A Guide to Selection in Concepts 5

If you’re new to Concepts, the ability to pick up and adjust your strokes after you’ve drawn them is one of the reasons why we chose to base our design app on vectors instead of pixels.

It’s revolutionized our designers’ workflows — you can move ideas about and iterate on your designs efficiently, maximizing your creative time. And the ability to do this on your iPad with natural hand gestures makes for a really smart, really organic experience.

If you’ve used Concepts before, you’ll already know how useful it is to adjust elements of your drawings. As we considered expanding this feature’s capabilities for Concepts 5, we found a few tweaks here and there would give you much more control over your selections, helping you to accomplish your own design tweaks in much less time. We hope you find that the new system for selection and adjustment is simpler to use, faster, and gives you further control over your projects.

Here’s how it works.

Selecting Strokes

There are a couple of ways to select your strokes.

1. Use the Selection tool. In the Brushes menu, you can choose the Selection tool (the arrow) and set it as a separate tool on your tool wheel or bar. Touch the screen to use it like you use any tool.

2. A tap-and-hold anywhere on canvas will also activate Selection. This is a really handy shortcut for selecting in the midst of sketching, when you’re on a roll with your current brush.

The Selection Menu

Once you’ve activated selection by either of the above options, you’ll see a popup appear at the bottom of the screen. This is your Selection menu. The Selection menu helps you to filter the strokes you’d like to select from, so whenever you select something, this menu will hang around, too.

  • When using the Selection tool from your tool wheel, the menu will remain on screen as long as the brush is active.
  • When Selecting via the tap-and-hold, the menu will remain for as long as your finger rests on the screen. With a second finger, you can toggle the menu buttons to set your filters (we’ll talk about those below).
Item Picker, Lasso, Color Picker

In the Selection menu, depending on which toggle you have active, you’ll find from left to right:

  1. A Selection Type toggle, for which selection method you’d like active. Tap it to toggle between Item Picker (single item selection, with the ability to add or subtract strokes individually), Lasso (multi-select using drag to lasso your strokes), and Color Picker (select color and vector properties from strokes).
  2. A Stroke Type toggle, allowing you to choose whether you’d like to select Partial or Complete strokes inside your selection.
  3. A Lock toggle, which includes or ignores any strokes you may have locked while drawing.
  4. A Layers toggle, so you can choose whether to select inside your Active layer only, or inside All layers at once.

Item Picker

On that first, left-hand toggle is your Item Picker. This is a single item selection mechanism, which allows you to add and subtract individual strokes to your selection.

Drag the crosshairs over a stroke. For a single selection, let go. To multi-select, tap the screen with another finger to select the stroke, before moving to another stroke.

To use Item Picker, just set your finger or stylus on the screen. A small crosshairs or plus (+) will appear above your finger, or at the tip of your stylus.

When you touch the center of the crosshairs to a stroke, a circle will appear, telling you it has located a stroke. Tap the screen to validate the stroke, and let go of the screen. The stroke will be selected.

To add strokes to your selection, just drag the crosshairs to your next stroke and tap the screen to select it. It doesn’t matter whether you have lifted your finger from the screen or not, you can select as many strokes as you’d like.

To subtract a stroke from your selection, drag the crosshairs to an already selected stroke. You’ll see the plus turn to a minus. Tap the screen to accept it.


If you tap the Selection Type toggle again, you’ll find the Lasso. This allows you to select multiple items quickly just by dragging your finger across or around your strokes. Whatever the blue lasso touches will be part of your selection.

If you lasso a selection and decide you want to add further individual strokes, toggle the button back to Item Picker via the Filters toggle, and continue making your selections.

Color Picker

Our Color Picker is a vector color picker, which has a few more capabilities than standard color pickers in other apps. It allows you to select color, brush and stroke properties, and set them to your tools. You can read in depth about this tool here, as it deserves a bit more attention.

Adjusting a Selection

Once you’ve selected a stroke or group of strokes, you’ll notice the Selection menu at the bottom of the screen has shifted to give you a few more helpful toggles.

  • Rotate. Allows you to rotate your selection. You can tap it on or tap it off.
  • Scale / Stretch / Off. Toggle between these to scale strokes (grow the whole selection bigger or smaller), stretch strokes (stretch strokes longer or shorter), or lock your strokes from scaling or stretching.
  • Filters. Tap this to return to the original Selection menu filters — Item Picker, Lasso, Color Picker.

In addition, you’ll see that your selection is surrounded by a box with four points at the corners. These are your Control Points. They allow you to warp, distort, and skew your selection just by tapping a corner or two, and pulling with one or two fingers. You can see their effects in detail here. They are excellent for tweaking size and shape to make your drawing proportions exactly right. They’re also helpful for aligning strokes, text or other images into your sketch’s perspective very quickly.

May the Force be with you.

The Selection Popup

Above the selection box is a Selection popup. This has many useful features you might use to adjust your strokes.

Clipboard. The clipboard copies your selection to your main device’s clipboard, just like when you copy text from an email or link. Tap “Paste” in any email, message, document editor to paste in a transparent version of your selection. Inside the app, you can find the clipboard from your Gallery, from the Imports menu, Object Library, or just by a tap-and-hold on the screen.

Lock. The Lock button locks your selection from all other selections and adjustments you might make in the future. You can access it again by selecting and unlocking it, or by changing the Lock filter on the Selection menu.

Duplicate. Anything you select, you can also copy, as many times as you’d like. Just touch Duplicate and it will create an exact match for fast iterations. Drag the duplicate to a new layer to keep or hide your old selection, and iterate on the new.

Delete. The best way to erase a vector stroke is to delete it. At this point, our erasers work as movable layer masks, so if you truly dislike a stroke and want to banish it to the far nethers, just delete it from your life and drawing. Of course, you can double-tap to Undo.

Group. This chain link button allows you to group all items inside your selection together, into a single “object.” You can then select the entire object with a single tap, instead of having to re-select multiple strokes. To separate them again, just select the object and tap the button again to ungroup them.

Flip and Mirror. The final two buttons allow you to flip your selection from side to side, or to mirror it vertically. Great for creating reflections and shadows, as well.

Ready to take full control of your ideas? These powerful abilities will transform the way you work. We wish you the very best in smart, natural design.


The Concepts Team

For a live view of Selection in action, and other new features, watch our Concepts 5 Deep Dive tutorial on YouTube.

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