How To Merge Overlapping Paths In Illustrator: A Tutorial

If you’re an illustrator or graphic designer, you may come across a situation where you need to merge overlapping paths in Illustrator. This can be a tricky task, but with the right steps, you can easily merge those paths and create a seamless design. Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how to merge overlapping paths in Illustrator.

Step 1: Open the Paths in Illustrator

Open the Illustrator file containing the paths you want to merge. If you don’t have a file yet, create two paths that overlap each other. To create a path, select the Pen Tool from the Tools panel and draw a line.

Step 2: Select the Paths

Using the Selection Tool, select both paths that you want to merge. You can select multiple paths by holding down the Shift key and clicking on each path.

Step 3: Use the Pathfinder Tool

Click on the Pathfinder Tool in the Tools panel. This will open the Pathfinder palette. In the palette, click on the Unite button. This will merge the selected paths into one.

Step 4: Adjust the Merged Path

After merging the paths, you may need to adjust the new path. Use the Direct Selection Tool to select and move any anchor points that need to be adjusted. You can also use the Pen Tool to add or remove anchor points.

Step 5: Smooth the Path

If the merged path appears jagged or rough, you can smooth it out by using the Smooth Tool. Select the Smooth Tool from the Tools panel and drag it over the path. This will smooth out any rough edges.

Step 6: Save the Merged Path

Once you’re satisfied with the merged path, save the file. You can use the merged path in your design or continue editing the file.

Step 7: Repeat the Process

If you have more paths to merge, repeat the above steps until all the paths are merged into one.


  • Can I merge more than two paths at once?

    Yes, you can select multiple paths and merge them using the Pathfinder Tool. Just make sure all the paths are selected before clicking on the Unite button.

  • What if I don’t like the merged path?

    You can always undo the merge by pressing Ctrl + Z (Windows) or Command + Z (Mac). This will revert the paths back to their original state.

  • Can I merge paths with different stroke weights or colors?

    Yes, you can merge paths with different stroke weights or colors. The merged path will take on the stroke weight and color of the topmost path in the selection.

  • What is the Smooth Tool?

    The Smooth Tool is a tool in Illustrator that smooths out paths. It can be found in the Tools panel under the Pencil Tool.

  • Can I merge paths in other Adobe programs?

    Yes, you can merge paths in other Adobe programs such as Photoshop and InDesign. The process may differ slightly, but the basic steps are the same.

Now that you know how to merge overlapping paths in Illustrator, you can create complex designs with ease. Remember to save your work and experiment with different tools to achieve the desired effect. Happy designing!

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