Using Layers to Organize and Compare Information

The Layers feature in Bluebeam Revu makes it easier to view and work on complex documents. Layers can contain PDF content, images and markups. Any markups within a layer can easily be transferred to another layer. Once your layers have been created, you can also easily toggle their visibility on and off from the Layers tab.

Unlike most other programs with Layers (like CAD or photo-editing software), the display arrangement of PDF layers cannot be changed.

Layers are incredibly versatile. Here are a few ways that you can use them:

  • Do you have multiple team members marking up a document?
    • Add each member’s markups to their own layer, then toggle visibility as needed to focus on one reviewer at a time.
  • Do you have multiple PDF drawings of the same area that you want to compare?
    • Add all of them to a single layered PDF. When adding a layer from a page, change the colors of each layer to easily see the differences between them.
  • Do you have a drawing with multiple floors?
    • Create a layer for each floor. When adding a layer from a page, change the opacity or blend mode of each layer to see where each floor is in relation to the other. Use the Isolate function to view each floor individually.
  • Do you have a drawing with markups from multiple disciplines?
    • Create a layer for each discipline’s markups. Use the visibility button to focus on each discipline one at a time, or use layer configurations to compare specific disciplines to each other.

How Do I Create Layers?

There are two types of layers you can create: either a blank layer or a PDF content layer. The Revu Help will show you how to do both. You can even create a new layered PDF from existing PDFs.

When creating a layer from a PDF, you will be able to change various settings for each layer including the color, blend mode, opacity and more. Note that these settings cannot be changed once the layer is created.

Feel free to set up your own layers, then try out the tips listed here.

The Layers Tab

As you may have noticed while creating your layers, the Layers tab contains all of the buttons and options needed to manipulate and edit layers.

By default, the Layers tab is in the left panel, and its keyboard shortcut is Alt+Y.

  • Double-click on the current layer name to give it a different name.
  • If the name of a layer is in gray text, it means that the layer does not contain markup or PDF content.
  • An eye next to a layer indicates that the layer is visible. Click on it, and the eye, as well as the content of the layer, will disappear. Click again to make the layer reappear.
    • This is useful for comparing layers to each other, or for building plans with multiple levels.
  • If you right-click on a layer and select Markup Layer, new markups will automatically be assigned to this layer. This will save you time spent on manually assigning markups to layers.
  • Click and drag to move a layer both horizontally and vertically. Use vertical movement to arrange the order of layers, and horizontal movement to create child (or sub) layers.
    • When a layer is dragged underneath and to the right of a layer, you can create a collapsible group of layers:
      1. Click on a layer and hold.
      2. Drag the layer so that it is vertically underneath the desired parent layer.
      3. Drag the layer to the right to make it a child (or sub-item) of the parent layer.

        You can now click on the arrow left of the parent layer to expand or collapse its child layers.

        Look out for an arrow that indicates where your layer will be placed.
    • Use right-click > Isolate on a layer to view the layer by itself. (All other layers will become invisible).
    • Click on the arrows next to the Add New Layer and Add Layer from Page buttons to open a menu. The options here will allow you to quickly place a layer in the desired location.
      • These options are most useful when other layers are already on the page. To use these options, select a layer in the Layers tab, then use the one of the following commands:
        • Add Before… places the new layer above the highlighted layer.
        • Add After… places the new layer below the highlighted layer.
        • Add Child… places the new layer below and to the right of the highlighted layer, and makes the highlighted layer a parent of the new layer.
        The Add New Layer button (not the arrow) will add a new layer underneath a highlighted layer. If no layer is highlighted, the new layer will be added to the bottom of the list.
Layer Configuration

A layer configuration is essentially a saved set of visibility settings. For example, if there are particular groups of layers that you are comparing often, save each group as a configuration, and use the configuration dropdown menu in the Layers tab to easily switch between them.

You can learn how to use layer configurations from the Layer Visibility section in Revu Help.

Add Layer Default Settings

If you already know how you want all of your new layers to behave or appear, take a look at the default layer settings. You can find them by clicking on Add Layer from Page  and then Edit Defaults.

These settings make setting up layers much faster. For example, you can:

  • Have your PDF content layers automatically set to different colors based on the order they are placed in.
  • Have your most-used blend mode applied to all layers.
  • Have your layer automatically named after the file name.
  • Offset or rotate a PDF by a specified value.
The default layer settings are perfect when your documents all follow the same format, or when your layers are all related to the same drawing. If you experiment with them enough, you can find many ways to save yourself time!

Layered PDFs – This section compiles all information on layered PDFs contained in the Revu Help.

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