I'm not sure I'm using the right language, but I'm stumped on how to google for this. Basically, I want to take a layer containing multiple objects, duplicate it, and apply effects to it. I have to do this four times, but what I really need is to have the original be linked to these new duplicates.

If I shift the size, placement, etc of the shapes, I want the effect duplicates to mimic those changes. I can do this with Effect > Transform, which makes multiple copies that still have the parent's properties linked to them, but I can't target those copies with the various effects I want to do. Like, I want one of the copies to have a free distort and color change which will make a nice shadow. Am I out of luck trying to do this dynamically?

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    Too many non-descriptive words for me to understand. Can you clarify, maybe include pictures. I mean you started with layers, then objects, then duplicates (of layers or objects I do not know), then went to shapes, then effect duplicates (no clue what "effect duplicates" are), then to parents. Maybe someone else already understands, but sorry I don't. Voting to close as Unclear. – Ryan Oct 29 '14 at 15:58
  • Have you tried Symbols, then applying your effects to symbol instances? – Scott Oct 29 '14 at 15:59
  • Sorry Ryan! I'll try to show what I mean. I start out with the blue square: i.imgur.com/490VwFC.png Then I want to make another copy and free distort and change the color overlay. However, if I make changes to the blue, I want the black and purple to reflect those changes too. – transformingandlost Oct 29 '14 at 16:03

With a vague understanding of the problem, here are some options:

  1. Use Symbols, get your base appearance then break or modify as needed.

  2. Use Graphic Styles, get your base appearance, then break or modify as needed.

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