Can't expand strokes

Explorer ,
Jun 13, 2015 Jun 13, 2015

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This annoying problem tends to happen when I create really complex effects in the Appearance panel. Now, I have this compound path that has a stroke, but I can't expand the stroke to a fill like any other shape. I've even isolated it onto its own document and still the problem persists. What did I mess up and how can I turn these strokes to outlines?

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/42704237/help.ai

I am on Illustrator CS5 (from the CS5.5 suite) on Windows 8.1.

I've never encountered this problem before and apparently no one else has either. Expand only makes the compound path a group each time. The stroke align seems to have something to do with it, but it's essential that I outline it in the "center" mode.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 13, 2015 Jun 13, 2015

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Try "Flatten Transparency" instead.

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Explorer ,
Jun 13, 2015 Jun 13, 2015

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Try "Flatten Transparency" instead.

This isnt a terrible answer.  But its a bit like killing a cockroach with a machine gun.  When push really comes to shove, its a panacea of sorts.  There are actually a ton of solutions for this problem.  Sometimes you can simply Cut, paste in place or paste in front and then ungroup and suddenly it is all good.  Always keep an eye on appearances panel to find out exactly what you have and layers panel to see the whole structure at once.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 13, 2015 Jun 13, 2015

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Kortjohn, If it works why do you feel the need to make fun of the solution? Just offer your own solution.

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Explorer ,
Jun 13, 2015 Jun 13, 2015

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i used a metaphor...um,  no offense?
using flatten transparency can mess stuff up and make things irreparable. the metaphor i thought was a bit nicer.

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Explorer ,
Jun 13, 2015 Jun 13, 2015

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You, sir, have a compound path.  go to Object --> Compound Path --> Release  (edit:  make sure you have it all selected)
Youll notice it will be a lot easier to work with.  It wont be like a normal expanded fill and stroke but youll be able to separate everything and work with it normally.

Also in terms of setting your stroke alignment without even releasing a compound path.  Go to your appearances panel in window-->appearance, double click contents, then keep clicking contents (as more will popup as sub groups) eventually youll see stroke and fill and all that good stuff.  In the appearance panel they are links so clicking them will bring up the appropriate panel and you'll be able to set the stroke alignment.

If you are not using appearances, id suggest looking into it.  Often times itll help you diagnose quirks like this, as once you get through all the "contents" appearances youll see "compound path" at the top of the panel informing you what the core object is.  Not to mention using appearances allows you to remove and edit effects that otherwise would be permanent.  (it is  a lot like the concept of non-destructive editing for vector files)

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Explorer ,
Jun 13, 2015 Jun 13, 2015

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That did seem to work, but I don't know why. I've always worked with Compound Paths because they make styling with the Appearance panel much simpler. Even if it's a centered stroke that's underneath the type layer. I tried to recreate how I got into this "stuck" position, but the bottom text behaves as it's intended, despite having the same properties in the Layers panel and Appearance panel, unless there's something I'm forgetting.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/42704237/help2.ai

I can expand the bottom one and get expanded strokes, but not the one at the top. How are they different enough to warrant this behavior?

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New Here ,
May 21, 2019 May 21, 2019

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Thank you.

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Explorer ,
Jun 13, 2015 Jun 13, 2015

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i think it has a lot to do with the fact there are groups of single paths.  groups may behave strangely when they dont actually contain two things and then are used in compound paths, the programming of which involves interpreting groups and the interactions between two things.  But what for sure i cannot say.

i reverse "engineered" it and built it back up ...had to finagle it a bit but the final step is the same as the original.
i know clipping, compound paths including pathfinder functions, grouping and expanding are not only all used by more complex processes , but also very particular as to which order they can be used in and to throw another wrench into it...many of each do similar slightly overlapping things.
what could have created it? 
id guess either its AI translating a non native or legacy file format or simply an idiosyncracy in the original workflow?  any clue how you got it to start? i love a good mystery

http://hqgraphicdesign.com/recreated.ai

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Explorer ,
Jun 15, 2015 Jun 15, 2015

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I am looking at this file in CS6 and at the first step, "Expand" not "Expand Appearance" is an option and doing that results in the expected behavior. The stroke is outlined in both samples. Does Expand never expand the strokes in your example? I don't have CC to test and see if it's exactly reproduceable. I'll need to test your file on my CS5 version to see if I can follow along and get expected behavior.

And I'll certainly look into how it even happens to begin with, at least in CS5.

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Explorer ,
Jun 15, 2015 Jun 15, 2015

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pretty sure since its such a basic function (not to say it is without its quirks..obviously) it is in CS probably even version 8.  Though im sure it has continuously changed to keep up with what it has to do.

i probably just misspoke.  im more curious with how it happened, unless you are just generally wondering how it happens.  cause clipping masks/paths and compound shapes and paths and all those things are powerful options when thrown into layer order and combined with other things.


short of having the exact reason, illustrator is doing algebra of sorts with all the different objects and options that cause their interraction.  eventually with enough stuff it comes to an impasse and has to throw a group around something or change your stroke to fuchsia or uninstall windows or something.

essentially it looks to be a result of having single paths individually grouped.  from the fact that there is only one object in those bottom groups i am assuming it was done via an automatic process. do you have one of the complicated files you mention?  i think id like to see the problem in its habitat...though we have solved the issue id say.  it is messing with me lol

one thing that will always work to select any anchor point no matter how wrapped up it is is group selection tool (alt with the direct selection tool or alt + ctrl with the selection tool)  just click any anchor point itll select the shape no matter how lost it is among masks and paths and computer viruses.  one thing i like to do too is if i can get one anchor point ...copy paste undo, which (for some interesting reason im sure) will cause all the anchor points to become selected...but its not as fast as the group selection tool.

