I need to change the color of the inner edges of a compound path, but I cannot figure out a way to do this. For example, if I have the following image: Illustrator Smiley Face

How do I re-color the inner edges?

Alternatively, can I remove the inner edges and keep the outer edges without changing the general geometry?


I came up with a solution that solves my particular issue, but it looks like recoloring a segment of a compound path is not possible.

What I did was create a duplicate of the compound path:

  • Select the compound path with the selection tool: v
  • Copy the path with ctrl + c
  • Paste in front with ctrl + f

Then, use the anchor selection tool: a and select every part of the new path except the edges to be recolored and delete it.

The remaining path can be recolored and sits on top of the original compound path as a new object.

I also found it cleaner to remove all of the edges from the original path and redraw them on top in separate layers.

So, for the following image: Final Result

I ended up creating 3 layers:

Aaaand it looks like I can't post the other three images until I get more reputation, but I made a compound path for the recolored eyes and mouth, a compound path for the black outer outline, and a compound path for the inner yellow fill with no stroke.

It gets the job done, but you end up with a lot of paths for a simple change. I'll try to update my solution with the other images if I get the required reputation, as it's helpful to see visually.

  • Because I am so used to selecting those sorts of inner paths and editing their shapes, I was sure I could change their colours independently too. Apparently not! I think your solution is the best one though - remove all the strokes from the compound path and add the strokes on objects above.
    – Jory L
    Jan 21, 2016 at 19:32
  • As @jory O said, your method is the best one, simple and fast. The Danielillo method is the desired method but it's a bit complicated to achieve and manage.
    – LeoNas
    Oct 4, 2018 at 10:39

1 Answer 1


Compound shape with different color strokes

1 - Easy way: adding a radial gradient to the stroke

Radial gradient

2 - Defining different strokes

Compound shape

First stroke

Add a stroke to the compound shape aligned outside


From the Appearance panel, select the stroke and go to menu Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform > scale it 90 horizontal and 90 vertical. Place it at the bottom of the panel.


Second stroke

Add another stroke, the same color as the shape, outside and enough weight to cover the inner white gap. Place it on top of the panel.

second stroke

Third stroke

Add a third stroke aligned outside, enough weight to get outside the shape and place it at the bottom of the Appearance panel.

Third stroke



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