Join Russell Viers for an in-depth discussion in this video Compound paths, part of 11 Things Every Beginner Needs to Learn to Love Illustrator.
Alright guys, you're not in grade school anymore. We're gonna cover an advanced topic here. But it's one of those that you need to know. You've got to know this. We're gonna talk about compound paths. If you take a look at this letter A here, for example. Let me just zoom in on it. It's not one path. One path is the outline of the A. The other path is the star. And together they create a compound path. Okay? That sounds simple enough? All right. So, anytime you've got a letter that has an inside, that would be an example of a compound path. This here, this logo right here, is also a compound path. There's one path that makes up the outside, but then there's another path that makes up the inside.
This is multiple paths. Look. One, two, let's go ahead and count this, three, four, and then the outside path, there's five paths put together as a single compound path to make this look. Okay, how do we do that? Well, let's go to this art right here and let's just do it. Are you ready? Then we'll zoom in on this letter, this type is already created as art, and I've gotta box. So, I'm gonna hold my Shift key down and select both. If I go to Object > Compound Path > Make.
There we go. That was it. That's all there is to it. I'm gonna go over here and choose a fill color for that. Let's make that, that color's fine. Okay? There we go. I'm gonna zoom out a little bit. And let's look at these letters. They're all grouped together. Object > Ungroup. Now if I select that A, again it's a compound path. Let me zoom in there so we can see this. If I don't want it to be a compound path anymore, Object > Compound Path > Release.
Now, it's two separate paths. There's the inside, there's the outside. I can delete that cuz I don't want that anymore. I'm gonna go over here to my Star tool and I'm gonna click. And I'm gonna tell it to make Radius 1. Let's make this small, 0.25. Radius 2, 0.5. And let's do 5 points on it. Let's just see what we get. There we go. All right, good enough. Now, that's a still little big but that's alright. I am not even worried about the color, so if yours is a different color than mine, don't worry about it. I wanna bring it right over here and position it where it's in the center of that A.
Hold my Shift key down, just like we did on the previous logo. I have the star and the outside selected, Object > Compound Path > Make. Now, some of you who watched the previous chapter on Pathfinder might say, well, can I do that with a Pathfinder? Yeah, cuz the Pathfinder makes compound paths. It also makes non-compound paths, though. So, I think it's important that you understand that I can release this star at any moment by going Object > Compound Path > Release. And now, it's not there anymore. I'm gonna hit Cmd+Z to undo that cuz I wanna show you that if I go to my White Arrow and click on that star, the star is selected.
But that notice I don't have any points selected. So, I'm gonna hold my Alt key down and I'm going to now have all of them selected. Can you see the blue anchors now? Notice nothing else is selected. I'm just going to use my arrow keys and I can play with the position of this now. And all it's doing is changing where that path is, but it's still part of a compound path. How cool is that? All right? So, I'll play with that a little bit, get it the way I like it. If I wanna change the size of it, I can go back to my black arrow and I can make that just a little bit smaller.
There's my compound path, I can do that the same way on this O. Object > Compound Path > Release. I'm gonna select the middle, delete it, and go to my Star tool and I'm gonna make this one, just down here at the bottom, I'm not gonna make it right in the center. Oops. That over. Select the background. Object > Compound Path > Make. So now, you can just keep going through all your art. Release the compound path. Make the compound path.
And as you can see now, it's quite easy for us to go through this text, and put stars there to fit the feel of Accordion Nights as opposed to going and looking for a font that might do that for us. So, we can create logos. We can chop out for letters. Any time we wanna join two paths overlapping for a more complicated design, compound paths might be there. What's more important to know, I think in this lesson, is how to release a compound path.
Cuz you know the Pathfinder will do lot of this. We can't release the compound path there. And I may wanna get rid of those star, Object > Compound Path > Release. So, just remember that when you see something complicated, you can break it into smaller bits by releasing the compound paths.
- Creating shapes and lines
- Modifying paths
- Transforming objects
- Using Illustrator's brushes
- Creating your own brushes
- Fun with text
- Understanding layers, groups, and sublayers
- Working with photos and other art
- Placing Illustrator files