What is Illustrator Isolation Mode and How to Use It

Isolation mode is a mode that you enter when you want to isolate and edit a group of graphics in Illustrator. It is helpful in the way of keeping certain graphics contained in a group and only allowing you to work on that group when you are in Isolation mode.

You can enter the Isolation Mode by double-clicking a group, right-clicking, through the Control panel, or the Layers panel.

My name is April, and I’ve been working in the graphic design field for 14+ years now. While some people may opt to use layers for different parts of graphics as you might in Photoshop, I prefer to utilize groups in the same layer. You can stack groups within groups within groups and more.

Isolation mode helps you isolate different parts of your graphic to work on, hence the word isolation. It’s a great way to work into the details of a design but also keep your work organized.

Let’s look further into it.

Key Takeaways

  • If you have groups nested within each other, you just keep double-clicking until you get to the group level you want.
  • When in Isolation Mode, all other objects and groups not in that specific group will be dimmed and locked.
  • To exit isolation mode in Illustrator, double-click on a space on the artboard or user interface background hit Escape, or through the Control panel

Note: The screenshots from this tutorial are taken from Adobe Illustrator CC Windows version.

What is Illustrator Isolation Mode

Illustrator Isolation mode is a mode that you enter into when you want to isolate a group or object. The mode isolates your editing abilities to just that group or sublayer. When you are in Isolation mode, all other objects, images, and graphics will be dimmed and locked from editing.

You will be able to tell you are in Isolation mode by the bar that appears at the top of the design area, just under your ruler, like this:

3 Ways to Use Illustrator Isolation Mode

There are three ways to utilize Isolation mode, I will go through each set of ways to do so.

Method 1: Using the Mouse

To enter isolation mode, you can directly double-click on the group or right-click and select Isolate Selected Group.

To exit isolation mode, you can double-click somewhere in the background where it is blank or right-click and select Exit Isolation Mode.

Method 2: Using the Control Panel

If you don’t see the control panel, go to Window > Control to open the panel. 

To enter isolation mode, find the Isolate Selected Object button and click it

To exit isolation mode, tap the Escape key on your keyboard.

Method 3: Using the Layers Panel

If you don’t see the Layers Panel, go to Window > Layers or use the keyboard shortcut F7:

To enter isolation mode, click the fly-out menu button in the upper right corner, and then click Enter Isolation Mode.

To exit isolation mode, click the fly-out menu button and select Exit Isolation Mode.

Tip: You can also use the arrows in the Isolation Mode bar that appears when you are in isolation mode, to navigate back through different layers and to Exit.

Final Thoughts

Isolation mode is very handy when building logos and graphics in Illustrator. I am partial to just double-clicking to enter into and out of Isolation mode because it works best for my workflow.

Have you ever used Isolation Mode in Illustrator? What were you creating and was it for fun or work? Let me know in the comments below.

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