I have this artwork I was sent for a product and I need to clean up the lines and all these overlapping lines.

I can't get the client to go back to the designer for new art so I'm stuck with what I've got which is a lovely Compound Path.

Manually I COULD go through, delete points, rejoin open paths, and go on for an eternity but I'm looking for methods that would be quicker.

Here's what I'm working with.

enter image description here

The end product will be colored to several pallets and then printed, and made into products etc.

I'm looking for NON-PLUGIN alternative methods. I know Astute Graphics has some wonderful tools but I'm looking for cost-effective methods.

  • 3
    Quite honestly (even with all the Astute stuff on my system) I think manually is the only really effective way. There's just too much inconsistency in the art for automation. I'd kick it back or charge an arm and a leg for clean up.
    – Scott
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 23:24
  • @Scott I'm already upping my rate, they sourced their art from some spec site so getting better art is not possible. Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 23:28
  • 1
    Yeah if it was just paths it'd be easier, But clearly there are brush strokes there with "wobbles" in them adding another aspect. Is it all expanded paths (shapes) or strokes? And of course.. if they aren't concerned.. you don't necessarily need to be concerned either. Some production houses I use spit out what I send, bad or not.
    – Scott
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 23:42
  • There might be a trick if they are paths.
    – joojaa
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 6:36
  • You could probably get a ukranian teenager to do this for $5 using fiverr.com or a similar site 😬
    – filip
    Commented Aug 10, 2018 at 16:19

3 Answers 3


if you don't need stroke to edit means just shape based object , just expand all your strokes by selecting all artwork and going to object > expand. after that you can use shape builder tool. like images,i have attached.you can drag over shape to join them in single shape hold alt to remove extra shapesjoining shapes
deleting extra shape by holding alt

  • There's no way shape builder will help with this, I would still have to manually redo the shapes. Commented Jan 15, 2018 at 18:14
  • Note: Shape builder tool can get a bit laggy if the image is too complicated. Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 15:52

I don't think it's possible to automate any sort of cleanup based upon what you've posted.

Unfortunately it appears as though all the artwork was created using brushes without care for how they ended/started leaving some misalignments and "blobs" at the ends, and then all strokes have been expanded, and finally everything seems to have been merged creating a compound shape.

Starting from the final merged shape, I can think of nothing other than manual cleanup to correct the visual inconsistencies.

There may be some manual methods making things easier. For example, drawing white strokes/shapes to cover areas which extend beyond where they should then using pathfinder to merge again - resulting in cleaner edges. I find it easier for me to draw shapes as opposed to selecting path sections, removing them and reconnecting things.

Heck, even redrawing it entirely may be faster than trying to clean it up. I would realistically look at that as my first option.

All this being posted, if the client isn't concerned about quality, you don't necessarily need to be overly concerned with it either. If that's the art they sent, you'd be well within your right to use what they sent - good or bad. Of course, you may feel assisting in improving clear inconsistencies is the "right thing to do". I know that would absolutely be my inclination. But it honestly may come down to a workload vs cost/time issue on your end. There may be hours and hours of work there depending upon the final size. Whether or not you can "comp" that time I wouldn't know.


As Scott mentioned Doing it manually would produce the best results, it would also take a while.

Doing it manually

You could potentially use the path eraser tool and/or the direct selection tool to select and manually move each and every anchor point

If you want it to go faster you would need to use a plugin. I know you said you were looking for a cheaper way, however:

Time = Money

Note: Astute Graphics usually offers a free 14 day trial for their plugins so you can try them out.

  • 1
    Frankly, I don't see how the Astute Plugins will help with much of it. Some things yes, but 60-90% is still going to be manual. I love Astute to death, but they aren't the be-all-end-all in every case.
    – Scott
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 23:40

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