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I create a floral border. It contains many leafs, layers and polygons. The printing agent said I need to create a cutting layer to demonstrate the cutting edges of the foam board.

What is the best way to combine all the layers to a solid color?

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If I understand you correctly, you want to create a die consisting of all your artwork. It's tricky to help you with this since we don't know how your artwork was created (are there images? Is there a combination of fills and strokes? etc) but, a universal way of doing it would be:

  • create a new layer
  • unlock all other layers and select all of your artwork
  • copy all your objects/artwork and paste it in place in your new layer (ctrl-c, select your new layer, ctrl-f)
  • select everything on this new layer, then object -> expand, select both fill and stroke, OK
  • select everything on this new layer again, then go to your pathfinder palette and perform the first shape mode operation, "unite".

Now all your artwork will be a solid shape. You can color it anyway you want (printers sometimes prefer a certain color). And that's it. Take into account that die shapes usually have to be at the very same location than the artwork that they'll cut! So if you nudge it a couple mm you may get an unwanted result. I recommend leaving the die shape in the topmost layer and notifying the printer about it.

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Leave artwork as it is. Only draw cutting line on top of it. You can give your printing agent 3 files (pdf) for more complex cutting:

  1. artwork without cutting line
  2. only cutting line
  3. artwork with cutting line

To merge all layers into one you need to clik "flatten artwork" in options of layers palette.

Note: If cutting is rectangular - define document dimensions to be equal to cutting dimensions, provide some bleed (about 3 mm) and export it to pdf with bleed information included.

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Thank you. Finally I use flatten artwork, Pathfinder panel>union all, and convert line to fill, object > expands to make it.

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