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So.. i'm following along with this video..this issue i'm having can be found if you fast forward to about 22:16 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TL5hjyJG1L4&t=1244s

When i attempt to do what he's doing multiple things go wrong... the first being my lines disappear in the hair... before i click "merge" in the pathfinder it looks like this

enter image description here

and after merge it looks like this

enter image description here

The second issue is the color doesn't fill in the entire graphic like it shows in the video instead it ends up looking like this when i do the final step which is isolate selected group then press delete

enter image description here

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Offhand, the primary difference I see is closed shapes vs open paths.

  • Before preforming the Pathfinder Merge function, the tutorial artwork is all closed shapes. No open paths.

  • Your artwork appears to be a collection of open paths, not closed shapes.

Pathfinder Merge doesn't really work with open paths. It tends to ignore them entirely or merely remove them.

If you wish to construct the image the way that tutorial suggests you need to ensure that each area of your artwork is comprised of a primary shape that is closed. For example, looking at the right side of the hair in your image, it's clearly open.

enter image description here

At a minimum you need the entire outer perimeter of the image to be a closed path, or collection of closed paths, to use Pathfinder the way that tutorial suggests.

  • Is there a way to highlight all of the openings i need to close? I've connected all of the openings (as far as i can tell) and the same thing is still happening, i've even tried drawing a connected circle around the entire illustration (you said the outer perimeter needed closed) and its not doing it. – maggi867 Apr 3 at 1:44
  • It's very difficult to give direction without seeing actual construction. I'd suggest you review the tutorial from the beginning. I didn't actually watch more than a minute or so, but my guess would be, if it's a decent tutorial, it will explain how and why paths need to be closed. – Scott Apr 3 at 2:39
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You seemingly have drawn your image like a cartoonist could do with black ink onto paper. As explained by others, you have not worried how you can fill areas. Generally vector graphics programs give difficult to predict results if you set fill colors and try to combine shapes like this.

Here's one workaround:

enter image description here

  1. A random shape, the strokes present forms and they should stay visible, maybe not as black, but visible. The area should be filled with a solid color, too.

Warning: There can well be in the same image also other strokes which do not belong to this shape. To keep control one must draw in the beginning strokes which belong to same shape to shape's own layer or color them uniquely. Strokes can be selected by color and they can be grouped or moved to a new layer. Having everything in one layer, with the same color and ungrouped makes all modifications extremely difficult. Groups and layers make possible to make selections in the layers panel and parts can be hided and locked to keep them safe. If you haven't organized your strokes, start from it!

  1. Visually check the outline and draw some supplement strokes to have a solid outline. The new strokes are here red to show them. All are copied to the clipboard, pasted aside and grouped to have a copy to be used later. It can be also saved in the clipboard, but a visible copy is safer.

  2. All strokes are selected, outlined (Object > Path > Outline Stroke) and united with the Pathfinder panel Unite. It doesn't seem different, but all lines are filled areas.

  3. the shapes are selected and the holes are removed with Object > Compound path > Release. It's now a bunch of filled black shapes

  4. All shapes are united again to make a single shape. It's filled with brown color

  5. The strokes are pasted in place or moved from aside and colored

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