I am having a constant fight when building up complex shapes in Adobe Illustrator. I work out some piece of my shape, and to get it to look right, I put it in some sort of container clipping mask. Gives me nice sharp edges. I may build several of these, like pieces of a puzzle. Then I set the clipping masks next to each other. Visually, the whole thing looks the way I want it to look, but now I need to weld all of those clipped shapes into one shape. But I can't because the clip masks are in the way.
What I've been doing lately is I then take apart my clip masks and instead use Shape Builder tool with whatever shape previously was my clip mask in order to create trimmed pieces of my shape. Then I delete the clip mask object.
This is a real pain -- something that is so simple using a clip mask becomes quite frustrating with shape builder. Is there anyway to automate the process? What I'd really like is some key that says: 1) Select an current clipping mask object with objects inside it. (START) 2) Divide all of those contained objects into separate objects at the edge of the clipping mask so the parts being clipped are separate objects from the parts visible inside the mask. 3) Release the clipping mask. 4) Delete the clipping mask and all the severed objects that were previously hidden inside the mask. (MID) This gives me the original object now trimmed so I can use it with shape builder (END).
Is there anyway to do this quickly and precisely?
The best sequence of steps I have at the moment is this:
- Select the clip mask.
- Release the clipping mask... both objects will now be selected0
- Reorder the layers so the clipping mask is on the bottom. (if you use the layers pane to do this, both objects will still be selected.)
- Open the Pathfinder tools (Winows >> Pathfinder)
- Click the Intersect button.
- If I have multiple items in the same clip mask, use copy/paste-in-place to create enough copies of the clipping mask object so I can use one copy for each intersection.