I am working from a clipart file I did not make, in Illustrator.

I would like to "simplify" this shape - that is, remove the anchor points inside of it to only preserve the outline:

enter image description here

I have found that only the Direct Selection Tool followed by pressing the Delete Key can remove the middle anchor and curves associated to it (the Delete Anchor Point Tool won't do anything).

However, after removing the central anchor and getting what seems to be a clean, simple shape, it still doesn't "play nice" with other shapes: for example, it doesn't allow me to make a Pathfinder Unite action. I put the file here and two "ears" on each side for you to try Pathfinder Unite if you want (if there's a better file hosting site, please let me know in comments and I will change its location).

What is wrong with this shape and how can I make it behave normally?

  • Have you tried Object > Expand?
    – curious
    Commented Sep 27, 2020 at 23:50
  • @curious no because it's not an option. Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 0:54

1 Answer 1


(I didn't download anything.. but it is simple identification merely looking at the posted image.)

That is a mesh object. Either a gradient mesh or an envelope mesh. There's nothing "wrong" with the shape. Meshes merely aren't "simple" objects and don't behave like simple objects. "Anchors" in mesh objects not only serve as construction indicators, but also color or transformation indicators.

You can't "unmesh" a mesh object in Illustrator - seriously, it's not possible. And Pathfinder/Shape Builder are relatively useless for mesh objects. If anything, mesh objects can seem to behave closer to raster objects where these commands are concerned.

You can select the object and use Object > Path > Offset Path set to 0. This will create a new path which mimics the overall shape of the mesh. Then simply delete the mesh object. This is really the only method I'm aware of to get the overall shape, without the mesh construction - of course, anchor placement on the new path will most likely not mimic the anchor placements on the mesh object, even though the path will be similar.

  • Great idea! Thanks Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 5:16
  • 1
    "There's nothing wrong with the shape" Yay for being tolerant & inclusive towards all shapes and sizes of vectors! ;)
    – dom
    Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 6:06

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