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
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 22:23

2 Answers 2


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
    Commented May 18, 2013 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
    Commented May 18, 2013 at 19:24

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.
    – Andy Swift
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 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
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 13:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.