I'm using the brush tool in Illustrator and when saving the document as SVG, the brush strokes are saved as <paths> with the stroke itself having a stroke and fill.

Demo: https://codepen.io/carpenumidium/pen/yzXBdX?editors=1100

As you can see the lines I've drawn have their own fill, and a stroke around the lines.

Is it possible to save the brush strokes without them getting converted to "shapes"?

2 Answers 2


Only elementary objects can be saved out. The SVG (or indeed also PDF) standard only contains basic strokes, everything else is a layer that your editor provides and is expanded on save. The standard only defines paths, strokes and dashes. No art brushes, no pattern brushes, no variable width strokes etc.

So no you can not do this on brushes. Same applies to PDF though not necessarily EPS (although in practice also there) its only embedding illustrator specific info that allows illustrator to reverse the action.

However you can release the brush assignment by setting default appearance on the shape, or use the corresponding freehand path tool that does not by default attach a brush.

  • Setting it to default appearance did the trick! Thank you. I accidentally created a new account seperate from my SO account when I posted this question (in the wee hours of the morning) and can't seem to "accept" your answer. I will once I figure it out. Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 18:19
  • @carpenumidium you can merge your accounts
    – joojaa
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 20:14

It's tedious, but expand all your artwork with Object > Expand appearance. This turns the stroke from an Illustrator-added effect (as joojaa nicely explains) to actual shapes.

Be warned that some stroke effects will expand into transparent shapes, which not all .svg standards or displayers may be able to handle. An additional serving of Object > Flatten Transparency might help there.

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