How to Combine Objects in Illustrator

By Tata Rossi 4 days ago, Software Reviews

Joining shapes together to create more complex shapes is an essential part of any graphic design project. The resulting shapes can differ depending on the method you use to join their parts. In this walkthrough, I've shared 2 widely-used methods of how to combine objects in Illustrator: making Compound Path and using the Pathfinder Tool.

Method 1. Combining Objects with Compound Path

STEP 1. Create a New Document

First, launch Illustrator. Create a new document. You can either enter your own values or use preset details you see in the screenshot below.

how to combine objects in illustrator create new document

STEP 2. Position the Objects

The next step in this Illustrator combine shapes tutorial is selecting the objects and positioning them in a way that makes them overlap. Then, select all of the objects you want to include in a compound path.

how to combine objects in illustrator positions the objects

STEP 3. Make a Compound Path

Next, go up to the “Object” menu at the top of the screen and navigate to “Compound Path.” Select the “Make” command from the flyout menu that appears. The best part about this method is that it’s completely non-destructive. Your artwork will stay completely editable.

how to combine objects in illustrator make compound path

STEP 4. Done!

You’re done! Everything has been joined in one shape, and the tutorial on how to combine objects in Illustrator is successfully completed. If you want to ensure that your designs are easily scalable, learn how to vectorize an image in Illustrator.

how to combine objects in illustrator final

Method 2. Combining Objects with the Pathfinder Tool

Pathfinder Tool is the second method in my how to combine objects in Illustrator tutorial. It’s the perfect tool to help you merge shapes in a creative and precise way. It’s also super simple to use and will considerably speed up your workflow.

STEP 1. Select the Objects

Start with opening Illustrator. Then, create a new document. Create and select the shapes you want to combine.

how to combine objects in illustrator pathfinder effects

STEP 2. Open the Pathfinder Panel

The panel can be accessed by opening the “Window” tab and clicking “Pathfinder”. If you prefer using keyboard shortcuts, simply try the Shift+Ctrl+F9/Shift+Cmd+F9 key combination.

Once you have done that, you’ll see 4 shape modes in the panel that allow you to combine objects in different ways.

Unite Shape Mode helps join the outer edges of selected objects into a single shape.

how to combine objects in illustrator pathfinder effects unite

Minus Front Shape Mode means that the front shape is subtracted from the back shape.

how to combine objects in illustrator pathfinder effects minus front

Intersect Shape Mode leaves only the part of the object where the two shapes intersect. All the rest is deleted. The color is defined by the front shape.

how to combine objects in illustrator pathfinder effects intersect

Exclude Shape Mode forms a new shape, by deleting the part where two objects intersect. It is the complete opposite of the previous mode. The object in the example is colored yellow since the color is defined by the front shape.

how to combine objects in illustrator pathfinder effects exclude

Below, you can observe the result that different shape modes produce in one picture. Now, you are ready for any Adobe Illustrator tutorials.

how to combine objects in illustrator pathfinder effects interaction modes

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