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Understanding the difference between targeting and selecting

From: Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials

Video: Understanding the difference between targeting and selecting

So we know that it's possible to add attributes or Live Effects directly to a group. But the question you might be asking yourself is, how does Illustrator know when you want to apply an effect to a group or to the actual objects themselves? The answer lies in understanding the difference between something called selecting inside of Illustrator and targeting. Let's understand exactly what those two different terms mean. We've already established that inside of Illustrator we have these two concepts of structure and presentation. Structure refers to an object's path, meaning the anchor points and the actual control handles.

Understanding the difference between targeting and selecting

So we know that it's possible to add attributes or Live Effects directly to a group. But the question you might be asking yourself is, how does Illustrator know when you want to apply an effect to a group or to the actual objects themselves? The answer lies in understanding the difference between something called selecting inside of Illustrator and targeting. Let's understand exactly what those two different terms mean. We've already established that inside of Illustrator we have these two concepts of structure and presentation. Structure refers to an object's path, meaning the anchor points and the actual control handles.

And the presentation refers to do things like fill, strokes, and Live Effects. Now in Illustrator, if I use, for example, my regular Selection tool like I have right here, and I click on an object then I ask you, "Hey, what did I just do?" You will say, "Oh, you selected that object." This is true, but I have also done something else. I've also targeted that object, and let's understand the key difference here. Targeting something refers to an object's presentation. Selecting something refers to an object's structure, meaning that when I select something, I'm actually selecting the physical path.

I am selecting the structure of that artwork. That means, for example, if I want to copy and paste something, by selecting it, I am selecting the underlying paths and I'm copying and pasting the path somewhere else. If I want to resize something or rotate something, I select it, meaning I am actually selecting the path itself, and I am then rotating or scaling the path. However, I target something when I want to actually change the attributes of that object, meaning if I want to change a fill or a stroke or I want to apply some kind of a fill or stroke or an effect to a group, I have to actually target it.

Now it would be really silly inside of Illustrator if I have to have two completely separate set of tools: one set of tools to select things and then another set of tools to target things. I mean here inside of Illustrator, we already have two or even three different arrow tools. We certainly don't need more. So it's important to realize that instead of Illustrator, whenever you select something, Illustrator automatically targets something as well. How does it know what to target? Well, there is something inside of Illustrator called Smart Targeting. Smart Targeting kind of figures out what you're trying to do, and when you select something, Illustrator will automatically target the object as well.

Let's see how that works. When I go ahead now and I select these three different shapes here on the left-- remember, these shapes have not been grouped--and I look at my Appearance panel, the word that appears in bold here is what we have refer to as our target. Right now, Illustrator has targeted paths. Now it happens to be that each of those paths have mixed appearances that have different fill colors, so Illustrator is letting me know that here inside the Appearance panel. But my target, meaning when I change a fill or stroke color, that's going to change on the path itself.

Watch what happens now when I actually select the group on the right side of my document. Now, the target doesn't say paths anymore; the target now says group. The target is my container. Illustrator's Smart Targeting automatically assumed that hey, if I want to change the appearance of what I currently have selected right now, I probably want that appearance to change at the group level. So the Smart Targeting targets the group, the container, and not the path itself. The paths themselves are actually the contents that is inside of that group.

Just to show you, if I wanted to override that Smart Targeting, I can double-click on Contents and now notice that the bold word here becomes Path again, which means that now, if I were to apply a drop shadow, that drop shadow would get applied at the path level, not at the group level. Just to show you that, if I now go to the Effect menu and I choose Stylize and let's apply a drop shadow, you can now see that the drop showed got applied at the path level, not to the group level. So even though I have a group selected now, because I told Illustrator, "No, no, no.

I don't want to target the group. I want to target individual shapes within the group," now I have been able to apply individual drop shadows to each of those paths. Let me press Undo here for a minute to go back to the original setting that I had before. I am going to deselected it as well. So we are starting to understand now this difference between selecting something and targeting something. As we learn more about groups and we also understand how the Layers panel works inside of Illustrator, we will definitely be more conscious about targeting inside of Illustrator. In fact, especially when you start working with other people's files, having this understanding of a difference between both selecting and targeting can really help you reverse-engineer files and see how they were built.

