Does anyone know if it is possible to remove a gradient mesh from an object in Illustrator without producing a distorted/inaccurate outline? Adobe documentation as well as most online resources I found only suggest using Object > Path > Offset Path... (with offset set to 0px), however I find that for any object I try this on, the resulting outline does not precisely align with the object I start with.

  • 3
    Offset path should work. Can you show a screenshot where it's inaccurate? – Scott Mar 30 '13 at 5:35

There's no way to "undo" a mesh once you've moved past the undo limit or don't want to "undo" other changes you've made since creating a mesh.

As a standard practice, what I do is select the original object, copy, paste in front, then create the mesh on the front object. Refine the mesh and then group it with the back object. This way there is always the original path behind the mesh object.

I'm not certain why Object > Path > Offset Path with a value on 0 is not working for you. Both Const and I have asked to see a sample image. The only thing I can think of is that you want the exact original path back with the exact same anchors in the exact same positions. That's not possible.

Mesh edges are indeed vector shapes. I think you may be experiencing something entirely different, but without more explanation of your workflow anything would merely be a guess.


The problem with Gradient Mesh is not that it is being distorted when you apply Offset Path - it's being distorted when you create a Gradient Mash from your original shape: Illustrator adds new vertices to serve as color endpoints and turns every straight line into a "flat curve".

As there is no mechanism for Illustrator to remember the previous states of objects, except Undo, it simply does not "remember" what was the actual original shape before it had been turned into a Gradient Mesh. So, the unfortunate answer is no, Illustrator cannot precisely restore the original shape after conversion into Gradient Mesh.

However you may try to use Object > Path > Simplify to remove redundant points or to convert all curved lines into straight lines. Depending on your initial shape this may bring you back to what you previously had.

  • Thanks, unfortunately this is the answer I was afraid of. What seems strange though is that Illustrator does know how to render an outline after the gradient mesh has been applied (after all, the outline remains mostly the same after the application) yet that "knowledge" is somehow not kept/output as a vector shape. – Eugene Scherba Mar 31 '13 at 8:22
  • Can you please provide a screenshot that shows the inconsistencies? – Const Mar 31 '13 at 17:30

When you have your mesh tool selected, holding down the Alt Key will give you a small - sign next to your arrow or cross hairs. You can then click on each intersecting point to delete these. Once all are deleted you are left w/ the original shape.

  • 3
    No, you are left with the mesh edge with no internal points, but it is still a mesh. – Scott Sep 10 '13 at 13:31
  1. Select the object with unwanted mesh;
  2. Object/Path/Offset path;
  3. In the "Offset Path" dialog window enter 0 (zero) for Offset;
  4. OK;
  5. Delete the object with mesh;
  6. Voila.

This trick hasn't worked for me completely. I had to do 2 more steps:

  1. Select the object with unwanted mesh;
  2. Object/Path/Offset path;
  3. In the "Offset Path" dialog window enter 0 (zero) for Offset;
  4. OK;
  5. Expand appearance
  6. Ungroup
  7. Delete the object with mesh;
  • Hello Vera, welcome to GDSE and thanks for your contribution! Could you please specify what 'trick' you are talking about? The answers on this site aren't displayed in a fixed order, so in isolation your additional answer makes little sense. Thanks and enjoy your stay here! – Vincent Oct 23 '13 at 10:15

In less steps, offset path is not necessary:

  1. Expand appearance
  2. Ungroup
  3. Delete the object with mesh

Your own method Object > Path > Offset path is so far the best possible method. I got almost no difference in the mesh path with the outline path. At 6400% zoom, there is however very slight difference.


Here is a solution:

  • Copy the path (mesh included) from illustrator, then paste into Photoshop as 'paths' (new document - paste).
  • Copy back from Photoshop and paste back into Illustrator as compound path/s.

All mesh and colour info is now stripped from the shape.

  • In my situation, Offset 0 did literally nothing. No path was created at all. However, trick to paste the full mesh into Photoshop as Path, then select it, copy it and past back into Illustrator as a compound path worked perfectly! This site won't let me up-vote or comment yet, but the answer above that was oddly down-voted for no reason was exactly what I needed, thank you! Credit belongs to user20644. – Ken Jul 26 '14 at 18:15

Copy the mesh object. Rasterise it (Object > Rasterise), then use Image Trace to make a silhouette, which will convert it back into vector.

protected by DᴀʀᴛʜVᴀᴅᴇʀ Dec 8 '14 at 16:25

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