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How to Make Selections in Adobe Illustrator CC

When learning how to work in Adobe Illustrator, you may have heard the old line “You have to select it to affect it,” meaning that if you want to apply a change to an object in Illustrator, you must have that object selected or no change will occur. Although making selections may sound simple, it can become tricky when you’re working on complicated artwork.

Here, you take a quick tour of anchor points (integral to the world of selections), the bounding box, and, of course, the selection tools. (Yes, Illustrator has several selection tools.)

Illustrator anchor points

To understand selections, you must first understand how Illustrator works with anchor points, which act like handles and can be individually selected and moved to other locations. You essentially use the anchor points to drag objects or parts of objects around the workspace. After you place anchor points on an object, you can create strokes or paths from the anchor points.

You can select several anchor points at the same time, as shown in this figure, or only one, as shown in the second figure. Selecting all anchor points in an object lets you move the entire object without changing the anchor points in relationship to one another. You can tell which anchor points are selected and active because they appear as solid boxes.

Multiple anchor points are selected.
Multiple anchor points are selected.
One anchor point is selected.
One anchor point is selected.

Illustrator bounding boxes

As a default, Illustrator shows a bounding box when an object is selected with the Selection tool. This feature can be helpful if you understand its function but confusing if you don’t know how to use it.

By dragging the handles, you can use the bounding box for quick transforms, such as scaling and rotating. To rotate, you pass the mouse cursor (without clicking) outside a handle until you see a rotate symbol and then drag.

If the bounding box bothers you, you can turn off the feature by choosing View→Hide Bounding Box.

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