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I have a PDF (exported from CAD) that I am working with in Illustrator CS5. Lines in the PDF are made of triangles, and I would like to convert the lines to be a single stroked path. What is the best way to do that using Illustrator?

line with triangles triangles broken out

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not Illustrator but eventually best result: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/25165/… –  Takkat Dec 17 '13 at 20:57
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2 Answers

You can't convert a series of shapes to a single stroked path. At least not reliably with any automated method. And any manual method would take some effort - such as combining the shapes to a single shape, deleting the end cap paths, then blending between the outer paths, expanding the blend, then removing the outer (original paths) leaving one center path which could be then stroked.

You can select the shapes and use Pathfinder > Merge or Pathfinder > Unite to create a single shape.

However, if you want a stroked path the best solution is most often to redraw the path yourself and delete the original shapes.

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Actually, it wouldn't be that difficult. Since the original 'path' is segmented, there's not much to interpret. The average the positions of each triangle's "base" form the series of points that you need. The "hypotenuse" and "edge" are not needed. This should probably go into Stack Overflow's Illustrator Scripting tag, though. –  Alex Blackwood Dec 17 '13 at 20:16
I'm all for scripting, but it's not something 99% of users know how to write and far from what I'd consider a "baked in" method. –  Scott Dec 17 '13 at 20:33
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This is not a one step process, and it may not work in all cases, but it will get the job done in a pinch:

  1. Start with your sliced up artwork
  2. Pathfinder > Unite
  3. Release the resulting Compound Path
  4. Paint the inner path a different color
  5. Use the "old school" Blend Tool, and set its Spacing to Specified Steps of 1
  6. Expand the Blend
  7. Delete the inner and outer paths.
  8. You're left with a close approximation of the center

Here is what it looks like. It seems like more work than it actually is:

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