I have a spiral that I want to break up into pieces depending on whats intersecting. It looks something like this:

enter image description here

Since it's a line, I can't use pathfinder. I can force the line to become a shape, but this struck me as inelegant. I watched a video on this, and the suggest to use the "cut paths" options in "path intersection." I have an AI subscription, and this does not seem to work for me. I dont have this "path intersection" option appear in my menu as described in Illustrator.

Any ideas what the problem is?

Also in the evnet this can't be done anymore, an elegant solution would also be appreciated. In the picture I want the coil to wrap around these two lines such that the backside of the coil is blocked by the object its wrapped around.

  • 1
    Path Intersection is an Inkscape command I believe. Never been part of Illustrator. You could possibly do Pathfinder > Divide but Pathfinder is notorious for not working with strokes effectively.
    – Scott
    Commented Dec 12, 2023 at 7:15
  • I'm ocnfused by this. Did you look at the video? Commented Dec 12, 2023 at 7:23
  • 1
    No. Just been an Illustrator user for more than 30 years. There is no "path intersect" command anywhere in Illustrator.
    – Scott
    Commented Dec 12, 2023 at 7:23
  • Ahh okay.. It's an Astute plug in video. Do you have Astute Graphics plugins installed?? Astute Graphics plug ins are not part of any standard Illustrator installation. You have to purchase their plugins.
    – Scott
    Commented Dec 12, 2023 at 7:24

1 Answer 1


In Illustrator it's easy to let also the spiral split itself at every crossing. Or you generate unwanted closed paths, not open strokes. Commercial add-on products exist to help (it's already said in comments). I skip them.

A free workaround

Try Inkscape. Recent Inkscape versions have many path operations which work like the users hope. An example:

enter image description here

In the left there's 2 paths. The black spiral and the red line.

Selecting both and applying Path > Cut Path makes the line to split the spiral. The line vanishes, so a spare copy may be needed. In the right some of the generated pieces are moved aside to show they are separate, but the spiral didn't split itself.

In the next image the blue line in the left can be used to split the pieces of the spiral. before applying Cut Path the black pieces below the line must be combined to a compound path by selecting them and applying Path > Combine:

enter image description here

Single splitting is enough if one uses the red curve shown in the right.

Illustrator imports paths from Inkscape if they are saved as "Plain SVG" to keep out all Inkscape-only effects.

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