When I wanted to place colored objects on my document today, no color would be visible, although the objects definitely had color associated with them. That's when I found out about the Outline/Preview function. However, some sublayers show in preview mode, some don't. When I go into Preview mode, those layers disappear. Other layers are still there. No matter what I do with the layers menu, view menu, or eyeball icons on the layers pallette,I still can't get those particular sublayers to show in Preview. Ctrl click on the eyeball(s), Ctr + Alt + Y or Ctr + Alt + A does nothing. What is up?

This must be some new setup protocol that I'm missing? I'm new to Illustrator in Creative Cloud, though I used to do projects in CS3 and CS4 - I've never used more than basic functions. Perhaps I'm not setting up my layers properly? (I'm drawing a schematic of a client's house so that I can label the electrical outlets, switches, etc. - I'm just creating one line at a time, and each line is a sublayer of one of my original layers - I think this is okay?)

  • Sounds like you're going into outline view. When you do that, you will only see the outline of each object/image and will not see any colors. It's fine that each line is its own shape (sublayer). It's hard to know what's going on without seeing a screenshot or knowing what preview mode you're using.
    – AndrewH
    Nov 23, 2020 at 20:49

1 Answer 1


It is possible for some layers/sublayers to be in Outline mode while others are in Preview mode.

Check the eyeball icon... if it's got a solid iris, it's in Preview mode.. if the iris is vacant, then it's in Outline mode.

enter image description here

Toggling the View Menu for Preview/Outline will not toggle sublayers. Sublayers will stay in the mode they are currently in.

Toggling the View menu item only toggles main layers. It doesn't even toggle objects on a layer. The menu only sees top level layers, that's all.

To toggle individual layers/sublayers between Preview/Outline modes, simply hold the Command/Ctrl key and click the eyeball icon in the Layers Panel.

Ctr + Alt + Y or Ctr + Alt + A does nothing. What is up?

Because these shortcuts are for Pixel Preview and Select All on Artboard respectively. They have nothing to do with Preview/Outline mode. (Unless Adobe recently changed them, which is very rare.)

  • I used the Ctrl key on the eyeball of the main layer earlier, no results. Each eyeball on each sublayer shows that it's in preview mode, but some layers are visible on the page and some just disappear. Ctrl clicking on the individual sublayers acts only to make the eye, and the layer, disappear, and does not toggle the outline/preview mode on the sublayer. ??
    – Cat Cook
    Nov 23, 2020 at 21:33
  • @CatCook No clue then... would need direct file examination and that's really off topic. Offhand, all I could guess would be there's a mask at work - hiding portions of the artwork. Masks are indicated in the Layers Panel by an underline beneath the layer name -- dashed/dotted underline for an Opacity mask, and solid underline for a Clipping Mask.
    – Scott
    Nov 23, 2020 at 21:37
  • No mask(s)! I'll keep on looking... Thank you, Scott, for your generous and informed help!
    – Cat Cook
    Nov 23, 2020 at 22:10
  • Oh! Oh! I was thinking in the shower, what is the difference between outline and preview? Color. The lines had no COLOR! They were clear, they only showed up in outline, not preview, because they had no color. The way I drew this picture was I would draw some lines that were exactly 90 degrees and 180 degrees, and then copy and paste them and extend the length of the lines to suit the wall that I was drawing. I must have drawn one or more lines with no color, and then copied and pasted modified versions of these lines all over the drawing. My great sin was in operating in outline mode. Wahoo!!
    – Cat Cook
    Nov 23, 2020 at 22:47
  • All of my lines are repopulating as I give them color, that is, black, in this case. Yay!
    – Cat Cook
    Nov 23, 2020 at 22:53

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