I often need to create bleeds for designs that include photos inside of clipping masks, and I currently know of only two ways, neither being very speed-efficient.

Method 1 - Reposition all four edges one at a time

This is for rectangular paths. With the Direct Selection Tool, in Outline View, click on one edge of the path, hit Enter, and specify some distance to move the edge on the X or Y axis. Tedious because it needs to be repeated four times per mask, and accidentally clicking a point instead of an edge can lead to error.

Manually moving each edge of a rectangular clipping mask to create bleed

Image courtesy of Pixabay

The animation above makes it look like a quick process, but as the number of images increases, the time required adds up to a significant loss in productivity.

Method 2 - Offset the path and rebuild the clipping mask

This is mostly for paths with arbitrary shapes. With the Direct Selection Tool, in Outline View, click on one edge of the path, click anywhere on the path, and choose Object > Path > Path Offset and specify the distance to offset the path. This would be great except that Illustrator assumes you always want to keep the original path unmodified and add a new modified path under the original. The clipping mask is still using the original path, and the new path is just sitting under the original, disconnected from the mask. So it is necessary to remove the clipping mask, then delete the original path, select the new path, and recreate the clipping mask. This is about just as troublesome as Method 1.

Path Offset being used on a path that defines a clipping mask

There must be a better way? Perhaps a way to offset without creating a duplicate path? I'd like to hear what tricks/suggestions the community might be able to offer that I haven't thought of. Thanks.

2 Answers 2


Select the clipping path entirely via Option/Alt+Direct Selection Tool Click (or the Group Selection Tool)...

... then use the Free Transform Tool holding the Option/Alt key and drag a corner handle to the proper location.

The other 3 corners will adjust at the same time.

enter image description here

Like drawing, the Option/Alt key tells the Free Transform Tool to transform from the center point.

Another option is to merely select the clipping mask path and use the Scale command (double click the Scale Tool in the Tool Bar) to increase it's size.

enter image description here

Bleed position doesn't have to be an exact movement amount. Bleeds merely need to be above a minimal amount.


You can use Isolation mode to select your mask, and then use Transform tool. (Or free Transform Tool)
There are many ways to select only your mask (see https://helpx.adobe.com/illustrator/using/selecting-objects.html#isolate_artwork_for_editing)
Here's an example using the layer panel:

enter image description here

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.