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How do I create an offset outside (outside only) an object?

Nov 26, 2012 3:08 AM

The problem is:


I often have complex vector objects which contain paths and I want to create a path around the object.


I have tried Offset Path, but this command also offset the interior of the object.

I have also tried Effect>Path>Offset Path, but the original path that I selected disappears and is replaced by the new offset path.

I want to keep the original path and have an offset around it.


I am a long time AI CS3 user and this question has always been lingering over my head.


My problem is that I create engravings of images and I want my machine to cut an outline around the engraving, the outline being X pts bigger than the engraving.


I have uploaded some images to help visualize the issue.


Thanks for any help.


P.S: I'm stuck with CS3 unfortunately.


Original image:

Image with path that I want to offset:

Image after offset:

  • Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 26, 2012 3:14 AM   in reply to techasist

    I often have complex vector objects which contain paths and I create a path around the object.

    I have tried Offset Path, but this command also offset the interior of the object.


    I have never seen a vector object that didn’t contain paths :-)


    Offset Path offsets to the outside of closed paths unless you enter a negative number.

    What you describe indicates that your paths are compounds.


    Make a copy of the outer line and offset that.

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    Nov 26, 2012 4:56 AM   in reply to techasist

    Well you really know how to do this but I think you might be trying for a magic bullet and I do not think it will work.


    You simply have to cut and join a copy of the aphs you want to define the outer profile of the art and use that new art to create the offset path. It is a manually process. I guess there might possibly be a magic bullet but the time you find it you might have finished the job manually.


    Screen Shot 2012-11-26 at 7.46.15 AM.png

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 26, 2012 5:39 AM   in reply to techasist



    You may:


    0) Select everything, create a copy, hide the original, then select the copy and:

    1) Ungroup;

    2) Pathfinder>Unite (or Add to shape area if it is still called that in CS3, possibly holding Alt/Option to get simple paths); this should reduce the number of paths to 352;

    3) Cut/join the outermost paths/segments as desired, possibly closing the deep gaps under the head and arms, and similar, and delete the now separate inner paths.


    This should give you one outer path to offset, and to use with the original multipath artwork.

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 26, 2012 6:58 AM   in reply to techasist

    Just to set up an example, draw these objects near each other:


    • A closed simple path (ex: Rectangle), solid fill, no stroke
    • A compound path (ex: two compounded circles, solid fill, no stroke
    • Duplicates of the above two objects, no fill, solid strokes of differing weights
    • An open path, no fill , solid stroke


    Now carefully do the following to create an offset outline. Be aware, the resulting outline will take on the stroke/fill of the frontmost path.
    For example, if the frontmost path has a black stroke, fill of none, so will the resulting offset contour.


    1. Select all the Paths.
    2. Object>Group.
    3. Edit>Copy.
    4. Edit>Paste In Front.
    5. Effect>Path>Outline Object.
    6. Effect>Path>Offset Path. Offset: as desired. Joins: Round.
    7. Effect>Pathfinder>Add.


    Now store this as a Graphic Style:


    8. Black pointer: Drag the Group and drop it into the Graphic Styles palette.
    9. DoubleClick the Style’s icon. Set its name to “Offset Contour” (or whatever).


    Now you can apply the same Graphic Style to a different Group with one click.
    Graphic Styles are saved with the document. So if you want to use the same Style in other documents:


    10. Graphic Styles flyout menu: Save Graphic Style Library...


    By default, the Graphic Style Library will be written into the Graphic Styles folder of your user account. Example:
    C:\Users\firstName.lastName\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe Illustrator CS5.1 Settings\en_US\Graphic Styles

    You can later load it into a new document by Graphic Style palette flyout menu>Open Graphic Style Library>User Defined,
    or by simply copying a Group to which the Style has been applied and pasting it into the new document.


    After storing the Style for future use, expand it into an ordinary path (or compound path, depending on the artwork):


    11. Object>Expand Appearance.
    12. Ungroup.
    13. Apply fill/stroke as desired.


    Once you have created the Graphic Style, you can record an Action to automate the  whole thing, by recording these steps:

    1. Steps 2-4
    2. Application of the Offset Contour Style
    3. Steps 11-13


    Now you can create such an outline for any set of paths with a single click by selecting all the associated paths and clicking the Action.



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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 26, 2012 9:55 AM   in reply to JETalmage

    Thee's you magic bullet. You might want to release your compound path before you roup the paths as it might choke the process when you get to Add

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