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So I traced a series of shapes to give the impression of grocceries in a trolley. I first used the pen tool making intersecting lines and then using the shapebuilder tool filled with colour and removed overlapping paths.

I have encountered a problem however if I do want to tweak any shapes afterwards there are gaps. I guess Im starting to realise that the shapebuilder tool has a kind of cookie cutter effect. I am wondering if there is a better method of doing this with this particular random mosaic of shapes? Perhaps just creating individual shapes instead? I think using the pen tool to create shapes with intersecting paths and then using the shapebuilder tool probably not the best method in this case.

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Yes.

One creates individual objects, then merely stacks them on top of each other. There is no inherent problem with merely stacking objects. In fact, to avoid conflation artifacts, stacking can be preferable in many instances.

Shape Builder (and Live Paint) will indeed have a "cookie cutter" effect on artwork, removing objects underneath where the tool has been used.

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(There's no simple or easy way to undo what Shape Builder/Live Paint does to shapes. Other than hitting "undo" repeatedly. They are destructive tools.)

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