I'm trying to follow this tutorial but they skipped a few steps... The two side dots below are each individual arches made using the pen tool, they are not connected to the mushroom cap.
All I want to do is fill each area(dots, eyes, etc) with color, I've tried dozens of combinations of unite/merge/outline stroke/join and every other tool I thought I understood the functionality of but nothing has worked. I do not want to use live paint(though I tried that and couldn't get it to work either).
Note eventually I will have to remove the stroke, so I don't think offset path will work.
Grab the Live Paint Bucket Tool
Click once to create a Live Paint group.... pick a swatch color and then click more to fill specific areas. Change swatch color, and click a new area to fill that with the new color... repeat.
When done coloring, click Expand in the Control Bar across the top of the screen if you wish to remove the Live Paint aspect of the group and individually edit paths.
You can view an animation of this here:
(purposely not posted inline to prevent autoload of the large image)
I'm not sure how the tutorial is advising you to do it. I would make the mushroom cap a clipping mask with the side dots clipped in it. After you convert the cap to a mask, you'll have to reselect and style it: converting to a mask strips away all styling.
Position your objects so the object to clip to is on the top.
Select all the objects and chose
Object > Clipping Mask > Make. Any styling that was applied to the mask object will be removed.
A clipping mask is treated as a group so you have several options for selecting the individual components.
a. Expand the group in the layers panel and use the circles to select within.
b. Use the
Direct Selection Tool. This is my most frequent choice so I assigned it a shortcut for quick activation.
c. Any time a clipping mask is selected, you'll see these little buttons in the control bar representing clipping path (left) vs contents (right).
By default they are both selected.
Clicking one will deselect the other. Here only the mask is selected.
When you style the mask object, it's fill is drawn behind the other items in the group.
Now you use any of the tools in point 3 to select any other item in the group and style away.