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Making Compound Paths

The capability to combine multiple paths into a single compound object makes it possible to have objects with holes in the middle. For example, compound paths prevent letters with holes from filling in when converted to outlines. This method can be applied to create "see throughs" in an object or to apply gradients across a group of objects.

  1. Choose the Selection tool and select all paths to be included in the compound object (Figure 3.46).

  2. Choose Object→Compound Paths→Make (Figure 3.47). The paths are joined into a single object, and any overlapping areas become "holes."

  3. You can create even more interesting effects by creating a second compound path with a new object (Figure 3.48).

  4. To return a compound object to its individual paths, select the compound object and choose Object→Compound Paths→Release. This is not the same as using the Undo command, because any original subpath characteristics are not restored after being released from the compound object (Figure 3.49). Also, the Release command is not available if the compound object is contained within a frame or contains text.


The attributes and contents of a compound path are set by the attributes and content of the object farthest back that has contents. Knowing this, you can set the attributes for a compound path by assigning them to the bottom object in the stack first or by moving the object with contents to the bottom of the stack using the Object→Arrange command. Selected objects without contents don't affect the compound path).

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