Entity Selection

Exercise 03 – Entity Selection

In this next exercise we explore several ways to select and deselect entities in our drawing. We’ve chosen a completely non-technical example for this exercise as this is all about the function itself and not the drawing. Have fun. This is more challenging than it looks!

  1. Select File, Open. If you already have a file open then you’ll be asked if you wish to ‘Save before clearing?’ Select ‘No’ so that you don’t overwrite the open file.
  2. Locate and Open the file called ‘Natural-Selection’ from the Training folder as we did in the previous exercise.
  3. Use Zoom-Fit to fill the drawing view. You should see the following fun drawing.

The idea of this exercise is to use various selection methods to grab the items on the right of the black dashed vertical line and move them to match the image on the left.

If you select something you didn’t want to select, take a note of the following ways to deselect.


To deselect either:

  • Pick something else
  • Right or left click in a blank part of the drawing
  • Press the Esc (Escape) key on the keyboard
  • Hold the Shift or Ctrl key and reselect the selected entities

Use this last method to add or remove entities from your selection set.

We’ll start with the green peas.

  1. Move your cursor to the middle of a single pea until your cursor shows a diamond shape on the crosshair, then with your left mouse button held down, drag the pea onto the plate and release the mouse button to ‘let go’ of the pea.

The diamond shaped crosshair shows whenever it has located a selectable entity.

  1. Repeat this move for two more peas only.
  2. Select a fourth pea, but don’t drag it onto the plate. Keep your mouse steady and simply click on the pea and release the mouse button. It will highlight pink to show it is selected.
  3. Press and hold the Ctrl (Command⌘) key then select another pea, adding it to your selection. Repeat until you’ve selected all remaining peas, and then release the depressed keyboard key.
  4. Now that they’re all selected, click and drag on one of the selected peas to move all the selected peas onto the plate at once.

The secret to using this method is to be steady with your mouse. If you have less sensitivity in your hands (perhaps you’re more used to moving bricks?) then have a little patience with yourself until your mind and body adapts to fine mouse movements.

For picking single items or just a few this method of selection is ideal, but what if we want to move multiple entities at once?

To select multiple items, simply diagonally drag a box around them from left to right and everything that’s fully inside the box will be selected.

  1. Be sure your cursor is not displaying a diamond when you start to drag or you’ll end up moving an entity instead of creating a selection box!

Start your box far enough away from any entities so the crosshair isn’t selecting anything, then click and diagonally drag a box from left to right across the knife entities only.

Release the button and notice entities that are 100% inside the box are selected, not ones that simply cross the box.

  1. Making sure all the knife entities are still selected, click and drag all the knife entities to the right of the plate.
  2. Repeat the process for the fork.
  3. And again, for the spoon.

  1. Click and drag on the orange hatching to move the entire napkin to its correct position.

If you only click on one of the edges of the napkin, the edge line will be copied and the napkin will remain where it is.

The entities that make up each carrot have been grouped together to form a new entity called a ‘Group’. You can drag on any entity within a Group to move the entire Group.

  1. Move the two carrots onto the plate.
  2. Next, we’ll move only the fish onto the plate. There is some corn close by and the fish is not grouped, so drag a selection box from left to right over the fish and the corn to select them both.

Now we can un-select just the corn.


  1. Hold down the Ctrl (Command⌘) key and select the corn again by dragging another selection box left to right only around the corn.

If you’ve succeeded, you’ll now have only the fish selected.

  1. Release the Ctrl (Command⌘) key
  2. Whilst all the bones of the fish are still selected, click and drag one of the fish bones into the correct location on the plate and they should all move with it.
  3. Use the selection box method to again capture the corn and drag it onto the plate too.
  4. Repeat the actions above to move the cup and saucer without moving the bug on the edge of the saucer!
  5. Next, select the teaspoon and place it on the saucer. Your drawing should look like this…

Keep the drawing open, ready for the next exercise.

Tech Tip

If you make a mistake it can be undone by selecting the Undo icon    on the Quick Toolbar menu or by pressing Ctrl + Z (Command⌘ + Z) or Edit > Undo from the dropdown menu. Keyboard shortcuts are generally faster – That’s why they’re called shortcuts.

Exercise 04 – Selection Filters

You can select only the entities you want and filter out things you don’t want.

You may have noticed text labels in the drawing such as ‘knife’, ‘fork’, ‘peas’, ‘napkin’ etc?  In this exercise we’ll be selecting only these text entities to delete from the drawing.

  1. Select the entities icon of the Change General Properties tool bar.

This will reveal the General Properties dialog. Notice the different tabs across the top of the dialog. The Entity tab should be the one on top.

  1. Select the column heading Selectable. This will uncheck all the boxes for all entity types. Now click on the check box for Text entities to re-check this option. Click OK to accept the change.
  2. Now try selecting any of the entities in the drawing. You’ll notice only TEXT entities can be picked. Drag a box left to right over the entire drawing and all the text will be selected but nothing else will be.
  3. Press the Delete (Fn + Delete) key to remove the selected text from your drawing OR press the trash-can icon   in the Quick toolbar menu    …easy.

You must now reset the selectability values or you’ll wonder why you can’t select anything anymore!

  1. Choose the Change General Properties tool again.

The General Properties dialog will again appear. Press the Selectable heading to reinstate selectability of all entities. Then click OK to confirm.

  1. Try selecting other entities in your drawing now. You should again be able to.

Selectability can be used to filter by entity, colour, weight, layer, line style and even a combination of these making it easy to create rapid sweeping changes in your drawing.

