How to combine paths in illustrator

I made a vector in illustrator but it’s more complicated than my usual. It’s got about 100 steps because each line is coming up as it’s own step. How can I merge the paths in illustrator so that the layer is one step? I tried merge and it just grouped the layer but didn’t change anything in the GF software.

Do you have an example of the lines you’re trying to join? I’m not sure if you’re trying to join segments of an object or if you’re trying to just group center segments so the GFUI sees one thing rather than multiple.

I’ve used AI for years and willing to assist.

Thank you! Each one of these lines is coming up as a separate step. I’m brand new to Illustrator and just when I think I’ve got it something like this happens lol.

Also, I know I can rasterize it but I’d love to learn how to decrease the steps when using a vector.

If by steps you mean operations in the GFUI, that would imply that each segment is a different color. Now that is strange. What happens if you select everything and change the stroke color?

Do you want these cut or score? Are you trying to engrave single path vectors?

I’m trying to type up a hopefully helpful explanation of what I believe is going on. Standby it’s slightly lengthy.

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Oh, that would be helpful. I’m trying to engrave it. I do have some different grays in there for shading but even the blacks are coming out differently. I don’t want all of it to be the same color but I also want to be able to print multiple at once which I can’t do if I rasterize.

The way vector engraving works is that you have to assign parameters for every single different color that you have.

You definitely can. Set it all up in your design software, select them all, object > rasterize and it will make one big image.

Or, someone correct me if wrong, you can just bring one rasterized version into the app and copy paste that for however many you need, and it will stay as the same operation and do them all at once.

If you rasterize each one individually though, it will treat each as a separate image.

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I’m sorry, I worded that wrong. What I meant was instead of doing one at a time I’d like it to go across the length of the board doing them all at once.

So judging by your screenshots of the layers you’ve shown in AI, it looks like you have open nodes/segments. It looks like you’ve instinctively used the pencil and brush tools to “draw” like you would on paper. These tools in AI work slightly differently than their real world counterparts. The easiest way for me to quickly explain it is that they only create a Point A to Point B line rather than a shape, and sometimes the fill versus stroke colors change how they interact with what’s displayed.

For example:

The above is the EXACT same but by having the stroke color turned off and fill color turned on it makes it appear as a solid triangle. There are currently only 3 vector points in that image, in order to be a “solid” there would need to be 4 vector points. Hence why it’s called an “open node” because the shape is still open rather than the shape being fully connected. This may not be your problem and you may understand 100% how vectors work, so rather than dive straight into that I’ll continue with other options.

When you use the Pathfinder tools such as unite, merge, minus back, etc, they are designed to join shapes rather than Point A to Point B lines. To unite Point A to B type lines you have to use Object Join or similar. Take this Yin Yang example for using Pathfinder. You can take 5 circles and use multiple Pathfinder tools to make your final image.


Another option for a “quick” fix is:
-Select all of your vector make it a fairly large size ie 20"x20"
-Export the file as a PNG
-Open a new file and place the PNG
-Use Autotrace and find the setting that yields the correct results, then click expand.
This will create way less vector shapes than the original.

These are all just observations and ideas to do without seeing the true file and what’s actually happening.

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We are on the same page - what I described should work for doing the entire line by line across the bed, rather than item by item.

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Try these two posts from Tips and Tricks too in case that’s what you’re trying to achieve.

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You can also give the “join” tool a whirl instead of merge. It’s meant for connecting lines instead of shapes as @Goobdoob has so nicely illustrated.

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You can try ctrl + 8 to make all your paths one path. Sorry that I can’t remember what the tool actually is at that shortcut :grin:

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