Tutorial for Layers

If you are not familiar with the concept of layers, please read this first: Concept of Layers

Reminder: a layer definition is not required for using a layer!

Create a Layer Definition

import ezdxf

doc = ezdxf.new(setup=True)  # setup required line types
msp = doc.modelspace()
doc.layers.add(name="MyLines", color=7, linetype="DASHED")

The advantage of assigning a linetype and a color to a layer is that entities on this layer can inherit this properties by using "BYLAYER" as linetype string and 256 as color, both values are default values for new entities so you can leave off these assignments:

msp.add_line((0, 0), (10, 0), dxfattribs={"layer": "MyLines"})

The new created line will be drawn with color 7 and linetype "DASHED".

Moving an Entity to a Different Layer

Moving an entity to a different layer is a simple assignment of the new layer name to the layer attribute of the entity.

line = msp.add_line((0, 0), (10, 0), dxfattribs={"layer": "MyLines"})
# move the entity to layer "OtherLayer"
line.dxf.layer = "OtherLayer"

Changing Layer State

Get the layer definition object from the layer table:

my_lines = doc.layers.get('MyLines')

Check the state of the layer:

my_lines.is_off()  # True if layer is off
my_lines.is_on()   # True if layer is on
my_lines.is_locked()  # True if layer is locked
layer_name = my_lines.dxf.name  # get the layer name

Change the state of the layer:

# switch layer off, entities at this layer will not shown in CAD applications/viewers

# lock layer, entities at this layer are not editable in CAD applications

Get/set the color of a layer by property Layer.color, because the DXF attribute Layer.dxf.color is misused for switching the layer on and off, the layer is off if the color value is negative.

Changing the layer properties:

my_lines.dxf.linetype = "DOTTED"
my_lines.color = 13  # preserves on/off state of layer

See also

For all methods and attributes see class Layer.

Check Available Layers

The LayerTable object supports some standard Python protocols:

# iteration
for layer in doc.layers:
    if layer.dxf.name != "0":
        layer.off()  # switch all layers off except layer "0"

# check for existing layer definition
if "MyLines" in doc.layers:
    layer = doc.layers.get("MyLines")

layer_count = len(doc.layers) # total count of layer definitions

Renaming a Layer

The Layer class has a method for renaming the layer, but has same limitations, not all places where layer references can occur are documented, third-party entities are black-boxes with unknown content and layer references could be stored in the extended data section of any DXF entity or in a XRECORD entity, so some references may reference a non-existing layer definition after the renaming, at least these references are still valid, because a layer definition is not required for using a layer.

my_lines = doc.layers.get("MyLines")

Deleting a Layer Definition

Delete a layer definition:


This just deletes the layer definition, all DXF entities referencing this layer still exist, if they inherit any properties from the deleted layer they will now get the default layer properties.


The behavior of entities referencing the layer by handle is unknown and may break the DXF document.

Deleting All Entities From a Layer

Because of all these uncertainties about layer references mentioned above, deleting all entities referencing a certain layer from a DXF document is not implemented as an API call!

Nonetheless deleting all graphical entities from the DXF document which do reference a certain layer by the layer attribute is a safe procedure:

key_func = doc.layers.key
layer_key = key_func("MyLines")
# The trashcan context-manager is a safe way to delete entities from the
# entities database while iterating.
with doc.entitydb.trashcan() as trash:
    for entity in doc.entitydb.values():
        if not entity.dxf.hasattr("layer"):
        if layer_key == key_func(entity.dxf.layer):
            # safe destruction while iterating