Join Mordy Golding for an in-depth discussion in this video Releasing and expanding Live Paint groups, part of Illustrator CS4 Beyond the Basics.
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One of the first questions that I usually get whenever I show somebody the Live Paint feature inside of Illustrator is, is it going to print? And the answer is of course, it will. Like almost any other feature inside of Illustrator, be it Live Trace or Live Effects, those things are all expanded and printed correctly. However, there may be times when you want to expand a Live Paint group on your own. So let's explore how to do that. I am going to simply create a regular Live Paint group. I'll draw a circle with a couple of paths that kind of crisscross through it. I'll select these objects here and I'll choose Object > Live Paint and I'll choose Make. I'll apply some color to these regions with the Live Paint Bucket tool. I'll go ahead and choose a few colors here. Let's add a Gradient, say right about over here and let's do a few other colors as well. It has to be yellow, yellow is my favorite color, and I also choose to change some of the stroke attributes as well.
Select this path right here and I'll change its stroke attribute to None. I'll also use my Live Paint Selection tool to select just this region over here and I can hold on the Shift key and select just this region over here and I could change those attributes to None as well. Well, as we know, inside of Illustrator, even though I'm able to actually apply paint to these specific regions, I can't use my regular Selection tool to select that particular shape. And that's because there is no shape that exists there, only to the rules of Live Paint, the fact that it looks like it should be an enclosed and paintable region, can I apply a fill Color to that region? However, there are no distinct paths that make up that area. The truth is, though, I can take my Live Paint group and expand it any time. In doing so, Illustrator will flatten up my Live Paint group and create a distinct object necessary to make my artwork appear as if I see it right now, but without using the Live Paint feature.
To do so, I can simply use my regular Selection tool to select the entire group and then in the control panel, click on the Expand button. In doing so, I no longer have a Live Paint group. If I take my regular Direct Selection tool, I'll see that I now can click on these regions and actually pull them out. In fact, I sometimes will create a Live Paint group just to be able to quickly color and manipulate some areas and then choose the Expand command, which if you think about it, ends up giving you a far more powerful Pathfinder like function. Let me press Undo a few times to kind of go back to my original Live Paint group. There is another option available to me as well. If I go ahead and I choose my regular Selection tool to select the Live Paint group, I could go to the Object menu, choose Live Paint and then choose Release. That returns my artwork back to the original shapes that I've created. However, I'll lose the appearance of the paint that I've created.
Now in reality, whenever you print an Illustrator document, if you do have a Live Paint group in your document, Illustrator will automatically expand it before it gets to the printer. That way the printer knows how to create those particular regions. However, that's something that Illustrator just simply handles on its own, you don't need to think about that. Just know that any Live Paint group that you create inside of Illustrator will print correctly. However, if you ever manually want to pick apart the regions inside of a Live Paint group, you can always choose to expand it. Keep in mind that once you expand your Live Paint group, you can no longer use the Live Paint Bucket or the Live Paint Selection tool on those objects.
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