11 Replies Latest reply on May 7, 2014 6:59 AM by Decoboom

    Separating strokes & offset paths from text?

    just get me in

      I need to outline large titles to be output to a large format inkjet printer with a contour cut on a CNC router. I often need to create strokes then convert them to outlines or sometimes create offset paths so that I can use that layer as a through cut (contour guide/line). Sometimes it involves having a clipped image that is outlined and with an offset path for the cut line which may lie in the middle of the stroke/outline. So there could be several lines around an image. I need to separate all of these lines from each other so that I can put them on their own layers for production purposes. I would also need to separate the outlined stroke if I am clipping an image into the main text. Otherwise the image will clip out to the edge of the stroke. If I can separate all of this I can work much easier in layers. Is there a way to easily separate or disassociate each line from one another? I've tried the release compound paths groups etc. None of these seem to be effective. I have to go through a lot of steps and time to manually do these tasks.  

        • 1. Re: Separating strokes & offset paths from text?
          JETalmage Level 6

          All that can be done by a combination of applying multiple strokes and/or fills to a text object in the Appearance palette and applying live effects like Pathfinder Add and Offset Path to the various fills/strokes. Once the various elements look the way you want, Expand Appearance and sometimes Pathfinder Unite are used to "nail down" the results to discrete paths suitable for plotting.


          You should familiarize yourself with those commands and features in the documentation. Post an image here (screenshot or sketch) of a specific example, with callouts labeling the intended purposes, etc., of each outline element.



          • 2. Re: Separating strokes & offset paths from text?
            emil emil Level 4

            clipping masks and compound paths have to have their content in the same layer (level of hierarchy).


            In addition to what was already suggested:


            For separating for production pruposes (cutting lines), you can create copies of the content and move it on different layers. One way to do that easily is selecting a path with the direct selection tool (white pointer) and in the layer's panel, hold Alt and drag the dot representing the selected content in a layer to another layer. Another way is to select a path with the same tool while holding Alt key down, copy, select the new layer in the layer's panel and paste in place, front, etc.l (Ctrl + F) - just make sure "Paste "Remembers Layers" is turned off from the popup menu on the layer's panel.


            For the purpose of working easier with the content, there is not much you can do than expanding the layer containing it and select the paths from there. You can use Lock/Unlock or Hide/Unhide Others/All features with their hotkeys. You can also rename each path with names that will make it easier to identify and select. I whish Illustrator had a feature like  selections sets that can select any arbitrary group of objects from different hierarchies but unfortunately nothing like that exists yet.

            • 3. Re: Separating strokes & offset paths from text?
              JETalmage Level 6

              I whish Illustrator had a feature like selections sets that can select any arbitrary group of objects from different hierarchies but unfortunately nothing like that exists yet.



              1. Draw two circles. Make a compound path. Put this on Layer 1.

              2. Draw two squares. Put them on Layer 2.

              3. Draw two triangles. Group Them. Put this on Layer 3.

              4. White Pointer: Select one subpath from the compound path on Layer 1, one path from Layer 2, one path from the group on Layer 3.

              5. Save Selection.

              6. Deselect.

              7. Load the selection.

              8. Deselect.

              9. Move an object on Layer 2 or Layer 3 to Layer one.

              10. Deselect.

              11. Load the selection.

              12. Group all the objects on Layer one.

              13. Deselect.

              14. Load the selection.

              15. Select>Inverse.

              16. Object>Hide>Selection.



              • 4. Re: Separating strokes & offset paths from text?
                emil emil Level 4

                Ha, ha, thanks, How could I miss that? Please don't tell me that it has been there for all 22 years since I started using Illustrator. Time to check what's in all the menus and read the entire manual again - last time I did that was in the last century



                • 5. Re: Separating strokes & offset paths from text?
                  just get me in Level 1

                  The paste remembers layers, was turned off when experimenting with this. It

                  just seemed that for awhile no matter what I did, any line created by using

                  offset path, stroke, etc, stayed associated with the main artifact/text. I

                  had to painfully use the white arrow to individually select various parts,

                  counters of letters, etc., re-compound, group, and jump though a lot of

                  hoops. Even then it was difficult to disassociate the components. I had to

                  reset my brain and change course to find a simpler way. Which was to create

                  several copies of the text at the start, create desired paths, clips,

                  strokes etc, on each copy individually, then stack into appropriate layers.

