How To Cut A Shape In Illustrator in 4 Easy Ways

In this article, I will show you How To Cut A Shape In Illustrator. There are a number of tools that you can use to cut an object or a shape in Illustrator. Let us get to it.

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  1. Method 1: Using Pathfinder tool
  2. Method 2: Using The Eraser Tool
  3. Method 3: Using Scissors Tool
  4. Method 4: Using the Knife Tool

Method 1: Cut out part of a shape using Pathfinder tool

To open the pathfinder tool go to Windows> Pathfinder and a pop up menu will appear.

How To Cut A Shape In Illustrator in 4 Easy Ways

Note: If you want to use the Pathfinder tool to cut an object, you need at least two overlapping objects. You can use any option from the Pathfinder panel on a single object. In this example I will use a black rectangle and magenta circle.

In this tutorial, I will show you the options used in the Pathfinder tool to cut an object (which is 70% of the options), including Trim, Divide, Minus Front, Minus Back, Exclude, Intersect, and Crop.

See how you can cut an object using each of the options below. Once you have decided how you want to cut your object, simply select the object and click one of the options below. You can ungroup to separate the cut objects.

Trim/ Minus Front

You can use the Trim Tool to cut the shape from the top layer of an object. Creating a paper-cut effect. For Example, you can use it to make a logo cut for some marketing materials.

How To Cut A Shape In Illustrator in 4 Easy Ways


The Divide Tool is similar to the Trim Tool. This tool cuts and divides an object into different parts along its intersecting paths. You can use it to change the colors of different parts within a shape or move the shapes around to make a shape poster.

How To Cut A Shape In Illustrator

For example, you can turn something like this: into something like this: As you can see, the only shapes I used were circles and squares but then it created more shapes after I cut the overlapping paths using the Divide tool.

Minus Front & Minus Back

Do you want to create a crescent moon? This is the easiest way to do it. All you need to do is create two circles and click Minus Front (or Minus Back).

Minus Front deletes the shape on top, while Minus Back deletes the shape at the bottom. If you choose Minus Back, as you can see, it cut out the bottom lighter-colored circle, leaving the darker color shape of a crescent moon.

Minus Back


This tool deletes the overlapping area of overlapping shapes. This makes it easy to cut overlapping areas. For example, you can use make abstract patterns decorative borders, and text effects. This tool is opposite to the Exclude tool because it only keeps the shapes of the intersecting (overlapping) area shapes.

Cut A Shape In Illustrator


Crop Tool almost looks like the Intersect tool except that it does not delete the top object. Instead, You can see the selection, ungroup, and edit it. You can ungroup to edit it. In general, the Pathfinder Tool can be used to cutting objects to create new shapes.


Method 2: Using The Eraser Tool

The Eraser Tool can be used to erase brush strokes, pencil paths, or vector shapes. Select the Eraser Tool (Shift + E) from the toolbar, and brush on the areas that you want to cut.

How To Cut A Shape In Illustrator

There are a few circumstances in the Eraser Too doesn’t work. For instance, if you are trying to erase a live text or a raster image, it wouldn’t work, because the Eraser Tool only edits vectors.

Simply choose the Eraser Tool and brush on the part of the object that you want to cut out. For example, I erase/ cut a small part of the heart so that it does not look dull. You can adjust the eraser size by pressing the left and right brackets [ ] on your keyboard.

Method 3: How to cut A shape in Illustrator using Scissors Tool


The scissors Tool is great for cutting and dividing paths. When you want to cut an object filled with strokes, scissors can help.
Let me show you a quick example of how to cut this cloud shape.

Shape In Illustrator

Step 1: Choose the Scissors Tool from the toolbar.

Step 2: Click on the path to select a path in between the anchor points that you clicked.

For example, I clicked on the two points that I have circled out. If you use the selection tool to click on the path in between, you can move it.

You can also change the fill from stroke to color and see how the shape is cut.

Method 4: How to cut A shape in Illustrator Using the Knife Tool

The Knife Tool can be used to divide parts of a shape or text to make different edits, separate shapes, and cut an object. If you want to make a freehand cut, this is the best way to go.

This tool can cut or divide any vector shape. If you want to cut a shape from a raster image, you will need to trace it and make it editable first.

Step 1: Add the Knife Tool to your toolbar. You can find it in Edit Toolbar > Modify and drag it wherever you want it to be on your toolbar.

How To Cut A Shape In Illustrator

I recommend putting it together with other erasing tools.

Step 2: Choose a Knife from the toolbar and draw on the object to cut it. If you want to separate the shapes, you have to draw through the entire shapes.

How To Cut A Shape In Illustrator

Step 3: Ungroup to delete the part that you don’t want. You can move it or change its color. If you want to cut straight, hold the Alt key (Option key for Mac users) while you draw.

Cut A Shape In Illustrator

You can also use the Knife Tool to cut and edit the outlined text to create a text effect like this

You can apply the same process as cutting an object: Use the knife to draw the cut path, ungroup
and choose individual parts to edit.


Whichever option you choose, your ability to edit the anchor points of the vector. The Pathfinder panel is the best for cutting to create new shapes. Scissors work best with paths and the knife is best for a freehand cut.

I can’t say which tool is the best because they are good for different projects. Remember all the tools I mentioned above have one thing in common: they only work on vector objects.

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More illustrator Tutorials

  1. How to slice a shape in Illustrator

    Select the Shape: Open your Illustrator project and select the shape you want to slice.
    Use the Knife Tool: Choose the “Knife” tool from the toolbox. Click and drag the knife tool across the shape to create a cut. You can create straight or curved cuts.
    Pathfinder Options: Alternatively, you can use the Pathfinder panel. Duplicate the shape, create a new shape that acts as the cutting path, position it over the shape you want to slice, and select both shapes. Then, in the Pathfinder panel, choose “Divide” to slice the shape along the cutting path.
    Cutting Grids: Illustrator allows you to split objects into a grid. Select the object, go to “Object” > “Path” > “Split into Grid,” and adjust the settings.

  2. What tools can I use to cut a shape in Illustrator?

    You can use the Pathfinder, Eraser, Knife tool or the Scissors tool to cut shapes in Adobe Illustrator. These tools offer different cutting methods and can help you achieve the desired results.

  3. How does the Knife tool work?

    The Knife tool allows you to make freeform or straight cuts through a shape. Click and drag for a freeform cut, or click to define the start and end points of a straight cut.

denis maina kamau

Written by: Denis Maina

I am an experienced and skilled graphic designer with a strong focus on Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. He specializes in creating a wide range of design materials, such as digital art, business cards, stationery, logos, flyers, posters, banner ads, brochures, PSD templates, and other graphics.

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