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Learning to use Illustrator for the first time. I would like to cut out a the lightning bolt shape from the text behind it, leaving a transparent outline of the shape. I see many tips for cropping text from images but not the opposite. I have created this effect using photoshop but I am struggling to replicate it on Illustrator. Any help here is much appreciated.

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3 Answers 3

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Convert the text to outline (Command+Shift+O), select all elements, use the Shape Builder Tool (Shift+M) to cut out all the elements you don't want.

This only works if all elements are shapes.

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  • This crops all the text and not the shape on top of it
    – S. Miller
    Nov 4, 2018 at 19:26
  • There is no text if you convert it to outlines. So everything should be good. Don't try it with text ;)
    – ueberkim
    Nov 23, 2018 at 7:51
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Since I see that you have the text and bolt in different layers, you can simply do the following:

  • If not already, outline the text. You can select the text and press CMD+Shift+O or right click > Outline.

enter image description here

  • Select both shapes and go to the Pathfinder (If not visible go to Window > Pathfinder) and while holding the option key, click Minus front option.

enter image description here

  • Horray! You've just created a compound shape out of your original logo.

enter image description here

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  • I got an error saying "Images, gradients, meshes, graphs, placed objects and text paths cannot be used as compound shape elements."
    – S. Miller
    Nov 4, 2018 at 20:18
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    This usually shows when you're using a raster image. Are the shapes in your layers actual shapes or are they an image?
    – aliadams
    Nov 4, 2018 at 20:24
  • I read your other comment, for the bolt, you can easily redraw it using the pen tool (p) and then do the above.
    – aliadams
    Nov 4, 2018 at 20:25
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  • Select the text
  • Convert the text to outlines pressing Cmd + Shift + O Mac or Ctrl + Shift + O Win
  • Convert it to a compound shape pressing Cmd + 8 Mac or Ctrl + 8 Win
  • Fill it with a color
  • Select the compound shape and the shape to cut
  • Pathfinder panel > Minus Front

enter image description here

enter image description here

Tip: when clicking Minus Front hold the Alt key to make a compound shape and keep both shapes.

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  • Is it possible that since the lightning bolt is a .png file, that is what is causing me the issue? I keep getting an error when pressing Minus Front.
    – S. Miller
    Nov 4, 2018 at 20:22
  • Yes, Pathfinder works with shapes, not with images. You should trace the image and expand It. But this is another process and another different answer.
    – user120647
    Nov 4, 2018 at 20:25

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