I am trying to optimize a file to draw it with a plotter.

If I use the file "as-is" a lot of strokes will be drawn by the plotter that are actually not visible parts of the drawing.

So I would like to remove all the parts of strokes that are not visible. In this screenshot, I highlighted the kind of strokes I want to remove on the jogger woman, while I already removed all the invisible strokes for the man (a long process!).

enter image description here

The only way I can think of right now would be to rasterize the image and then image trace it, but ideally there would be a less destructive way of doing that?

  • There is a non-destructive way of merging shapes in Illustrator. Look up the Shaper Tool, and Shaper Goups, however in this instance I don't think it will work for you. The problem is that it's non-destructive and so the underlying paths will still be there in reality. A more practical possibility is to use the Shape Builder tool.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Sep 27, 2020 at 12:16

2 Answers 2


You can use the Pathfinder: Trim Option:

Pathfinder Trim

  • 1
    Amazing! Thanks! This should be super useful for people using Illustrator to prepare files for pen plotters! Commented Sep 26, 2020 at 8:34
  • 1
    @MicroMachine Merge is very often better than Trim. Both are very similar but there is a slight difference. See here
    – Scott
    Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 17:26

Use (shape builder tool)........ shape builder tool

  • I don't know why this was down voted. It's correct. It may not be the fastest, easiest, method. It is is a method which will work. Hopefully my +1 takes away some of the sting regarding the down votes. Welcome!
    – Scott
    Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 17:28
  • 1
    I had flagged this as spam because it basically duplicated the existing answer and came with an unsolicited link from a 1-rep user. Now that the link is gone I will retract my spam flag.
    – tripleee
    Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 18:10
  • With that link.. yeah.. I could see that -- which is why I removed the link.
    – Scott
    Commented Sep 29, 2020 at 16:40

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