Adobe Illustrator tutorial: clipping mask and compound path

Aloha, designers! Please meet Community Director, Jason Aiken’s sweet and totally-cute dogs, Job and Lily. Job and Lily have a love for professional swimming and we are going to use one of Illustrator’s brilliant design tools to show off their skills — the clipping mask. A clipping mask is a shape (called a clipping path) that masks any object below it, so only what’s inside of the clipping path is visible. A clipping path can only be a vector object, not a photo. However, the object below it can be anything – a raster photo, vector drawing, etc. In this demo, the clipping path will be the text of their names, Lily and Job. The objects we are going to clip will be images of them swimming. To start, we will do a clipping mask for Job. In one layer, I have put Job’s name on top of his swimming photo. You can expand the layer view to see the text and object image separately: Once the images are properly arranged, click on Object >, Clipping Mask >, Make. You will notice that everything disappears except what is inside of the clipping path (Job’s name). Now, let’s do the same thing for Lily. Lily’s name needs to be altered so that her image fits nicely. When dealing with clipping masks, you will often find that either the clipping path or object underneath needs to be altered to fit together. In this case, I want to edit the letters individually. First, I converted the text to outline so each letter can be edited. To convert text to outlines, click on Type >, Create Outlines (shift>,command>,O) or by right clicking on the text and selecting Create Outlines. Each letter has now become an object that can be edited but not like regular text. You will notice that anchor points appear on each letter — they can be moved and edited individually: Luckily, compound path allows several paths to be combined into one path. We can convert it to one path by highlighting Lily and selecting Object >, Compound Path >, Make (Command>,8). As you saw, compound paths combine all selected paths into one. You can also use this tool to make some pretty cool designs quickly. Play around with it by taking a few basic shapes and stacking them on top of each other. Then select Object >, Compound Path >, Make (Command>,8): Although, there can not be two or more clipping paths (without making them a compound path), you CAN clip two or more objects underneath. I’ve made sure the photos of Lily and Job are on the same layer. I’ve also made sure they are placed underneath the clipping path: DOG LOVE. Select Object >, Clipping Mask >, Make. I’ve made the images more visible by adding a black background. As you can see, clipping masks and compound paths are some pretty cool and easy tools that make designing that much more fun. Based in San Francisco, Allison (Alli) Stuart works as Head of Community Marketing at 99designs. When she's not writing articles and communicating with designers, she is working on her Children's Book. She also enjoys extreme sports, like sky diving and traveling to new places. Alli has a Fine Arts Degree with a concentration in Graphic Design from Louisiana State University, her home. Geaux Tigers! Source.


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Last Modified: December 27, 2013 @ 12:00 am