Merge Outlines to 1 Solid Stroke?

Community Beginner ,
May 20, 2022 May 20, 2022

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Hi everyone. This has been bugging me since I started my career.

Is it at all possible to merge two outline strokes together? (See attached image).

Since you can outline a singular stroke, I don't understand why there's no option (that I know of) to do the opposite.

I've googled this problem a million different ways and most solutions involve blending the two together, offsetting the path, or rasterizing/image tracing. None of which provide results that look good or are quicker than tracing the inside with a pen tool.

I've also tried finding plugins through Adobe CC and google, but have come up with nothing.

Any info about possible solutions/plugins would be incredibly valuable.

Thanks!

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Draw and design , Feature request , How to , Scripting , Tools

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 20, 2022 May 20, 2022

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Make a blend with 1 specified step. Then object >> expand and delete the inner and outer shape.

 

 

MikeGondek_0-1653062967316.png

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 20, 2022 May 20, 2022

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Not quite sure if this may be useful for you, but you may have a look here:

 

Stroker

 

In the meantime, I've improved this approach a couple of times (among other things with the ability to convert multi-coloured filled objects into stroked objects, but then I didn't follow it up because there was almost no feedback, so there are chances that only a few Illustrator users actually need this kind of conversion.

 

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Community Beginner ,
May 20, 2022 May 20, 2022

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Thanks Kurt! For some reason, it's telling me "The object Expand Appearance is not currently available."

 

Any idea what that's about?

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 20, 2022 May 20, 2022

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Have you tried it with the sample .ai file I provided? Or did you use a different Illustrator file?

 

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Community Beginner ,
May 20, 2022 May 20, 2022

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I tried it with my own illustrator file

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Community Beginner ,
May 20, 2022 May 20, 2022

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Attached is a link to the AI file containing the object I'm working with for better reference. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1mVUf1h_TkRvtdKkL6sam-_EddrXQxa1x/view?usp=sharing

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 20, 2022 May 20, 2022

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The Stroker action (prototype 1) is bound to a graphic style that has to be in the main Graphic Styles palette. Otherwise it will completely fail.

 

Guess you have also tried it with the sample Illustrator file I provided? There it should definitely work. Note, however, that prototype 1 didn't support compound paths. I think in prototype 2 or 3 I solved that issue, but as there was almost no feedback I stopped improving the thing because therefore I assumed that there is no actual need for an action to do the conversions automatically.

 

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Community Beginner ,
May 20, 2022 May 20, 2022

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Sorry I didn't realize that I was supposed to run the action within the "happy_new_year" file.

 

I ran it again within that file and the action ran all the way through!

 

However, It gave me an incomplete result (see image).

 

You think prototype 2 or 3 would give me a better result?

 

Screen Shot 2022-05-20 at 1.54.27 PM.png

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 20, 2022 May 20, 2022

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Prototype 3 may possibly produce better results.

 

It would be helpful if you can provide a sample Illustrator file with at least 10 different objects. Then I can check it.

 

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Community Beginner ,
May 20, 2022 May 20, 2022

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Awesome! The below link has an AI file with a bunch of icons.

 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1aYLqjKhwmd0tmp7FvrCiUQwi2ggdepTr/view?usp=sharing 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 21, 2022 May 21, 2022

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Scott, unfortunately the link you posted is not public.

 

You'd have to share it as a public link.

 

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Community Beginner ,
May 21, 2022 May 21, 2022

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Ah of course I did!

 

All links posted on this thread should be public now.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 20, 2022 May 20, 2022

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Create a brush from your drawing ( the Yellow part)

Apply the brush to a line... Expand apperanse. UnGroup and use the shape builder tool to merge what you need. 

 

1. Create a brush from an appearance.

2. Draw the brush

3. Expand apperance

4. Ungroup

5. Slect and use shape builder.

 

Screen Shot 2022-05-20 at 10.21.58 AM.png

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Community Beginner ,
May 20, 2022 May 20, 2022

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Thanks, chanaart! That didn't work, unfortunately.

