Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Illustrator's "Isolation Mode"


No, this isn't where Illustrator is sent to a corner by itself for a time out! Isolation mode is one of the coolest features of Illustrator. It's been around since Illustrator CS2, but it's been tweaked a bit in each new version.

Simply put, isolation mode lets you "isolate" an object, group, or layer so that you can work on the object, group or layer without fear of accidentally changing the surrounding artwork. It's a great alternative to constantly ungrouping items or repeatedly locking and unlocking objects or layers.

Isolation mode is pretty simple to use. Just double-click on an object or a group with the Selection tool. You'll see the rest of the objects on the page dim, and a breadcrumb navigation path appear at the top of the active window.

Now you can edit the isolated object or group to your heart's content. When you're finished, either click on the breadcrumb navigation trail to back out of isolation mode, or just double-click somewhere outside of the isolated objects.

Many people don't realize that individual layers or sublayers can be isolated as well. Just select a layer or sublayer in the Layers panel, and choose Enter Isolation Mode from the Layers panel menu.

18 comments:

Justin Putney said...

Cute graphic!

Anonymous said...

Illustrator CS 3- though I am finding written everywhere that isolation mode can be activated by double clicking on object, group or layer - I have found this does not work in case of object unless you right click n convert that object first into group.

Keith Gilbert said...

@Anonymous: You are correct. In Illustrator CS3, you can't isolate a path object, only groups.

Anonymous said...

how can I turn this iSOLATION MODE off. It keeps poping up when I am not interested?
Vincent London UK

Keith Gilbert said...

To disable quick access to Isolation Mode via double-clicking, just choose Preferences > General, and deselect the "Double Click To Isolate" option.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU for posting how to turn that darn thing off! I guess I'm just use to the old-fashion way of doing things. :o)

Anonymous said...

Thank you the valuable info. I was also irritated with this "isolation mode" turning on even I don't really need it.

Anonymous said...

Thank You for telling how to turn it off. It was coming on every single time I selected something, even without double clicking. Very annoying!

pking said...

You can also exit (and enter) isolation mode by clicking on the upper right arrow on top bar of the layers menu. Just choose from the drop down items. Yep, I agree, it's an annoying feature, but could be useful when you get used to it. So you might not want to turn it off in preferences just yet.

Nicola said...

Anyone knows a way to exit Isolation Mode from Javascript?
When I try to export a document to png through Javascript, if the doc was on Isolation, the not-isolated parts are washed out on my png...
thanks

The Vintage Mannequin said...

Thanks for that. Is saving me a load of time and frustration.

graphicaliber said...

Is there a way to disable the "dim effect" where other groups/layers are desaturated while in Isolation Mode? Groups + Isolation Mode made it very efficient to design independent objects, but the dim makes it very difficult to edit colors in respect to the entire illustration. Argh!

Keith Gilbert said...

@graphicaliber: I don't think there is any way to turn off the "dim" effect. I never thought about it, but I can see why that might be desirable.

Anonymous said...

None of the techniques work to turn off isolation mode. The lock is still greyed out. The "Exit Isolation" is greyed out in the main menu, the arrow in upper right of Layers menu. Preferences - double click is off. HELP!

Anonymous said...

Anyone figured out how to turn off the Dim effect? I don't even know how I managed to turn it on!

Anonymous said...

you didn't turn 'dimming' on, it's permanently on and can't be deactivated.

Jacory said...

in "Layer Options" there is a dimming option.

to get to it, click that upper right arrow then click "options for layer..."

Anonymous said...

Isolation mode rocks. I'm a long-time user and it took me a bit to get used to it, but it's a killer option. That being said, I do wish they would allow us to disable the dimming... What I do is select my group, do a "select>inverse" and then "lock." While this sacrifices the hierarchy of lock/unlock with which I normally work, this was the way we used to isolate things in the pre-isolation mode days.