Illustrator: How to create outlines that are vectors

Hi everyone! :smiley:

I am relatively new to Illustrator and I need to create some designs that will be embroidered/stitched onto clothing/shoes. The manufacturer will create the final embroidery files because that’s a bit of a specialized process but I would like all elements of the images I create to be vectors.

Below you can see the type of designs I will have to create. Solid colors/shapes and an outline. How do I create the outlines in a way that it is basically a shape and not just a path with colour attached to it? I hope that makes any sense.

Thank you in advance. :blush:

In Illustrator, go to Object > Path > Outline path.

if your stroked shape has a fill, the fill will go halfway to the center of the outlined stroke, making, in effect, a pretty hefty trap. To avoid this, make a duplicate of the shape first, then remove the fill, then outline the path, then remove the path from the filled shape below.
It’s tedious but beats the alternative by a mile.
If someone can tell me if I’m missing a radio button to avoid this, I’m all ears.

Then when you have all of your paths outlined, select them and go to Pathfinder > Unite (the upper left icon in the palette.) They should all become one compound shape. View your work in Outline view often. For embroidery, there should be no lines cutting through shapes. You may have to clean up with the pathfinder. It’s a very handy tool.

You could also use the Expand function, and you may have to on those pattern fills.
I like having the control of the Outline Path. Sometimes with Expand or Expand Appearance, you get unexpected results.

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Awesome, thank you for the detailed tutorial. :smile: It may be tedious but definitely better to have a clean result. I agree, if there is a radio button for this please share it, everyone!

I’ve read about the Expand function and that the results are sometimes a bit weird. The expanded section/outline would be it’s own separate shape then? Haha, this is difficult to express. English is not my first language. :persevere:

PS: Just to make sure I didn’t mix things up.

I duplicate the shape, then I remove the fill from the duplicated shape, then outline its path. And then I remove the path from the original filled shape?

With the caveat that the path is not stroked to the inside or the outside of the shape. For my method to work, the stroke has to be “on line”.

Oooh, I see. Stupid question perhaps but if I were to stroke the path outside of the shape and then outlined the path would that get rid of the problem of the shape sitting in the middled of the outlined path?

Yes. But you have to draw it that way from the start.
If you change an on-line path to the outside after the fact, you are obviously changing the art.

I’m probably missing something in what you’re saying, but Illustrator provides the option to align the fill with either side of the stroke as well as centered on the stroke. I’ve always wished it provided customizable distances so that manual traps could be more easily created for various purposes.

I can make the stroke align to the inside or outside of the fill, That’s in the stroke palette.
But I really don’t want to move the stroke when expanding a shape.
Can’t seem to make the fill align to the inside or outside of the stroke.

I don’t remember this being an issue until CS or CC and then probably just been doing it the hard way.

Ahh, I see what you mean. Yes, it would be better if the fill aligned to the stroke, not the other way around.

To set manual distances to a stroke around a path you could use the appearance panel.

Select the object and then select the stroke in the panel.

With the stroke still selected in the panel go to the FX section at the bottom of the panel and choose path > offset path.

A window will open where you can adjust the offset. It can be done any measurement, pt, mm…

Even if you offset the path, if it’s stroked and you expand it, the fill, which is what we are talking about, either falls inside, outside or on center of the stroke width. That is the part that does not change.

again bearing in mind most times expanding paths is used, you do not want to change the stroke thickness orientation. If you change an online stroke to inside or outside, you mess up the client art.

You could add a second stroke via the appearance panel, offset to a different place.

Expand the paths, subtract one expanded path from the other to have the look it should have in a technical correct matter.

But that is a tedious job.

You can apply trapping in Illustrator in other, somewhat easier ways, depending on your desired end result (Effects>Pathfinder>Trap for instance.)
Can’t say I use it much.

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