15 Jan

How To: Create a Clipping Mask in Adobe Illustrator

Amber Koenigsknecht

Design, How To


clipping mask in illustrator

Clipping masks allow us to combine two layers into one, resulting in an artistic way to display your type and images. This technique is especially common in Adobe Photoshop but our team has found it useful in Illustrator, as well. Follow along in our tutorial below, try it yourself, and tag us on social media with a photo of your end result!

Step 1: Choose your fill

Your fill will be whatever pattern, image, or gradient you want to consume your layer. If you have an image, place it on your art board in Illustrator first. If you'd like to use a fill pattern or gradient, simply use the square shape tool to fill your art board with your choice.

choose your clipping mask fill

Step 2: Select your word

To go with this whimsical background image, I chose the word 'Vibes'. It's important to choose a font that is large and bold in order to see as much of the fill as possible after creating your mask.

choose your word to mask

Step 3: Select and mask

With your text chosen and placed on top of your fill layer, you're ready to make some magic happen! You may instinctually want to turn your text into outlines, but that is not necessary here. To create your mask, simply select/highlight the two layers at once. Traditionally, you can right-click and choose to 'make clipping mask'. Adobe, of course, doesn't do anything without also creating a shortcut. Using your hotkeys, tap 'command' + '7'. Voila! You might also notice to the right of your Illustrator workspace that 'Make Clipping Mask' 'Group' and 'Recolor' also appear when you highlight your layers - these Quick Actions are totally useful, too!

select both layers clipping mask final product

Clipping like a Queen!

You probably didn't realize how easy it was to achieve this artistic technique! Clipping masks, once made, can also be released. Simply select your new design, right-click, and choose to 'Release clipping mask'. Text aside, this same technique can be done using any shape of your choice. This technique is an easy tool to keep in your graphic design toolbox. You can see in this work sample that our team made a clipping mask using a pattern of honeycombs and image of airborne helicopters.

We hope you found this tutorial useful! If it looks like something you'd rather leave to the designers - contact our team today!clipping mask with shapes

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