The Clip Tool - revisited

I had a few questions about the clip tool - as it's a little bit of a pain in inkscape and not the easiest to handle in Adobe Illustrator either. 

I use clipping masks a lot as you can create shading and patterns inside objects qucikly and still keep the shapes - while a path intersection destroys the base shapes. 

I made this set of tutorials for Inkscape, Adobe Illustrator and CorelDraw. I prefer the ease of CorelDraw over the other two - with Inkscape lacking some key features to make working with an essential tool like clip masks easy on the user.

Let's take if from the simple shaded ball to something more complex (e.g. a cartoony plane I just did for another tutorial). In order to do the shading on the body (the darker blue part at the bottom of the plane) or the white stripes, you have to create intersecting shapes to cut the white stripes or the lighter body to match the base shape. 

It's a lot quicker and easier to create the clip mask and 'throw' a shape in there - even more so when the shapes get more complex (e.g. a floral pattern on wallpaper) - and it allows you to 'undo' the action and release the clip again.

Doing clips inside clips is not possible in inkscape as far as I know [but I might be wrong]. In order to work around that problem try and use the Path/ Intersection tool to create a shape matching inside a base object. 

Once you have created a clipart you can work with the objects inside the clip art just like any other object in Illustrator (e.g. arrange to bring them to the front or send them back inside the stack of objects in your clipping mask).

Even though things might be a little easier to achieve in the other programs Inkscape allows you to achieve the same results with a little bit of patience and trial and error.

Good luck and enjoy your vector bending.

The toolbar of CorelDraw and Illustrator might have changed slightly as I am not up to date on either program. I am still using CorelDraw14 and Illustrator CS.

Chris Hildenbrand

2D game artist, pixelpusher, vector bender, face turner for over thirty years. I worked on more games than I can remember... The most recent release is "Super Crossbar Challenge" for iOS (Android coming soon) with Shattered Box, Fredbear Games and PlayPlayFun.


  1. im not sure where to use it ,where do i use these?

  2. Yeah, I'm a little lost myself on this one. I follow most everything except the actual application on the plane - I can sorta piece together what you're doing with it, but still a little lost.

    Though it was nice of you to show a how-to for all three programs, I imagine that sort of tripled the work.

  3. I am sorry... yes... it's a little messy now that I reread it - blame it on the pre-coffee-early-morning-zombie-state. I will try and fix it asap.

  4. Hi,

    I'd like to know what version of Inkscape you are using.

    I keep getting the purple clipped-circle instead of the lighter-orange.

    Also the outline (aka Stroke) works fine in my case.


  5. I am using Inkscape 0.48 for windows... Clipping is a little bit of a fiddely on... Try altering the selection - 1st and 2nd object to select - and see if that produces different results... Good luck!

  6. Hi again,

    I'm using 0.48.2 and clicking 1st object then 2nd object or 2nd then 1st creates the same result -- purple clipped-circle.

    But when I tried to put the purple in front of the light-orange circle, clipping results to the light-orange one.


  7. Hi creek23, Now I get it... and it's what I said in the tutorial ('duplicate the base object and move it to the front'). The top/ front object in inkscape is the frame you are 'clipping into'. I still haven't worked out why and when the outlines/ stroke work properly and when they don't.