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There is a segment of a font that I'm not wanting to be used. I am wanting to simply erase that swirl like I could using Photoshop. Is it possible to erase on one layer in Adobe Illustrator instead of erasing through all layers to expose the art board?

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a picture would help, but it seems to me that the best solution would be to create outlines, or paths, of the type and then to manipulate the points to remove the part you are looking to get.

Select the type tool, and create whatever text you want. Select the type tool, and create whatever text you want.

Select the text, then Create Outlines (Shift + Cmnd + o), or select Type in the menu bar, and it should be around the 9th option down. enter image description here

This will turn you text into a path, and you can use the pen tool to subtract, add, and modify the paths to your hearts content. enter image description here

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