In this tutorial, you will learn how to remove outlines in Adobe Illustrator. These ‘outlines’ refer to colored borders around the edge of vector shapes or images.
For clarity, “outlines” in this tutorial are different from:
What are Outlines in Adobe Illustrator
In this guide, outlines or borders are used to represent the edges of a shape or an object. When you create an object in Illustrator, it is filled with color, but the edges remain uncolored. These uncolored edges are referred to as outlines.
Outlines can be visible or invisible, depending on the design needs of the user. In some cases, outlines can make something stand out, other times, they may interfere with the design, making it look cluttered or messy.
There are two kinds of outlines that appear as a border around an object. One is a simple stroke with one path line.
Another is known as “Outline Stroke” where the stroke is expanded and filled with color, which means the stroke is not a line, but a shape going around the edge of an object.
Here is the difference between a stroke with one path line and vs Outline Stroke:
The choice of method for removing the outline depends on the kind of outline you have on your artwork.
The best way is always to reverse or undo your actions to get back the artwork version that doesn’t have the outline or border. But in times you may not have such luxury.
Don’t worry, you are in good hands. Here, I’ve highlighted several possible scenarios of outlines or borders and the best method to remove them.
Go through each of them like a trial-and-error checklist and you may find a method that works best for your case.
How To Remove Outlines In Adobe Illustrator
5 Ways To Remove Outlines In Illustrator
You can remove outlines by first selecting the object and changing the Weight value in the Stroke panel to “0”. Or, find the outline layer in the Layers panel and delete it.
Before knowing which methods would work for you, check your outline to see what kind of outline you will be removing. Here are the steps to check:
Step 1: Select the Outline
First, click on the Selection Tool from the Toolbar. Or use the keyboard shortcut by pressing the letter “V”. Then select the outline or the object with the outline by clicking on it once.
Step 2: Check If the Outline Is On A Separate Layer Or Not
Once you’ve selected the outline, open the Layers Panel by selecting Window and selecting Layers in the drop-down menu. Or go to Window > Layers.
Navigate to the outline layer by looking for the blue square. It indicates the selected layer. The purpose of doing this is to check whether the layer you’ve selected is a full path layer on its own or not.
If the outline looks like it’s in the same layer as the object, open the Stroke Panel first to see if any stroke effect has been added to the layer to create the outline.
Open the Stroke Panel by going to Window on the top menu and selecting Stroke in the drop-down menu. Or go to Window > Stroke.
Then, check if there’s any weight value in the Weight field.
If the value is more than 0 pt, it means the stroke effect is applied to the object to create the outline. Otherwise, the stroke or outline could have been applied to another layer, separate from your object layer.
The next step is to use any of the various methods below to remove the outline from your object.
Method 1: Reduce the Stroke Weight
This is the most common method to remove outlines in Illustrator. This works if your outline is created with the Stroke feature on the same layer as your object. Open the Stroke Panel with your outline selected, you will see the Weight value above 0 in the Stroke Panel.
To remove the outline, bring the value down to 0 pt.
If you aren’t able to change the Weight value, try the next method.
Method 2: Delete the Outline Layer
If your outline is separated from your object completely, you can delete the outline without affecting the main object layer.
Usually, in such a scenario, the outline is positioned under or above the main object layer. In this case, it isn’t a border, but a shape that is created wider than the object to make it look like a border.
Here are the steps to remove outlines in this scenario:
Step 1: Select the outline shape
First, select the shape that creates the outline. In this example, I have selected the bigger circle that’s on a layer behind the smaller pink circle.
Step 2: Open the Layers Panel to Check the Outline Layer
Next, open the Layers Panel to make sure that the layer you’ve selected is indeed on its own layer. You don’t wish to delete the wrong layer.
Step 3: Press the Delete key on your keyboard
You can now remove the outline by pressing Delete on your keyboard or clicking the trashcan icon on the bottom right corner of the Layers Panel.
Your outline is now removed, leaving the other parts of your artwork intact.
