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Illustrator can be used to accomplish many different design tasks. For this reason, Illustrator CS4 Essential Training teaches core concepts and techniques that can be applied to any workflow for print, the web, or assets that will find their way into other applications. Mordy Golding explains the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of Illustrator's drawing tools. He demonstrates how to combine and clean up paths, and organize them into groups and layers. Mordy also covers text editing, working with color, expressive brush drawing, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
If you look a closer look at the toolbar inside of Illustrator, you will notice that the tools are put together in these groups, like these four tools are grouped together, then you have these eight tools grouped together. Those aren't arbitrary groups. The User Interface team at Adobe tries to put the tools that are basically related to each other together in the same grouping. Now until this point we have discussed these selection tools here, which are the Regular Selection tool and the Direct Selection tool and also its little sibling, the Group Selection tool. But now let's talk about these other two remaining selection tools, the Magic Wand tool and also the Lasso tool. In fact, I'm going to use the same file that I was working on before, which is basically this making_selections file, and this is the one where we actually created this overall group that's right here.
I'm going to come here to my Regular Lasso tool here. If you wanted to select just individual objects, for example, I wanted to select maybe this surfboard here and this particular body shape right over here. I would have a difficult time in a group doing that because I have to use my Regular Group Selection tool to first, basically, select this group, and using the Option key to select this group. Hold down the Shift key and I'm also holding down the Option and the Shift keys together; on PC that will be Alt and Shift. Then I'm adding now an additional object to my selection as well. But there are times when you want to select things that are not necessarily in the same area.
Remember that there is a method of selecting called Marquee Selecting. That basically allows to click and drag, draw a rectangle, and then anything in that area becomes selected. But now if I do that, yes I get this shape and this shape selected, but I also get shapes that I don't want selected as part of my selection. Basically, what a Lasso tool allows you to do is it allows you to create a Marquee Selection, but using a non- rectangular form. So I could simply click and drag around in area of what I want to have selected. Then when I do so, anything within that area becomes selected and now I have those two shapes selected. When you are working with objects, it's important to realize that the Lasso tool works very much like the Direct Selection tool, which means that I do have the ability to use it on parts of an object.
For example, if I wanted to select maybe just the arms of a particular shape over here, I could simply go over here like this, select just the part here like this, the arms, and the top half of let's say this bodysuit. When I let go with the mouse, notice that the anchor points here I selected from the top half, but the bottom half of the anchor points here are not selected. So I have the ability to use the Lasso tool not only on entire objects, but also as I'm working within individual shapes. This actually becomes very useful when selecting things that have a lots of anchor points like Gradient Mesh so on and so forth. You have the ability to really go in and just select parts of the anchor points that you want, but using that Marquee method. So that's one thing that's there. There is another tool here called the Magic Wand tool, which is related to its sibling in Photoshop. Photoshop, if you maybe familiar with, has also this tool called the Magic Wand tool. The reason why it's important inside a Photoshop to have this tool is, as we discussed, Photoshop does not have the concept of objects.
Everything is pixel-based. So if you wanted let's say, for example, select the entire sky of a nice little sunset image and you had a sky, and the whole sky was like this beautiful orange color. So, the problem though is that there are probably lots of different shades of oranges. Each pixel in that particular photograph has different shades of orange. So if you would use let's say a selection tool and click on one pixel and say select all the orange pixels, it would only select very few pixels because there aren't that many pixels that are all of the exact same shade of orange. What the Magic Wand tool does, is it has something called a Tolerance setting built into it. That allows you to give Photoshop the ability to choose a range of different shades of orange that are maybe similar or close enough to orange that you click on.
Now in Illustrator this concept can also be applied as well when we refer to this Tolerance setting. For example, let's say I wanted to select all the yellow objects of my file. For example, if click let's say over here with my Magic Wand tool, I would be able to do that, but right now my Tolerance setting is very high and that's usually the default setting inside of Illustrator. So before we actually use the Magic Wand tool, let's go ahead and change its setting. So I'm going to go the Magic Wand tool itself and double click on it. That brings up the Magic Wand panel, which by default has a Tolerance setting set to 20. You will also notice that there is checkbox here called Fill Color. This basically is telling us that the criteria that the Magic Wand tool is going to use for selections is the Fill Color. We will see why this is significant, because there are lots of other ways that we can use this Magic Wand tool as well.
I'm going to change the Tolerance setting down to 2 instead of 20. I'll hit the Tab key to just accept that particular value. Now I come over here and I'll just click once on the surfboard. Notice that the surfboard becomes selected as does this bodysuit that's yellow. Both of these are the exact same shade of yellow. By using a very low Tolerance, I'm telling Illustrator I want you to select all yellow objects in my file. What's really cool about the Magic Wand tool here is that these are living in two separate groups. In fact, there are groups within other groups; they are nested within each other, yet I'm still able to select all the parts even though they live in separate groups. So the Magic Wand tool ignores groups. It looks at the actual attributes of the shapes, and because it has a Tolerance setting I can now choose to open up that Tolerance setting, for example, 15.
Now when I click on the yellow surfboard notice that some of the green elements in my file also become selected. That's because Illustrator now has a higher Tolerance, so it's selecting other objects that fall close enough to that range. The higher that I move that particular Tolerance level, for example, if I now go to the Tolerance and I change it maybe to 70, clicking on that exact same yellow now it selects even more objects. For example, now I get some of these objects and some of these objects selected as well. What's great about the Magic Wand tool is that there are other options that you can search on. For example, right now I'm using Fill Color, but I could also highlight the word Stroke Color. Let's turn off our Fill Color for a second now. Now if I use the Magic Wand tool, it will select by Stroke Color. Even more importantly I can choose Stroke Weight with a Tolerance of a particular value.
For example, right now if I use the Tolerance setting of 1 point, then I now have the ability to click on Objects and all objects that have a Stroke Weight of anywhere from 0-2, remember, right now if I click on let's say one particular Stroke Weight or anything within one point of the Stroke Weight that I click on, those strokes become selected. If you go to the flyout menu of this Magic Wand panel, you could also choose Show Transparency Options, which allows me to select objects based on Opacity and also Blend mode. Again, I have the ability to choose a Tolerance for those settings as well. But it probably makes most sense to use a Fill Color here. At least, that's the one that I use most often, because it allows you to again select a range of objects that are not necessarily the exact same color, but that are similar enough.
Again, that's important to remember. That you should use the Tolerance setting as you need it to identify exactly how large a range of selections you are willing to work with.
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