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Lesson 4. Advanced Masking > Creating a compound mask

Creating a compound mask

In this section, you’ll take a drawing of a butterfly and select several separate shapes to create a compound path. Then you’ll import a Photoshop image, scale it, and use the compound path with it to create a compound mask.

Choose File > Open, and open the 04Start.ai file, located in the Lessons/Lesson04/04AI folder on your hard drive.

Choose File > Save As, rename the file Butterfly.ai, and click Save.

In the Layers palette, select the Butterfly layer. You want to be sure that the image you place in the next step is placed on the Butterfly layer.

Choose File > Place, select the Yellow.psd file, located in the Lessons/Lesson04/04AI folder on your hard drive, and click Place.

While the placed image is still selected, double-click the scale tool in the toolbox to display the Scale dialog box. Enter 200% in the Uniform scale box and click OK.

With the image still selected, choose Object > Arrange > Send to Back.

Because this background will be masked, it must be behind the object in which it will appear.

If necessary, use the selection tool to move the image so that the entire butterfly illustration falls within the image area.

Scaling the image 200%; image sent to the back and adjusted to fit behind butterfly

Using the selection tool, Shift-click each of the four wing sections of the butterfly art to select them.

Select Object > Compound Path > Make.

You won’t see a difference in the artwork, but now Illustrator will treat the wings as one path instead of four separate ones. If you had not taken this step, Illustrator would have used only one of the wings as the mask instead of all four. For more information on compound paths, see “Creating and adjusting compound paths” in Adobe Illustrator 9.0 online Help.

Shift-click the yellow image so that both the placed image and the compound path are selected.

Now you’ll use this shape to create the mask.

Choose Object > Clipping Mask > Make. A clipping mask lets you reveal a set of underlying objects through custom shapes.

You’ll adjust the background within the wings using the direct-selection tool.

Select the direct-selection tool in the toolbox, and click in a blank area of the artwork to deselect the masked image.

Now click within the bounding box of the placed image (parts of the image will be invisible) to select the yellow background without selecting the mask.

Reposition the yellow image until you like the way it falls within the mask shapes. When you are satisfied with the effect, deselect the image.

To avoid accidentally selecting or moving part of a masked group, it’s best to lock the group after you’ve completed editing or adjusting the mask.

In the Layers palette, click the triangle to the left of the Butterfly layer to reveal its contents. The compound mask is named <group> by default.

Click the right column between the eye icon and the <group> name to lock the mask.

Save the file.

Locking the mask to prevent accidental selection

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