Adobe Illustrator is a versatile tool that allows you to create stunning graphics and illustrations. One of the photo editing techniques that can add depth and creativity to your designs is using clipping masks. In this article, we’ll explore how to make a clipping mask in Illustrator with multiple shapes. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced designer, this step-by-step guide will help you master this valuable technique.

Creating Multiple Shapes

Before you can create a clipping mask with multiple shapes, you need to have these shapes ready. You can draw various shapes using the Shape tools in Illustrator, such as the Rectangle, Ellipse, or Polygon tool.

Arranging Shapes

Position the shapes in the way you want them to be masked. For instance, if you have a circle and a square, arrange the square on top of the circle. The top shape will become the mask for the shapes beneath it.

Selecting the Shapes

Select all the shapes you want to include in your clipping mask. You can do this by holding down the Shift key and clicking on each shape individually, or you can use the Selection tool to draw a box around all the shapes.

Making a Clipping Mask

Once you have the shapes selected, go to the “Object” menu, choose “Clipping Mask,” and then select “Make.” Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut (Ctrl+7 for Windows or Command+7 for Mac). This action will create a clipping mask, hiding everything outside the top shape.

Editing the Clipping Mask

To edit the contents of the clipping mask, simply double-click on the mask to enter Isolation Mode. In this mode, you can move, resize, or modify the shapes within the mask without affecting the mask itself. Exit Isolation Mode by double-clicking outside the mask.

Tips and Tricks

  • You can have multiple shapes inside a clipping mask, making it a powerful tool for complex designs.
  • To release a clipping mask, select the masked object and choose “Object” > “Clipping Mask” > “Release.”
  • You can use gradients, patterns, or images as a mask, creating unique effects.


Q1: Can I add more shapes to an existing clipping mask?
A1: Yes, you can. Just select the clipping mask, enter Isolation Mode by double-clicking, and add or modify shapes as needed.

Q2: Can I apply transparency to the mask or the masked shapes?
A2: Yes, you can adjust the transparency of both the mask and the masked objects. This can lead to some interesting and creative effects.

Q3: Can I use text as a clipping mask?
A3: Absolutely. You can use text, just like any other shape, to create a clipping mask. The text will mask the shapes beneath it.

Q4: Can I create compound clipping masks with multiple layers?
A4: Yes, you can nest clipping masks within clipping masks to create complex compositions with multiple layers.

Q5: What is the difference between a clipping mask and a layer mask?
A5: A clipping mask hides portions of the shapes beneath it, whereas a layer mask controls the visibility of an entire layer. Clipping masks are used to reveal or hide parts of specific objects.

In conclusion, creating a clipping mask in Illustrator with multiple shapes is a powerful technique that can enhance your design projects. By following these steps and experimenting with different shapes and objects, you can unlock endless creative possibilities in your artwork. So, get started, and don’t be afraid to let your imagination run wild!

This page was last edited on 1 January 2024, at 12:00 pm