I have a symbol which is clipped. When I place the symbol into document, I can't adjust the size of clipped object. In fact transform shows me unclipped bounding box.

enter image description here

Above on the left side screenshot you see the example of such symbol. However, if I break the link to symbol(right side screenshot), then bounding box is clipped to object and I can easily set new size.

How can I represent my symbol clipped without breaking link?

  • I don't think you can, other than to clip the symbol.
    – Scott
    Oct 21, 2013 at 16:27
  • The problem is bounding box of clipped symbol. The symbol is clipped from inside symbol. It extends to unclipped objects. Right now as workaround I do some math on scaling and dealing with floating point numbers. So I thought maybe there is a way to get bounding box of symbol to be on clipping extents.
    – Michael
    Oct 21, 2013 at 16:31
  • I understand the problem, I just don't think there's any solution other than clipping the symbol instance itself.
    – Scott
    Oct 21, 2013 at 16:35
  • Lots of overhead and defeats the idea of symbol... Hope someone knows solution or at least could tell that in Illustrator CC this is doable.
    – Michael
    Oct 21, 2013 at 16:50
  • Well a clipped symbol is not as much overhead as clipped art. The internal symbol is still a symbol.
    – Scott
    Oct 21, 2013 at 16:54

2 Answers 2


All I can do as workaround is clipping the symbol from outside like this.

  • Turn on smart guides
  • Draw a transparent rectangle over your symbol to fit it's bounds
  • Fit exactly to bounds with smart guides and zooming if you don't did it in previous step
  • Profit! You are awesome! But Ai symbols are not.

But I want to use learn a smart way to do it.

Clipping a symbol from outside

I using Russian localized version of Ai so I will translate my screenshot for your understanding:

  • Слои = Layers
  • Режим изоляции = Isolation mode
  • Группа обтравки = Clipping group
  • Прямоугольник = Rectangle

Last layer is a symbol with clipped object inside it so I need to get it's visible bounds instead of a size with all hidden objects sizes inside.


Edit the symbol:

Here I've created a symbol similar to yours, with the same problem as yours:

Beautiful symbol

You need to alter the symbol so that it remains within its visible dimensions. So...

  • Double-click on the symbol in the Symbols Panel.

This takes you into Symbol Editing Mode... Now I've resized the Artboard to the same size as the final desired symbol dimensions by activating the clipping object, going to Object > Artboards > Fit to Selected Art.

Here's what my symbol looks like in the Layers Panel within Symbol Editing Mode:

Symbol innards

  • Go to Object > Clipping Mask > Release

Duplicate your clipping object (by Alt+dragging in the Layers Panel) and group the rest:

Duplicate the clipping object

  • Make your group active by clicking on its layer 'Meatball':

Meatball activated

  • Go to Object > Expand Appearance

  • Go to Object > Expand, make sure Fill and Stroke are checked and click 'OK'

Now again activate the group's 'Meatball', then Shift+click on the clipping object directly above it... With both active go to Window > Pathfinder and click on the 'Crop' button:

Pathfinder Crop

That left me with a remaining group and an image in my Layers Panel (in my case I also had to drag the image above the group to restore the layer stacking). Your results may vary but we're dealing with either vector objects and/or images here... I've just handled the vector objects.

Now we need to crop the remaining image (which in my case was inside of an opacity mask – which I'm going to crop to). I'm using Illustrator CC 2017 which can crop images natively, so it's an easy task to drag the edges to the desired dimensions.

After selecting the image go up to the top of the UI and click the 'Crop Image' button, then just drag the edges in and click 'Apply':

Image crop

If your version of Illustrator doesn't have this feature perhaps you can use Astute Graphics Rasterino plugin (free 14 day trial) which also has an image cropping feature...

Otherwise read on...

In my case the image has an Opacity Mask on it (which we don't want right now). With your image 'Meatball' activated, go to Window > Transparency and click on 'Release', then delete it (drag it onto the trash can icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel).

  • Also turn off the visibility of the group beneath your image

Now go to File > Export > Save for Web (or if you have nimble fingers press Ctrl+Shift+Alt+S), choose PNG-24 and check 'Clip to Artboard', then save the image to your Desktop for simplicity's sake...

This will close Symbol Editing Mode, so just double-click on the Symbol in the Symbols Panel again...

Now delete the existing image inside of the Symbol and go to File > Place and choose the image we saved to our Desktop a moment ago.

Align it to the group by setting the image below the group and choosing 'Align to Key Object':

Alignment options

I then had to drag the image above the group once again to restore the stacking order once again. Toggle the visibility of the group back on. Now I can exit Symbol Editing Mode...

And I'm done. If you happen to have more than one image inside of your symbol you'll have to repeat the process as necessary...

Here finally is the edited symbol with a nice tidy bounding box sized to the visible symbol dimensions:

Nice bounding box

Note: It's a lot easier just to create the symbol to its desired dimensions in the first place!


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.