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Path Options

The commands under Illustrator's Path submenu perform a disparate group of functions that are really related only because they all affect the shape of the selected path or paths. They're “utility” commands—unexciting on the surface, but the key to creating complex yet clean artwork. When you choose Object, Path, Simplify, for example, nothing exciting appears to happen to the selected paths. The command removes extra points that make those paths unnecessarily complex, reducing the file size and preventing output errors when you print your artwork. And that just might make the difference between success and failure in a real-world production situation.

Join

One of the most common operations in Illustrator is joining two paths, because it's often easier to create a complex path by drawing several simple paths and then combining them. Of course, you can easily move an endpoint so that it occupies the same position as another point, but that doesn't connect the two paths. To do that, you need to select both points and choose Object, Path, Join or press Cmd+J [Ctrl+J]. If both points aren't endpoints, Illustrator refuses to join them. If the points are both endpoints, and they occupy the same location, the Join dialog box opens (see Figure 5.1). Here, you can choose whether the two points should be merged into a single corner point or a smooth one. Choosing Corner has no effect on the paths' appearance; choosing Smooth may cause Illustrator to adjust the shape of the curve because the two path segments connected to the new point can't be at an angle to each other (see Figure 5.2).


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