This doesn't seem complex, and I'm not a beginner but can't figure it out or find answer online.

I want to be able to trim a series of lines to fit in a complex shape (lay the shape over a group of stroked paths and trim them so only segments that are within the shape remain). I want actual truncated line segments left so that I can apply strokes, widths, profiles and brushes to what's left.

I understand clipping masks (but they don't leave new endpoints for width/brushes) and envelopes (which bend/distort lines to fit) and have tried all of the pathfinder options with no luck. I can of course just use scissors and cut-cut-cut at each intersecting point, but this isn't a one-off shape it's a process that I want to be able to repeat often across several works.

Essentially it should just be a clipping mask that cuts/deletes line segments outside it and leaves actual line segments (not shapes) behind...seems simple and an obvious function, but I'm stumped. (I'm in CS6)

Thanks for any help!

  • It does indeed seem like it should be a simple matter. But it isn't. The Eraser Tool and a guide is honestly your best bet. If Pathfinder actually understood strokes better this would be a snap. But Pathfinder fails in instances like this.
    – Scott
    Nov 11, 2014 at 12:39
  • Thanks Scott -- your idea suggests that there's a way to use the eraser with a protective shape/guide that will shield whatever is under it (allowing the erasure of only what's exposed)...is that right? If so it's a (very useful) trick that I don't know; could you share a quick tip/link on how to use a shape as an eraser-shielding guide? Thanks much. Nov 11, 2014 at 12:53
  • Nope.. just a guide to visually see where you want to erase. Can't use a path because it'll be erased too. Unless you want to select all the paths before using the Eraser tool.
    – Scott
    Nov 11, 2014 at 12:59
  • Ahhh....was hoping there was some way to make a protective mask. Without one, this seems essentially the same (a bit quicker but less precise, depending upon one's eraser hand) as clicking through and individually snipping each intersection point. The whole idea of the software is to make drawing more automated and exact, hard to believe this task can't be done with a simple command. Thanks though for your empathy and suggestion. Nov 11, 2014 at 13:17
  • I do not disagree with you. Stroke manipulation in AI is often lacking.
    – Scott
    Nov 11, 2014 at 13:24

2 Answers 2

  1. select all the lines to be trimmed and the shape enter image description here

  2. grab the Shape Builder Tool, and Alt+Drag from A to B with it enter image description here

enter image description here

  1. repeat on other places as necessary

  2. on more complex shapes, where Alt+Dragging in a straight line is not possible, you can Alt+Click on individual lines to delete one by one.

  • +1 Yes, the shape builder can do this, in many cases but there are cases where it wont work. Hot Door has a trim plugin that does work for those cases aswell if one really needs this feature.
    – joojaa
    Nov 15, 2014 at 12:46
  • +1 This shape builder approach works for me. It takes few steps to complete the job but this is fair better comparing other options / tricks possible in Illustrator. Jul 21, 2020 at 18:02

I hope this is very simple to answer

  1. Just make a series of line
  2. Make your complex shape above that series of line
  3. By selecting that shape go to OBJECT > Path > Divide Object Below
  4. By selecting Divide Object Below Command It will cut all that lines in that particular shape

You will be left with that shape of lines.

For more clear view watch this Video

  • 3
    Tahnks Saurabh, but this method (and the video you were kid enough to create/post) deals with trimming shapes, not stroked lines. You created filled rectangles and then divided them using lines -- I'm essentially looking to do the opposite: trim lines using the confines of shapes. Nov 11, 2014 at 13:11

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