As an example I'm trying to cut out the eyes and mouth of this circle. When I create a compound path out of the eyes it works fine but when I try and do the mouth it kind of makes it this weird shape instead of keeping its original form.


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Sorry if this is a stupid question. I'm just starting out with illustrator and trying to understand some of the basic tools.

Thank you!

  • 1
    .....cant make compound shapes with merely stoked paths.
    – Scott
    Commented Feb 8, 2021 at 18:02

2 Answers 2


It appears as though the eyes are ellipses with a black Fill.

The mouth appears to be a white stroked path with round end caps.

When you make a Compound Path the separate objects become one object so they can only have one fill and one stroke attribute. What you are seeing is the Stroked Path of the mouth as an open Path with a black Fill.

Prior to making your Compound Path select the mouth and go to Object> Path> Outline Stroke to change your stroked path to a filled shape.This can also be done by selecting your stroked path and going to Object> Expand. Then when you make your Compound Path it will look as expected.


When you make a Compound Path from separate objects that have different Fill or Stroke attributes, the attributes of the object that is at the bottom (the lower position in the layer stack) will be applied to all components of the Compound Path.

  • Ahhh thank you! This makes so much more sense
    – Lauren
    Commented Feb 8, 2021 at 18:49

The important part in any vector drawing is the path. Select your shape ans see what got highlighted. That is the underlying data.

A compound path is a filling construct. It exists to make fills that individual paths could not make. As a general rule the vector fomat only has fearures that are strictly needed for drawing. Nothing there is for your freedom of modeling.

Since compound paths are fill constructs it will fill as if each individual path would be one. Since open paths fill as if they were closed thats what you get.

If you want to cut out the mouth stroke shape. Expand it first.

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