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In this movie, I'll show you how to expand the appearance of this path, convert the strokes to fills and clean up the results. The great thing about working from the Appearance panel--go ahead and zoom out here--is that you can draw by the numbers and then you can easily replicate the appearance of one path to another. Now it doesn't, however, mean things are always going to work. I'll go ahead and select this curving path for example, and then I'll drop down to the Eyedropper tool and double-click on it in order to bring up the Eyedropper Options dialog box.
Make sure that the Appearance checkbox is turned on. If it isn't, scroll up and go ahead and click on it and then click OK. Now we need to click on this path with the eyedropper--fairly impossible to find however-- so press Ctrl+Y or Cmd+Y on the Mac to switch to the outline mode, and then click on that horizontal line like so. And you can see I've gone ahead and duplicated all 20 of those strokes. So I'm expecting when I press Ctrl+Y or Cmd+Y on the Mac to switch back to the Preview mode --that I'll see a nicely curving railroad track-- but instead, I see this, which is I have to say, is really pretty cool in a kind of cubist way, but it is falling apart and the culprit here is the Transform effect. Because I told the Transform effect to move, for example, the base plates straight up and straight down, it doesn't matter whether the path is straight or curving; that's the direction that those plates are going to go in, and as a result everything is out of kilter.
So I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+Z or Cmd+Z on the Mac to undo that. The same thing happens, by the way, if you were to rotate that top path outline. So I'll go ahead and switch back to my Black Arrow tool for a moment. Switch over to the Layers panel as well. Twirl open the Tracks layer, and then I'm going to turn off this third item down in order to hide the curving line, and I'll go ahead and marquee the horizontal line and drag them down while pressing the Shift and Alt keys--the Shift and Option keys on the Mac--that way I'll create a copy of it. And I'll get the Rotate tool here which you can get by pressing the R key, and I'll just rotate the tracks slightly. And you can see it falls apart there, too.
Now I can remedy that problem by converting this Dynamic effect into a series of static path outlines and let me show you what that looks like. I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+Z or Cmd+Z on the Mac to undo that rotation, and then I'll go up to the Object menu and choose Expand Appearance, and that doesn't convert the strokes to fills by the way, it just goes ahead and separates all the strokes into independent path outlines and sometimes then some. Notice that this first tie is for some reason separated to an independent path. Now to get to the bottom of things and just to clean up the edges as well--because we have these little bits of paths over here on the sides--the best way to clean those up is to convert these strokes into fills.
Now you don't absolutely have to. At this point I could go ahead and rotate these paths and everything is going to work out fine. However, if you want to be able to clean things up, then press Ctrl+Z, Cmd+Z on a Mac to undo the rotation. You want to make sure the paths are still expanded. And then to convert the strokes to fill path outlines, go up to the Object menu choose Path and choose Outline Stroke. Or, if you loaded dekeKeys, you can press Ctrl+\ or Cmd+\ on the Mac and that'll go ahead and deliver these results right here. Now notice that we have these collections of hidden paths here between each one of the ties and you can leave them if you want to. It's not essential that you get rid of them.
But if you do want to get rid of them, here is the best way to approach it. Press the A key to switch to the White Arrow tool and then press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, so that you select entire path outlines at a time, and marquee in between the ties and those white path outlines, but around both of the rails like so, in order to select all the lines that make up the rails. Then press Ctrl+X or Cmd+X on the Mac in order to cut them to the clipboard. Now I'll press Ctrl+Y or Cmd+Y to switch to the Outline mode, so that you can see all the paths, and here is where it gets a little brutal. We're using a White Arrow tool by the way, because Illustrator went ahead and converted the railroad tracks into a group, but you've got to select each one of these guys manually.
So I recommend you just marquee around them like so and then Shift+Marquee around the other ones. Obviously, this is little tedious and it would get more and more tedious depending on how many ties you had in the first place. So if you had a very long line, then you would have to repeat this process many times. But as soon as you've selected all those guys, press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac in order to get rid of them, press Ctrl+Y or Cmd+Y on the Mac to go ahead and switch back to the Preview mode and then go to the Layers panel and locate that group of ties.
It should be the second item down in the Tracks layer. Go ahead and twirl it open and then go ahead and meatball the top item inside of that group--which is itself another group, as we can see over here on a left side of the Control panel--and then press Ctrl+F or Cmd+F on the Mac to not only place the rails in front of that item, but also place the rails into a larger group. And then you can go ahead and twirl the group closed like so. Now I'll switch back to the Black Arrow tool. Click on any one of these path outlines to select all of them, and then switch to the Rotate tool and go ahead and rotate those tracks any way you like.
All right, I'll press Ctrl+Shift+A or Cmd+Shift+A on the Mac in order to deselect those path outlines. And that, friends, is both how and why you expand the appearance of a very complex path, as well as convert the strokes to fill path outlines and clean up your artwork.
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