I have an image (below) of two hands over a black circle. All three are currently separate paths with a fill but no stroke, all on the same layer.

How do I delete the shape of the hands from the black circle, so that afterwards I can delete the hands themselves, and just have the circle, with the shape of the hands cut out of it?


3 Answers 3


Open up the Pathfinder palette (Window > Pathfinder or Shift+Control+F9). Select one hand and the circle and press the 'subtract' button:

subtract button in Illustrator CS6

Depending on your preferences, the 'Expand' button may become clickable. If it does, click it. Repeat with the other hand.

It might be a good idea to make copies of the hand shapes in advance (and paste them in front, Ctrl+F and lock and/or hide them) so you have spare copies of the same shape.


I got stuck on this in spite of Vincent's helpful answer. Turns out I was trying to cut one shape from another, as opposed to cutting paths from each other.

So, if your objects are shapes, you need to hold the Alt or Option key when selecting an option from the Pathfinder menu. (more info from Adobe, here)

Hope that helps!

  • hold alt or click on the "Expand" button as mentioned on his answer
    – Luciano
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 15:54

Clip it with Pathfinder or Clipping Mask

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.