", but if you're working on something that say has a definite background and definite highlights, it makes a lot of sense to layer the file... especially if you're going to be working with someone else who wasn't involved in your initial process.
    – JamiePatt
    Nov 22, 2012 at 1:54

Yes, having all illustrator objects/paths in the same layer (and not just grouped) can be necessary when you need to export an SVG-file for the web.


I did this for a map with regions, where I needed all the small islands to be included in the exact same layer (and name). Otherwise the islands in that region would be read as it's own individual object/path.


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  1. Select the different objects you want to be in the exact same layer/path.
  2. Choose Object > Compund Path > Make (or cmd+8)
  3. Done!

Hope this was useful! :)


If I understand the question right, you mainly want to get pieces separated and organized.

If objects are in separate Sub-Layers, you can select each one you want in the pallet and choose Collect to New Layer and then drag that new Layer out on it's own, however, this does not help with objects within Groups.

For Grouped objects, I would just select each piece of text or whatever with the White Arrow tool, Cut, Create a New Layer, then Paste in Front (ctrl + F). — Seams to be the quickest way.

You could also use Select / Object / Text Objects to grab all type at once. Then Cut, make a New Layer, and Ctrl + F to paste in front.

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