In this drawing the objects have been organised onto Layers. We can use these layers to be very selective. Let’s clean the plate by deleting only the food scraps.


  1. Select the Change General Properties tool again, only this time click on the Layers icon to open it on the correct tab.

The same dialog as before will appear but this time with the Layers tab on top rather than the Entities tab.

  1. Use the same technique as before to unselect all the Layers and then select only the Layer named Confirm your choice, click OK.
  2. Drag a right to left selection box around the entire meal and only the food is selected.


  1. Press Delete (Fn + Backspace) or the trash-can Icon to remove the selected Food items from the plate.
  2. Remember to reset the Layer selectability just as we did before with Entities.


You can switch between Entity, Colour, Layer, Weight and Style from within the General Properties dialog by using the various Tabs at the top of the dialog box.Because of this it doesn’t really matter which icon you selected from the General Properties menu to bring up the dialog in the first place. It simply makes it quicker to open the desired tab if you do.

Exercise 05 – Chain Selection

Use the same plate of food from the ‘Natural-selection’ drawing that we used previously.

  1. Choose the Chain Selection icon from the Quick Toolbar menu.

Look at the prompt. It asks you to ‘locate an entity on the chain of entities to select’.

  1. Select any one of the lines that make up the Fork.

When you do, you’ll notice all the lines of the fork are selected. This is because all the lines are accurately touching end point to end point to form a continuous chain. This command traces its way along the chain of linear entities.

Look at the prompt again. It continues to ask you to ‘locate an entity on the chain of entities to select’.

  1. Pick one of the outlines of the large spoon. The fork is immediately deselected and the large spoon’s outline entities are selected instead.
  2. To add to our selection rather than select a different set of entities, hold down the Ctrl (Command⌘) or Shift key and pick the fork The spoon remains selected and the fork is added to the selection.
  3. Release the keyboard key and whilst still using the chain command select the knife. The spoon is deselected, but this time the software has several choices about which direction it should trace around the shape. The shape is not a simple outline like the fork and spoon so when it finds an intersection it will flash the next possible choice in the chain and present you with a Yes/No option dialog in the upper left of the drawing area.

Select No and the next available entity will begin to flash. Select Yes and the flashing entity will be added to the selection, and tracing along the chain of lines will continue.

In this example the small arc that separates the knife’s handle from the blade shares its end points with those of the handle and blade outline as indicated below.

  1. To end the command, press the RIGHT mouse button once and anything currently selected will stay selected.
  2. Press the RIGHT mouse button a second time and the selection will be deselected and no command will be active.

Keep this drawing open ready for the next exercise.

End to End

The Chain command only works if the entities are precisely joined end point to end point. Sometimes you may think the lines are joined because they look as if they are touching on screen, but if you zoom in really, really close you’ll find there’s either a gap or that they overlap.

Exercise 06 – Poly-Fence Selection

Now we’ll take a look at selecting multiple entities that don’t fit neatly in a box and are not joined end to end.

  1. Zoom-in closely to the peas on the plate situated on the left side of the drawing
  2. Now select the Poly-Fence Selection tool from the Quick menu

  3. Progressively left click a polygon shape around the peas as shown in the picture below and right click to end the fence

This process will select any entity that is fully contained inside the polygon fence.

Keep the drawing open, ready for the next exercise.

Exercise 07 – Drag-Line Selection

Let’s look at a unique way of selecting by simply dragging across the desired entities whilst holding two keys on the keyboard.

  1. First, make sure you have no command active by pressing the Right button a few times or the Esc The Prompt should be in neutral and say Select command or entities

  1. Hold down Ctrl + Alt (Command⌘ + Option⌥) together, then whilst they are still depressed, left click and drag the cursor across the prongs of the fork to select them.
  2. Repeat for the napkin.

Only the outlines of the napkin get selected. This is because the cross-hatch ‘lines’ are actually not line entities but a single entity known as a Plane.

  1. Try passing a drag-line across the cup and saucer. It is a Group entity and so none of the entities within it are selected either.

Linear Only

This method of selection only selects linear entities such as lines, arcs, circles and curves. It will not select Text, Planes, Components, Images, Groups or Dimension Entities on the left side of this drawing are part of a Group entity. Entities that are part of a Group entity are not selected with this command.

Exercise 08 – Reverse Window Selection

Dragging diagonally RIGHT to LEFT <-  captures everything that is fully OUTSIDE the box instead of inside. Items must be completely outside to be selected.

  1. First, look for a totally blank area of your drawing and diagonally drag a small box from Right to Left ß inside the blank space. The entire drawing is selected even if some of it is off screen.
  2. Try again, only this time, make your box outline cross over some entities, like we’ve done with the plate below. These entities will not be selected.

Tech Tip

You can combine any selection method along with the Selectability filtering we used in Exercise 4 to fine-tune what you select and don’t select.


Bonus Exercise – Right Click Menu Selection ß

  1. Hold your cursor over any entity of the fish and RIGHT click to bring up the ‘context sensitive’ menu…

  1. Move to the word Select to reveal further options.
  2. By selecting one of the options such as all same Colour, the software will automatically find and select al entities that are the same blue colour.


  1. Try the same right click function again and select a different option such as all same entity and you will see that this is a very quick way of selecting entities that have something in common with each other.

Context Menu

The right-click menu has a range of really useful ways of doing things that are often easier and faster than selecting the commands from the other menus. Be sure to explore this menu in detail after you have learned the basics of the other menus.