I'm trying my hand at making a map using illustrator. I'm fairly new at it so I'm still learning the ropes. I'm trying to divide up a continent into several countries using border lines. Here's an example of what I'd like to do:

This image restriction for new users is kinda silly

...so I would end up with two separate, enclosed figures sharing that border. I've tried using divide, but it doesn't work like all the tutorials (like this one) are saying it should. They say that when I use divide, it should keep both figures. But when I use the divide tool with the coastline and border, it cuts the left country as I want it, but discards the right, like shown below. Naturally, I want to keep both.

(I mean, I've got over 10 rep on other sub-sites)

Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks.


2 Answers 2


It would appear what you really want is Object > Path > Divide Objects Below

divide below.

If you have a shape, draw a path where you want to split the shape, select the path and choose Object > path > Divide Objects Below, you will then be left with two separate shapes split where your path was drawn.

The Pathfinder Divide function will not retain both portions of a shape. And the response in that question you linked to indicated the shape was duplicated before performing Patherfinder operations. The divide did not retain both sides of the shape.

  • Thanks for the answer, but for whatever reason this doesn't work. When I highlight the path and and divide objects below, the path just disappears and some miscellaneous objects are highlighted. The object does not get split. See here
    – BB ON
    Dec 16, 2012 at 4:42
  • Confirm the order of things in the layers panel and make sure there are no stray objects within the range of your path that might be divided instead. It may be helpful to switch to outline mode so you can see everything, whether color has been applied or not. Dec 16, 2012 at 4:50
  • You need to ensure the path is the only item selected and it's immediately above the items being divided in the object stack. If this isn't working for you, it's more about how the objects are stacked than anything else.
    – Scott
    Dec 16, 2012 at 8:07
  • Alright, for whatever reason I can't particularly fathom, this works on every other land mass I try, just not this particular one. This line is on top and the coastline is on the bottom. Using outline mode I was able to eliminate some "glitches" (loops, cusps, etc) that may have contributed to the problem but alas nothing. I'll accept your answer anyways.
    – BB ON
    Dec 16, 2012 at 16:08
  • Is the path closed on the right? I can't tell from your images. If the land mass is an open path, you'll need to close it. Then use the divide below, then you can delete whatever path you added to close it.
    – Scott
    Dec 16, 2012 at 20:00

Ah, I think I see the problem. You'll need to ensure the path you're using to cut completely covers the portion of the other path. This doesn't mean the path needs to be closed, but it will need additional points — it is the fill area that's used for the pathfinder operation.

Please forgive the dodgy images below (they were created in Photoshop, because I don't have Illustrator installed on this Mac).

It seems like this is what you have:

enter image description here

But what you want is this:

enter image description here

I'd then use the pathfinder divide. It'll divide all the parts, and you can use the direct selection tool to select the unwanted regions and delete them.

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