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I have a detailed map illustration made of country shapes sitting very precisely alongside each other. I'd like to simplify the paths to reduce the file size of my SVG but still have the edges of the shapes match each other.

When I use Simplify Paths, the shapes end up with gaps or overlaps because the paths have different angles and curves, of course, and are treated differently.

See: simplify

Any ideas?

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If you have a latitude and longitude based GIS file for the map (e.g. a SHP file or GeoJSON) then you can use which is really good, then export SVG into Illustrator. Unfortunately it doesn't allow SVG or any other Illustrator-friendly file format to be imported, and converting into GIS formats seems fiddly – user568458 Jul 19 at 9:29

If you want to retain the exact shape, you can not use Simplify. Simplify is not smart enough to understand where the path edge is... it just sees anchors and the angle of the handles from the anchors.

Your best bet would be to manually remove some anchors and adjust the path as you go.

I hate to tout third party stuff... but VectorScribe from has a "Smart Remove" option for anchors that works stunningly well. You could always download the FREE 7 day trial if you are using CS5 or earlier ( plug ins don't yet work with CS6).

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If it is a monocolour map then just remove one colour and fill the background with that colour.

You can also draw very simple shapes beneath, so the detailed artwork overlaps it everywhere.

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