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In Illustrator CS5 Essential Training, author Mordy Golding explains the core concepts and techniques that apply to any workflow in Illustrator, whether designing for print, the web, or assets for other applications. This course includes a detailed explanation of the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of Illustrator's drawing tools. Also demonstrated are techniques for combining and cleaning up paths, organizing paths into groups and layers, text editing, working with color, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
Aside from making selections with the Selection tools, you can also use a tool called the Lasso tool. On a very basic level, the Lasso tool performs the same function as a Direct Selection tool in that it can be used to select parts of objects like individual anchor points or objects within groups. So what's the difference? The difference has to do with the concept of selecting something via marquee instead of clicking on it. As we have discussed, if I use my Direct Selection tool, I can click on an object to select it but I can also click and drag to draw a marquee and anything that falls within the boundary of that marquee becomes selected.
In this case just these two anchor points. However, the marquee is always rectangular. So for example, if I wanted to select this leaf, this leaf and this leaf here, if I try clicking and dragging to make a marquee, parts of the flowers would also become selected. Likewise if you look at these elements right here, if I wanted to select just this first shape and then this one over here and then this one over here, if I were to actually use the marquee method I would have a hard time doing that and that's where the Lasso tool comes in. It allows you to draw a marquee in a free form shape.
Let me switch here to the Lasso tool and you'll see that when I click and start dragging, I can actually draw a shape. I'm not really drawing a shape. I'm just drawing a marquee area and anything that falls within that area is going to become selected. So now that I've drawn this area around these shapes, when I release the mouse you'll find that now this, this and this all become selected. Going back to the example of the leaves here, if I were to click and drag around these leaves just like this, you can see that by creating some kind of a marquee, I have yet another way to make a selection for what I want.
The only caveat I guess you can say about using the Lasso tool is that it can only be used to make the selection itself. What differentiates the arrow tools from every other tool inside of Illustrator is that they perform two functions. Yes, you can use them to make selections but you use those same arrow tools to then edit the art. For example, when I use my Direct Selection tool I may click over here to select that element and that once I select that anchor point I can click on it again with the same tool and move it. Let me press undo. If I use my Lasso tool to click and drag to select that area, I can't actually move it.
This tool is only used for selecting and not for anything else. However, when you need to make some kind of a marquee selection and that marquee is not going to be of any rectangular type of shape, the Lasso tool will certainly come in handy.
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