Example: Layers Tutorial

We take a tour of the Layers pane, learning how to manage layer display order, select layers, turn several layers on and off at the same time, alter opacity settings for one or more layers and how to change background color.


Windows 11 - Many topics in the User Manual feature screenshots using Windows 11.  Manifold works the same in Windows 11 and Windows 10, but Windows 11 screenshots will often show rounded corners to panes, dialogs and windows.



Consider the map above, which has six layers.  Four layers are turned off, and two layers are turned on for display.



With the focus on the map, we choose the Layers pane.


The Layers pane shows the six layers in the map and a virtual "layer," the background color used for the map window.   The Layers pane also provides virtual layers to display a North arrow, scale bar, legend, or grid in the map window: those virtual layers are not used in this example.


Empty boxes at the right margin indicate layers that are turned off.  Filled boxes indicate layers that are turned on for display.


The North Arrow, Scale Bar, and Grid virtual layers provide virtual overlays in map windows to show a north arrow, a scale bar, or a grid or latitude and longitude reticule over the window.  Those virtual layers are not used in this example.



We can toggle a layer's display status by clicking on the on/off box for that layer.  Above, we have just clicked the on/off box for the Red layer to turn it on for display.



The Red layer immediately appears in the map.



We can click the on/off box for the Yellow layer to turn it off.



The Yellow layer immediately disappears from the map.   Note that the map's layer tab indicates it is still the active layer, but it is now turned off for display.



To select a layer we Ctrl-click anywhere in the layer's row.  We Ctrl-click on the Red layer to select it.   Ctrl-clicking on a layer will toggle it to selected or not selected.  



When one or more layers is selected, the toolbar icons will be enabled.   Use these to move the selected layer to the top of the stack, up one level, down one level, to the bottom of the stack or to delete the layer from the window.  Commands on the toolbar will apply to all selected layers.


 The Delete button in the Layers pane toolbar does not delete the component from the project.  It simply removes it from appearing in the window.


 We Click the Move to Bottom button.



That moves the selected Red layer to the bottom of the display stack, just above the Background (which always comes last).


We Ctrl-click the Red layer to de-select it.



The result in the map is that we can no longer see the Red objects, because they are covered by the 100% opaque objects in the Blue layer.



We can double-click into the opacity setting of the Blue layer and change it to 80 (no need to enter the % character) to make the Blue layer partially transparent.



The result of applying 80% opacity to the Blue layer is to allow the Red layer to partially show through the Blue layer, as if the Blue layer objects were made of blue plastic that was about 20% transparent.



To change the background color we double-click into the Background color well.   In the illustration above we have changed the color to a light brown color.



The background in the window immediately changes from white color to the color we have specified.  This alters the appearance of the partially transparent Blue layer objects, because now their blue color is combined with the light brown color of the background.



As with other layers, we can completely turn off the background color layer by clicking the on/off box for the Background layer.  



When the background color is turned off the window displays a checkerboard pattern to indicate there is no background color, just full transparency.    Many graphics packages, for example, Adobe products like PhotoShop or the CS series, use a similar checkerboard pattern.   



The map contains three layers we haven't used.   These show example results in the Topology Overlays topic, but we do not use them here so we will delete all three.   We Ctrl-click on each of the three layers to select them all, and then we press the Delete button.



That deletes all three selected layers.  Deleting a layer from a map simply means removing the use of it as a layer in a map.  It does not delete those components from the project.    


We have also turned the background back on.



The map shows a display with fewer tabs, with only the remaining three layers appearing as tabs.



We turn the Yellow layer back on by clicking the on/off box for the Yellow layer.



The Yellow layer immediately appears in the map.    The Red layer is no longer visible, since it is below the opaque Yellow layer.


We will now demonstrate how the other toolbar controls also apply to all selected layers.



We select the Blue and the Red layers by Ctrl-clicking each in turn.


We now click the Move to Top button.



That moves both of the selected layers at the same time to the top of the display stack.



The display we see now shows the Blue layer on top with the Red layer next underneath as partially seen through the partially transparent Blue layer.   The Yellow layer is on the bottom, but since it is completely overlapped by the Red layer it is not seen through the Blue layer.


We can show more of the Yellow layer by turning off the upper layers.


Clicking the on/off box for either the Blue layer or the Red layer will turn both of them off.



Actions like clicking an on/off box of a selected layer to turn a layer on or off will apply to all selected layers.   This is a very convenient way to turn many layers on or off at the same time.



The Blue and the Red layer disappear.



We now Ctrl-click the Red layer to deselect it. and Ctrl-click the Yellow layer to select it.   We turn both the Blue layer and the Yellow layer on.



With 80% opacity in the upper Blue layer the Yellow layer is partially visible underneath.



We drag and drop another drawing, called Black Line, into the map as the lowest layer.  The new drawing contains a single thick black line.   This shows how areas in the Blue layer are partially transparent but areas in the Yellow layer are fully opaque.



We now double-click into the opacity setting for the Blue layer and change opacity to 75.



This changes opacity to 75% for all selected layers.     By selecting more than one layer we can change opacity for multiple layers at once.



The black line is now partially visible through both the Blue and Yellow layer areas.



Examples from other topics - The Red layer in this example shows the result of the Overlay : intersect operation.   Other layers use the same example data used in the Topology Overlays topic.

See Also

Getting Started


User Interface












Layers Pane


Info Pane


Layer Opacity




Topology Overlays