Easy Ways to Cut Out Any Object in Illustrator

Cutting out objects in Illustrator may seem daunting to beginners, but it’s actually a quite simple effect to achieve. There are several ways we can achieve the same outcome. In this tutorial, we will cover some ways we can add/subtract paths to cut out any object in Adobe Illustrator.

0:00 Intro
0:32 Show Transparency Grid
0:43 Select All Shapes
0:45 Use Pathfinder Tool
1:04 Use Shape Builder Tool

1. Using the Pathfinder

Firstly and the fastest way to cut out your objects is to use the Pathfinder Panel. If you don’t see it in your preferences side panel, you can go to Window > Pathfinder. Make sure any layers you want to cut through are selected then play around with the different shape modes to achieve your desired look. (See pathfinder examples below). In my example, I used Minus Front to cut out the star from the circle which was the top layer.

Pathfinder Examples in Adobe Illustrator

2. Using the Shape Builder Tool

Secondly and my personal favorite way to cut out any object in Illustrator is by using the Shape Builder Tool. Like the first method using the pathfinder panel, you will want to select the objects you want to cut through. With the Shape Builder Tool selected, hold down the Option key on Mac or Alt key on PC, then you will see a small minus icon. You can now select shapes or paths you would like to delete or subtract from your selection.

In addition, you can use the shape builder tool to create new shapes and add new paths to your selection without holding the option or alt key on your keyboard. While adding shapes with the Shape Builder Tool you will see a plus icon.

Learn more beginner techniques from our blog!