Illustrator - flattening overlapping shapes - how to?

I have 2 overlapping shapes in my design, one masking the other. When I print it on the GF. it engraves all the lines, regardless that one of the shapes is behind the other.

Is there an easy way to “flatten” the file just prior to printing? I am picturing a way to discard all underlying vectors to leave me with what I see on the surface.


It’s different depending on the shapes, and how much overlap you’ve got, and the placement of the shapes. White is considered a Fill color, so it will be engraved unless you subtract it out.

Quickest thing to do is turn on your grid so you can see through unfilled shapes and tell if there is a white fill in something. Then select the white shapes on top with the underlying shape and use the Minus Front tool in the Pathfinder palette to punch it out of the underlying shape. You can also experiment with the Intersect and Exclusion tools depending on the effect you want. (But these work on fills, not strokes.)

That creates a Compound Path, and it will engrave wherever there is a fill color, and skip anything where there is no color. (null)

This is a good start. I will work with this and see what happens. These flowers overlap, and I was worried that when I went to engrave, the underlying lines would engrave as well. By your description, it sounds like they won’t. Here’s what I am working on…

Yeah, they will engrave. You’ve got a bunch of heart shapes with a Black variable width Stroke and White Fill.

You know the simplest thing to do is just rasterize it. Gives great results if you use a high PPI.

Once you have it looking the way you want it, select all the flowers (not the Red Cut Line) and click on Object > Rasterize > High Resolution and Transparent Background. That should do it.

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Rasterize. That’s sort of what I was guessing. I haven’t had great luck rasterizing - I looove that clean line you get from a vector, but I am guessing I just haven’t had the right settings.

Thanks much Jules!

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You can actually increase the PPI above the High setting - try the Other and use a 450 or 600 PPI.
(And don’t forget to Embed it in the SVG.)

My next challenge is how to extract the cut lines from this design. The center of the flowers (the stars) will be cut out, using negative space. Any suggestions as to how to get that to happen?

Yep, but if you wanted to do that, it’s best to do it before rasterizing. Did you save a copy?

Not illustrator, but…

in Inkscape (and I’m sure other apps) you can perform an operation to join all of the overlapping paths into one, which would be able to be scored.

Your design, however, appears to have different “weight” strokes, which are not supported by the machine. You could convert them to paths, which would have variable spacing, but the printed result is often not representative of the original design.

In which case, you’re back to engraving, and at the appropriate DPI setting, there won’t be any visible difference between raster or vector files.

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