I'm fairly new to Illustrator, but I'm working on this vector:

referenced vector

Right now this is accomplished by circle paths, white fill color, and also two strokes. The blue stroke is 4px and then there is a white stroke of 6px under that, which is how I'm getting the gap between the circles.

I need to ultimately have the image be transparent, with no fill, and the white stroke gone. How is it that I can cut out the need for the white stroke and fill?

My first thoughts were to try and do each overlapping circle separately and do a "Minus Front", but this doesn't work because the blue is a stroke and will just redraw along the line of the overlapping circle that cut the bottom path.

Second thought is that if there was a way to turn the stroke into a path with a fill instead of a stroke on a circle, that this would be possible. I Found Object > Path > Outline Stroke which does this, and I can kind of get it working, but then the steps to accomplish would be:

  1. Edit > Expand Appearance each circle
  2. Edit > Path > Outline Stroke each circle
  3. Copy/PasteInPlace a overlapping circle and subtract the copied circle from whatever is beneath it. (for each overlap!! So I'd have to do this 7 or 8 times!?)
  4. Reorder layers (because each path merge messes with the layer order?)

And those steps would work, but it takes a hell of a lot of time to do that, and I'd have to save the file before all of these steps because if I want to change the image after this (ie stroke size), I'd have to do it and re-do all of these steps again.

So is there any way to accomplish what I want to do without that mess?


1 Answer 1


No its not possible to cut a stroke without expanding it. However let me suggest an alternate workflow. Your missing a part of the thing.

Eliminating the white

Removing the white, can be made into a 7 step operation. This in turn be recorded as a one click action, if you need to do this often:

  1. Run Object → Expand Appearance (or expand appearance, yes 2 times)
  2. Run Object → Expand... to outline strokes, and expand other effects.
  3. In pathfinder choose Divide.
  4. Ungroup.
  5. select a white area (if you want to record a make all white transparent. change the color to with no stroke with nothing selected).
  6. Choose Select → Same → Fill and stroke
  7. Hit Delete.

Resulting image

Image 1: End result showing transparency grid.

No matter how complicated your scene all white is now transparent. Again, I repeat myself, this is perfectly recordable as a action so it should never need to be a more work than a click after you have grown sick of doing the 6 steps (although I just have the 4 first steps recorded for versatility in design).

Variation on theme: If you wish only to make some white areas transparent use a proxy color and delete either that color instead OR color the white you want to keep to something else and as last thing color that back to white.

Retaining the original

Instead of saving the original out, you can just copy the original stuff to a second (set of) layer(s) and hide said layer(s). Now both versions are available in both layers. You can even write instructions in the hidden layer on how to proceed to go to the second so you will never forget.

  • Not sure why you disagreed. These are exactly the same steps as the previous question.
    – Scott
    Aug 17, 2015 at 5:57
  • Not exactly @Scott, the answers and the questions deal with taking out one stroke. This deals with multiple strokes, and color areas. So the question is yeah i know how to do previous answer but how to make it less tedious. So due to this you cant direct the question to the previous answer, you just ignored the central question. Now, i know you consider the select similar step a trivial extension... and so do I. But all people do not see things like you or I. Not enough skill and xp to do so.
    – joojaa
    Aug 17, 2015 at 6:23

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.