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Explorer ,
Jun 15, 2015 Jun 15, 2015

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Just tried your file on CS5, but I seemingly got the same result as on CS6. When the strokes are outlined, the corners don't square off, which might not be the intended effect, I think. The interior is masking out the black shape, which is what I'd expect from a compound path.

Here is the source file for "THE".

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/42704237/source.ai

My original intent was to get just the raw shapes of the effect, which Expand and Expand Appearance has always been able to do with little fuss. So when I do "Expand Appearance", then "Expand" (but not the fill because I don't want gradient meshes), then the inside darker gray vanishes because it can't expand. But really, the third post's solution did the trick because I eventually got what I wanted, but this behavior seems unusual.

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New Here ,
Aug 11, 2017 Aug 11, 2017

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I have the same problem and it looks like if two shapes are too close from each and once the stokes expands they are conflicting.illustrator has now created two objects one on top of the other and can't outline.

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 07, 2018 Feb 07, 2018

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Here is how I solved this in Adobe CC. It was a really weird process, but it worked so if anyone is still struggling with the Expand on strokes being disabled it is worth giving this a try. First, my strokes were hundreds of lines that make up a street network for a map I'm making. I always do Object --> Expand to make my streets into closed paths (polygons) and this is the first time I couldn't, so it was really strange.

Here are the steps for exactly what I did:

1. Started a new print AI file, but kept the problematic one open.

2. In the new print AI file, I drew a line with the line segment tool, and tried Object --> Expand and it worked!

3. Went to my problematic AI file (the one where Object --> Expand was disabled), and selected one of the lines in the layer I want to expand so that that artwork's style was "remembered" if I were to draw a new line.

4. Then I drew a line in this layer using the line segment tool. It had the same appearance as the lines I wanted to expand since I selected one of those in step 3.

5.Then I selected all the lines that I wanted to expand, but I de-selected the new line I drew in step 4.

6. With the Eyedropper tool, I touched the new line I drew in step 4. This gave my lines the exact appearance that they already had since the new line was based upon these old lines' appearance. But....

7. Expand now worked on my old lines. I don't know why basing the style off the new line worked, but it did! Weird, but relieved

I'm pretty certain the first two steps aren't necessary. I just needed to test Expand in a new document to make sure it was my old AI file, and not some weird Illustrator setting.

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 05, 2019 Apr 05, 2019

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I did find your post helpful and created a workaround : use the eye dropper tool, on another segment that is not problematic, and from there, I could expand my segment and work with it again.

In the same kind of issues, I sometimes get shapes not wanting to expand correctly, and applying a pathfinder usually resolves it. (they do right after)

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New Here ,
Mar 10, 2018 Mar 10, 2018

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check if you have anything grouped.

Had the same problem. Mine was with some letters that I made jsut outlines but then gave them some stroke and they were grouped and every letter expanded except the A because i modified that one so it was two objects grouped. Basically i had a group inside a group that why it would work. you need to manually select everything or enter the group and click cmd + a or shift + a to select everything and then apply the expand.

Worked for me.

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Explorer ,
Nov 11, 2019 Nov 11, 2019

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Wow, I had no idea this report still received replies after all these years.

Curiously, I dug up the problem file again and tried it on Illustrator 23.1 and the problem still persists. This group of compound paths refuse to Expand correctly and I'm still not really sure why. Ungrouping them all down until they're individual loose compound paths and doing Expand just groups them again.

Here's the file again since the old link is dead.

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New Here ,
Feb 03, 2021 Feb 03, 2021

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If you don't want to disable clipping masks, because that would change the shape of your object:

 

Export as an SVG and then re-open that!

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New Here ,
Mar 23, 2021 Mar 23, 2021

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I just had a problem with a stroke not expanding properly, and found this post searching for a solution. Expanding would delete half of the cone shape, but the oval I made with the shape tool expands fine. The transparancy trick worked, then I merged them to make a complete shape, but I have never had this problem with a stroke not expanding before.

 

I am using CS6, and I drew the cone shape with the pen tool. Maybe there is something I am missing/overlooking. I checked compound path and I can only make not release. Just thought I would share. Expand Test File

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Community Beginner ,
Nov 17, 2021 Nov 17, 2021

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So i had an artwork that had strokes, a few had no issues like i selected it and went to object--> expand, since I had to maintain the stroke width. But a few strokes weren't showing the expand option. Someone here said to do live trace and then expand, and so that's when I realised for some reason it was not a path? like the stroke. So I selected those strokes, made them a compound path and voila, the expand option was visible.

 

I am not sure if this what you were looking for, but hope this helps someone!

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Community Beginner ,
Nov 17, 2021 Nov 17, 2021

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another thing that helped was, to click expand appearance first, and then the expand option was visible.

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