I have a complex file containing large number of black and white shapes, which make up buildings. I would like to get a single black shape - exactly the one I see in preview mode. Here is a file showing part of a building in outline mode - so you can see what the building is made of. outline

Now here is the file in preview mode - this is what I would like to have.


(I need to cut this from vinyl with a vinyl cutter, so I need an exact outline of where to cut) Pathfinder - Unite does not work, as I will end up only with the outline of the building and all the details disappear. If some knows the answer...It would be so much appreciated! Many thanks! Sylvia

2 Answers 2


Based upon the outline view it appears as though everything has been expanded. So....

Select all.

Click the Merge button on the Pathfinder Panel.

This will combine all black shapes and combine all white shapes. In addition, it will remove anything which is overlapping and not visually apparent, simplifying everything in two simple steps.

If you have stroked paths, then you need to expand the artwork prior to using Pathfinder. Merely select all and choose Object > Expand leaving both "Fill" and "Stroke" selected and click OKAY. Then proceed with the Pathfinder.


The quickest way is Tracing. Sure you will have paths to retouch, but much less than having to make the whole image part by part.

After copying the preview image at the question and paste it in Illustrator >

Image Trace

enter image description here


enter image description here



Outline Mode


Preview Mode


Possible working method

  • Zoom the image as big as possible
  • Make a screenshot framing only the image
  • Place this screenshot in Illustrator
  • Trace the image
  • 1
    caveat: with this method some details get lost, and some lines won't be straight. I wouldn't recommend this if the file is already vector
    – Luciano
    Aug 22, 2018 at 7:57

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