How to Divide Basic Shapes into Component Pieces in Adobe Illustrator
There are many methods that can be used to break shapes apart in Illustrator. In this post, we'll explore ways the Pathfinder Panel can create compound paths, or split shapes into divided, separate objects.
- Open the Pathfinder Panel by going to Window > Pathfinder.
- To combine multiple objects into one, select the shapes, then go to the Pathfinder Panel and click Unite.
- Compound paths can be thought of as a shape within a shape, or multiple shapes combined to create transparency, such as the center of the letter "o", or the space between the dot and the stem in a lowercase "i". Select the shapes, go to the Pathfinder Panel and click Minus Front.
- Another option in the Pathfinder Panel's Shapes section is Intersect:
- Then Exclude, where shapes are created both inside and outside the overlap:
- Nothing appears to change when the Exclude option is applied. To understand what it did, double-click the object on the artboard to enter Isolation Mode.
- In Isolation Mode, the individual shapes that make up the compound object can be edited. Here I've moved the shapes apart and applied different colors. To exit isolation and return to the normal mode, go to the top-left of the document window and click the Back button twice until the gray isolation bar disappears.
- The Pathfinder Panel can also be used with shapes and lines, as well as shapes and shapes. Here, I have a sail shape selected as well the three intersecting lines. In the Pathfinder Panel, clicking Divide will divide the shape wherever the lines intersect.
- I've edited the individual shapes without having to enter Isolation Mode because each shape is a stand-alone object.