I have been struggling with this for last few days and decided to get expert help here. I have drawing like below (original art is more complex) which was created using brush strokes (no built-in shape objects). I am trying to paint/draw inside using brush strokes just like "draw inside" feature of Illustrator. As it works for closed shapes so I thought making sure all lines are connected will suffice, but it didn't.

As a test, when I tried using Shape builder tool to color, it works perfectly as it treats inside square as a closed shape but I don't want fill colors so this wont work, I want to color using my textured brushes.

I have also tried coloring the background in another layer and using this drawing as clipping mask by Object>Compound Path>Make but it didn't help either. I am new to clipping mask so not sure if there is another way.

enter image description here

So the simple question is how can I restrict painting inside the following drawing? enter image description here

Thanks for help!

Edit: Billy's answer is perfect and I was able to do this quickly as a test. I can paint in multiple shapes like face, body, hair now. Just created a duplicate layer of drawing to keep my lines still there.

enter image description here

1 Answer 1


Here's one method

  1. Select the black lines you drew
  2. Do Object > Expand Appearance
  3. Select the Shape Builder tool, and click in the centre, to make the inside a closed shape
  4. Do Ungroup Shift+Ctrl+G
  5. Select the closed shape you made
  6. Set the fill and stroke of this shape to none
  7. Select the brush tool, and select the Draw Inside mode


enter image description here

  • Wow. Can't express my gratitude. I thought it wasn't possible in AI and was going to give up. Thanks a lot Billy. Mar 9, 2021 at 14:29

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