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Using the Magic Wand tool

From: Illustrator CS5 Essential Training

Video: Using the Magic Wand tool

The Selection tools inside of Illustrator, both the Selection tool and the Direct Selection tool, allow you to select specific objects. For example if I click on this group right here this is the group that becomes selected. It's a very precise process. Whatever I click on that's what becomes selected. However there may be times when I want to select objects that are similar to each other. For example, take a look at these designs here towards the bottom. They're all pretty much identical except that where the word Seeds appears there's a color background and that color background is somewhat different among these different designs.

Using the Magic Wand tool

The Selection tools inside of Illustrator, both the Selection tool and the Direct Selection tool, allow you to select specific objects. For example if I click on this group right here this is the group that becomes selected. It's a very precise process. Whatever I click on that's what becomes selected. However there may be times when I want to select objects that are similar to each other. For example, take a look at these designs here towards the bottom. They're all pretty much identical except that where the word Seeds appears there's a color background and that color background is somewhat different among these different designs.

Now maybe I feel that I want to able to adjust that background area or I want to maybe resize them or adjust their position just a little bit, or even change their colors. It can be quite difficult for me to make that selection and there are two reasons for that. First of all, if I wanted to select four distinct objects I would need to use a regular Selection tool and then click and hold down the Shift key to add the other objects to my selection. That isn't even something that I can do currently with my regular Selection tool because simply clicking anywhere here selects the entire group. So what I would need to do is use my Direct Selection tool, click on this shape right here, hold down the Shift key, and then continue to click on these other objects to add those to my selection.

Now I'll be able to make some kind of adjustment by moving with the arrow keys for example. However there is a way to have Illustrator select objects based on their content. The tool for that is something called the Magic Wand tool. It's actually a tool that also exists inside of Photoshop. The concept is pretty much the same. If you're inside of Photoshop and you have a photograph of maybe a sky, that sky is made up of beautiful different shades of blue, because everything is individual pixels inside of Photoshop, how do I select all of my blue pixels? I can't choose just one color and tell Photoshop select that one color because this guy is made up of many different shades of blue.

So what the Magic Wand tool allows you to do is select colors that are similar to the one that you click on. There is a setting in the Selection tool called a tolerance which gives you the power to control how close or how different the criteria is for selecting those objects. Let's take a look at what I mean by that. I'm now going to deselect my artworks so nothing is selected. I am going to switch to the Magic Wand tool. Before I actually use the Magic Wand tool I'm going to double click on it because that's going to bring up the Magic Wand panel. These are the settings which control how the Magic Wand tool works.

Let's do a very basic one first. If I want to click on these leaves for example and I want to select all the leaves in my document, I can use the Magic Wand tool to click on this one leaf here and because the Magic Wand panel currently has Fill Color checked and a tolerance setting of 20 it means that when I click on this Illustrator will search through my entire document and it will find the fill colors that are within 20 tolerance levels of the object that I click on and it will select those as well. So let's see what happens. Now I am going to click on this leaf and as you can see all the leaves now in my document were now selected.

The reason is because all those leaves have the same fill color characteristics. They are actually filled with a gradient. If I use a very low tolerance, that means I'm telling Illustrator that when it make its selections I want those selected areas to be very, very close to the object that I am clicking on. If I choose a higher value for tolerance, that means I'm letting Illustrator expand the criteria for making selections and it will select other artwork that is even somewhat close to the artwork that I am now clicking on. To understand a little bit more about how that works let's try selecting some other artwork, for example the color bars that appear behind the words Seeds on these package designs.

I am going to set my tolerance level to something a little bit lower, maybe like 5. Now I am going to click on just this background area right here and you could see that Illustrator right now only selects this one object. That's because there's nothing else in my document right now that has a fill color that falls within this range of five for the tolerance setting. If I increase the tolerance setting now to 20, now when I click on this background color you could see that Illustrator selected this object and also this object. They are different colors indeed but they're close enough within my tolerance level that now both of these have become selected.

Let's change my tolerance setting now to 40. If I now click on this shape I can see that I've successfully selected all the colors here with one click. Now in this example, I only had four objects so I guess you can say it wasn't that much more difficult for me to use the Selection tool or in this case the Direct Selection tool to Shift+ Click on those four different elements. However, if I had a document that had many hundreds of objects and I wanted to select them but they were all slightly different in shades of colors this would allow me to do that in a single click. Perhaps even more valuable is that the Magic Wand tool can have criteria other than just fill colors.

I'll come to the Magic Wand panel here and from the flyout menu, I'll choose to show my options. There are stroke options and they're also transparency options. By checking these options here I could tell the Magic Wand tool to select objects based on the other tolerance areas, for example stroke Weight. If I put in a tolerance of say one point and I click on a one point stroke, that means that everything in my document that has anywhere from a zero point stroke all the way to a two point stroke will become selected. If I specify an opacity with a tolerance of 5% and I click on an object that has 50% opacity, that means anything from 45% opacity to 55% opacity will become selected.

Depending on the type of work that you're doing, you may find that the Magic Wand tool is an invaluable Selection tool that can help you get your work done quickly and efficiently.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Illustrator CS5 Essential Training
Illustrator CS5 Essential Training

126 video lessons · 82875 viewers

Mordy Golding
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 3m 35s
    1. Welcome
      1m 18s
    2. What is Illustrator CS5?
      1m 46s
    3. Using the exercise files
      31s
  2. 12m 37s
    1. What are vector graphics?
      6m 3s
    2. Path and appearance
      3m 42s
    3. Stacking
      2m 52s
  3. 32m 6s
    1. The Welcome screen
      2m 23s
    2. Creating files for print
      6m 7s
    3. Creating files for the screen
      2m 55s
    4. Using prebuilt templates
      2m 40s
    5. Adding XMP metadata
      4m 18s
    6. Exploring the panels
      6m 33s
    7. Using the Control panel
      3m 11s
    8. Using workspaces
      3m 59s
  4. 43m 44s
    1. Navigating within a document
      9m 15s
    2. Using rulers and guides
      7m 26s
    3. Using grids
      3m 6s
    4. Using the bounding box
      3m 37s
    5. Using Smart Guides
      5m 56s
    6. The Hide Edges command
      3m 22s
    7. Various preview modes
      3m 47s
    8. Creating custom views
      4m 3s
    9. Locking and hiding artwork
      3m 12s
  5. 28m 46s
    1. Using the basic selection tools
      8m 50s
    2. Using the Magic Wand tool
      5m 22s
    3. Using the Lasso tool
      2m 28s
    4. Selecting objects by attribute or type
      3m 37s
    5. Saving and reusing selections
      2m 15s
    6. Selecting artwork beneath other objects
      2m 13s
    7. Exploring selection preferences
      4m 1s
  6. 1h 16m
    1. The importance of modifier keys
      1m 52s
    2. Drawing closed path primitives
      11m 38s
    3. Drawing open path primitives
      5m 47s
    4. Understanding anchor points
      3m 43s
    5. Drawing straight paths with the Pen tool
      7m 37s
    6. Drawing curved paths with the Pen tool
      9m 47s
    7. Drawing freeform paths with the Pencil tool
      5m 33s
    8. Smoothing and erasing paths
      3m 8s
    9. Editing anchor points
      7m 21s
    10. Joining and averaging paths
      10m 9s
    11. Simplifying paths
      4m 55s
    12. Using Offset Path
      2m 17s
    13. Cleaning up errant paths
      2m 32s
  7. 48m 26s
    1. The Draw Inside and Draw Behind modes
      7m 34s
    2. Creating compound paths
      5m 56s
    3. Creating compound shapes
      8m 0s
    4. Using the Shape Builder tool
      10m 28s
    5. Using Pathfinder functions
      8m 6s
    6. Splitting an object into a grid
      1m 16s
    7. Using the Blob Brush and Eraser tools
      7m 6s
  8. 49m 5s
    1. Creating point text
      4m 2s
    2. Creating area text
