Frozen Copper Layers on Footprint


I have opened some footprints in the PCB footprint editor from a library (.pretty) that I have imported, however the Front and Back copper layers are frozen out, see here.

I can drag the copper, but cannot edit it.

I have checked the properties, here and move and place is set to free.

I am not sure what the issue is or where next to look to enable the layers?


On copper layers normally only pads are placed. (You can not place graphical items directly on copper. I tested it in kicad 4.0.2. I think this is true for all 4.x versions.)

As far as i remember i read somewhere that graphical elements on copper are discouraged within footprints because DRC can not handle them. (I’m not sure if copper zones can handle graphical elements in footprints)

If you have a usecase that really requires graphical elements on the copper layer, you can draw on any other layer and move it to the copper layer within the element properties dialog. (press e to open this dialog) Kicad will warn you that this is dangerous.
You can also use a text editor to move these elements to a copper layer. (make a backup first in case you screw this up.)


This is use case where I need graphical lines to be copper. This is a footprint from a library I imported. I do not know how the designer has done it?


Do you know whether this library was created as a native KiCAD library, or was it translated from some other EDA program?

@Rene_Poschl described one way to create a footprint like you showed: Create the geometry on a non-copper layer (silkscreen, margin, ECO, etc) using the “Graphics” tools. Save the footprint, then use a text editor to re-define the layer where the shapes are found. (And be careful with future updates to the footprint. Those graphic shapes, unexpectedly appearing on a copper layer, may disappear the next time you “Save” the footprint.)

The second way is to build-up the required shape from multiple, overlapping, SMT pads ALL HAVING THE SAME PAD NUMBER. This technique seems to be mentioned, if not discussed in depth, here on the Forum a time or two per year. Your second example appears to be an excellent candidate for this approach.



There are a few workarounds, none of them ideal. Arbitrary pad shapes should be in KiCad 5, so it may not be worth developing a better workaround.

If you have moved graphic lines to the copper layer, they can still be edited normally, unless it was created as a polyline, which can be displayed but the editor has no support for I think.