This is really frustrating me, as it seems it should be so simple.

I was sent a PDF map, and I want to turn what they used as individual shapes, INTO one shape that I can fill.

Even if I could just convert this group into a line with a stroke I could do it, but I am running out of ideas.


The shape above, each of those squares are indivudual shapes. But what I need to do is fill that area inside them.

Any ideas?

I have tried turning it into a compound shape, I have tried live paint (even though I knew that wouldnt work because of the gaps).

  • If each of these black quads is actually a simple line segment with line thickness, and the underlying data can be accessed, it is a simple matter to create a shape from those segments. Can you output the line segment data? Actually, I'm betting it's already a closed shape, with a dotted line style. More information needed.
    – Jack
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 15:45

3 Answers 3


One way is to add an outline to all the singular shapes, thick enough to fill the gaps. Then use "Expand Appearance" on all objects. Select all and use "Unite" in the pathfinder Tool window. The objects should now form a single shape which you can work with.

  • This would certainly work. I was a bit stuck on the idea of maintaining an accurate line along either the current outer or inner edge, or the mid-line, but it really is a question of requisite accuracy.
    – Jack
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 15:56
  • 2
    Come to think of it, I would add to this answer: Break Apart, Select All, Expand Appearance, Unite, Smooth, Shrink That should end up being close to the original shape.
    – Jack
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 15:58
  • Good answer! Would be perfect with some screenshots.
    – Wolff
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 16:02

This might work for you... It's a bit hodgepodge but gets to one shape...

This assumes each "dash" is an individual shape, no groups and no compound paths.

  • Select all (I then hid the edges in the animation - View > Hide Edges - for better visibility)
  • Object > Transform > Transform Each
  • Increase the horizontal and vertical scale so that the gaps fill
  • Pathfinder Panel > Merge Button
  • Then possibly Object > Path > Simplify to remove some of the extra anchors

enter image description here

Then, if necessary you can deal with the thickness of the shape, since this will result in a slightly thicker shape in most instances: See Here.

  • What about instead of the scale. Youd use shape builder with sufficiently high gap detection. Should be slightly less prone to problems in a bigger shape range with no thickening. Nice trick though.
    – joojaa
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 19:15
  • That might work Joojaa.. would require a lot more clicking. :)
    – Scott
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 19:22
  • Not beween the shapes. But on the inner area should be one click
    – joojaa
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 19:23
  • hmm.. yeah.. maybe. I've never really tried to gap-fill via shape builder. Most of the time I simply draw new shapes separately or to fill/cover gaps, then merge/unite. i.e. in this case, I'd simply draw a new path if it were my project.
    – Scott
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 19:30
  1. First of all select all layer ..

Select Object > Compound path...

  1. Select all layer..

Right click and compound path..

  • A compound path does not "fill in the gaps".
    – Scott
    Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 18:18

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