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I've researched for what seems forever, and I cannot find anything explaining how to break a mesh into a (distorted) grid of vector shapes. I don't need to preserve any kind of gradient or coloring; I just, at least, need to keep the shape of the outline of the figure and convert it into a basic shape.

The concept is, I've used a mesh to distort a figure, but I now need to restore it back into a vector shape. If I can at least break the mesh into a grid of vector shapes, I can join them with the 'Pathfinder > Shape Modes > Unite'.

  • gradient meshes only expand to rasters, I fear. sad. because they use the gradient tool on lines as a gradient mesh. Which is great, until you need to change the line (with the gradient following it, in "apply gradient along stroke") – user69205 Jun 7 '16 at 22:23
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Without seeing the art, it's a bit difficult to give exact direction. However you should be able to do the following:

Select the Mesh.

Choose Object > Path > Offset Path and insert a value of 0.

This will create a new object which matches the outline of the mesh shape exactly.

If you need objects for each internal part of the mesh, John's suggestion to expand may help. Sometimes a combination of expanding and pathfinder can be helpful.

Another possible option is the select the mesh and use Object > Rasterize. Then use Image Trace to trace the shape.

  • Thanks! Exactly what I was looking for! Sorry if I was confusing. And I knew about Rasterizing and retracing, but that would have been my last resort, due to imprecision and likely extra unnecessary vectors. -- (I'll 1+ your answer when I get 15 rep) – Codesmith May 18 '13 at 19:21
  • Glad that helps. And I agree.. rasterizing and retracing is a last resort. But that at least gets vectors which you can then refine. – Scott May 18 '13 at 19:24
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Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but have you tried ObjectExpand? This would remove the Envelope Distort Mesh and convert it into a regular shape (no need to break apart into pieces then Unite them)

  • Object › Expand is grayed out when a gradient mesh is selected. – Andrew Swift Apr 30 '18 at 9:26
  • @AndrewSwift you're right about that, but the post is tagged as "gradient mesh" though the question never actually refers to one. I suspect it might be a mis-tag – JohnB Apr 30 '18 at 13:19

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