I apologize if the title of the question isn't terribly clear, I'm struggling with finding terminology that is adequate.

Essentially, what I am trying to do is create a rectangle that looks like a piece of old paper that has torn edges at the top and the bottom, as though it was torn off a roll. Here's how I've tried to accomplish this:

  • I created a rectangle
  • I placed an "old paper" image behind the rectangle
  • I created an image mask with the rectangle and image
  • I hand drew a line with the pencil and used the wrinkle tool to make it jagged; I drew the line such that it crosses the entire width of the visible rectangle and it sometimes breaks the top edge of the rectangle as well
  • I'm using Pathfinder's "Minus Front"

What ends up happening, I think, is that the image mask is deleted and I'm left with a jagged line and an image. How can I get the effect I'm going for?

(In case it's important, I need the final object to be one object so I that I can duplicated it and create a drop shadow.)

1 Answer 1


You can simply draw a line and use Effect > Distort & Transform > Roughen to create a jagged line.


Then copy the line, select both the "rough" lines and choose Object > Expand Appearance. Then select the end points and join them via Object > Path > Join. It's important to draw a separate line and apply the effect to just a line if you don't want all 4 sides of a rectangle to be "roughened". This method is specifically set up to provide 2 straight sides and 2 rough sides.

enter image description here

If you really want to use a raster image you need to use an Opacity Mask and things need to be stacked correctly first - a rectangle or shape object, on top of that place the raster image. Select the raster and the object below it and on the Transparency Panel click the Make Mask button. You may need to then tick the "Clip" and/or "Invert" options on the Transparency panel.


Pathfinder does not function with raster images. Realize that even as a mask, a raster image is still bound by all standard raster constraints. Simply because you are using Illustrator, it does not make raster images impervious to broken pixels or other resolution issues when the raster images (or masks) are scaled.


A clipping mask..... If you just want to mask a raster image with a vector shape. Place the vector shape above the raster image, select the raster and the shape, then choose Object > Clipping Mask > Make from the menu. This will essentially give you the raster image inside the vector shape.

  • This doesn't quite do what I want. I basically want to cookie-cutter the raster image. It's important that it be the image and not a transparency mask over the image.
    – Zelbinian
    Dec 5, 2013 at 1:19
  • 2
    If you want to edit a raster image Illustrator is the wrong application to use. Photoshop is designed to edit raster images, not Illustrator.
    – Scott
    Dec 5, 2013 at 1:39
  • I don't think I understand. I don't want to modify the raster image at all. I want to make a frame for the image. Like, when you mask it such that the image is able to be moved around independent of the frame you give it. Apologize for not knowing the terminology.
    – Zelbinian
    Dec 5, 2013 at 22:41
  • 1
    You could use a clipping mask. Raster image with shape on top, select both and choose Object > Clipping Mask > make. That's as close as you'll get.
    – Scott
    Dec 5, 2013 at 23:06
  • If you can change your answer to match the Clipping Match instructions, I'll accept it - that's exactly what I wanted.
    – Zelbinian
    Dec 9, 2013 at 18:03

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