Making and Saving Selections in Adobe Illustrator

Learning how to select will be very important when using Illustrator. There are several selection tools in Illustrator that you can use to select items, or highlight them. Being able to select items is important because it is how you will fill in color and move objects, as well as other tasks.

Using the Selection Tool

You will find the Selection tool in the toolbox. To use it, click on the button that looks like this:

The Selection tool is used to select items. All we have to do is click on an item to select it. The image below is selected, and we can tell because of the blue box around the shape of the object and the object itself, as shown below.

When an item is selected, you can move it or change its shape.

Using the Direct Selection Tool

The Direct Selection tool is located to the right of the Selection tool. It looks like this, .

The Direct Selection tool allows you to select a path. If you click on a point in the path, it lets you make an adjustment.

Below is an object selected with the Direct Selection tool.

The path is selected, and you can see the points.

Now you can select points by clicking on them. You can hold down the Shift key to select multiple points. You can then adjust to the shape.


Using the Lasso Tool

The Lasso tool looks like this, . You will find it in the toolbox below the Direct Selection tool.

You use the Lasso tool when you want to select a part of a drawing using more precision than the other tools give you. You can freehand around an object to select it. The selection tool is just like a lasso that you wrap around the part of the design you want to select.

Using the Magic Wand Tool

The Magic Wand tool is in the toolbox and looks like this, .

Let us learn how it works by looking at our picture below.

Let us say that we want to select all the pink parts because we want to change the color to yellow. It would take more time to go through and select each pink shape. Instead, we can use the Magic Wand tool to select instantly all the parts of the drawing that are in pink.

Simply click the Magic Wand tool, and then click a part of the drawing that is in pink.

As you can see below, all parts of the drawing that are pink are now selected.

Saving a Selection

When you have an object selected, you can save the selection. That way, if you unselect it, you can select it again quickly and easy without having to use a selection tool. We are going to save this selection:

To do this, go to Select>Save Selection.

You will see this dialogue box.

Enter a name for the selection and click Save.

We will call ours Paws.

Now, to reload the selection (or have it selected again), just go to Select>Paws.

Working with Color

Working with Color Modes

Color modes will define the colors that are represented in your document. You can change the color mode of a document, but it is always best to switch color modes at the beginning, if you need to do that.

Illustrator offers two color modes, RGB and CMYK. RBG stands for Red, Green, and Blue . CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black.

The color mode that you select determines the number of colors used to create the colors within your document, and it influences the file size of an image. RGB has three colors. CMYK has four, which is common for printing. If you have ever heard of four-color printing, they are referring to CMYK. Not only will the color mode influence the colors you see on your screen, it also influences color output when printed. That said, when you select a color mode, know the file format of the document and where it will be used. If you are sending documents to be printed, it is best to work in CMYK.

To change the color mode for a document, go to File>Document Color Mode and select either CMYK or RGB. CMYK is the default color mode for Illustrator.

Applying Fill and Stroke Colors

Applying Fill Color

Fill color is the solid color that appears inside an object. For example, the fill color of the oval below is a shade of red:

Applying Fill is easy. Go to the toolbox and double click on the Fill Color. In the snapshot below, it is red just like our oval.

When you double click on it, the Color Picker window opens.

Use the slider in the middle of the window to select a basic color. Let us move ours from red up to blue.

You can now click on the white circle (in the blue square) and adjust the tint or shade.

Click OK when you are finished.

Now, if you create a shape, it will automatically fill with the color you have chosen. You can also click on a shape to select it, and then click the Fill button:

You can also change the Fill color by going to the Control Panel in Illustrator, located below the Menu bar.

Click on the Fill box and select a color.

Applying Stroke Color

Stroke is different from fill. Fill refers to the color inside an object's path. If we look at the oval below, we can see that we have selected it to see its path, and the fill color is red.

We can also see that in our fill box.

The stroke color is the color of the path, or the outline of the object. It is shown in the toolbox also, in the box that sits behind and below the Fill color. In this case, it is black. You can hover your mouse over the Stroke box and it will say "Stroke." You can double click the Stroke box and change the stroke color.

You can also go to the Control Panel to see (and change) the stroke color.

Let us change the stroke color of our circle.

We have changed the stroke color to blue. However, you cannot really see it because the stroke is so thin.

