I do a lot of artwork in Illustrator, and am pretty experienced. However I find myself having redraw lines often with each new level of detail, for instance adding shadows to a complex object - I have to redraw the lines where it meets the edge.

I've included a very basic example to illustrate my point:

As I see it there are two ways to overcome this:

  • Redraw the edge of the object manually, or...
  • copy the lines from the layer beneath

Both of which are a bit annoying to do, and often imperfect.. Perhaps I'm missing something simple - can I do something such as attach the end points to the edge of the object and have Illustrator fill in the colour? As it is it will automatically draw a straight line from each end point.

  • Could you please provides a couple illustrations to help explain what you mean? Thanks Sep 29, 2011 at 15:03
  • Included an example Sep 29, 2011 at 16:09
  • I have updated the question to include the image inline. Sep 29, 2011 at 17:19

2 Answers 2


I'm not sure how you are generating that cube, but I think you are missing a trick here when it comes to working with Illustrator. Instead of having a base layer that is the outline of the object and then adding other lines, your object should be made up of three polygons, such that the outlines overlap, and then fill them in.

I don't think it is possible to give a general guide on how to overcome the general issue. Illustrator is as much about illusion as it is anything, and that illusion requires a fair amount of strategy. Each illustration is unique in its own way.

  • Well the cube is just an example, I normally work with much more complex objects (i.e. humanoids), with several layers of shading ontop of one another, in my opinion its impractical to try and create illustrations without any overlap. From your answer I gather that there is no easy way to overcome this issue? Sep 29, 2011 at 19:06
  • I have updated my answer, but more examples of issues you are having might help others offer up better answers. But, personally, Illustrator requires a fair amount of work to get things right, and I don't see an easy way to get around it. Sep 29, 2011 at 19:20

If you're feeling adventurous, you could also consider using gradient meshes. Create your object, add points to the gradient mesh wherever you want shadowing / highlights / etc. and tweak then until you get the look you want. Meshes can range from comic book-style solids to amazingly photorealistic results.

Having said that, gradient meshes can get pretty complicated, and they take time and care to work right. Philip Regan is right in that Illustrator requires a fair amount of work to get things right, but it's worthwhile once you're done.

This is one of many great tutorials online for meshes; there are also a bunch of video-based ones if that's your preference.

  • I remember playing with gradient meshes a while back, and yes you're right they can get messy pretty quick! I'll give it another go though. Sep 30, 2011 at 10:33

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