When I make vector images in Illustrator I often end up using a stylistic, almost cel shaded designs. When I want to give "shadowed" areas to an object for example, I usually just make a new object/path on top of the shape, and make sure their edges line up, so that the shadow obscures part of the main shape. (See highlighted shape in image.)
This is usually fine and dandy, but when I edit the edge of the underlying shape I have to redraw or edit the shadow object again. What I want is some kind of clipping mask, where the shadow can be "inside" the path of the main object, but where the main object is still visible. That way I could edit the outline of the main object (such as the tree trunk shape) without worrying about the edge of the overlapping shadow. Makes sense? I want the shadow object to behave like example B below:
I know a clipping mask could technically work, but the problem is not editing the shadow - it's editing the main object outline. Should I just make a copy of the main shape each time I edit it, and then paste it on top as a clipping mask for the shadow? Isn't there a way to make the clipping mask object visible behind the clipped object?
I am used to making UI icons and other monochromatic stuff, but when it comes to this kind of stuff I don't really know what's best practice. So what do you vector illustrators out there do? Layer masks? Clipping masks? Live paint? Or do you do like me?