Let us go to the Control Panel and change the thickness.

Interested in learning more? Why not take an online Adobe Illustrator course?

Right now, our stroke is 1pt. Let us change it to 10pt.

We can now see the stroke better.

We can also change the type of stroke. Let us look at the Control Panel again.

The variable width of the stroke can be changed.

We can also change the brush stroke.

You can also change the opacity.

The Color Panel

You can store colors that are used frequently in Illustrator so you do not have to constantly look for them or match them to a previous instance. Using the Color Panel, you can create different colors and save them. You can use sliders, spectrum colors selectors, a grayscale ramp, and you can create a color ramp for current fill and stroke colors too.

Click on the Color panel on the right side of your screen. Its button looks like this, .

In the snapshot, you can see the CMYK sliders, since we are working in the CMYK color mode.

Click the Options button, .

Now, you can select from several sliders.

Grayscale creates a slider that goes from white (0) to black (100). The ramp at the bottom of your Color panel (-) will turn to a grayscale ramp.

RGB creates three slider panels for the RGB colors.

HSB adds three additional sliders for hue, saturation, and brightness.

The CMYK sliders are showing in our snapshot of the color panel.

Web Safe RGB creates three sliders for RGB color, but the color spectrum is restricted because there are only 216 Web Safe colors.

To change a color using the Color Panel, click a color box, use a slider, enter specific values, or click a color in the spectrum. The box with the red diagonal line means no color.

To use the Adobe Color Picker, double click a color box:

You will then see the Adobe Color Picker.

Select a color. You can use the sliders in the center to pick a color range, and then pick a color in the Select Color box.

Click OK.

Color Swatches

Swatches are defined as collections of samples. In Illustrator, they are collections of colors. Illustrator has several types of color swatches.

  • Process. In printing, process is four color printing (CMYK).
  • Global represents all the instances of a color in an image. Using a global color makes it easier to change that color within your design. All you do is update the global color, then it updates in your image.
  • Spot. In printing, this includes colors that are matched to colors used in printing, like for a logo that has to be exactly the right shade of blue. Spot, when combined with process, can turn into five or six color printing.

    The process and global colors swatches are related to the document color mode. If you want to change a document from CMYK to RGB, then the process and global color types are converted for you. However, if you change it back again, it is another conversion and not back to the original color because you are converting and getting the closest match to the one being used. Using Pantone colors can keep this from happening.

    Spot colors swatches, on the other hand, keep the definition and color modes that they are created in (CMYK, RGB, LAB, HSB, WebSafe RGB, and Grayscale). There are spot color swatches that are created by users and those that are created by color book manufacturers such as Pantone.

    There are also gradients and pattern swatches.

    Loading Swatch Libraries

    To load the color swatches, go to Window>Swatches. This will open the Swatches panel.

    To load a color swatch, go to the Swatch Libraries Menu by clicking the button at the bottom left hand side of the panel, .

    To show you how to load swatches, Let us go to the Swatch Libraries menu and select the Foods>Beverages library.

    These are the colors associated with that library. Let us say that we want to add them to our swatch panel.

    Go to the swatch panel.

    Click the folder at the bottom to create a new color group.

    Name the new color group and click OK. Now, simply drag and drop the colors from the Beverages library to your new color group.

    We can also just use the colors in our Swatches panel or any of the libraries to create fill or strokes for our objects.

    Click on any color in the Swatch panel.

    It now becomes your fill color.

    Click the arrows to the right of the Fill and Stroke boxes, and the color you have selected in your Swatch panel or library now becomes the stroke color.

    NOTE: You can also look at the different kinds of swatches (gradient, pattern) by clicking the Show Swatch Kinds Menu at the bottom of the Swatches panel.

    Spend some time playing around with swatches to learn the different colors, gradients, and patterns that you can use.

    Copying Fill and Stroke Attributes with the Eyedropper

    The eyedropper tool allows you to copy the color from an object or stroke and use the color for another object or stroke.

    The colors in this snapshot are not ones that we created from Illustrator. However, if we want to use the yellow color of the corn, we can use the Eyedropper tool.

    You will find the Eyedropper Tool in the toolbox, .

    Click on it, and then move the eyedropper over the color in the picture that you want to copy. Then click your mouse button.

    That color is now your Fill color.

