Pathfinder Panel in Illustrator - What Each of Commands Can Do for You - Part 2

Pathfinder Panel in Illustrator - What Each of Commands Can Do for You - Part 2

In this tutorial, I will provide you more information about compound paths and compound shapes using Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder). We will continue where we stopped in the previous tutorial: Pathfinder panel in Illustrator - what each of commands can do for you.

Compound paths and shapes in Illustrator can be used to cut a hole in another object or to build complex shapes with additional flexibility to modify them at any time.

What is the difference between compound paths and compound shapes

Compound paths can be used to cut a hole in another object. You can draw two shapes (objects) and then use one shape/object to cut a hole in another shape (object). You can create a compound path by clicking on some of the icons in the Pathfinder panel.
Compound path in Adobe Illustrator

Compound shapes differ from compound paths because they allow you to build complex objects (shapes) and to specify how one object interacts with another object. You can create a compound shape by holding Alt/Opt key while clicking on some of the icons below Shape Modes:.
Compound shape in Adobe Illustrator

The good thing when using compound shapes is that individual objects (from which is created a complex object by combining them) are not changed so you can easily experiment and modify final result.

When to use compound paths/shapes

Simple instruction is to use compound paths when you are certain what you want as a final result because you do not have a lot of flexibility to change and modify it later.

Use compound shapes when you want maximum flexibility to change and modify final result. Compound shapes provide four kinds of interactions between objects which are used/combined to build complex shape/object:

  • Add
  • Subtract
  • Intersect
  • Exclude


How to recognize from Layers panel which Pathfinder option is applied

If you have any problem or you want to learn which Pathfinder option you have applied (compound path or compound shape) take a look at Layers panel. If you see Group or Path then you have Compound path. In case you see Compound Shape then you know that you have more flexible compound shape.
Compound shape in Layers panel

Release compound shape

In case you want to release compound shape there are a couple of options:

  • Choose: Release Compound Shape from Pathfinder panel menu.
  • Click Expand button in the Pathfinder panel or choose: Expand Compound Shape from Pathfinder panel menu. When using Expand commands, Compound Shape will be converted to Compound Path.

Release compound shape in Adobe Illustrator


Product used in this tutorial:
Adobe Illustrator CC 2017

Reference:
Combine objects

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