Mastering masking in Illustrator

A mask might appear to be just a simple tool for covering something up, but Adobe Illustrator's masking tools offer far more than one basic use. Along with the Compound Path, Illustrator's Clipping and Opacity Masks can take your illustration and design onto a new level of detail, precision, texture and shape. To know when to use each tool, you simply need a clear understanding of what each one does.

Briefly, a Compound Path takes an object and puts a hole through it; a Clipping Mask and a Layer Clipping Mask both mask off everything outside a specific shape, making a silhouette with the artwork, colours or patterns within it; and an Opacity Mask enables you to gradient the transparency of an object, fading it from 100 per cent opaque to completely invisible. Once you've learned these four tools and know how to create masking boundaries for your artwork, you'll be able to continually adapt the technique, breaking boundaries with your design work.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

The Creative Bloq team is made up of a group of design fans, and has changed and evolved since Creative Bloq began back in 2012. The current website team consists of eight full-time members of staff: Editor Georgia Coggan, Deputy Editor Rosie Hilder, Ecommerce Editor Beren Neale, Senior News Editor Daniel Piper, Editor, Digital Art and 3D Ian Dean, Tech Reviews Editor Erlingur Einarsson and Ecommerce Writer Beth Nicholls and Staff Writer Natalie Fear, as well as a roster of freelancers from around the world. The 3D World and ImagineFX magazine teams also pitch in, ensuring that content from 3D World and ImagineFX is represented on Creative Bloq.