I'm working on something containing compound paths with text inside them akin to this example:

enter image description here

I want to try out a few different fonts, styles and sizes for this text, but it appears that with every change I make to the text, I need to re-outline it and recreate the compound path. This process is rather laborious and I feel like there must be a better way.

So is there any way I can have a compound path with text (outlines) that can still be adjusted? Maybe have the outlines linked to a text object or having the editable text in a different .ai file and including that somehow?

My research so far seems to show that there is no way of speeding up this process, but maybe someone has a clever idea...

P.S. I do have it right that is indeed not possible to have the text object itself in the compound path, right? That would of course make this task a trivial one.

  • The problem here is that when you outline text, the process discards all text information. It is no longer editable as text. A text object is not a path, so can't be part of a compound object unless you outline the text. So, yeah, you'll need to use a different method. Not possible the way you suggest. The answer you have been given by Hassan below will do it.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 10:58
  • 1
    Possibly helpful: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/a/8196/3270 this same technique could be used with different offsets for the rectangle.
    – Scott
    Commented Oct 24, 2022 at 18:52

1 Answer 1


No live text compound path here, but a lookalike created by making an opacity mask:

Draw the path part write the overlapping text object. Bring the text to front.

Remove strokes, give to both items full white fill color.

Change the blending mode of the text object to "differece" in the transparency panel. The overlapping area appears as black.

Group the items.

Draw a colored rectangle below the group, send it to back.

Select the group and the colored rectangle. Apply Make Opacity Mask. Let the option Clip be ON. What's outside the group and below black becomes invisible.

You can at any time release the opacity mask and edit the text. Learn to access the text inside the group via the Layers panel. See the next image:

enter image description here

In the left the group is still free. Blending mode "difference" causes the blue color, but it does not harm the opacity mask, which is applied in the right.

  • Excellent answer. +1 You could also turn that text into a symbol, to make it easier to edit without having to release the mask or use the appearance panel to go into the mask editing mode.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 11:25
  • This is indeed almost exactly what I was looking for, thank you! @BillyKerr could you explain what you mean with mask editing mode? That sounds helpful but I couldn't find any information about how to enter it...
    – milan
    Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 11:53
  • Never mind, figured out I simply have to press the mask preview. Thank you for the hint though, I have exactly what I need now. Also interesting to hear about a use for symbols – I've been ignoring that panel until now...
    – milan
    Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 12:02

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