I have created a black and white design in Illustrator. I would like everything white on my artboard to become its own object and black being transparent/negative space. Is there a simple programmatic way to do this?

I have been trying different functions in Pathfinder with no luck.

enter image description here

  • 2
    If there's no other colors than Black and White you can group the image, make a duplicate and use the duplicate as opacity mask for the original. It doesn't separate objects but will make pure black 100% transparent and pure white will stay 100% opaque,
    – user82991
    Nov 15, 2020 at 0:15
  • 2
    You can't expect to be able to this by selecting everything and just click one of the pathfinder functions. You need to expand all text and strokes so everything is filled paths and then you have to through the objects one by one, merging and subtracting when needed.
    – Wolff
    Nov 15, 2020 at 9:59

2 Answers 2

  • Select > Select All

If it's available

  • Object > Expand Appearance then Select > Select All again, just to be certain everything is selected.

    Repeat this step until Expand Appearance is no longer available in the Object menu.
  • Object > Expand
  • Window > Pathfinder To open the Pathfinder Panel (If it's not already open)
  • Click the Merge button on the Pathfinder Panel
  • Use the Direct Selection Tool (White arrow) to click a black object
  • Select > Same > Fill & Stroke
  • Hit the Delete Key to remove black objects (you may need to hit Delete twice)

This leaves you with only the white objects.

For viewing purposes you may want to add a new layer with a color filled rectangle on it below the artwork layer and then lock that layer. This will allow you to see the white objects after the black has been removed. It can be helpful to use this color rectangle layer while performing the above operations. You can then merely delete the layer afterwards.

  • Did exactly what I was asking with just a couple of small cleanups. Great answer. Nov 15, 2020 at 20:44
  1. There is no way to do that automatically.
  2. This needs to be hand made.
  3. Even if you do spend 2 years learning scripting to a high degree, to be able to possibly attempt this via scripting, it may still not be possible to have a 100% automated solution.

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