How to Use the Pathfinder in Illustrator


In this article, I’m going to introduce the Pathfinder in Illustrator.


Pathfinder is a feature that allows you to merge or cut out objects made of paths. You can easily create shapes and complex paths that are difficult to draw with the Pen tool.

How to use

This time we will use these sample shapes.

An image shows three circles

First, show the Pathfinder panel. You can get it by clicking [Window] > [Pathfinder].

An image shows command to display the pathfinder

There are two types: [Shape Modes] and [Pathfinder].

An image shows the Pathfinder panel

There are four types of Shape Modes.


It combines several overlapping paths. The color of the foremost object is selected.

Objects applied


It crops multiple overlapping objects by the front object’s shape (Not the foremost one.).

Objects applied


It leaves only the most overlapping area. In this case, the color of the foremost object remains.

Objects applied


Make the area two objects are overlapping transparent. In this case, the object is filled with the foremost object’s color.

Objects applied

In the next section, we will see 6 different types of pathfinders. To move detached objects, use the “Direct Selection Tool” (white arrow) in the tool bar.
*The objects applied the Pathfinder are grouped. In addition, please note that unlike the Shape modes, Compound Shapes are not created.


Separate overlapping paths.

Objects applied


It keeps the foremost object and removes the part of a filled object that is hidden.

Objects applied


To make it easier to understand, I have changed the blue objects to red.
The same color objects will be merged together and the different colors objects will be split. In this case, the red objects were merged and the green objects were split.

Objects applied


It leaves only the part overlapping the foremost object.

Objects applied


All objects are outlined and split.

Objects applied

Minus Back

Cut out the front object in the shape of the object placed on the back.

Objects applied

How was it? The point is to have two or more objects. That’s all for this time.

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