I downloaded a template and trying to add a picture into the shape. I can place it over the top but not into the curve. I have tried to select the picture and the outline and then "Clipping mask", but doesn't seem to work.

enter image description here

enter image description here

2 Answers 2


The easiest way is to place your image over the shape and send it to back (or behind everything else) via Ctrl+Shift+[.

The 'proper' way is to use a clipping mask, which involves more steps and can get confusing if you're new to Illustrator, but here goes:

  • place your image on top of everything and position it where you need it
  • hit Ctrl+Y then A then Alt+Click the curvy shape you're trying to use as a mask
  • hit Ctrl+C then Ctrl+F, which copies that shape as a new object in the same place
  • hit Ctrl+Shift+] to make sure this new shape sits on top of everything
  • select both the image and the new shape and, with BOTH selected, hit Ctrl+7
  • Thanks Lucian. This placed my image behind the "transparency" squares (which are also confusing to me). I understand about layers and trying to get used to buttons. Just cant seem to fit it to this template shape. I have edited my first image and added a screenshot with the outlines. Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 11:56
  • Thank you Lucian. Finally got it done. Slowly getting used to this software. Thanks for the assist Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 12:56

The template was create so that it's confusing for people used with Photoshop that are used to seeing the 'pixel squares' when it's nothing there but that's not how Illustrator works. It doesn't show the same pixel squares when there's nothing to show, it just shows the color of your artboard which is white.

Therefore there's only one explanation, the designer that created this template designed the squares as well, if you collapse your Layer you will certainly see A layer with your desired shape and with actual light-dark grey squares.

That is why sending your image to the back does not produce the desired result. Here's where the fun starts cause without seeing the layer tree that the template has it's hart to tell how the designer created it. So follow the following steps and you'll be fine.

  • Keep double clinking on the squares to open each group till you can select each square individually.

  • From there you can select all the squares, Copy (Ctrl+C) then exit all groups

  • Create a new layer on top of the existing one and press Shift+Ctrl+V (paste in place, this pastes what you copied in the exact same position that you copied it from)

  • And there you have it, the desired shape is in the new layer, from here on you can select Pathfinder > Unite to unite all the squares into a single shape, add your image and press Ctrl+7 for Clipping mask

PRO TIP: The clipping mask doesn't work like in Photoshop. When using clipping mask in illustrator, you must have your shape ON TOP of the image, not behind.

  • Great help. Got it fixed and learned a lot. Think I will finally get my head around this!! Thank you to you both Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 12:50
  • @wesleywright Glad I could help. Please mark the answer as correct by ticking the check mark next to my answer if that's what fixed it
    – Alin
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 13:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.