Adobe CS5 Illustrator Selection Tool Summary - dummies

By Jennifer Smith, Christopher Smith, Fred Gerantabee

To understand Adobe Creative Suite 5 Illustrator selection tools, you must first know about anchor points and bounding boxes. Take a quick tour of the anchor points (integral to the world of selections), the bounding box, and the selection tools.

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, or only one. 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.

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 on 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.

Selection tools

Illustrator CS5 offers five selection tools:

  • Selection: Selects entire objects or groups. This tool activates all anchor points in an object or group at the same time, allowing you to move an object without changing its shape.

  • Direct Selection: Selects individual points.

  • Group Selection: Hidden in the Direct Selection tool in the Tools panel and used to select items within a group. This tool adds grouped items as you click objects in the order in which they were grouped. This selection tool becomes more useful to you as you find out about grouping objects in Illustrator.

  • Magic Wand: Use the Magic Wand tool to select objects with like values, such as fill and stroke colors, based on a tolerance and stroke weight. Change the options of this tool by double-clicking it.

  • Lasso: Use the Lasso tool to click and drag around anchor points you want to select.