Not sure if this question is ok to ask here, but i did notice that you could tag illustrator so i give it a try.

Im following a tutorial where the tutor creates a ellipse on a layer and then creates a smaller ellipse on another layer. He then cuts the smaller layer from the larger in such a way so that the larger gets a big whole in it.

Somehow i can't do this. In ive been trying to find out why. I've found out that when the tutor creates the ellipses the layer says it is of kind "shape". When i do it my ellipses becomes of type "path".

What is the difference and how do i create a ellipse of type "shape" instead?enter image description here


1 Answer 1


In your screenshot, the Layers Palette shows the layers folders open, showing the contents of each layer / sub-layers. A shape is simply a closed path — a path in which there are no open end points.

I think what you are trying to do is "subtract from shape." Select the Window drop down from the top menu and make sure Pathfinder has a checkbox by it.

In my photo, I've drawn a red ellipse on top of a black ellipse and placed a light gray square in the background to help illustrate my process.

enter image description here

After selecting the 2 ellipses, I select the minus front button in the Shape Modes to subtract the red ellipse from the black. The black ellipse layer is now made up of 2 paths, making it a compound path — as described in the layers palette.

enter image description here

  • After i have used the minus-front tool should i still be able to grab the different part of the layer? Commented Nov 19, 2014 at 17:40
  • I'm not sure that I follow. Should you be able to select the different part of which layer?
    – King Lario
    Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 21:20
  • The front layer will disappear when you subtract it's shape from the layer behind it. I would recommend creating some shapes and playing with what you can do with the Pathfinder panel. I also found a pretty good breakdown of what each option does: bit.ly/1v4hrzS
    – King Lario
    Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 21:27

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