I have downloaded vector images from shutterstock. There are many images on the page and I want to break them apart. I am able to get the direct selection to highlight sections of the multi-part image, copy and paste to a new board. This is great, however i just want a part of the multi part image, is this possible? Part of it does just highlight but when I go to copy a box comes up around the entire thing. Specifically, I am working with vintage Chalk typography, calligraphic design elements, page decoration and labels of drawing with chalk on blackboard . Thanks so much for any help!

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    Hi kara, and welcome to GDSE. I'm trying to understand your question better, but to do so it would be helpful if you explained the composition of your layers in your vector file and the program you are working with (Illustrator or Inkscape?). In the file are their different layers for the different elements? Commented Aug 26, 2013 at 5:50
  • I'm glad you asked this, as I ran into the same thing. Thanks to Adam for the answer! Choose "A" (direct selection too), then shift-drag to select the desired graphic from among potentially dozens is a super easy solution. Then, just create a new document, paste, and export it!
    – birdus
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 0:59

5 Answers 5


As I understand the question, you want to select only part of a vector group/mask.

A simple way to do this is to use the Direct Selection tool (Hotkey: A) and select only the nodes of the part you want to select. You can select multiple notes by holding down the Shift key. You should be able to copy just the selected nodes to the clipboard.

EDIT: You can also select the entire vector and press Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + G to ungroup the vector (if it is a group), or as mentioned before, try looking at the layers panel.


I'm not sure if I fully understand your problem, but have you tried doubleclicking the parts that you want? The layers may be grouped together, and doubleclicking them usually makes you move into that group, so you can select each part separately.

This is only for Adobe Illustrator though, I don't know how other programs handle this.


The vector is probably contained in a clipping mask. Select the vector and right click over it, if the option is shown to "release clipping mask" click it and then you will have access to the layers. It's either groups or clipping mask.


If you are using illustrator, the layers palette is a great way of understanding how the image is constructed. Some parts might be grouped or masked. By expanding the layers and groups, you can see which are which, and even select the parts you want.


I had the same problem but if you are using Illustrator CS6, after you paste the vectors in your project:

  1. Make sure the image is selected
  2. Click on the button at the top that says Edit Original next to image trace button.

This will open the vectors in another page and you will be able to copy the individual vectors and go paste it back in the project you were working on...

I hope this is helpful.

  • Thank you Thadei. I had the same problem and your answer fixed it!
    – user46014
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 12:58

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