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I converted a line-art jpeg to vector so I can cut out the pattern on a laser etcher. The image has thousands of paths. But AI seems to have duplicated these paths, placing them right on top of each other in the same layer, such that when I direct-select and delete one of these paths, it leaves the identical path below it.

This is what I want to do so the laser cutter doesn't retrace these same paths twice. But since there are thousands, it's too tedious to select and delete each one. There's also no way of telling what has/hasn't been deleted already.

Minus back doesn't seem to work on strokes.

Suggestions?

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    What are your tracing settings. If you dont have ignore white on then the underlying path is the white path this can be easily dealt with by selecting everything filled with white. And no there is no way to delete overlapping paths. Anyway your worflow leaves something to be desired. Be prepared to have substandard results. – joojaa Jun 3 '20 at 18:07
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Do you have any images you could share?

You said the duplicate paths were stacked on top of each with no way to know which you have deleted. You could try the select similar tool or use the pathfinder tool to merge all the stacked duplicate paths together.

A more manual approach. You could create a new layer, and select each path (at once or one at a time) sitting at the top and move it to that layer. Isolating it from the rest of duplicates. Then turn orignal layer on and off as you work your way. In theory you should be able to isolate the top set of paths into the new layer and leave only the stacked duplicate paths on the old layer, which you could just delete in one go then.

It's tedious way of doing it but with out an image to look at may be the better option.

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Your owl looks quite ordinary result of succesful tracing.

enter image description here

I removed the stroke and inserted green fill color.

The tracing application has no idea which curves the artist has drawn. It sees only more or less wide colored areas and generates paths around them. The holes are handled by making another curve along the edge of each hole and by generating a compound path.

If you expect to get the lines as simple single strokes, you should try stroke only tracing setting. It unfortunately is not accurate at crossings, but try it.

Know that many of us have wanted years that someone invents a practical way to convert traced images like yours to single stroke line drawings. Or to make the single stroke tracing properly also at curve crossings. But maybe that genius still waits to be bred.

I'm afraid that you must redraw it as vector curves to get a clean well controlled set of paths. We call it manual tracing. I must admit that the job would be beyond my drawing ability and patiency even with the best quality tools.

BTW I use legacy software including Illustrator. That can affect the result I saw.

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