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Selections and Stacking Order

Today, I learned the fundamentals of selections and its tools. I also learned about the stacking order of objects and how to change the order.

Selected group of elements that makes up the car.
Squares overlapping with yellow square selected

At the top of the tools panel, which is on the left hand side of the screen, there’s a black arrow (Selection Tool) and a white arrow (Direct Selection). With Selection Tool on, when you hover your mouse over the car, different paths are highlighted. This is useful for finding the individual outlines in an object and how it is created.

It is not uncommon to move all the elements that make up an object, so in order to do that, you must group them together by going to Object > Group or Command + G on Mac or Ctrl + G on Windows. With Selection Tool enabled and using that to click on the car, the entire object is highlighted, making it so you can click and drag it without losing a part.

When a certain aspect of the object is needed, that’s where the Direct Selection Tool comes in handy. Once it’s hovered over the object, it highlights its individual parts and anchor points. When you’re not hovering over a specific anchor point and you click, it selects the entire path, which can be moved by itself. However, if you click on an anchor point, the path is highlighted but only that point is selected.

Furthermore, these selection tools are easy to toggle back and forth as well. If you hold down the Command key on Mac or the Ctrl key on Windows, the arrow switches to black and vice versa.

Objects also have a stacking order that associate with them. To look at the stacking order, you need to head to the Layers panel on the right hand side of the screen. You will notice that each object is top of one another and that order determines which objects overlap other objects. For example, the picture with the squares above are in this order: Blue > Red > Yellow, and judging by the picture, the blue square is the top most object in the order since it overlaps both red and yellow.

There’s two different ways that the stacking order can be changed. You could either go into the Layers panel, click on a particular sublayer, and drag above or below other sublayers, or head to Object menu at the top of the screen, select Arrange, and choose the options given (Bring to Front, Bring Forward, Send Backward, Send to Back). If you choose either Bring Forward or Send Backwards, it will move one step in the sublayers. If you choose either Bring to Front or Send to Back, it will move to be at the top of the stack or at the bottom.


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