PI6 Top Ten Layer Manager Tricks

Patches -- 73 objects!Believe it or not, there are 73 objects making up the little girl and her bunny shown at left. When you have that many objects in a base image, it can be very confusing to identify, select, group, align and stack objects.

This tutorial shows you what I think are the top 10 things you should know about working with the Layer Manager. They can make working with objects a lot easier and faster.

If you're a veteran PI user, you may already know most or all of these tips, but it's been my experience that most people aren't aware of just how flexible the Layer Manager is in manipulating objects.

Before I get started, here's a screen shot of some of the thumbnails for the objects making up this image. They range from tiny dots for the eyes, to fine stitching lines, to larger shapes for the head, legs, arms and clothing, and some text.

Object Thumbnails in Layer Manager

Tip #1 You can name the objects in the Layer Manager. You aren't stuck with the default object names. To give the objects more meaningful names, double click on the "Obj-#" text, type in the object name and then hit Enter. As you can see below, Obj-14 has been renamed Dress Front.

Rename object in Layer Manager

Note that you can also name objects by right clicking on them in the base image and choosing Properties. From the General tab, select the default name, type in a new name and hit Enter. The object name will also change in the Layer Manager's thumbnails.

Tip #2 You can select multiple objects in the Layer Manager by selecting one thumbnail, then holding down on the Shift key while selecting other thumbnails. In this way you can select entire rows of thumbnails.

select multiple objects

Tip #3 You can drag thumbnails around in the Layer Manager. For example, I want to group the black text object (Obj-6) and the orange text object (Obj-5), so I need to select both thumbnails at the same time. Unfortunately, the Dress Front and Obj-4 are between them. If I select Obj-6 and hold down on the Shift key, I'll select all 4 objects. One way around that is to drag Obj-5 next to Obj-6, as shown below. Now I can select them both, right click and Group them.

drag thumbnails, then group them

I should tell you that you don't really have to drag the thumbnails next to each other to select them both. There's another way to do it. You can select one, then hold down on the Ctrl key and select another one without selecting everything in between.

Tip #4 Many of the Object menu commands, and commands that you can perform by right clicking on an object are also available via the Layer Manager. As you can see in the image above, right clicking on any thumbnail lets you manipulate objects in a variety of ways, including Duplicating, Merging, Merging as a Single Object, Deleting, Selecting All Objects, Grouping objects, Ungrouping them, Aligning them and Arranging (changing the stacking order of) them.

Tip #5 You can sort objects by depth (object number) or name. Right click on any thumbnail and choose an option. This makes identifying and selecting objects for Grouping or Merging together a lot easier. For example, there are many small pieces making up the girl's dress. Naming these objects so that they all start with "Dress" makes it easy to sort them by Name -- all the thumbnails for the objects that start with Dress will be next to each other.

Sort by Name

Tip #6 Layer Manager thumbnails provide a lot of useful information about objects. Icons in the upper left corner of the thumbnails tell you if an object is a Path, Image or Text object, or whether the object is part of a Group of objects.

icons give info about object type

On the upper right side of the thumbnails are other icons. The open eye icon indicates that the object is visible in the base image. Click on it to close the eye and make the object invisible. Be careful with this option, because if you save an image with the object's eye closed, it will not appear in your saved image. The open lock icon indicates that the object can be moved freely within the base image. Click on it to close the lock hasp and lock the object to its location within the base image.

Tip #7 You can specify how Grouped objects are displayed in the Layer Manager. In the example above, even Grouped objects retain their own thumbnails. However, if you want to show one thumbnail only for Grouped objects, you can do so by toggling into "Hide Group Members" mode. Then you'll only see one thumbnail for the entire Group of objects.

Toggle into Hide Group Members mode

Tip #8 There are 2 ways to display thumbnails in the Layer Manager. Toggle in and out of "Show or Hide List View" to see which type of display you like better.

Toggle in or out of Show List View

Tip #9 You can search for a particular object easily from within the Layer Manager. For example, with 73 objects in this image, it may be difficult to find the little heart object making up the girl's necklace. So I right clicked on the View Menu Commands button and selected Find:

To find an object, click Find

When the Find dialog box opened I typed in Heart Necklace and clicked OK.

type in search terms to Find

And bingo, the thumbnail for the Heart Necklace object is selected for me, automatically.

Heart Necklace object selected automatically

Note that several other important features are available from the View Menu Commands dropdown list. Especially take note of EasyPalette Options, which opens a dialog box from which you can tweak how thumbnails will appear, including whether they will be framed, show a caption, if animation will show, etc.

EasyPalette Options

Unfortunately, there is no way to change the gray around the thumbnails to a different color. It can be very difficult to see dark colored objects against the default gray, but so far I've not been able to find a way to change it. Not from a lack of trying either. And finally....

Tip #10 You can change the size of the thumbnails from the default of 64 X 64 pixels. This can be a real help if you have impaired vision or you're working with lots of tiny objects. Just select another size from the Thumbnail Size dropdown list.

change size of thumbnails

I hope these tips have given you some ideas that will help you to use the Layer Manager more efficiently.

This tutorial uploaded 4/20/01

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