Illustrator is all about paths. And so, appropriately, there are all kinds of ways to select and edit paths in Illustrator. You can select an entire path and reshape, rescale, rotate, skew, or distort it, and so on. Or, you can select a path segment—the section of the path between two anchors—select just some path segments, or select a set of anchors.
You can also group more than one path and edit the group as you would an individual object. Selecting objects within groups has always been a bit sticky in Illustrator, but CS4 has a group isolation feature that makes this process easier.
Illustrator CS4 also allows you to align anchors. This means, for example, that you can vertically align a group of selected anchors so they are all on a horizontal plane.
In this chapter, I'll show you how to use all these selection and editing techniques. I'll also provide a basic overview for how to use Illustrator's powerful Pathfinder tools, which combine and divide combinations of paths in just about every conceivable way.
#31 Selecting Path Segments and Paths
Illustrator paths are made up of anchors with path segments connecting them. You can select and edit an entire path when you want to copy, move, or resize the path. You can select either an anchor or a path segment to reshape an object.
You can select path segments by clicking on (or within three pixels of) the segment with the Direct Selection tool.
After you select a path segment, you can reshape an object by moving that segment (Figure 31).
Figure 31 Moving a selected path to reshape a rectangle with the Direct Selection tool.
The Selection tool is used for selecting entire paths and groups of objects. With the Direct Selection tool you can select individual anchor points, path segments, or entire objects. To select an object or group with the Selection tool, just click on the path. If the object has a fill, you can click on that as well.
The Group Selection tool in the Direction Selection tearoff appears as a white arrow with a plus sign. One click with the Group Selection tool selects an object, clicking again selects a group that the original object is part of, clicking a third time selects a larger group that the selected group is part of, and so on.
You can add objects to or remove objects from a selection set by holding down the Shift key as you click with the Selection tool. This works with path segments or anchors selected with the Direct Selection tool as well.