I would like to create the illusion of one shape being "on top" of another shape in Inkscape.

Is there a quick way to delete the path of one shape that is inside of another? It is important that I not just hide the path, but actually remove it, and that there are not 2 identical paths on top of each other.

Below in the example I am trying to transform the overlapping circles on the left to show up like the circles on the right, where one appears on top of the other.

enter image description here

  • Using the background color as the fill color would probably be the simplest to work with. In this example you'd use white fill color. — I often do that and when I know I'm not going to make anymore changes, I finalize it by getting rid of the fill and the cut the extra lines away. Because as I think you know, if you delete that line now, you can't really move the circles around independently and explore things... — Though the finalization kinda depends on where and how it's going to be used. If it's a logo, sure, but if it's just a one time printed thing, I might just leave the fill color.
    – Joonas
    Commented May 21, 2018 at 6:54

1 Answer 1


Copy the lower circle Ctrl+C, then Paste in Place Ctrl+Alt+V.

With the bottom circle still selected hold down Shift as you also select the top circle. Now you have two circles selected.

Click Path > Cut Path or Ctrl+Alt+/

Select and delete the part that has been cut.

enter image description here

  • 1
    Instead of [Ctrl]+[C] and [Ctrl]+[Alt]+[V], you can use [Ctrl]+[D] to duplicate in place. Commented May 21, 2018 at 19:07
  • 1
    To give a more generalizable instruction: you need to duplicate the upper object (in the z order or stacking order), because it will be consumed by the Path > Cut Path operation.
    – Moini
    Commented May 22, 2018 at 1:39
  • Is there a way to delete the wanted section without manually selecting it? (I ask as I have a complicated shape with many many of these sections that need to be removed)
    – ElRudi
    Commented Nov 9, 2021 at 10:35
  • @ElRudi Not really. You have to select something to enable deletion in Inkscape - it's the way to tell the application which objects to delete. You may be able to semi-automate the selection of multiple objects by using the options under Edit > Select Same - you can choose stroke/fill/stroke style/object type etc.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Nov 9, 2021 at 10:43
  • Thanks for getting back so fast on this old thread. I was hoping there'd be a way to reuse the (in this example) upper circle, e.g. by copying and pasting it in place. And then use 'remove paths below object' or something like that. But that doesn't seem to exist / 'path -> difference' doesn't work here, I'm thinking because it can only act on 2 objects
    – ElRudi
    Commented Nov 9, 2021 at 17:29

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