    To make it your stroke color, click the arrows to put Stroke box on top. Click and hold your mouse button down over the Fill button, then drag and drop into the Stroke button.

    Mix Custom Colors and Create Custom Swatches

    You can also create your own custom colors and swatches. Go to the Swatch panel and click, .

    You will then see this window.

    Enter a swatch name in the Swatch Name field. We will call ours Example.

    Now, choose a color type, Process or Spot.

    We are going to choose Process. You can check Global if you are going to use this color often in your design or image. Remember, this makes it easier if we need to change it later.

    Now, select your color mode. Ours will be CMYK.

    Next, use the sliders to create your custom color.

    Click OK.

    Our new swatch now shows in the library. It is highlighted in white.

    Whether you choose process, spot, or global is up to you when creating your color. However, the color type is shown in your swatch panel.

    Note: The RGB and CMYK are color modes. Process, spot, and global are color types. It is important to know this distinction.

    Creating Color Groups

    When working within a document, it is easier to keep track of the colors that you use if you create a color group. It also makes it easier to convert color modes. To create a new color group, click the button on the Swatches panel.

    A new folder will appear in your swatches. We have circled it in white below.

    Drag and drop color swatches into the new folder. They will appear to the left. This way, you do not use the wrong shade of yellow in your document as you try to figure out which swatch you used last.

    Working with Pantone(R) and Web-Safe Swatches

    Pantone is a color book manufacturer. The big benefit of using Pantone colors in your designs in Illustrator is that you are ensuring that the colors you see on your screen will be the colors that are printed on paper.

    Let us make this easier to understand.

    The RGB is three color. Most digital images on your computer are in RGB or three color. Printing uses CMYK or four color. Let us say that you create a poster in RGB. Your colors look like this on your screen:

    However, when you convert to CMYK for printing, they look like this when printed.

    However, when you use Pantone colors, you preserve the color you see on screen when it goes to print.

    To convert colors to Pantone colors, select the Color Group that you are using in your document by clicking on the folder, as shown below.

    The changes are now made to your color group.

    Now click the Edit Color Group button in the Swatches Panel.

    Click the Limit the Color Group button. It looks like this and is found toward the bottom center of the window.

    A dropdown menu will appear.

    Select Color Books, then the Pantone color that you want.

    We chose Pantone+ Solid Coated.

    Click OK.

    A dialogue box will appear asking if you want to save changes to the group. Click Yes if you do.

    Websafe Swatches

    You can also turn colors into websafe alternatives. This is a way of ensuring that the colors you use in your document will look the same on the web.

    To do this, we are going to follow the same steps we used for Pantone. We are going to select our color group in the Swatches panel, then click the Edit Color Group button ().

    In the Edit Color window, we are going to click the Limit the Color Group button. From the dropdown menu, we are going to choose Web.

    Click OK when you are finished, and then confirm that you want to save the changes to your color group.

    Using Gradients

    A gradient is a blend of two or more colors or tints of the same color. You can use gradient swatches in your documents as well as solid color swatches. To use gradient swatches, click Show Gradient Swatches, as shown below.

    Using Symbols

    In Illustrator, a symbol is an art object that you can use and reuse in a document. For example, let us say that we create a flower. It took us a long time to create that flower. If we turn that flower into a symbol, we can easily reuse it without having to create it again.

    To see the Symbols panel, go to Window>Symbols.

    Above you will see the symbols Illustrator provides to you.

    You can add symbols by going to the symbol library. Click the button in the Symbols panel, and then select symbols from the dropdown list. We have selected Flowers.

    Now we can see all the flower symbols that we have to choose from.

    To add a symbol to a document, simply select the symbol in the Symbols panel, and then click to place it in your document.

    To create a symbol, select the object or artwork that you want to turn into a symbol. Next, click the New Symbol button in the Symbols panel ().

    Type a name for the symbol and select a Type, either movie clip or graphic.

    Specify a registration place on the grid, or where you want the symbol's anchor point.

    Select Enable Guides for 9-slice Scaling if you want to utilize this in Flash.

    If you want to apply a pixel-align property to the symbol, check that box. This means that if you move the symbol, it will be realigned to a pixel grid (at its new coordinates).

    Click OK when you are finished.

    As you can see, we have turned our purple square into a symbol.