I'm drawing a bus line map. On some streets several bus lines pass together, so parts of the lines should be parallel and on a uniform distance from each other.

Ideally, I would like that when I draw a second line along the same street, it would snap automatically at a distance of X pixels away from the first line. Is this possible?


Tutorial: How to get from line to flat


  • I use the programm in german language, so you'll have to find the equal positions in the menus in your own version. I tried to capture the whole menus, so this task is easier.
  • Always - really always - make a copy of your layer if you transform it from line to flat. This step is not reversible. Just summon your save-copy-layers on bottom of layer structure and hide them. You'll need to get back at some step. Often it's easier to just get back and start a step from zero again than fiddling with moving lots of points around.

Step 1: Draw your image. Then start adding as many contures/lines in the "appearance(?)" toolbox as you need. These lines are layers inside a single line layer. Treat them as such. You can add a new line/flat/whatever-layer directly in the appearance toolbox at the bottom. Exactly as you're used to in your layer toolbox.

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Step 2: Adjust your line-layers. As you can see I added three layers. One for the dashed middle line (don't know why I wrote dotted), One for the flat in light grey and a third one in dark grey for the borders.

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Step 3a: Transform your single line layer into a grouped lines layer.

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Step 3b: Result.

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Step 4: Now tranform your lines (one after each other) into flats. It's a one-click-per-layer step.

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Step 5: Then select them in your layers toolbox Alt/Cmd + left click and drag & drop them out of their group. You should now have three layers above each other. Now you can do whatever you want to the edges of your new flats.

If you need parts of the path "_parallel" with an offset, go with the following. Then cut the offset path to only leave those parts that you need. Glue those peaces with your other path parts together.

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Footnote: If you're using this tutorial, due to the cc-license, on your homepage, please be so kind and link back here. It's highly appreaciated. Thanks.

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  • Hi Kaiser, thank you for the answer. In Appearance do you mean "offset path"? Yes, this is nice, but the thing is that the paths should not be entirely parallel, only parts of them... And I didn't understand the second advice. Do you mean the Layers panel at the right side of the screen? I tried to drag the line there, but nothing happens. – Ilya Kogan Sep 6 '11 at 6:49
  • @Ilya Kogan - See edit/update. – kaiser Sep 6 '11 at 12:52
  • I'm sorry but this doesn't help. Anyway, eventually I just used "Snap to grid" in order to make the paths parallel. – Ilya Kogan Sep 10 '11 at 12:07
  • @Ilya Kogan See edit/update. – kaiser Sep 11 '11 at 11:17

Illustrator uses points, not pixels.

I don't know of any automated way to snap to a point that is X points from another edge. The easiest I can think of is to turn on Smart Guides and Snap-to-point. The Smart Guides will snap at an intersection and then you can walk your anchor back a few points.

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  • you can also specify distances in pixels in Illustrator. – Joel Glovier Sep 10 '11 at 14:37

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