Making selections in Affinity 1.9

Selecting objects in a design can be tricky with complex documents, so Affinity 1.9 provides some powerful new selection methods that enhance your ability to experiment and work faster.

Identifying layers

Layer names and colour tags help you to pinpoint items in the Layers Panel. Previously, selecting layers of the same name or colour has been a manual and potentially long process, but with Affinity 1.9 for desktop it takes just a couple of clicks, enabling you to make changes to many objects in seconds.

ctrl-click (Mac) or right-click (Win) on a layer and choose Select Same Tag Colour or Select Same Name. The layer on which you do this must not be part of a multiple selection.

Layer names are also important for another of Affinity 1.9’s new selection methods, which is covered a little later in this article, where we’ll explain how to strike a balance between the required effort and resulting reward.

Selecting by attribute or object type

Affinity Designer 1.9 takes the concept of selecting objects with a shared attribute even further. Its Select menu contains two major new features: Select Same and Select Object.

To use the former feature, start by selecting a single object that has a specific quality you want to change, for example, its fill colour, stroke weight, or blend mode. Next, choose that attribute from the Select > Select Same menu to select all objects that match the object’s setting.

Select Same is a way to experiment with different decisions for recurring design elements.

To use the latter feature, choose an object type or description from Select > Select Object. For example, you might want to select objects that are open curves, are artboards, or have constraints applied. Whatever might be selected beforehand has no impact; it’s overridden by the resulting selection anyway.

Select Object provides selection by a broad range of object types and descriptive criteria.

You can watch video demonstrations of these and other new Affinity Designer 1.9 features in an earlier article.

Selecting objects nested in groups

Prior to Affinity 1.9, selecting nested objects in the Document View involved double-clicking a group to select from within it—and even more double-clicking to reach items nested several levels deep.

This is still possible in Affinity 1.9, but there’s an alternative method that might help you to more rapidly select a nested item.

In the Document View, select the group that’s your starting point, and then hold ctrl+cmd and click (Mac)/ctrl and right-click (Win) on the group. A shortcut menu will appear, listing everything that’s inside the group.

Nested groups are represented as submenus, enabling you to dig deep into a complex design without having to repeatedly double-click. It takes just one more click to select an item, no matter how deep it is.

It’s quicker than ever to select an object nested several levels deep.

Upon selecting an object from this menu, its layer is revealed in the Layers Panel, so you can add other nearby objects to the selection if needed.

Naming layers—and keeping it manageable!

The shortcut menu for selecting nested items might seem awkward when many layers have the same name—but don’t give up on it just yet. If you don’t have time or inclination to name a lot of layers, name your groups instead.

By doing this, you need only select a group from the menu. As with an individual object, the group is revealed in the Layers Panel, where you can refine your selection with the assistance of layer thumbnails.

Selecting a nested item from the shortcut menu exposes it in the Layers Panel, where you can add additional layers to your selection if needed.

Selecting hard-to-reach objects

In a complex document, selecting a group in the Document View might seem impossible if other layers are in front of it—for example, one that is semi-transparent, enabling you to see the object you want but not directly select it. A couple of solutions to this were available even before Affinity 1.9.

In any Affinity desktop app, hold opt (Mac)/alt (Win) and click within the required object’s area. The foremost object is selected, but repeating the action will instead select the next object back in the layer stack. If what you’ve selected is unclear from the Document View then, once again, glance at the Layers Panel to confirm.

As an alternative in Affinity Designer, select View > View Mode > Outline to see a wireframe view of your document. Using the Move Tool, select an object by clicking its outline, or hold shift while clicking to select multiple objects.

Outline mode (right) enables selection of objects that are obscured in Vector mode (left), such as the veins on this illustration’s background leaves.
David Wildish - Pixel Falls