I am making animations in Inkscape. I can get the difference operation to work how I want creating my image for example: Bucket hand Cutout

But in order to get this result I need to ungroup the characters hand/body parts into multiple objects and duplicate it as many times as I need to subtract pieces from the bucket.

So, for just the hand part of the bucket, I needed to duplicate the hand three times to subtract it from the rope and the planks that make up the bucket to difference each one separately.

This process is very tedious and would like to know if there is a way I can just take a grouped object and subtract it from another grouped object efficiently.

It seems like it would be possible with an extension but I am just not aware of anything that will simplify the process.

Is there a more efficient way to do this?

I attempted to use the suggested answer and these are my results.

They suggest using this tool Tool Example


Clip example

Inverse Clip:

enter image description here


Mask Example

Inverse Mask:

Inverse Mask Example

Now it really does seem like Inverse Clip should work here but it doesn't. Maybe this is a bug?

The objects are all made using the pen/ellipse/arc/rectangle tool. Mostly the pen tool.

Turns out I was using mask a bit wrong. The answer they gave is correct but just need to make sure I use the mask correctly making the top layer all black if you don't want any opacity.

Example: enter image description here = enter image description here

  • If you have something more complex, try using the Shape Builder tool. I can't tell you if this will work 100%, as it will depend on the construction of the shapes. To be honest with you, I'm not sure Inkscape is really that suitable as an animation tool. It's not what it was designed for.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Jul 10 at 9:33
  • I am not building the animations with Inkscape just the images/frames being used in the animations. I am well aware that this is used for creating vector graphics. The problem really has nothing to do with animation though. I probably shouldn't have tagged it with that.
    – CrimOudin
    Commented Jul 10 at 17:56

1 Answer 1


Opacity mask and clipping path can hide a group or a part of it with a single operation. They are in Inkscape behind Object > Mask and Object > Clip. Inverse clip path needs an union to work. It doesn't accept a group as your clipping path. Mask uses brightness to control the opacity; only full black or full white mask has the full effect. Mask and Clip are implemented quite inconsistently, so practice with them.

If the hand is opaque and it is placed higher in the objects panel, it should hide the underlying bucket and its rope without any subtraction. I would rely on it. This makes me suspect you have written a XY question; I mean your actual goal is something totally else than what's shown. You very likely would get much more useful answers by revealing even a part of the actual goal.

  • The goal is in the image. I have a person and a bucket I need to subtract the hand out of the bucket. so it looks like the bucket after the = sign.
    – CrimOudin
    Commented Jul 10 at 17:41
  • My harmful limitation: I cannot see a slightest reason to make that subtraction, because in Inkscape shape A layered above shape B covers just that part of B which is below A. If you still want make a hole to B it wouldn't change the visual image at all. I'm sorry, but you should reveal the actual reason to remeove the part which is already invisible. So limited I am. Commented Jul 10 at 19:18
  • @CrimOudin but as said above, Object > Clip and Object > Mask can make a part of a group invisible easily. They affect only the visibility, they do not make urecoverable holes to objects. Your examples of using them show that you have not learned how to use them. for example Opacity mask must be black or white to have full effect. The inverse clip seemingly doesn't accept a group. Try to use an union as clip path. Commented Jul 10 at 19:51
  • Because they get exported as separate images and the bucket gets drawn above the human layer so if you want it to look like the hand is above the bucket you need to remove the part of the hand that will be drawn under in the game I'm making. It is not shown here but some parts of the animation will have the foot out under the bucket and the bucket needs to be above that so in those cases you need to apply this operation. this is just a simplified example showing what needs to happen.
    – CrimOudin
    Commented Jul 10 at 20:05

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