Can someone explain this behaviour?

I was expecting to get the same visual result from both, Minus front and Compound shape. Instead, it seems that compound shape will:

  • Unite the two fills of the object in the white fill. The fills are not really united, but it feels like it.
  • Leave the grey fill but removing the transform
  • Finally, perform the compound shape operation

How could I get the same result as Minus front but keeping the non-destructive ability of compound shapes?

Minus front vs compound shape

Just to clarify (the Appearance belongs to the shape after compound, and the transform of the second fill is gone):

enter image description here

1 Answer 1


I don't think you actually want a compound shape here. Compound shapes are only useful when one shape completely encompasses another shape. That doesn't appear to be the case in your sample images.

You can use Minus Front non-destructively though.

Simply hold down the Option/Alt key when you click the Minus Front button on the Pathfinder Panel. That will perform the operation in a non-destructive manner, allowing for further editing.

enter image description here

The shadow needs to be treated as a separate object and not part of the combined shape. Pathfinder or compound shapes won't alter all 3 objects correctly.

You can use Minus Front, and then add an extra fill via the Appearance Panel and move it via Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform to create the shadow.

enter image description here

  • This is actually how I did it, with the Alt key, which creates a compound shape. The strange thing is that with the shadow as a fill it will ruin the result - whereas the minus front works just fine. I thought minus front would just compound shape + expand. Keeping shadows as different objects is not an option, firstly because there can be many objects and I cannot be manually keeping track of shadows positions. Secondly because, as you see in your image, the compound shape did not affect both the shadow and the front as the minus front did. Commented May 11, 2019 at 1:51
  • @user1156544 Honestly.. I'd simply use minus front, then add an extra fill via the Appearance Panel to add the shadow shape. you don't really need that third shape.
    – Scott
    Commented May 11, 2019 at 2:08
  • But there is no extra shape... they are all fills. one white, one grey, in the same object. The compound shape (Alt+Minus front) just did a strange thing on the second fill, and removed the transform so the grey is hidden behind the white in my image Commented May 11, 2019 at 2:10
  • @user1156544 simply based on your sample images, the shadow appears to be a third shape. In any event, check updated answer.
    – Scott
    Commented May 11, 2019 at 2:13
  • How you did it is exactly how I did it from the beginning. The issue is that if I apply the Compound shape after the shadow has been created (an extra Fill with Transform) then I get a strange outcome. If I apply the compound first, then it is fine, but I prefer not to un-do all shadows to apply first the compounds. Commented May 11, 2019 at 2:20

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.