First things first, you’ll need an image to apply the clipping mask to. This can be anything from a photo to digital art. Just make sure it’s considered an object in Illustrator with its own layer.
In a second layer above the image you want to clip, create a path. This path will be the shape that cuts out everything outside the path, preserving the image in the layer below within its boundaries. In my example, I’ve created a circle using the Ellipse tool.
Select both the image you want to cut and mask path, so they’re both highlighted at the same time. Both of these must be selected in order for the clipping mask tool to work.
There are a few ways to initiate the clipping mask tool. In my example, I’ve right-clicked the path and chose “Make Clipping Mask”. Here are the other methods that will also work:
- If you prefer keyboard shortcuts, hold Ctrl (or Command for Mac users) and press 7.
- Use the drop down menu at the top of the screen by going to Object > Clipping Mask > Make.
- Click on the "Make/Release Clipping Mask" icon located at the bottom of the layer menu next to the magnifying glass icon.
Congratulations! You’ve made the cut.
Now that you’ve clipped your image, you can continue working or go on to save and export your work.