How To Combine Objects in Adobe Illustrator

Using Adobe Illustrator may seem like a daunting task, but learning how to combine objects in Adobe Illustrator can be easy. There are many different ways of combining, subtracting, and designing objects within this program. It is a great tool to use when creating designs for your website or designing logos. Tools like Adobe Illustrator are perfect for designing your website. Graphic Design will continue to be important as customers spend more time online. It is necessary to learn the different formats because each design may need a certain tool.

Using the Shape Builder Tool

If you want to start out easy in Adobe Illustrator, there is a great tool for that. Learn how to combine objects within the program with Shape Builder. This tool can help you merge multiple shapes together with a few simple steps.

Easy Steps for Shape Building

If you are trying to combine shapes, you can begin by aligning them. Once this is done, select every object and double click on the shape builder tool. You can also press shift to do this. Once that is done, “Shape Builder Tool Options” will be displayed on the screen. Check the gap detection box and decide how big you want the gap length to be. When you get back to the subject, parts of the object will be highlighted. Find the areas you want to combine and move the cursor to shift the shapes. Repeat this process until you have finished. This is a simple way of joining shapes together. For more detailed instructions on creating a comfortable website for customers, read on.

adobe illustrator user

Pathfinder Effects

The first way to combine objects in illustrator is by using pathfinder effects. This tool will help you merge shapes in illustrator but remember that you cannot edit the interactions between the objects. There are eight important tool uses to focus on:

  • Outline: This will help define the edges of an object that you just divided.
  • Crop: This will help divide objects as well as remove parts of objects that do not fit inside the new subject.
  • Merge: This can remove hidden areas that are no longer part of the new piece as well as bring together objects that are touching and hold the same color.
  • Divide: This will move objects apart and move them into specific sections.
  • Subtract: This will delete areas of the objects in the front from the back that you do not think fit with the final product.
  • Exclude: This will allow for tracing parts that are not laying on one another and will allow for the overlapping parts to become clear.
  • Intersect: This allows you to trace the outlines of the region which are hidden by other subjects.
  • Add: This allows for multiple objects to become part of the final object.

Begin Combining

This might seem like a lot to take in, but now you will find out how to combine objects in Illustrator. In order to find the Pathfinder tools, go to the window and then click Pathfinder to begin using illustrator to merge shapes. Use the top row to make paths for the objects. There are four shape modes. The first is “Adding to Shape Area”, which will allow for the object to come together with the underlying shape. The second is “Subtracting from Shape Area”. This will help you remove parts of the object from the shape underneath. The third is “Intersecting Shape Areas”, which will help you use the areas of the object to clip the shape underneath. The fourth mode is “Excluding Overlapping Shape Areas”. This will help with creating holes or filling in holes with the shape underneath the object you’re using.

Little Tools That Help in Illustrator

There are some tools that can help when creating Adobe Illustrator shapes. Precision can help you be very specific in your drawing or creating a path for the object. You can also use a tool that helps you remove repetitive points. Then, there is a tool to divide and outline so you can remove shapes and colors that do not help your final product.

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Creating New Objects

You can also learn how to combine objects in Illustrator that can be applied to groups, layers, and text objects. This can be helpful in creating logos for your business. You can do this by creating new shapes from preexisting ones. To do this, go to the “Effects” menu. While you can bring objects together and select certain groupings, do not be afraid to move the subjects and put them in different layers and work on them individually. Even after you have done this, you can still edit the object afterwards. You can also edit these three groups in the Pathfinder panel. This can help you apply effects to certain shapes. However, this one will keep your edits without another chance to remove them. You can do this by finding the Pathfinder button in the panel.

Creating Compound Shapes

Learn how to combine compound shapes in Adobe Illustrator with multiple objects. This can also help you define which objects you want to interact with. This tool will help you add, subtract, intersect, and exclude. The objects underneath the final product will not change, so you can edit those to create your final product. This is also an easy way in Illustrator to merge shapes and change them.

Begin the Process

The product will appear as “Compound shape” in the Layers panel and the objects will all be together. If you want to change the order of the objects, you can click on the “Direct Selection” tool or use the “Group Selection” tool to make the changes. By using the add, intersect, or exclude modes, the program will take the paint and clear attributes of the object on the top. You can also change this.

