I've made a set of seamless patterns in Illustrator, that I want to expand into complete paths. Object>Expand... expands the pattern into separate tiles of the original pattern with a clipping mask (see image below in the outline view).

However, I'm looking for a way that I end up with the paths limited by the shape's boundaries. The purpose is specifically to transform the SVGs into gcode for CNC machine-style plotting, which only works with complete paths.

Any help, tools, plugins, advice appreciated!

Expanding patterns into complete paths

  • Veru long one stroke patterns anbd shape builder. But really there is no very effecient way to do this. Illustrator is not a cam application afer alsls and the concequence of designing for color is that developpers think only in terms of surfaces.
    – joojaa
    Jun 2, 2020 at 13:27
  • In many instances you can expand then use Crop on the Pathfinder Panel. That does depend upon the construction of the actual pattern tile though. i.e. a pattern of strokes won't work well with this method but for a pattern of shapes it should work great.
    – Scott
    Jun 2, 2020 at 18:21

1 Answer 1


I wouldn't use a pattern for this. Make a step blend between two lines at 45°. Expand the blend.

Draw a circle on top with no stroke or fill, select all, and use the Shape Builder tool Shift+M while holding down Alt to remove the outer lines. You can also select the circle and delete it after this.


enter image description here

  • Thanks! Yeah, that would be my fallback if I have no other choice. Most of my patterns are mixed into complex multilayered shapes, so I'd rather expand my patterns than redraw them one by one. :)
    – Sulphr
    Jun 2, 2020 at 15:17
  • @Sulphr Well, it's going to be more difficult if you use a complex pattern. You'd need to expand it and release all the clipping paths that are generated. Then draw a circle, then use the Shape Builder. Unfortunately there is no simple fix for this.
    – Billy Kerr
    Jun 2, 2020 at 15:21
  • Yea, was afraid of that. Cheers for thinking a long! 🙌
    – Sulphr
    Jun 2, 2020 at 15:25
  • @Sulphr its only problematic if yoru pattern does not terminate exactly on the boundary if it does then no problem just delete all mask objects
    – joojaa
    Jun 2, 2020 at 17:53

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