Combining and Clipping Shapes

To clip a shape with part of another shape, combine shapes into a single object, and more.

To Intersect Two Shapes:


The Intersect command clips the bottom shape to the intersecting area of the top shape, resulting in a new shape. The new shape adopts the style of the (lower) object being intersected.

  1. Select two shapes to be intersected.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • Choose Graphic > Combine > Intersect from the main menu.
  • Click the Intersect icon on the toolbar.
  • Use the Shift-Command-I keyboard shortcut.

HINT: Unexpected results may occasionally occur, particularly when the edges of objects are exactly aligned and the algorithm to combine them gets confused. Hold the Option-key while using any of the ‘Combine’ commands to apply an alternate algorithm and obtain the expected results.

To Combine Shapes with Union:


Union unites two or more shapes into a single shape object. The new shape adopts the style of the top object in the selection.

  1. Select the shapes to be combined.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • Choose Graphic > Combine > Union from the main menu.
  • Click the Union icon on the toolbar.
  • Use the Shift-Command-U keyboard shortcut.

To Subtract Shapes With Difference:


Use Difference to subtract a portion of one shape (the top shape) from another (bottom) shape. The remaining shape maintains its original style.

  1. Select the two overlapping shapes to be subtracted from each other.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • Choose Graphic > Combine > Difference from the main menu.
  • Click the Difference icon on the toolbar.
  • Use the Shift-Command-D keyboard shortcut.

To Append Shapes Together:


Combining like objects into single shapes can make your drawing more efficient. The Append command combines multiple shapes into a single shape object, with overlapping areas excluded from the new shape. Objects do not need to overlap to be appended together. Append is also appropriate for open paths, whereas the other ‘Combine’ operations work only with closed paths. Using Union, Intersection or Difference with an open path produces undefined results (though Undo works to correct any unexpected outcomes).

The new shape adopts the style of the top object in the selection.

  1. Select two or more shapes to be appended.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • Choose Graphic > Combine > Append from the main menu.
  • Click the Append icon on the toolbar.
  • Use the Shift-Command-M keyboard shortcut.

To Break Shapes Apart:


Objects that have been appended together may be broken apart into their separate components.

  1. Choose Graphic > Combine > Break Apart from the main menu.

To Use Cookie Cutter:


The Cookie Cutter is a valuable command for dividing shapes into separate objects. All selected shapes that are intersected by the “cutter” (the top selected shape) are sectioned using both intersection and difference operations. The cutter is removed and the remaining pieces left in place. The new shapes keep their original style or styles and any existing attribution information.

  1. Select the shapes to be intersected by the top cutter shape.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • Choose Graphic > Combine > Cookie Cutter from the main menu.
  • Alternatively, customize the toolbar by adding the Cookie Cutter icon to it for quick access.

How To Clip Images with Complex Objects

Artboard makes it easy to clip your images with complex vector objects. Draw any shape and use the Intersect command. Here’s how.

Tutorial Details

Program : Artboard 1.7+ for Mac OSX
Difficulty: Intermediate
Topics Covered: Image Browser and Intersect
Estimated Completion Time: about 15 minutes

Step 1 – Draw the Clipping Shape

Open the Image Browser and drag-and-drop from the Browser to your drawing canvas to place your image. Draw any shape – from a simple rounded rectangle to a complex outline of the area you want to clip. Here we’ve used the Bezier Path [b]tool to draw an outline around the girl in the picture. We used a simple red stroke with no fill to better see the outline as we traced over the picture.

Step 2 – Clip the Image

To clip the image with your shape, hold the Command-key and use the Select [s] tool to select both the image and the shape. Then click the Intersect icon on the Toolbar, or choose Graphic > Combine > Intersect from the main menu. Clipping images is non-destructive – an image that is clipped still has the original image hidden behind the clipped area, and the clipping path can be removed later as desired. Double-click the image to reposition it or scale it within its bounding box. An image effects panel is also displayed. If you want to remove the clipping path, right-click the image and choose “Remove Image clipping path” from the contextual menu.

Step 3 – Mask and Resample Image (optional)

An image with a clipping path can be permanently cropped to remove portions of the image that are hidden, thus reducing overall file size. Cropped images are resampled to the clipped area. To crop a clipped image, right-clicking the image and choose “Crop and resample image” from the contextual menu.

Final Image

Clipping images in Artboard is as easy as 1-2-3! We hope you enjoy the simplicity of how it works just like the Boolean operations with any vector objects.

Beautifully Preserved Boolean Vectors

When you combine shapes with Union, Intersect, Difference, and Append, Artboard 1.6+ now preserves the editable paths and curves. This makes these Boolean operations 10-times more useful.