Consider two overlapping shapes, for example a filled solid rectangle, and a solid circle.

I want a quick way to project the rectangle onto the circle in such a way that only the overlapping part is visible. The circle shall therefore act like a screen for the rectangle. In other words, the overhanging part of the rectangle should disapear.

I thought this could be accomplished with blending modes but I havn't find a solution yet.


2 Answers 2


You can use Illustrators drawing modes to achieve this without the need for clipping masks.

  1. Draw the shape you want to use as the base shape.

  2. Select the appropriate drawing mode from the tools panel (below the color selector)

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  1. Anything you draw or paste will now be clipped by the base shape you selected (depending on the drawing mode selected).

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The three drawing modes are (A) Draw Normal, (B) Draw Behind and (C) Draw Inside.

Drawing Modes

You can learn more about using drawing modes here:

  • 2
    Well hot damn...I never knew about these. Great tip!
    – Manly
    Apr 17, 2016 at 19:33
  • 2
    A very much under-used part of Illustrator!
    – Cai
    Apr 17, 2016 at 19:37

Create a Clipping Mask

Duplicate your circle and place it above your rectangle. With your circle and rectangle selected, go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make


After you've masked the rectangle to the circle's path, you can place the duplicated circle below your masked rectangle, as below.


  • Thank you. Is it also possible to make everything visible, which is NOT overlapping? So the exact inverse of the clipping function? EDIT: Of course your first picture is already fulfilling this. But I am using objects with opacities lower than 100%. Apr 17, 2016 at 17:47
  • @AntonAlice I have no idea what you're trying to achieve. If you can show an example that will help, but from your description, I'm confused.
    – Manly
    Apr 17, 2016 at 19:26

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