Using the mountain to cut out the linesI have a bunch of lines that go behind the layer of a mountain that I have created and I would like to cut them out. Proving to be impossible right now with the pathfinder tool. Any suggestions?

  • 1
    kind of need to see a sample. Offhand.. expand the stokes to shapes Object > Expand then Pathfinder may work.
    – Scott
    Apr 10, 2014 at 17:05
  • I'm fairly new to illustrator; in the above example I would have just sent the object to the back. Or have I missed something?
    – 7caifyi
    Apr 10, 2014 at 17:19
  • He wants the yellow removed from the mountain, not behind it.
    – Scott
    Apr 10, 2014 at 18:01
  • At least that was my perception.
    – Scott
    Apr 10, 2014 at 18:07
  • My understanding is that he does not want to see the yellow in front of the mountain; they need to appear as rays coming out from behind the mountain. I want to learn and understand. Moving the yellow object to the back would give the effect he wanted as well wouldn't it?
    – 7caifyi
    Apr 10, 2014 at 18:12

3 Answers 3


Assuming the yellow needs to be removed from the mountain.

Select the yellow and choose Object > Expand from the menu. This converts the strokes to shapes. Pathfinder doesn't work well with strokes, it needs shapes.

Once the strokes are expanded you should be able to use Pathfinder to subtract the yellow shapes from the mountain (or anything else).

  • Thanks so much! The object expand worked very well. I had to do each object individually with a copy of the mountain each time, but it worked. Apr 10, 2014 at 17:12
  • 1
    @Blake you can combine all the objects first and do it just once (assuming your mountain is also one object).
    – John
    Apr 10, 2014 at 17:31
  • Yes @Blake you could select all the yellow, use Pathfinder > Unite... then use pathfinder to subtract it from the mountain.
    – Scott
    Apr 10, 2014 at 18:00

Creating a layer mask over the yellow lines would also achieve the same effect, and would be non-destructive as well. Just another option.

  • Do you mean a clipping mask?
    – Vicki
    Sep 11, 2015 at 2:43
  • Yep, I sure did mean a clipping mask! Must have had Photoshop on the brain when I typed that. Thanks, Vicki!
    – DLev
    Sep 11, 2015 at 18:51

I have some kind of a workaround. Requires some manual labour. (Of course - non destructive options are preferred, but sometimes we need to cut e.g. when we need round caps on the strokes)

First, make sure that there are only 2 shapes to cut eachother. If the parts consist of more that one element, this can be done by making a Compound path of everything that belongs together.

I use the Pathfinder/Divide divide, which leaves all paths intact, but adds anchor points at the crossings of paths. Then hand pick the strokes you need (with the direct selection tool), invert selection and backspace.

Make sure that in the Preferences, the option 'Object Selection by Path Only' Preference is active.

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