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I've heard the terms "edge ring" and "edge loop". What do they mean and how are they different?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Edge Loop

An edge loop is a series of directly connected edges:

enter image description here

You can select an edge loop with AltRMB.

Edge Ring

An edge ring is a series of edges which are not directly connected, but share faces:

enter image description here

You can select an edge ring with CtrlAltRMB.

As a bonus, you can run the select edge loop or the select edge ring operator on every selected edge automatically by pressing Edge loop or Edge ring in 3D view > Header > Select.

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