I have a compound path on top, which is an outline of a table cloth on a table. I am trying to get the artwork below it to take the shape of the table cloth outline so that it gives an idea of what the artwork would look like if printed on a table cloth (think something for a trade show). I have 2 layers, the table cloth outline on top (a compound path) no fill or outline. The complex artwork is all grouped and in one layer below the shape I want it to take

Layers before clipping mask applied


Try this....

  • Select your mask shape and Edit > Cut. This way it's on the clipboard, but removed from the artwork.

  • Create a new Layer via the Layers Panel and ensure it's highlighted in the panel. (Note, NOT a sublayer.. a new top level layer).

  • Make certain nothing is selected anywhere (Command/Ctrl-Shift-A).

  • Choose Edit > Paste in Front -- this should paste your clipping shape on the new layer, positioned correctly.

  • From the Layers Panel Menu (NOT the Object menu) choose Make Clipping Mask-- If you get an error here, there's a problem with your clipping path.

  • Now just drag your artwork layer up under the new clipping layer you just created.

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If this doesn't work, there may be issues with the path you want for your clipping shape.

The difference: What this method does is create a layer level clipping mask rather than an object-level clipping mask. You can place any number of sublayers in that same top layer and they will all be clipped by the Layer's clipping path. But note that you can only do this once per file. Unlike object-level clipping masks, layer-level clipping masks are restricted to only one per file regardless of the number of artboards or layers. Where as there's no restriction on the number of object-level clipping masks you can use.

I suspect, and I am guessing here, that your clipping path being on a different layer may be the issue with your current method. But, really, the question isn't very clear or your procedure explained in any real detailed so I'm unsure.


The shape used to make the clipping mask in this example needs to have a white fill to clip the graphic underneath. Here's an example with a simplified shape:

  1. Bring your created shape to front (Command + Shift + ]) and fill with white:

enter image description here

enter image description here

  1. Select both the image and the created shape and select Make Mask in the Transparency Panel (Window > Transparency or Command + Shift + F10 if it's not in your workspace already):

enter image description here

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Note: This approach might be more successful if you made a simpler shape by focusing on the outer boundaries of the complex path. Try eliminating the internal line work (indicated in image below) if it's not getting the intended results:

enter image description here

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