How to create layers in Figma for NFT projects

There are so many design programs on the market it can be daunting to choose the right one. As you get started with your next NFT project, you’ll quickly realize that Figma is an excellent tool for creating layers. It’s an easy-to-use collaborative web-based design program that can be applied in various ways. This article will show you how to create layers in Figma. We’ll also share some tips and best practices for using layers in your projects. Let’s get started!

NFT layers in Figma! EzPz lemon squeezy.

What are layers?

Layers are aspects of digital image editing. Layers are like transparencies or films placed over or under an image to create interesting effects. Layers are integral parts of image editing software and can be found in Photoshop, Figma, and everything in between. First available in raster-based programs, layers later evolved with vector image editing, allowing further manipulation beyond basics.

Layers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some layer types are exclusive to specific programs. In contrast, others can be found as the backbone of most image editing software. Layers represent parts of an image that can be stacked, merged, or treated in their own way. Layers are like the building blocks of digital images. You can use them to create complex forms with many different components, or you could simply hide parts that aren’t needed by showing what’s necessary. 

how to create layers in figma, this image shows the amount of layers needed to create sparty the pittie punk.
A simple image can have many layers.

Layers allow you to work on a single layer while combining different images into your final product. You can use them to alter or add new content without having any fear that it will affect anything outside its specific boundaries. 

The standard layer in most programs is a transparent, rectangular image superimposed over other layers. Some tools require using the same total screen space as your final artwork. In contrast, others offer multiple size options for each individual effect, including opacity levels and blending modes amongst many other properties. A layer mask is a powerful tool for anyone who needs to make subtle changes. It lets you hide parts of the image and change colors or apply effects. Think of a layer mask as an editing tool that lets you experiment with different combinations without messing up the original.

Benefits of creating layers

Layers are like sheets of stacked acetate or film. They can be moved around, placed on top or below one another. They can be adjusted in a variety of different ways too. Outside of that, there are numerous reasons and benefits as to why you would want to create layers and use them in your digital art. First and foremost, layers are a great way of organizing elements in your artwork. Depending upon the software application you’re working with, you can group them as well. 

Layers are also an excellent non-destructive method to edit an image. That means that you can apply changes, transitions, effects, and more without ruining your initial impression. For example, suppose you’re working with a document and duplicating a layer. In that case, you can make adjustments without applying them to the initial image. Letting you quickly scrap an idea if you don’t like what you created.

This naturally flows into another benefit of working with layers: applying effects and various animations. Different graphics editing software allows for all sorts of different outputs. In video editing software, the use of layers lets the creator apply animations and transitions to elements in a composition, thus helping to create exciting artworks with depth and texture.

How to create layers in Figma

Now that we have a general idea of what layers are and how they work, we can create them. In this example, we’ll cover how to create layers in Figma. We’ll need to start with a new document. We can then shape the image we’re trying to make in that new document. If you don’t have an account, you’ll already be required to sign up. It’s relatively easy and takes a few moments. Follow the instructions, and when you’re done, you’ll be ready to get going. 

Once done, you’ll end up at your dashboard. The main screen in Figma. Begin by clicking the button labeled “New Design File.” That will take you into an empty document to begin creating layers. Once inside your new document, you’re going to see a few different things.

Most will be familiar if you’ve used any type of graphics software prior. Otherwise, all the layers and layer groups will be on the left side, up top is the main application navigation, and to the right is the document properties panel. 

As mentioned prior layers are like sheets of film that can be placed in any order. They can be stacked, aligned, grouped, and arranged. However, in Figma, layers also can take the shape of containers holding groups of layers within them. Called by a different name, Frames or Art-boards contain layers that can be used to set constraints and shape documents.

how to create layers in figma, this image shows the ordering of layers from background to foreground.
Layers sit on the X, Y, and Z axis like the z-Index in web design and front-end development.

You don’t need a frame or art-board to create layers in Figma. You can make them without one, but it’s recommended as a best practice, as you’ll see.

Keeping in mind that layers are stackable, it’s crucial to remember their ordering. If you’re a web developer or familiar with terms like the z-index, then layers can be looked at in that aspect as well. They go from the background to the foreground and vice versa.

In moving forward with this lesson to create layers, we can simply begin drawing. A new layer will be made automatically, and you’ll have the start of your very own digital artwork that you can use for an NFT or NFT collection. 

I personally like to start with an image in mind and build from there. I’ve typically used graphics editing software as an additional tool in my toolbox. I find it easier to have a concept in mind before diving into it. 

Quick sketches or random inspiration from the internet can be a great starting point. I can think through the production process and create shapes efficiently by having a starting point. Which is essential to note. Suppose you plan to use your art for commercial purposes, reproduce it in any way, or want a more organized and efficient approach. In that case, production processes or systems are critical.

how to create layers in figma, this image shows the overlapping of layers to create a finalized artwork.
Layers can be ordered from foreground to background. Shapes can overlap one another to create a final impression.

Digital artworks can take on many shapes and sizes. Depending on what you’re trying to create will determine the number of layers you need and how you organize your documents. If it’s something simple, then you’ll be able to get away with minimal layering. If it’s something more complex and requires additional elements or effects, then grouping can come in handy. Either way, it’s straightforward to get going.

Wrapping it up

Now that you know all about layers, it’s time to put them to use! With Figma, you can create unique designs with just a few simple steps. Start by creating any shape on the canvas and then add different shapes or images on top of that. You can even add text or icons to your design for extra flair. 

What will you create with all those layers? Show us in the comments below!

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