is there a way to design a linked graphic in Illustrator with some kind of invisibility cloak in the layers.

Let me explain. Let's say I want to reuse a sketch like thisenter image description here

Where in fact, the rectangle fill color is transparent, and I don't really want to have a purple fill color for the ellipse, but I want it to hide the path of the rectangle.

Then, I want to be able to reuse it on some backgrounds like this:enter image description here

In order to reach the final result enter image description here

The thing is: I don't want the ellipse to really be purple in the image that I save in my Illustrator Cloud library, I just want it to adapt its color to whatever is beneath the rectangle layer

That way, if I have an orange background, I want to immediately (without modification of the link) reach the following resultenter image description here

instead of this (my current achievement) enter image description here

Is it possible without embedding the image nor destroying the shapes? Really, as if the ellipse was acting as an invisibility cloak for the rectangle.

2 Answers 2


It certainly is possible. Try this method.

  1. Ensure that both the objects (the rectangle and ellipse) have a stroke, but no fill.

  2. Select both objects, and choose the Shaper Tool in the toolbox (or shift+N)

  3. Draw a zig zag line across the line you wish to delete

  4. Move the Shaper Group over a rectangle filled with the colour of your choice

The nice thing about this method is that it's non-destructive. You can double click the Shaper Group to enter it in isolation mode, and move the ellipse or rectangle around. Double click outside the group to exit isolation mode.

enter image description here

I think Adobe should have probably called this the "Invisibility Cloaking Device" instead of the Shaper Tool. It would have been so much cooler!

  • that's super interesting, I never saw this tool before :)
    – Luciano
    Jul 11, 2019 at 15:10
  • 2
    Learn something new every day. I was about to say no and explain the whole minus front method but hell, this is perfect. Thanks for sharing.
    – ErickP
    Jul 11, 2019 at 15:12
  • @Luciano it's fairly new, in Illustrator CC 2018 and later. Not sure when they first released the functionality though. Might have been the 2017 release.
    – Billy Kerr
    Jul 11, 2019 at 15:14
  • @ErickP you can also do this with knockout groups as early as illustrator CS 2
    – joojaa
    Jul 11, 2019 at 15:33
  • 1
    @ErickP not shape builder tool, shaper tool
    – joojaa
    Jul 11, 2019 at 16:35

Use knockout groups. The benefit being that knockout groups is that you can not just hide pained areas you can also partially hide things, and you get to affect exactly how deep in the stack the effect knocks out and whether it knocks out fill or stroke or BOTH. It is also usable inside effects which makes it far more flexible than shaper.

To use knockout groups you need two things

  1. a group marked as knockout in the transparency panel.
  2. any transparency applied in that group now eats out of the group. So if set a fill 100% transparent then you get the effect you described.
  • Thanks, indeed, it is better. Maybe "0% opacity" is better suited than "100% transparency" in Illustrator language, but this solution works way more easily for me, and is more compatible with collaborative work using Creative Cloud.
    – Myoch
    Jul 11, 2019 at 16:13

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