There are plenty of questions about subtracting a path from a shape with a fill, but I want to know if the opposite is possible. Here is an example:

This is the object I'm working with, and I want to subtract the red shape from the three strokes so that the anchor points are along the edge of the inner circle:

enter image description here

And this is what I want the paths to look like afterwards:

enter image description here

Is this possible? How would it be done?

  • 1
    Hi. Welcome to GDSE. Is there a reason you can't use a clipping mask instead?
    – Billy Kerr
    Oct 9, 2018 at 21:23
  • @BillyKerr I'm not super familiar with clipping masks, but it's my understanding that if I used a clipping mask, the end result would look how I want it to, but the endpoint anchors on the line segment would still be overlapping. This is a partial solution to what I'm asking for, but I want to be able to build off of the anchor point.
    – Sam Sabin
    Oct 9, 2018 at 21:33
  • Or rather than a clipping mask, move the anchor points on the paths. (Outline mode, Smart Guides, and the Shift key may help) Really the Pathfinder/Shape builder tools aren't designed to handle strokes well.
    – Scott
    Oct 9, 2018 at 21:42
  • @Scott Just tried this with Smart Guides on, Outline mode on, while holding the Shift key, but the anchor points always seems to be a little off of the path. Maybe I just need to adjust some settings in Smart Guides? If that is the problem, how would I do that?
    – Sam Sabin
    Oct 9, 2018 at 21:47

2 Answers 2


It's easy enough to do this manually, with the addition of anchor points.

With the Pen Tool selected, and Smart Guides enabled - click on the intersection of each path with the circle to add an anchor.

With the Direct Selection Tool (A), select and delete the end anchors.

enter image description here

  • +1 :) 'cept I'd use the minus anchor tool (-) rather than the click then delete :)
    – Scott
    Oct 10, 2018 at 0:32
  • @Scott - yes that would do it too, and one less key press.
    – Billy Kerr
    Oct 10, 2018 at 10:30

enter image description here

Here the green line is like the right end of your problematic line. Because it's horizontal and straight line (no matter, is it dashed or not), dragging it shorter with the normal selection tool does the job. Only be sure that you have

  • smart guides ON
  • snap to points ON, all other snaps disabled
  • few pixels snapping distance selected in the preferences

The screenshot is taken during the dragging.

If the line is not horizontal, you can insert a new anchor point to the line at the crossing and delete the endpoint. Bring the line to front for easy selection.

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