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My latest illustration trick: make complex non-Boolean combinations of shapes by overlaying simple shapes, exploding the overlay into simple regions, and unioning the regions into the shapes I want. Exploding and unioning are single clicks in Illustrator's pathfinder tool. I used two levels of this technique to make the attached diagram of a Brunnian link (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brunnian): once to make the shape of a single component, and again to make the over-under relation between components.

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@11011110 I would definitely be interested in seeing a screen recording of how that link diagram was made; the text description isn't enough for me to follow.

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