      8m 13s
    3. Applying basic character settings
      7m 44s
    4. Applying basic paragraph settings
      4m 28s
    5. Creating text threads
      8m 25s
    6. Setting text along an open path
      6m 29s
    7. Setting text along a closed path
      6m 24s
    8. Converting text into paths
      3m 20s
  9. 18m 55s
    1. Create a logo mark
      11m 26s
    2. Add type to your logo
      7m 29s
  10. 42m 42s
    1. Using the Appearance panel
      8m 21s
    2. Targeting object attributes
      4m 42s
    3. Adding multiple attributes
      4m 25s
    4. Applying Live Effects
      5m 18s
    5. Expanding appearances
      4m 42s
    6. Appearance panel settings
      4m 33s
    7. Copying appearances
      4m 51s
    8. Saving appearances as graphic styles
      5m 50s
  11. 34m 0s
    1. Applying color to artwork
      5m 57s
    2. Creating process and global process swatches
      8m 54s
    3. Creating spot color swatches
      3m 19s
    4. Loading PANTONE and other custom color libraries
      4m 49s
    5. Organizing colors with Swatch Groups
      3m 31s
    6. Finding color suggestions with the Color Guide panel
      4m 24s
    7. Loading the Color Guide with user-defined colors
      3m 6s
  12. 50m 23s
    1. Creating gradients with the Gradient panel
      8m 12s
    2. Modifying gradients with the Gradient Annotator
      4m 37s
    3. Applying and manipulating pattern fills
      5m 33s
    4. Defining your own custom pattern fills
      9m 13s
    5. Applying basic stroke settings
      5m 22s
    6. Creating strokes with dashed lines
      3m 41s
    7. Adding arrowheads to strokes
      2m 45s
    8. Creating variable-width strokes
      4m 35s
    9. Working with width profiles
      2m 36s
    10. Turning strokes into filled paths
      3m 49s
  13. 32m 46s
    1. Creating and editing groups
      8m 18s
    2. Adding attributes to groups
      12m 17s
    3. The importance of using layers
      5m 9s
    4. Using and "reading" the Layers panel
      7m 2s
  14. 12m 13s
    1. Creating and using multiple artboards
      7m 52s
    2. Modifying artboards with the Artboards panel
      2m 2s
    3. Copy and paste options with Artboards
      2m 19s
  15. 31m 10s
    1. Moving and copying artwork
      3m 55s
    2. Scaling or resizing artwork
      6m 47s
    3. Rotating artwork
      2m 44s
    4. Reflecting and skewing artwork
      2m 34s
    5. Using the Free Transform tool
      2m 15s
    6. Repeating transformations
      3m 39s
    7. Performing individual transforms across multiple objects
      2m 10s
    8. Aligning objects and groups precisely
      4m 27s
    9. Distributing objects and spaces between objects
      2m 39s
  16. 35m 40s
    1. Placing pixel-based content into Illustrator
      5m 14s
    2. Managing images with the Links panel
      4m 49s
    3. Converting pixels to paths with Live Trace
      8m 44s
    4. Making Live Trace adjustments
      6m 9s
    5. Controlling colors in Live Trace
      6m 4s
    6. Using Photoshop and Live Trace together
      4m 40s
  17. 14m 42s
    1. Managing repeating artwork with symbols
      4m 38s
    2. Modifying and replacing symbol instances
      3m 8s
    3. Using the Symbol Sprayer tool
      6m 56s
  18. 16m 57s
    1. Cropping photographs
      1m 59s
    2. Clipping artwork with masks
      3m 22s
    3. Clipping the contents of a layer
      3m 31s
    4. Defining masks with soft edges
      8m 5s
  19. 26m 2s
    1. Defining a perspective grid
      7m 48s
    2. Drawing artwork in perspective
      8m 46s
    3. Moving flat art onto the perspective grid
      9m 28s
  20. 25m 8s
    1. Printing your Illustrator document
      3m 26s
    2. Saving your Illustrator document
      6m 39s
    3. Creating PDF files for clients and printers
      7m 30s
    4. Exporting Illustrator files for use in Microsoft Office
      1m 4s
    5. Exporting Illustrator files for use in Photoshop
      2m 31s
    6. Exporting artwork for use on the web
      3m 3s
    7. Exporting high-resolution raster files
      55s
  21. 2m 18s
    1. Additional Illustrator learning resources
      1m 36s
    2. Goodbye
      42s

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