Perform path operations

Microsoft Expression Design can combine two or more paths or shapes in various ways by using path operations. These commands let you add or subtract shapes. For example, you could join two separate paths into one and have one shape behave like a cookie cutter on another shape.

To perform a path operation on two or more selected paths

  • On the Object menu, point to Path Operations and then click one of the following commands:

    • Unite   This command combines all the selected shapes into one object, and no hole is left behind where they overlap. If some of the original paths do not overlap the others, then the Unite command leaves the objects separate, but they all act as one compound object.


      When paths do not overlap, you can get the same effect by going to the Object menu, pointing to Compound Path, and then clicking Make.

    • Front Minus Back   This command cuts the shape of the back-most selected object out of the front-most selected object.


    • Back Minus Front   This command uses the front-most selected object as a "cookie cutter" on the back object. The shape of the front object is cut out of the back-most object, punching a hole in the middle of it.


    • Intersect   This command keeps areas where two or more selected objects overlap. It then deletes all the other areas of the shapes. If the front-most object does not overlap the back-most object (or if you have three or more objects that do not overlap in the same area) you will see an error message and the paths will not be affected.


    • Divide   Like the Intersect command, this command cuts the selected paths where they intersect, but does not delete the parts that do not intersect. The other path operations give you only a single path, but Divide often produces two or more separate paths or shapes.


Except for the Divide and Back Minus Front commands, the resulting path always takes on the fill, stroke, and effect attributes of the top-most selected object. When you use the Back Minus Front command, the back-most object's attributes are maintained.

If you have selected three or more paths, the path operation is applied first to the first two existing paths, then to the newly formed path and the next path, and so on.

After a path operation, the original source paths are deleted. If you want to keep them, duplicate the source objects before you perform the path operation.

To keep the original paths

  1. On the Edit menu, point to Options, and then click General.

  2. On the General pane, under General, select Path operations: Keep originals.

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