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QuarkXPress has offered layers since version 5. The layers feature has unfortunately remained hidden and unused by many QuarkXPress users. This article can change all that — see some of the benefits of using layers along with some tips and tricks along the way.
There are many reasons to use layers. From a creative perspective, layers can add depth and flexibility, lots of flexibility. In fact, you can have up to 256 layers in a QuarkXPress layout, although I have yet to meet anyone that has come close to this number.
If you’ve used layers in graphics or image-editing applications, you will feel quite comfortable using layers in QuarkXPress, but the concept of layers in QuarkXPress is somewhat different. For instance, even if a top layer is showing you can select items on the underlying layers without having to select their respective layers. Perhaps the most significant concept difference is that layers apply to the entire layout rather than an individual page or spread.
This makes it much easier to maintain the look of the pages in a long layout but it’s also something to watch out for. Fortunately, it’s very easy to move, merge, and delete layers. In addition to the design benefits of layers you’ll find there are many production benefits. I will highlight the main ones.
Using Runaround with Layers
One of the best features of layers is the ability to let you try things out on a layout, risk free. Let your imagination go wild and really experiment. If you don’t like what you see, you can delete the layer. If you do like it, but want to go further, you can duplicate the layer and build upon it. Think of each layer as a building block, there are lots of building blocks available. One might be a text layer, another a picture layer, and the layers can interact with one another. It is with this interaction in mind that you might like to try out the ability to take the shape of an image and have some text run around this shape. This is nothing new, of course, but the ability to have the image disappear, leaving just an outline against the text, spices things up. All you need to do is follow the simple steps below.
With a new or existing QuarkXPress layout, go to window > layers to open the layers palette.
Click new layer and double-click the layer you just created (Layer 1). This will prompt the layer attributes dialogue.
In the name field, name the layer with a name that is identifiable, such as Story. It’s a good habit to name every layer, so you can easily tell on which layer you are working.
Create a fairly large text box and add text styling. This effect often looks best with small type and narrow spacing.
To see how the text will look, insert text if you have some. Alternatively, you can use some random filler text by clicking in the text box with the content tool and choosing utilities > jabber.
GLUON makes a really great text Greeking product that goes well beyond simple jabber.
Go back to the layers palette and click on the new layer button again to create another layer. You should now have a default layer, a layer above it called Story, and another layer called Layer 2. You may have a layer number higher than 2 if your layout already has other layers.
Create a picture box using one of the picture box tools and then choose file > import picture.
We’re creating an interesting shape for the text to wrap, so the ideal image to use here would be a simple image with, say, a white background or an image with a runaround already applied.
If your image does not have a runaround applied, go to item > modify > runaround and choose the most suitable runaround from the type drop-down menu. In the example below I have already used some layers and applied content.
For the image I used a native Photoshop file. This is where things can get really interesting from a creative standpoint because with QuarkXPress 6.5 and higher you can use layered Photoshop files alongside layers in a QuarkXPress layout. This allows you to display different Photoshop layers on different QuarkXPress layers.
Using these features together, you can imagine some of the fantastic design possibilities this opens up. To learn more about using Photoshop files in QuarkXPress, check out the article Getting the Most of Photoshop Files in QuarkXPress, published in X-Ray Magazine, V4N4.