Fireworks in Layers pg 4: Production Graphics with Wendy Peck at | WebReference

Fireworks in Layers pg 4: Production Graphics with Wendy Peck at


Fireworks in Layers: Layer Effects and Exports


Top: Effects can be found in the Effect window and (bottom) transparency control in the Object (Path) tab. The change will take place for any selected object.

So, what self-respecting layer would be caught dead without at least a dozen layer effects? And how can a designer work without transparency?

If you have been looking for effects and transparency in Fireworks layers, stop now. They are not there. They are not there because they would be a total waste of space. Fireworks assigns effects at the object level, which is a pretty impressive substitute, and one of the reasons I advise using layers lightly. Since you can set transparency and effects on each object, there is no need to separate the objects as there is in a raster program. Objects on the same layer can have many different effects and varied transparency.

The image at the left shows the effects that you would expect to see, but note that they appear in the Effect window.

Transparency is also handled object by object (remember you can select multiple objects and apply effects or transparency to all of the selected objects at one time). Click on the Object tab in the object control panel. The drop down box at the top left corner of the window is the transparency control, identified by the familiar checkered background. Select your object or objects, then change the value of the transparency with the drop down slider or by typing a value.



Images on separate layers can be exported as individual graphics.

Set the attributes for layers (they cannot be set individually for this function) in the Optimize window.

Exporting layers as files
With a little planning, this feature could save you so much time. The general concept here is that you can automatically create a graphic file from the contents of each layer.

At the left, I have included a sample image with four rectangles. Each rectangle has been placed in a separate layer, and named to reflect the color of the rectangle on that layer.

In the optimize window, set the attributes, like file type and compression or color level for the images you will generate. Unfortunately, you cannot specify each layer individually (see below for a solution).

Now select File > Export >Layers > Layers/Frames to Files from the main menu. Specify a location for the files. Make sure that Files From option is set to Layers and that the Trim Images option is active in the Export Special window (this trims excess background from your images).

When you check the location that you specified, you will see files that carry the same names as the layer names. See the names with the files below.


I like this feature – very handy if you plan ahead. There is one more nice touch though. Fireworks will only generate files for visible layers. So if you want a quick way to generate a few pieces of your document, turn off the visibility for any layer you do not want and export as above.

Finally, remember that we could only set the optimization once for all layers. You can use the visible/invisible layer feature to work around this limitation. Suppose you have 6 layers, and 4 of them should be exported as GIF files and two as JPG files. Turn off the visibility for the JPG bound layers and generate the GIF files. Change the optimize settings, turn of the layers containing the objects you exported as GIF files and export again. It is a solution, but a caution – the slice feature for creating graphics is designed for specifying individual optimization for your graphics. In most cases, slicing your image will be faster and more effective than the layer export feature when variations are required.

So, there you have it. You can save plenty of time working with layers in Fireworks. As with any worthwhile function, though, it will take some time to use layers automatically. Force yourself. You may have to slow down for the next image or two that you create, but once you have the concept of layers, and how they operate, firmly in your mind, you will wonder how you worked without them.


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Fireworks in Layers Tutorial Index

Fireworks in Layers: No Frames Please
Layer Basics
Working with Layers
Layer Effects and Exports

Front page234

Created: September 14, 2000
Revised: September 14, 2000