Change Compound Shapes

If you are looking to rework a compound shape, use the “Direct Selection” tool or the layers panel to select certain areas of the compound shape. Find the highlighted “Shape Mode” button within the Pathfinder panel to find which mode is being used on the selected area. Then click a new shape mode button in the Pathfinder panel. If there are two or more areas with different modes, a question mark will show on the shape mode buttons.

Joining Objects Together

To create a compound shape to combine objects in Illustrator, select the objects you want to join together. use alt-click or option-click to use the shape mode. You can assign certain shapes a mode when you use this feature. Otherwise, you could also click on the make compound shape from the Pathfinder panel. The requirement for this is that each part of the object will be using the add feature by default. After this, you can manipulate the shape of any object by using the “Direct Selection” tool or layers panel.

design illustrator

Separating Compound Shapes

If you are hoping to separate compound shapes, you will want to release them. To do this, select the compound shape with the Selection tool or within the Layers panel. Click on the Release Compound Shape within the Pathfinder panel menu.

Expand and Release

If you want to enlarge the shape, then go to the compound shape by using the selection tool or go to the layers panel. This can help you to not only combine objects in the program, but also make them larger. Click expand in the Pathfinder panel to do this. Another way to do this is by choosing the “Expand Compound Shape” button in the Pathfinder panel. The compound shape will be changed to a path or compound path in the layers panel. That will depend on the shape mode used. Remember that you will not be able to select the units individually after this is done.

Using Compound Paths

Learning how to combine objects in Illustrator can also be done using compound paths. This can help you cut a hole in another object within the program. They will also take on characteristics of the object in the very back of the stacking order. This will group the subjects together, but you can still edit them individually or together. You can use the Group Selection tool to edit a particular area. Remember that you cannot change the characteristics of the appearance, graphic style, or effects of individual components.

Creating Holes

If you want to make a hole in an object, then select the object to use it as a hole. Place it in a way that it sits on top of the object in order to cut it. Then select subjects to include in the compound path. Do this by clicking “Choose Object”, then “Compound Path”, then “Make”. If you want to fill, it will depend on whether it is a nonzero winding or an even-odd.

Change a Hole in Adobe Illustrator

When changing a hole in the path to a filled area, you will need to use the “Nonzero Winding Fill Rule”. This is a great tool for combining objects in Illustrator. Find the selection tool and select the certain area to change. In the attributes panel, click on either “Reverse Path Direction Off” or “Reverse Path Direction On”. Do not try to reverse the whole path.

using adobe illustrator

Nonzero Winding and Even-odd

If it applies to the nonzero winding fill, then use equations to decide if the point is outside or inside the object. Illustrator will complete this automatically. You can also decide where the paths appear with holes or whether they are filled in. Click “Reverse Path Direction” in the attributes panel to make those decisions. If it is even odd, then do the same. Even-odd is the default because every area within an even-odd compound is a hole. Remember that there are self-intersecting paths. They can use either nonzero winding or even-odd, but it will depend on your vision for the object.

Changing the Fill

If you want to change the fill for a compound path, then select the path with the Selection tool or in the Layers panel. Then, in the attributes panel click “Use Non-Zero Winding Fill Rule” or the “Use Even-Odd Fill Rule”.

Reverse the Edits

If you want to bring the original characteristics back from a compound path, then select the compound path with the selection tool or layers panel. Click “Choose Object”, then “Compound Path”, and finally “Release”.

objects adobe illustrator

Make Your Website Attractive with Adobe Illustrator

There are many places to learn how to combine objects in Illustrator and get some practice in. The great thing about Adobe Illustrator is how many different tasks it can accomplish. This can all be helpful for your website to make it attractive to customers. This tool is also helpful if you want to create a logo. There are many ways to complete this and different avenues to take. Whether that be with the pathfinder effects, the compound shapes, or the compound paths, make your website even more creative and make it stand out. One way you can do this is through using footer design. Learning how to use graphic design to make your website more exciting can keep customers on your page for longer periods of time. Begin working toward this goal by creating a responsive web design to bring more customers to your door.


  • How do you merge objects in Illustrator?
  • How do you combine shapes?
  • What is the Shape Builder tool?
  • How do you manipulate shapes in Illustrator?
  • How do you reshape an object in Illustrator?


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