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Select the white..
Object > Expand (or Expand Appearance, then Expand)
Pathfinder > merge
Select the white and red...
Pathfinder > Minus front.
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make sure that the stroke is black and on top of the square, select both of them, go to the Transparency panel and chose Make Opacity Mask from the panel menu and then deselect the Clip checkbox
Select the objects make them a live paint group by clicking the live paint bucket and chose to be able to paint the stokes only
then while the live paint bucket is select choose a stroke of none and paint the strokes.
The advantage of this method is that you do not have to paint all of the rectangular stroke.
The Live Paint group can then be expanded.
0) Select stroke(s), and Ctrl+G to group strokes if more than one,
1) With the stroke(s) selected Object>Expand Appearance, and
2) With all selected Pathfinder>Subtract from Shape Area/Minus Front depending on version.
You guys are awesome!
Answers #1 and #2 were both correct and anything else below that matched those was correct also...
(I accidently gave the correct answer to number 4. Sorry #1 and #2 - I didn't know it would not let me give multiple corrects...)
Thanks again!!! I appreciate the help!
For my part you are welcome, Chris. Was it one stroke or more?
I see i wrote that all wrong.
A live paint group would work but not the way I wrote it you have to excuse the Wadese phrasing.
#1 worked great! Does converting it to a path loose any of the quality for the vector image?
#2 worked great also! I choose this one because it was less steps and didn't have to change the stroke to a path.
I think this didn't work before because I was using white (doh) and also had left the two objects as part of a bigger group. I had to ungroup everything and this worked fine.
One stroke per square. 40 squares. Had them all grouped. Had to ungroup all of them and then do it. Even the individual select didn't allow the Opacity Mask to work.
No problem. The first two worked... I tried the paint process also - not much luck - but I do have a solution!!!
I am going to write the live paint group way up properly.
First you select the stroke and like the other methods you go to Object>Path>Outline Stroke.
You select the rectangle background and the outline and the outline stroke objects and you click on the Live Pint buck to turn it into a Live Paint Group.
You only need to have fill selected for the Live Paint Group.
You fill the outlined stroke object with a fill of none.
This approach has an advantage and disadvantage one if there is more than on outlined object to fill you have the choice to make it transparent of fill it with a color s if the over lap you have options, like filing some parts with a color and some parts with a fill of none.
The disadvantage is the same if you have overlapping parts or more than one stroke object you need to make transparent you have to fill the individually with a fill of none.
This shows you the advantages and hints at the disadvantages of a Live Paint Group