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Up until now we've been using very precise methods of selection, wherein we clicked on something and it became selected. However, there may come a time when you need to select objects that are similar to one another, or you're working on a complex piece of artwork and you need to select multiple objects at a time. Performing a task like this with tools like the Direct or Group Selection tools could prove to be quite tedious, because you have to point and click and point and click, and you have to hold down the Shift key or other modifier keys to make your selection more accurate. Enter the Magic Wand tool.
The Magic Wand tool allows you to make selections of multiple items simply by clicking on one of them and then finding other items with similar attributes and making them part of the selection automatically. Let's take a look at exactly what I mean. First off, I'm going to show you just how tedious the direct selection method can be. If I come up and grab the Direct Selection tool, let's say that I wanted to select everything on my page. Now I could make a marquee selection like this and hopefully encompass everything, or I could simply come in here and click, hold down my Shift key and click and click and click.
But you notice, by doing that, I've only selected the top part of this artwork and the top part of this artwork. The bottom piece is not selected. That would take a long time for me to go through and select all of these different objects. Even if I'm using the Regular Selection tool, I would click, hold down Shift, click, Shift, click, click, et cetera, and so that takes up a lot of time, time that I probably don't have. The Magic Wand tool works in a much different way. When I grab the Magic Wand tool, you can see it turns into little wand, and I can then hover over a piece of artwork and then simply click and it automatically selects artwork based on the attributes that I've clicked on.
If you want to refine how the Magic Wand tool works, you simply come over here and double-click the Magic Wand tool. This opens up the Magic Wand tool preferences or options. These are not located anywhere else. You have to double-click the Wand tool in order to bring them up. When you first open up the Magic Wand tool preferences, you're going to see the basic options of Fill Color and Tolerance. By default, the Tolerance should be a lot lower than this. Mine is actually set to a 100 to encompass a broad range of objects. The lower the Tolerance, the closer the objects will have to be in appearance to the original object in order to become selected.
Right now I've got the Tolerance set up to 100, so it's a very broad selection. If I were to take that down to something like 10, watch what happens. I'll set it to 10 and then I'll click away from the objects to deselect them. Remember before when I clicked on this piece of artwork, almost everything on the page became selected. Clicking this object now, it only selects the objects that are really close to that neutral gray that I've selected. Notice this area over here did not get selected, the bottom part of the apple did not get selected, neither that this heart down at the bottom either.
Now in some cases, this is okay, because then you can just go grab the Direct Selection tool and finish off selecting the little parts and pieces that you missed. So for instance, if I wanted to select the apple and the heart, I just grab the Direct Selection tool, hold down Shift, click, click, and I'm done. But you see how much faster I got with that selection now that I'm utilizing the Magic Wand tool. Adjusting the Tolerance is going to be somewhat of a trial and error process. So just take the Tolerance and remember, dragging it to the left, makes it more precise; dragging it to the right makes it more broad.
So if you need to select a lot of objects on screen, try taking the Tolerance up. If you need to select one or two similar objects, just take it down. Let's go up here to the panel menu of the Magic Wand options and turn on Show Stroke Options. This is another way that you can control how the Magic Wand tool works. You can actually base the Magic Wand tool on Stroke Color and Stroke Weight as well. The Tolerance level here works much the same way as it does with Fill Color. For Stroke Color, you determine how closely the stroke color has to be to the original color in order for the object to become selected.
Again, dragging it to the left makes it more precise; dragging it to the right makes it more of a loose selection. Stroke Weight, works the same way, except this time it's not based on color; it's based on the thickness of the stroke. In this case, the stroke is the border surrounding an object. So for the Stroke Weight here, dragging that to the left means it has to closely match the stroke Weight or stroke Thickness. Dragging it to the right means that it can be a wide range of either thick strokes or really thin strokes and anywhere in between.
If I open up the options again, you'll notice there's one more section I can turn on. It's Show Transparency Options. Clicking this automatically opens up the bottom panel and I can choose Opacity. Opacity works much the same way that the others do, but in this case instead of colors or weight, it's actually based on Opacity level. So you can adjust the Tolerance level to be closer to the original Opacity, or you can encompass a broad range of Opacity levels by increasing the Tolerance level as well. You can also choose to select objects based on the blending modes.
Now we haven't covered blending modes yet, but just know that these are ways that objects interact with one another when they're overlaid on top of each other, and so blending modes are a great way to also select objects around the canvas as well. If you want to turn these off, just uncheck the box, and if you want to hide those options, just come right back up to the panel menu and choose Hide Stroke Options and Hide Transparency Options. To close the Magic Wand Tool panel, simply click the X in the top right corner. Once you do that, you can then go back to the Magic Wand tool and continue using it with the settings that you specified.
As you start to work with more complex artwork in Illustrator, you might find that the Magic Wand tool becomes very useful when making selections. And it might even help you get a little bit more efficient and faster along the way.
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