I am trying to fill a circle with a hexagonal arrangement of smaller circles in Illustrator. This is easily done by creating a pattern (as pattern have options for hexagonal tessellation) and then filling the circle with this pattern.

However, I want to manually remove all the circles which intersect with the boundary of the containing circle.

I have tried "expanding" the fill of the larger circle in order to be able to individually select the smaller "fill" circles. However, this only allows me to select a unit of tessellation, not the actual circles themselves:

enter image description here

How would I go about selecting (and deleting) individual circles?

1 Answer 1


When expanding a pattern, each module is a clipping mask inside another clipping mask.

To select the content there are two options, selecting an individual shape or all of them:

  • Menu Object > Clipping Mask > Release, do this step twice


  • Menu Object > Clipping Mask > Edit contents

enter image description here

Knowing each module has five circles, the best is expanding all the clipping masks because there will be overlapping shapes.


After releasing the Clipping Masks, to clean up the file deleting all the empty frames, select them with the Magic Wand with the options Fill Color and Stroke Weight:


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