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Recently I've been messing with Illustrator/Inkscape and trying to convert something like this:

outlined stroke

to a single-stroked path like this:

single-stroke

I've searched a lot and I haven't found a solution.

  • 2
    Offset the shape till its a line and clean up – joojaa Apr 3 '16 at 10:59
  • As joojaa said, offset the path. If your stroke had a varied width you can use blend as in this answer. – Cai Apr 3 '16 at 11:05
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Offset Path

(Object → Path → Offset Path...)

If you know the original stroke weight, offset by half that stroke weight (In my example here, the stroke was 10pt. A 5pt offset was too much due to the slight stroke variations on the curves but 4.999pt was ok). If you don't know the original stoke weight it's easy enough to zoom in and increase the offset by eye.

Offset Path Options

The offset path will leave you with a closed shape so you will need to manually delete one 'side' of that shape—just zoom in and delete the points you don't need. The ends will be offset too, so extend the path as much as needed then delete the original path.

Path result from Offset Path


Blend

If the original stroke had a varied width, offset path won't help you much. Another solution is to use Blend.

Path with varied stroke width

First delete both end sections of the outlined stroke (or use the scissors tool to cut each end). This will give you 2 separate paths.

Path sections to delete

Set the blend options to specific steps and 1 step (Object → Blend → Blend Options). With both paths selected create your blend (Object → Blend → Make).

Blend Options

Expand the blend (Object → Blend → Expand) and delete the original paths.

Path from expanded blend

The Blend technique is the same as this answer, which goes in to more detail.

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I compiled a screenshot that visualizes my favourite method and hopefully leaves no questions open. More details on HowTo see below.

HowTo convert outlines to monoline

I have done quite some research on this topic. As a quick summary: There is no simple method. For single objects you may use the suggested and accepted answer, but for long/large sets of paths, this is tedious. Especially if it comes to font.

My favourite method (in Adobe Illustrator) is:

  • Select Object, in case of text: Type -> Create Outline Stroke [Strg+Shift+O]
  • Resize to a good size and Rasterize with high dpi (e.g. 300dpi): Object -> Rasterize
  • Image Trace the resulting object, using the Image Trace Panel and selecting Outline as method.
  • Expand the resulting Image Trace Object

You then have a single stroke from complex double strokes/compound paths etc. It is not a "clean" method and results may vary (greatly!) with size of the rasterized object. Changing size has a much larger impact (rather than changing parameters of the Image Trace).

  • Exactly what I needed! How am I the first one to upvote this? – NOTjust -- user4304 May 24 at 0:08

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