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In Illustrator, if you have two paths where an anchor from each is aligned horizontally and vertically(so they are right on top of each other) you can select both anchors, and join them with the join command so that the two paths become one. The issue I have is that you have to select the anchor points to do it. If there is no other artwork, this is a trivial task(just quickly lasso select around the two points and you're good to go). But if there are lots of paths all leading to the same anchor(for example if someone was making a grid, a spiderweb, or perhaps a perspective grid where a lot of lines all converge on one point), then it can become very tedious to isolate the anchor points of those two paths. Selecting the paths are easy, but getting the right anchor points is difficult because there are many anchor points all overlapping each other.

Is there a way that I can select two paths with anchor points already aligned, and join them with the paths selected instead of the anchor points selected(similar to how the pathfinder tool works, but with anchor points instead of shapes?)

If not, are there alternate workflows to make this selection of the anchor points faster/easier?

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If you just select paths and hit Command/Ctrl + j (Object > Path > Join) they will connect. You don't have to select specific anchors. The first tap of the shortcut (or menu selection) will join the two closest end anchors. Subsequent use will connect any other end anchors.

enter image description here

You can actually do this with several path selected.. but the joining behavior is largely unpredictable at that point...

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The difference is that if you direct-select the end anchors, you can Average + Join to a smooth or corner point - resulting in only 1 anchor remaining.

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  • Awesome, thanks!
    – Sam Sabin
    Dec 29, 2023 at 1:26
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The problem is not totally new, surely at least a part of it has been asked earlier.

enter image description here

If I red it right you have crossing paths, like the red one and the black one in the left half of my image. And just at the crossing both paths have an anchor point.

In the right a new shape (green) is placed on the paths. Now you want somehow to force the red and black paths to join to one exactly at the crossing, where both of them have an anchor point.

You tell you have a problem: The green shape makes difficult to select the anchors at the crossing and the paths maybe tend to join at somewhere else or they do not at all join.

Unfortunately the green shape is not your problem. You can always lock or make invisible the other artwork and select just the wanted anchors by lassoing. Your problem is that 2 paths join to one only at their endpoints. In common vector drawing programs there's no such thing as paths which have branches like a tree. In addition your term "shared anchor point" doesn't present well what's available. Every anchor point belongs only to a single path.They cannot be shared between paths.

You can make 2 paths to behave like one by combining them to a compound path. This is needed in many cases when one wants to use pathfinder operations or effects. The drawback is that with closed paths which have a fill color compound paths are also used to to make holes. Such things as glyphs in fonts apply it continuously (think letters A, B, D, O...). Read from the User's manual of compound paths.

In Inkscape the situation is the same. Compound paths are there called "combined paths". And you also meet the sane in Affinity Desigber and numerous other vector drawing programs.

In many cases making a group is enough. If you group together several paths they are easy to be kept together when moving, scaling or rotating them. In a group every path can easily get the same fill, stroke, line type and line width, if wanted.

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