Let say I have 3 shapes in illustrator: A, B and C. I would like A to overlap B, B to overlap C and C to overlap A. How can I do that?


You have to "cheat". If it's a simple enough object, I would just duplicate shape C, bring it to the top, and use a Clipping Mask to cover up everything but the intersection.

To do so, create a shape with no fill or stroke around the intersection (can be any shape but I'm using a rectangle for demonstration):

Illustrator Screenshot

Select both your empty shape and the duplicated object that should overlap and do Object → Clipping Mask → Make

Illustrator Screenshot


Another way you could achieve this overlapping effect would be to use the shape builder tool. You would create your shapes in the position you would like. I will use the example like @JohnB's.

  1. Select all of the shapes that are interacting.
  2. Select the Shape Builder Tool. (Shift-M)
  3. Click and drag on the areas you wish to overlap. You will notice a mesh area like the one in the picture. In the example below I highlighted the areas I clicked and dragged with red arrows.
  4. The end result will appear the same as @JohnB's example.

Keep in mind that using this method will break apart the original shapes and you should consider this in case you want to revisit positioning at a later time, etc. In that case @JohnB's approach would best fit because it retains the integrity of the shape within a clipping mask.

Using the Shape Builder Tool

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.