When working in Illustrator, I tend to work on a single layer – especially if it’s an illustrative piece. Sometimes I reach a point where I need the different elements (paths) in the design to be on their own separate layers. This might be so that I can export the file as a PSD to use in Photoshop, Corel painter or After Effects, or just to organise everything better. With the easy technique outlined in this tutorial, you can avoid having to manually select elements to use the ‘Arrange>, send to current layer’ method. If you can’t see the images below properly, click to view at full size. 1. So, you have your image as shown below, all bunched up on one layer. Open the layers palette and select the layer. Now click on the little arrow to open the flyout menu. 2. On the flyout menu, click release to layers(sequence). Now select all the new layers you have created. Click on the first sub layer (layer 2 in my example) then hold down shift (this selects them all from top to bottom, if you just want release a few sub layers, hold down Ctrl) and click on the bottom layer, which is layer 24 in my example. 3. Now click and hold the layers you have selected, and drag them above your original layer (layer 1) You now have all your paths distributed onto separate layers as shown in the image below Maybe now you’ve distributed all the paths to different layers you find you have too many ‘bitty’ layers. Lets say i want to merge the leaf flourish elements onto one layer. Select the layer you want to merge, then hold down Ctrl to select the others at the same time. From the layers palette fly out menu, click Merge selected You may find you need to reorder the layers now – bring some up ‘higher’ . To do this just select the layer in the layers palette and drag it up or down until its in the right place. When you’ve finished, you can export your design to use in photoshop with all your layers intact, by choosing File>,Export and selecting the PSD format to save in. A options dialog will appear after you have hit save, make sure you have selected ‘write layers’ Now, when you open your image in Photoshop or other raster software to edit or enhance, the layers will be intact and you can work on separate elements of your design. I like to use layer styles within Photohop to add texture, drop shadows, blends and other effects. You can also open layered PSDs in Corel Painter, which is a nice program to turn your hard edged vector illustration into something a little more painterly. Thanks so much! As an Illustrator novice, I didn’t know how to convert my stroked path into a new layer, but after I read your tutorial, I was all set. But how would you deal with PATHs which are under the main layer? (this is what i’m hoping to separate to bring into photoshop or after effects)… such as: honestly i was stuck before bumping into this blog but now…………..hhhmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…..fine! keep it up OH BOY! having to send 221 layers to AE, your tip saved me a lot of time and frustration! Thank you so much! Sometimes most layers work but I still get some kind of stubborn layer that is still grouped beneath another layer? And even when I try to release it, I get yet another layer that’s still grouped. Any way to put a stop to that? Thanks!! This is absolutely amazing. Thank you so much. I wish I had known about this a few years ago when I manually copied several hundred paths from Illustrator into Photoshop as smart objects. Source.