Method 3: Convert to Outline Stroke
You will use this method if you can’t remove it with the Stroke Panel and your Layers Panel shows that your outline has both outline and main object merged in one layer, like this:
To remove outlines like this, follow these steps:
Step 1: Outline Stroke
Select your outlined object, then, select Object from the top menu and select Path and Outline Stroke from the drop-down menu. Or go to Object > Path > Outline Stroke
Step 2: Ungroup
Then select the object again and ungroup the layers by going to Object in the top menu and selecting Ungroup from the drop-down menu. You can also use keyboard shortcuts by pressing Shift + Command + G for Mac or Shift + Ctrl + G for Windows
Step 3: Select Outline Layer
Reset your selection by clicking the cursor outside of your artwork. Then select the outline layer only by clicking on it once
Step 4: Delete
Press delete on the keyboard to remove the outline or drag the outline out of the artboard to keep it for future use.
Method 4: Remove The Stroke from Another Layer
You may wish to remove an outline from an object, but when you select the object and refer to the Stroke Panel, the Weight value is empty. Somehow there isn’t any stroke applied to your object, but you see an outline on the edge of your object, like this:
In your case, the outline could be just a thin black line, but here, I’m using a thick blue outline so that it is more visible.
If you are wondering whether the outline is actually visible and shown when printed, yes, chances are it is a stroke that’s been applied. The reason why you see it as a no-stroke effect is that the stroke is not applied to the layer you have selected on.
The stroke has been applied to another layer either by accident or created by someone else for a specific purpose. You will have to find that layer to remove the stroke from that particular layer. Here are the steps:
Step 1: Check Which Layer The Stroke Is Applied To
The first thing to do is to open the Appearance Panel and Layers Panel just next to your artwork like this:
Next, select any of your affected objects by clicking once on it. Make sure that the Target Circle of the selected object in the Layers Panel has been selected. If not, bring your cursor to it and click once to select it. It should now have 2 circles, like this:
Next, refer to the Appearance Panel and you will see an icon on the Layers tab that looks like this:
This shows that there is a stroke effect applied, and it’s been applied to another layer, not to the object you have selected.
Step 2: Remove the Outline from the Layer
Now that you’ve identified the layer with the stroke or outline, the next step is to select the Layer tab in the Appearance Panel by clicking on it once. The tab showing your object’s effects will be replaced by the effects of the Layer instead.
You will see the Stroke option under the Layer tab with a weight of more than 0 pt. Next, change the weight to 0 pt and hit the Return or Enter key on the keyboard. Or click your cursor anywhere outside the artboard.
This removes the outline or stroke of the layer and you will not see it on your object anymore.
Method 5: Remove An Outline Stroke
Sometimes, the way an outline is applied to the text is not obvious and may have been done as a Path effect. The best way to know how to remove this is to understand how it was applied to the text in the first place.
To add a Path effect, you would select the text, then select Effect from the top menu and Path. You can select either Outline Object or Outline Stroke to give the outline text effect.
However, you can’t remove the outline by reselecting these options from the menu. The same effect will just be added to your text. Here are the steps to remove the text effect in Adobe Illustrator:
Step 1: Open the Appearance Panel
First, open the Appearance panel by going to Window in the top menu, and selecting Appearance from the drop-down menu. Or select Window > Appearance.
Step 2: Delete Effects
Select the Outline Object and click the trash can icon on the bottom right-hand corner to delete it.
Do the same for Outline Stroke if it’s there; select Outline Stroke and click the trash can to remove it.
Do the same for Offset Path if it’s there; select Offset Path and click the trash can to remove it.
You will now see that your text has shrunk or become thinner because the outline stroke has been removed.
Final Thoughts: Removing Outlines In Illustrator
Sometimes it can be tough to remove outlines or colored strokes from a shape because there are different ways these outlines could be created.
You may have taken over an Illustrator file from another designer or simply unsure what you’ve done for the outlines to appear. Either way, run through the above checklist first then apply the right method to remove the outlines.
Have you managed to get rid of the outlines? Share with us in the comment below: