I’m finding Adobe Illustrator to be quite inefficient and hard to learn. In comparison to Inkscape or Xara, Illustrator seems to require more keystrokes for similar tasks, and the GUI feels very picky about where I click. It is hard to explain, other than to say my mouse hand gets very sore when using Illustrator. I spend a lot more time very precisely trying to move the mouse to the right location, which is very tiring.
Today, I wanted to learn how to adjust Illustrator’s default marquee selection mechanism. In other drawing tools I’ve used, you drag a rectangle around a part of the drawing to select objects. The tool then selects whatever objects are completely enclosed in the rectangle.
Illustrator is different, however. Instead of selecting enclosed objects, it selects every object you touch with the rectangle. When I make comics, this is a constant irritation. I find myself dragging around a character’s whiskers, for example, and his whole head ends up selected. So then I have to painstakingly Shift-Click on other objects to de-select. This comes up repeatedly, and contributes to my hand getting so damn sore with Illustrator.
I’m not the only one to notice this behavior:
Another baffling omission in the product: A way to select multiple objects when they’re amidst others, by NOT having the marquee select everything it touches. There should be an option to select only the objects that are fully enclosed by the selection rectangle.
Corel Draw has always offered this, and in practice I never needed to turn it off. I can’t think of another UI feature that enhanced productivity more. What are Illustrator users doing as a workaround? Shift-clicking on things one at a time? Tedious and omission-prone!
I assumed this was a configuration option that I could switch, but as I learned, there is no way to change the behavior!
For now, I think the best workaround is to use layers more heavily. There are also some scripts that provide a way to de-select partially selected objects, though this requires digging through some menus for each selection, or setting up a custom keystroke (and remembering it).
Maybe I should switch to Windows 7 so I can use Xara. Or Linux so I can use Inkscape. I’m very frustrated that all of my favorite tools require specific operating systems. ** update: Unless one is willing to suffer with a less-than-ideal port, which I am not. **