Clipping path, a fundamental technique in graphic design, is widely used to isolate objects in an image from their background. Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator are two powerhouse software programs for designers, and combining their capabilities can create stunning visual effects. In this article, we will walk you through the process of creating a clipping path in Photoshop and transferring it seamlessly to Adobe Illustrator. By the end, you’ll have a thorough understanding of the process and be able to enhance your design projects with this valuable skill.

Understanding Clipping Path

A clipping path is a vector graphic that outlines a specific area in an image. It is used to isolate a subject or object from its background, making it easier to place the object on a new background or use it in various design applications. Clipping paths are commonly employed in product photography, image manipulation, and graphic design.

Creating a Clipping Path in Photoshop

  1. Open Your Image: Launch Adobe Photoshop and open the image you want to work on.
  2. Select the Pen Tool: In the toolbar, select the Pen Tool (shortcut: P).
  3. Create the Path: Carefully draw a path around the object you want to clip. Ensure that you create a closed path that covers the entire object.
  4. Define the Clipping Path: With the path selected, go to the “Paths” panel, and click on the “Make Work Path from Selection” button. You can also set the desired tolerance level.
  5. Save Your Path: Name and save the path in the Paths panel. This will make it easier to find when transferring to Illustrator.

Exporting the Clipping Path from Photoshop

  1. Select the Path: In the Paths panel, select the path you created.
  2. Export as Paths: Go to “File” > “Export” > “Paths to Illustrator.” Choose the location and format (AI is recommended), then click “Export.”

Importing the Clipping Path into Illustrator

  1. Open Illustrator: Launch Adobe Illustrator and create a new document or open an existing one.
  2. Place the Image: Go to “File” > “Place” and select the image that you edited in Photoshop. Click “Place.”
  3. Transparency Panel: Open the Transparency panel and make sure that “Clip” is selected.
  4. Adjust as Needed: Position the image as desired. The clipping path will hide the background.

Fine-tuning in Illustrator

Once your clipping path is in Illustrator, you can further fine-tune your design. Adjust the image’s position, add effects, or incorporate it into your project seamlessly.


What is a clipping path?

A clipping path is a vector graphic used to isolate an object from its background, making it easier to place the object on a new background or use it in various design applications.

Why should I use a clipping path?

Clipping paths are essential for creating clean and professional designs. They allow you to isolate objects, remove backgrounds, and achieve a polished look in your projects.

Can I create a clipping path in Illustrator directly?

While you can create vector paths in Illustrator, the detailed selection tools and capabilities of Photoshop make it a preferred choice for creating complex clipping paths.

What is the difference between a vector path and a clipping path?

A vector path is a generic path in Illustrator, while a clipping path is a specific type of vector path used to isolate objects from backgrounds.

How do I ensure a smooth transition when moving a clipping path from Photoshop to Illustrator?

To ensure a smooth transition, make sure your Photoshop and Illustrator files have the same color mode (RGB or CMYK), and export the path as an AI file for maximum compatibility.


Mastering the process of moving a clipping path from Photoshop to Illustrator is a valuable skill for graphic designers. It opens up a world of creative photo editing possibilities and enables you to create stunning, professional designs. By following the steps outlined in this article and understanding the fundamentals of clipping paths, you’re well on your way to elevating your design projects to the next level.

This page was last edited on 22 November 2023, at 9:00 pm