I've searched and funnily enough can't seem to find a solution to this otherwise simple problem.

I have a circle clipping mask and inside it contains some vector graphics. I'd like to simply apply a Stylize > Feather to the circle and give it a softer edge, but this route ends up applying the feather to the inside graphics as well.

Is there something I'm doing wrong?

  • Clipping mask is a very special instruction for the printer code level. Clipping masks can do things no other tool can do. Beig blurred would defeat that purpose.
    – joojaa
    Sep 24, 2021 at 4:03

2 Answers 2


You actually want an Opacity mask, not a Clipping mask.

Clipping masks are hard edged, always.
Opacity mask can have, well, opacity tweaks.

It is not possible to "feather" a clipping mask path, or apply any sort of transparency alteration to the path. Transparency is simply not supported for Clipping masks. Clipping masks only see the spine of the path, nothing more.

To create an Opacity mask....

  • Draw a circle over all your artwork (like you would if making a clipping mask.)
  • Fill the circle with 100C100M100Y100K (registration) or R0G0B0.
    [Opacity masks are a rare case where you actually want 100% of ink in CMYK mode
    because it's a mask and not artwork which will output]
  • Apply the feather to the circle
  • Select everything
  • On the Transparency panel click the Make Mask button.
  • You may then need to tick the invert or clip options on the Transparency Panel (depends on art).

This will make your circle an Opacity mask. You'll see the mask thumbnail in the Transparency panel. To edit the mask, you click the mask thumbnail. To go back to editing artwork, click the artwork thumbnail.

Note: Although any transparency in the Opacity Mask will be flattened upon output, the mask itself can be built using standard vector shapes and it all remains vector while working. You can also use raster images for Opacity masks (but not clipping masks).

Possibly further assistance:


With the mask layer selected, go into properties and set the value for the feather effect.

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