I have a need to use one layer's contents as a selection for another layers contents. example: select layer 1 which is a circle - use that circle selection marque to select smaller objects on layer 2 that only fall within the circle selection. Of course, we've been doing this for eons in photoshop. I have the whole astute graphics suite but have not found a tool that does this yet. Any ideas?

  • No such thing. "Doing this for eons in photoshop" - yeah, but thats something else.
    – Lucian
    Nov 5, 2019 at 13:19
  • It might not be possible to exactly as you ask. But if we knew more about why you want to do this, there could be a better and easier way to achieve what you want. Are you just looking for a way to mask objects?
    – Wolff
    Nov 5, 2019 at 17:23
  • Masking has nothing to do with it. I need to select hundreds of objects out of hundreds more by the shape of a closed path on another layer so I can isolate them on their own layer. Astute Graphics just came out with a new plugin called find and replace; it's getting closer to what I'm trying to do but I don't think it's quite there yet. It's pretty cool though because it can be attribute driven and searches can be organized and saved.
    – Animapper
    Nov 5, 2019 at 20:40
  • Illustrator's Select > Same and Select > Object is the closest thing to that I guess. Don't know if it's helpful at all. (InDesign actually has a more complex Find/Change for objects.)
    – Wolff
    Nov 5, 2019 at 21:24
  • This sounds like a classic case of the XY problem. What is the actual problem you are trying to solve? What are you trying to create? Remember that Illustrator (a vector image editor) is nothing like Photoshop (a raster image editor). It's a totally different tool, so what you've been able do in Photoshop "for eons" is irrelevant.
    – Billy Kerr
    Nov 6, 2019 at 14:19

1 Answer 1


I do not believe you can. Illustrator doesn't work on "marquee selections". Like all vector applications, Illustrator is object oriented. "Marquee selections" are more pixel-based.

You can manually use the Lasso Tool to select objects within a given area, but I think that's as close as you'll get.

  • I'm quite aware of how to do it as I do it every day. The innovation needed to do this would be a code snippet to select paths within the defined area. My example was a circle but in reality it's a complex layer in a map that defines an area. It's extremely tedious so I am hoping that some third party may have come up with a solution.
    – Animapper
    Nov 5, 2019 at 13:30
  • @Animapper its poissible to do this. But it requires acess to the internal outlines of shapes. So while it could be scripted, the scripted version would be slow indeed. C++ API time. (Question is how much do you need this, a illustrator extension competent developper wants to have a few grands per week of devtime)
    – joojaa
    Nov 5, 2019 at 16:08

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