I am designing some key tags and am VERY new to illustrator. I currently just have a circle placed where I would like the hole, is there a way I can "cut that circle out so there is just a hole in the design that is transparent behind it?

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    You would be using pathfinder. I think this question is a little too basic for this site. You should be looking at YouTube tutorials for pathfinder before asking a question that simple, – LateralTerminal Jan 18 '18 at 15:33
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    Hi user112675, welcome to GDSE and thanks for your question. If you want to know more about the site, please see the tour and the help center or ping one of us in the Graphic Design Chat once your reputation is sufficient (20). Keep contributing and enjoy the site! – Vincent Jan 18 '18 at 15:36

If you want to make the area transparent without destructively or practically affecting any of the other artwork you can use a knockout group. If you want to cut through everything so there is nothing visible below, you can use a page knockout group.

  1. Make sure your shape is above everything else
  2. Give the shape a fill and set its opacity to 0%
  3. Check "Page Knockout Group" from the panel menu...

If you only want to cut through specific parts of your artwork (e.g. you need a background image), you can use a regular knockout group, which you define on the group or layer you want to cut through. You can see an example here:

  • This will also knockout from everything (even other layers underneath), (So you can't potentially have an item behind that you would want to show) – WELZ Jan 18 '18 at 17:31
  • @שelz sure, you can use a regular knockout group if you don’t want to cut through everything (see edit) – Cai Jan 18 '18 at 17:43

The easy method: Select the circle, Object > Path > Divide Objects Below.

enter image description here

Then click the circle again and delete: Hey presto...

enter image description here


Use the pathfinder tool:

Google it or youtube it:


  1. Create a circle.
  2. Increase the strength of the stroke to whatever fits your imagination.
  3. Make the fill No color and the stroke the desired color.
  4. If anything looks good, go to Object → Path → Contour Line (or Stroke Line).
  5. Ungroup the result with Object → Ungroup.

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