In illustrator, I'm trying to create/extract the word 'sunset' from a sunset picture. I keep getting a message saying, "I must click on a non-compound mask"? What do I need to do, to the background? Yes, I'm a novice! I've had very basic training in Illustrator. I have no problem in Photoshop, but I would like to outline the word with a black stroke.

  • You haven't really provided much information other than the error message. It would be a good idea to detail the actual workflow which leads to the error... otherwise.. all anyone can do is guess. The very nature of Illustrator and Photoshop is different and many things which may work in one application won't work, or require an entirely different workflow in the other. Simply because they both come with an "Adobe" label that doesn't mean they operate the same in all instances.
    – Scott
    Commented Jan 10, 2021 at 21:47

1 Answer 1


This is a guess, since the question isn't really clear at all.

  1. Type some text over the image. And do Edit > Copy. This will copy the text to the clipboard for use later.

  2. Select both the image and the text. Open the Appearance panel, and click Opacity, then Make Mask, then select the Invert Mask option.

enter image description here

  1. Do Edit > Paste in Back. You won't see anything obviously change at this point. But there is now a copy of the text placed behind the masked object. Set a stroke, and increase the width until it has the desired thickness.

enter image description here

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