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This video is part of

Image for Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials
 
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  1. 8m 22s
    1. Welcome
      1m 15s
    2. Exploring the Illustrator Timeline
      5m 12s
    3. Getting the most out of this training
      1m 30s
    4. Using the exercise files
      25s
  2. 16m 27s
    1. Starting off on the right foot
      27s
    2. Knowing the difference between structure and presentation
      4m 38s
    3. Understanding paths and attributes
      4m 56s
    4. Distributing stroke weight along a path
      2m 25s
    5. Bottoms up: Object hierarchy and stacking order
      4m 1s
  3. 51m 9s
    1. The all-important Appearance panel
      37s
    2. Understanding attribute stacking order
      6m 45s
    3. Targeting individual object attributes
      7m 32s
    4. Adding multiple attributes to a single object
      9m 31s
    5. Modifying appearances with Live Effects
      7m 11s
    6. Using multiple strokes to create a border design
      4m 36s
    7. Using multiple strokes to create a map
      5m 52s
    8. Using multiple fills to mix spot colors
      4m 59s
    9. Using multiple fills to create textures
      4m 6s
  4. 46m 2s
    1. Learning to live with appearances
      30s
    2. Basic appearance vs. complex appearance
      4m 27s
    3. Clearing or expanding an appearance
      10m 52s
    4. Controlling the appearance of newly drawn art
      5m 11s
    5. Saving appearances with graphic styles
      6m 54s
    6. Changing artwork by modifying a graphic style
      7m 39s
    7. Uncovering a treasure trove of graphic styles
      5m 1s
    8. Copying appearances with the Eyedropper tool
      5m 28s
  5. 33m 28s
    1. Why do we create groups?
      1m 48s
    2. Applying an effect to a group
      4m 38s
    3. Understanding the difference between targeting and selecting
      4m 44s
    4. Knowing the dangers of ungrouping artwork
      2m 21s
    5. Using Isolation mode to preserve group structure
      6m 59s
    6. Adding a stroke to a group
      6m 13s
    7. Adding a 3D effect to a group
      3m 36s
    8. Extending the concept of groups to type objects
      3m 9s
  6. 46m 34s
    1. Are you a layers person?
      33s
    2. Learning to use the Layers and Objects panel
      9m 27s
    3. Making selections and editing stacking order
      6m 38s
    4. Reading and using the target circles
      8m 43s
    5. Copying artwork and appearances
      5m 37s
    6. Adding effects to layers
      9m 56s
    7. Getting the most out of the Layers panel
      5m 40s
  7. 47m 19s
    1. It's more than just a drop shadow?
      48s
    2. Adding basic texture with Mezzotint
      7m 50s
    3. Generating custom textures with Texturizer
      12m 22s
    4. Adding a stroke to an image with Outline Object
      5m 54s
    5. Aligning text precisely with Outline Object
      6m 31s
    6. Adding callout numbers with Convert to Shape
      4m 36s
    7. Enhancing performance with Rasterize
      2m 30s
    8. Avoiding pitfalls when using effects
      6m 48s
  8. 31m 59s
    1. Asking yourself the "what if?" question
      33s
    2. Outlining artwork with Offset Path and Pathfinder Add
      5m 36s
    3. Adding captions with Convert to Shape and Transform
      7m 1s
    4. Creating a crosshatch effect with Scribble
      5m 44s
    5. Creating buttons with Round Corners and Transform
      13m 5s
  9. 25m 21s
    1. Working with other people's files
      36s
    2. Setting up a workspace that makes sense
      9m 43s
    3. Learning to "read" an Illustrator file
      5m 48s
    4. Controlling pixel resolution
      9m 14s
  10. 1m 2s
    1. Next steps
      1m 2s

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