I've created symmetrical drawings using the "Transform" effect under Effects > Distort & Transform > Transform. After I'm done with them, I'd like to change the whole thing into actual paths. (not shapes, so expand, expand appearance or flatten transparency doesn't work for me, as far as i know) How can I do this?

enter image description here


I suggest an alternate workflow-

It seems you have made your original shapes with a brush other than the "Basic" brush. Any brush other than the "Basic" will turn your paths into filled shapes when you do Expand Appearance (as @Scott mentioned in his answer to your previous question).

If change your brush strokes to the "basic" brush before you do Expand Appearance you will lose the look (appearance) of your brushstrokes. You will have to change the stroke weight and the corners and caps to look like your original Brush.

The Expand Appearance is required to turn your Effect> Distort and Transform into an actual path and not an effect.

Do away with the Transform Effect (the reflection) and simply use the Reflect Tool (O) to reflect and copy your brush strokes. Alt/Option click a point on your original path and a dailog will come up allowing you to choose the Vertical Reflect option. Choose Copy rather than OK at the bottom. Then you can join your paths (as @Billy Kerr says in his answer to this question) and not have to expand and lose the Appearances you have.

If you do this again then create your paths with either the Pencil tool (as you have said) or the Pen tool. Then do your Transform Effect, then Expand Appearance and join your paths, then apply your desired brushstroke.

  • Thanks for the suggestion, this method sounds much better, but i have some more complex designs with 8-copy reflections (think like mandalas), so this might not be the way to go for me. In any case, I have tens of drawings I've already done with the brush tool + transform effect, that I want to convert into actual paths with no brush stroke. Losing the look is completely fine, I only need them as paths and I can redefine the look from there. Do you know any way to convert them into actual paths? – Ali Eser Feb 1 at 16:46
  • Select them all and change the brush stroke to "basic". Then expand appearance to make the transform effect a path- then join them as explained. Then you can change their appearance- stroke weight etc. . – Kyle Feb 1 at 16:58
  • Here is what I have on my end: drive.google.com/file/d/1B_2sAcU_ks7PZCUUtFVEenBdN_Z9DTqP/… As soon as I turn it into basic brush, it becomes greyed out! What am I missing? – Ali Eser Feb 1 at 17:13
  • Seems like something else was causing the problem: there was an invisible object in the layer which I've used to setup the transform effect, then hid it. Turning that back on and selecting that as well before doing expand appearance works perfectly. Thanks! – Ali Eser Feb 1 at 17:52

Select the path, and do Object > Expand Appearance. This will render the Transform effect as an actual path.

To get the corners to work as a mitre join, you'll need to join the two paths by selecting both paths and do Object > Path > Join.

You may also have to move the paths so that the two end anchors intersect, so that they are exactly in the same position before you attempt the join. Use Smart Guides to do this.


enter image description here

  • Thanks for the help Billy, however there are two situations here: 1- If my drawing has a brush stroke, I can do expand appearance but that doesn't convert it to paths, it converts into shapes with fill but no stroke: i.imgur.com/7jgQ3sR.png – Ali Eser Feb 1 at 13:39
  • 2- If my drawing has no brush stroke, it's just naked paths with stroke/no fill - I can't use expand apperance at all, it is just greyed out. I can use the "expand" though, but I'm not sure how that works – Ali Eser Feb 1 at 13:41
  • @AliEser what kind of path are wie talking here? It shoudlnt do this. – joojaa Feb 1 at 14:10
  • It's weird, If i drew the designs with pencil tool, expand appearance turns them into paths just fine - but if i drew the desings with brush tool (which i did %99 of them) and later removed the brush stroke, to only leave a regular stroke, expand appearance turns them into shapes with fill (like in the image in the above comment) – Ali Eser Feb 1 at 14:38
  • I'm sorry, I can't use expand appearance if i drew the designs using the brush tool and then removed the brush stroke. In that case, expand appearance is greyed out. I think i'm missing a step there? – Ali Eser Feb 1 at 15:39

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