Attached is a link to the AI file containing the object I'm working with for better reference. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1mVUf1h_TkRvtdKkL6sam-_EddrXQxa1x/view?usp=sharing 

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Community Beginner ,
May 20, 2022 May 20, 2022

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Edit: Attached is a link to the AI file containing the object I'm working with for better reference. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1mVUf1h_TkRvtdKkL6sam-_EddrXQxa1x/view?usp=sharing

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 20, 2022 May 20, 2022

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Seems like there would be an easier way - the blend method as mentioned. You could also make a Live Paint Object and fill in the negative space, expand, delete the unwanted outside areas and then create an Offset Path with a negative number to get that interior area as a stroke. Just an alternative way to think about it.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 20, 2022 May 20, 2022

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Probably yes and no at the same time, Michele.

 

I think the basic idea in this case is to (possibly) mass convert outlined strokes into stroked objects again. Something that may be pretty useful in many situations. For example, you may think of a rather complex subway map with a lot of lines that, for whatever reason, have been converted to outlines (filled paths). Then there may be many reasons why one would want to convert those filled paths into stroked paths again.

 

The Blend method is of course a very good approach, but it certainly would have to be done path by path. A nightmare if you are dealing, for example, with subway maps of Paris or some other metropolitan areas.

 

Therefore I tried to create a way to automate the conversion with a selection of many filled paths at the same time. If you take a look at the Happy New Year sample file and run the action, you can see what I mean.

 

Admittedly, the Stroker action will still have to be improved, but it already works in many cases. There are already improvements and perhaps I may post them if desired.

 

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Community Beginner ,
May 20, 2022 May 20, 2022

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It would be great to see the updated actions posted. I'm dying to see how they work.

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Enthusiast ,
May 21, 2022 May 21, 2022

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Scott, You could try https://online.rapidresizer.com/tracer.php

It’s a free online, trace to find center lines. Vector

 

So, I gave it a test run.

I was working with Fills. The Double fills shown in orange.

I fill the center with Black.

I submitted a screenshot of the black fill, .png file

It traced it, and I downloaded an .ai file.

Shown in red, center stroke. (I just had to resize it.)

Not bad.

 

K

Screen Results.pngScreen trace.png

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Community Beginner ,
May 21, 2022 May 21, 2022

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Wow that's really good!

 

I know I'm being a bit greedy but I was hoping to have a solution I could run within illustrator to keep my workflow as smooth as possible. 

 

It would be cool if they also had a plugin or something.

 

Thanks for the info!

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 21, 2022 May 21, 2022

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Thanks for the updated download links, Scott.

 

As far as I can see, I (or possibly you) would have to modify the Stroker action a bit in order to adapt it to your icons. However, it's doable.

 

If you, on the other hand, would prefer to go the raster to vector conversion route, as suggested by kphotopage, you may keep in mind that nowadays there are a lot of applications and promising open source (online) converters. A couple of them do work pretty well, but in my experience almost all of them will produce rather poor results if you are dealing with more complex constructions.

 

If you were asking for an excellent application, I would recommend WinTopo. It is able to create incredibly clean conversions. Something I have not seen in any other comparable application so far. Unfortunately, it's only available for Windows.

 

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Community Beginner ,
May 22, 2022 May 22, 2022

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Thanks for the info Kurt!

 

I think I'd prefer to keep my workflow within the Adobe software if possible. But it's good to know that I have options.

 

What exactly would I need to modify to get the action to work?

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 22, 2022 May 22, 2022

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I'm afraid some major modifications would be required (including different or more versatile helper graphic styles and a reorganisation of the entire action concept).

 

Initially, the action was mainly supposed to convert (former) open stroked paths that had been converted to outlined paths. The latest modified version (prototype 3) can convert complex constructions pretty well, but it requires two additional helper scripts. I haven't shared it so far as it may be more confusing than not because it also requires some specific source files.

 

As mentioned, currently I have no further plans to improve the approach. You may, of course, take the action as a source for your own experiments.

 

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Community Beginner ,
May 23, 2022 May 23, 2022

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I'd be happy to mess around with prototype 3 to see if I can get it to work for what I'm hoping for. I feel like there's a lot of potential here to convert icons back to their original stroked paths.

 

Whether they know it or not, designers could save a lot of time with an action like this. I know icon creation isn't the most time-consuming activity when you only have to make a few at a time, but when you have 10+ icons to create (let's say for a website) they might spend hours on a task that is arguably less important than others.

 

If you'd like, I'd be more than happy to share any improvements I make on prototype 3. It would be really cool to get this to work.

 

Thanks!

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