How to Duplicate a Layer/Object in Adobe Illustrator

By avoiding repeatedly drawing the same shapes and images, duplicating objects in Illustrator enables users to quickly construct complex designs, develop patterns, and save countless hours.

Adobe Illustrator has numerous methods for duplicating objects and layers, including straightforward drag-and-drop operations and a number of specialized tools.

My name is Aly, I have been using Adobe Illustrator for over five years and am Adobe certified. In today’s article, I will be showing you how you can easily duplicate a layer/object in Illustrator. 

Key Takeaways

  • Artboards and layers are different. Duplicating layers and duplicating artboards are not the same things.
  • In Adobe Illustrator, you can have many artboards, but you can also add several layers to a single artboard.

How to Duplicate a Layer in Adobe Illustrator

There are three ways to duplicate a layer in Adobe Illustrator. No matter which method you choose, the first step is to open the Layers panel. 

You can locate the Layers Panel on the right side toolbar. If you don’t see the Layers panel, you can open the Layers panel from the overhead menu Window > Layers or use the keyboard shortcut F7

Now you can choose one of the methods below to duplicate the layer. 

Method 1: Duplicate the layer from the hidden menu

Step 1: Select the layer you wish to duplicate from the Layers Panel at this point. Try clicking the layer to select it. In my example, you can see that I have layer 2 selected.

Step 2: Now that your layer is selected, click on the hidden menu on the Layers panel to see more options.

Step 3: Select Duplicate “Layer 2” from the menu. Keep in mind that the name of the layer you choose to duplicate will appear here. “Layer 2” is the name of the currently chosen layer. For example, if your layer name is “shape”, the duplicate option will show as Duplicate “shape”. 

Once click on the duplicate option, your layer will be duplicated. 

Method 2: Drag to Create New Layer

Another way to duplicate the layer is to drag the selected layer to the Add a new layer icon on the Layers panel. 

Method 3: Duplicate shortcut

Select the layer you want to duplicate, hold the Option key (or Alt key on Windows), click the and drag the layer down to an empty space within the Layers panel to duplicate the layer. 

Now, what if you don’t want to duplicate the whole layer? If you want to duplicate part of the layer, you can select the objects within the layer and only duplicate the objects. 

How to Duplicate Objects in Illustrator

The easiest way is obviously to copy and paste using the keyboard shortcuts Command/Ctrl + C, and Command/Ctrl + V. But if you want to duplicate the object to a specific position, there’s a better way. 

Follow the steps below to learn how to easily duplicate an object in Illustrator.

Step 1: Select the object you want to duplicate. 

Step 2: Hold the Option/Alt key, click and drag the object to the position you want the duplicated object to be. If you want to vertically or horizontally align the duplicated object, hold both the Option/Alt and the Shift keys. Once the object is in the right position, you can let go of the mouse and keys. 

Tip: Take advantage of the keyboard shortcuts, as you excel more in Illustrator you will find that they are very helpful and will save you some time. You can always copy an object and place it in another artboard or illustrator tab. It doesn’t have to be placed on the same artboard. 

Final Thoughts

Learning how to duplicate a layer or object is essential to working in Adobe Illustrator. If you plan to use this program professionally or personally it is something that takes a few minutes to learn and will definitely help you later down the line and also save you time. 

Any questions about duplicating layers or objects in Adobe Illustrator? Leave a comment and let me know.

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