This is a recurring problem for me which has cropped up again recently.

I have a rectangular object, a clipping mask with shapes inside, which needs to be warped to a very specific shape using the Envelope Distort tool. If nothing inside the clipping mask extends beyond the limits of the mask (if nothing is actually being clipped), it works exactly as expected.

However, if anything is being hidden by the clipping mask, the envelope distort includes the clipped content in the overall size and shape that is warped, which makes the result wrong; the rectangle of the clipping mask is not warped 1:1 with the envelope shape.

Any ideas? I feel like there's an "Ignore Clipping Mask" check box somewhere that I'm missing.

I'm very confident that this is possible, as I am working with some production files from an unknown source that appear to have been done this way. If it matters, I do not have any rasters within the clipping mask, but I do need to avoid flattening the mask–the content needs to remain vector when the warp is complete.

Envelope Distort without clipped content–working as expected Envelope Distort with clipped content–not warping to the correct final shape

  • 1
    Regardless of your confidence, I don't believe it can be done without at least expanding the clipping mask.
    – Scott
    Oct 14, 2018 at 17:31
  • I see. Could you elaborate on this a bit? I assume you mean using Object > Expand, and then using pathfinders and similar to "cut away" and delete everything that is outside the mask. Is that what you're suggesting, or something else? Oct 15, 2018 at 0:24
  • Make your object without using a clipping mask. Instead release the clipping mask and use the Shape Builder tool to construct your image instead.
    – Billy Kerr
    Aug 5, 2020 at 9:46

1 Answer 1


Envelopes use the bounding area of the object(s), visible or not.

If you wish the Envelope to not include areas hidden by a clipping mask, you need to eliminate the clipping mask, however is necessary. That does not necessarily mean "fattening" it may simply mean you need to trim, clip, edit, and alter the internal object(s) so that the clipping mask is no longer necessary.

With purely vector objects, that shouldn't be a big problem. It really only becomes troublesome when raster images are employed.

  • Yes, this seems to be correct, and you put it in words better than I with bounding area. For what it's worth, I did figure out how to achieve the Envelope distort reliably and repeatably using some layers that I found in the original file. Essentially, someone had created a larger warp shape and larger "bounding area" shape which, when warped, created the smaller warped shape perfectly. This allows me to have a large bounding area, as long as it is within the bounding area shape. It's difficult to explain, and I haven't figured out how the larger shapes were created accurately. Oct 16, 2018 at 0:12

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