                  It would be easier to just have an option of separating all applied elements

                  with a command or menu choice. For example, why can¹t I outline an offset

                  path the way I can with a stroke. Then simply move it to it¹s own layer or


                  • 6. Re: Separating strokes & offset paths from text?
                    just get me in Level 1

                    Thanks, I will look into those features in the documentation. Although, the

                    commands you mention almost seem to be the opposite named commands for what

                    I am looking for. After a fresh cup of coffee I have have found a suitable

                    stepped procedure to accomplish my goal. But it took forever experimenting

                    before I came up with an easier process. Basically it involved making a copy

                    of each step and pasting into a new layer. Thus making everything separate

                    from each other. I¹m used to a feature in Flexisign that enabled me to

                    simply select ³separate² outlines, paths, etc. Then grouping or compounding

                    into desired components. Now I have to figure out how to record of all the

                    steps for future one click application. Can this be done in ILL as in PS?

                    • 7. Re: Separating strokes & offset paths from text?
                      emil emil Level 4

                      You most likely will get all that's possible to make this easier if you share a file representing the complexity of of the file you are working on.

                      • 8. Re: Separating strokes & offset paths from text?
                        just get me in Level 1

                        I tried to upload a sample file converted to a PDF, but it said the content

                        type was not allowed. Won¹t take a PDF? How can I send the file?

                        • 9. Re: Separating strokes & offset paths from text?
                          Larry G. Schneider Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                          Use a free file transfer site (check Google) and post the link to it here.

                          • 10. Re: Separating strokes & offset paths from text?
                            just get me in Level 1

                            It was suggested that I provide an example to illustrate my question. So here it is. LINK:  http://www.sendspace.com/file/7gqfn3


                            Old habits die hard. Over the past 20+ years I have worked extensively with vector art. Much of it in app called Flexisign. Which has/had great features for working with vectors. This was before layers ever existed. So some of my thinking is still locked into old ways of working with a single layer. But what I liked about it was that I could easily separate, either by ungrouping or un-compounding, do what I needed to do then re-compound etc. Outlines, offset paths, were never locked or permanently attached to another component. Every path created was an actual hard vector line that I could easily manipulate. Strokes did not even exist so they were made with outlines, inlines, etc. In the illustration attached, I could have done all of this in seconds on one layer. Although I could move things forward or backwards and lock colors individually (precursor to layers I guess). I would start with the text and do multiple strokes or outlines as needed then separate them and group or compound as needed. I'm finding it difficult to separate some paths onto it's own so that I can eliminate or alter various paths.


                            Once I figured out how I could do it Illustrator, it does not appear that complex at all. But it takes a lot more steps than I am accustomed to. And I have to think in terms of layers more often to solve some of these issues. But as you'll see at the end, I still wish I could simply create a path separate it from the the rest of the artwork. I'm thinking that the Offset Path tool would be idea for making my cut line except that I cannot separate it.


                            Anyway, I created a sample of what I was trying to do. These are the steps I used to make my project. I have not had a chance yet to try out some of the suggestions, but I can see already that they use techniques I have never tried and in some cases even heard of. But wow, I am amazed at the help and suggestions. Thank you all.

                            • 11. Re: Separating strokes & offset paths from text?

                              I think I understand correctly, but if not, my apologies if this is response is off the mark. 


                              I work extensively with CNC production as well, and am also "limited" to hard vector lines. You could separate each step of production with colors. What I mean is that for each step of production, pick an arbitrary color that will represent each individual step of production. To do this, click on go to the select menu, under "select same" to find all strokes (or fills) that have the same stroke color.


                              For example, while creating your artwork, assign a blue stroke or fill to the first step, Red to step 2, Green to step 3, etc. etc. Then when it comes time to actually separate things out, you can use the aforementioned select same technique and group them in a layer, or save them into a separate file.