I have a compound path that I'd like to fill with a pattern that contains a stroked path. No problem, but now I'd like to merge or minus the compound path, leaving the stroke intact.

the example below illustrates what I'm trying to do, but in the third step, those would be stroked paths not shapes.


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Grab the Shape Builder Tool

Option/alt-click-drag across the areas you do not want.


  • Unfortunately this won't work since the shape I want it to use as the "mask" is very complex. It would be easier for me to use the eraser on the negative area. Apr 3, 2015 at 4:45
  • Not really sure how the eraser would be easier. The Shape Builder tool will remove everything outside the inner shape just by option-touching the stroke. With the erasure you'd have to cover every piece outside the inner shape. Did you try this or are you merely dismissing it without experimenting?
    – Scott
    Apr 3, 2015 at 4:55
  • .. and it sounds like what you want maybe a pattern fill opposed to independent strokes.
    – Scott
    Apr 3, 2015 at 5:02
  • Its cool if you can't see why the eraser would be easier, not everyone uses illustrator to the same extent. Like I said, its a very complex shape, with lots of small negative space, using the shape builder even on one of the paths takes about 5-10 seconds to render with an i7 and 16GB of RAM. If i wanted to sue a pattern, I'd have used a pattern. I want the strokes intact so I can round the edges. Apr 3, 2015 at 5:31
  • Okay.. I've never had any issues with the Shape Builder tool, and I'm on a Xeon Westmere core with 32GB of RAM. It's always been faster than the eraser here.
    – Scott
    Apr 3, 2015 at 6:03

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