How to Cut Outside of Illustrator Canvas


As you create and adjust your designs in Adobe Illustrator, it's inevitable that some objects will end up positioned partly outside your canvas. Although you can crop the artwork to the canvas when exporting, that doesn't help you visualize what the finished, cropped design will look like. To hide everything outside the canvas in a non-destructive way, leaving the objects intact in case you want to adjust their position, you need to use a clipping mask.

  • Launch Adobe Illustrator and open your document.

  • Make a note of the dimensions of your canvas. If you can't remember them offhand, click "Window" and select "Artboard" to open the Artboard panel, if it isn't already open. Click the small rectangle by the name of the canvas in question to display its properties.

  • Click the "Rectangle" tool and then click within the canvas to open the Rectangle dialog box. Enter the dimensions of your canvas in the "Height" and "Width" fields in the dialog box and then click "OK" to create a rectangle with those same dimensions.

  • Click the "Selection" tool and then click and drag the rectangle to position it exactly on top of the canvas.

  • Click "Object," hover over "Arrange" and select "Bring to Front."

  • Press "F7" to open the Layers panel, if it isn't already open. Click the layer that contains all your objects to select it and then click the "Make / Release Clipping Mask" button, which looks like two intersecting squares. This turns the rectangle you drew into a clipping mask, hiding the parts of your document that fall outside of it.

  • Click the right-facing arrow next to the layer name to unfold the list of objects within the layer, if it isn't already open.

  • Click the "Clipping Path" entry in the list to select it and then click the empty square immediately to the right of the eye icon. A lock icon will appear in the square. Doing this locks the clipping mask, preventing you from moving it accidentally.

Tips & Warnings

  • Information in this article applies to Adobe Illustrator CC. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions.

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