How to convert clipping mask to individual paths?


I'm a programmer, not a designer. I'm handy with a graphics program as long as it doesn't require artistic abilities. However, I'm not sure about the correct terminology.

I'm working with Adobe Illustrator 9. I have several files, provided by client, that I need to prepare for use in a PHP PDF creator (TCPDF). I'm saving as version 3 .ai files.

One of the files has a line through the text. The text has been converted to outlines. The line is a stroke with no fill. A clipping mask is used to hide any excess line.

Here is what it should look like.

enter image description here

And this is what it looks like inside the PDF that TCPDF created.

enter image description here

Apparently, TCPDF doesn't understand the clipping mask. TCPDF supports up to version 8, but that makes a bigger file. I tried version 8, just to see, and get the same results.

So how do I convert this to individual paths that TCPDF can understand?

I could do it manually by cutting the line into pieces, outlining the stroke, and then adjusting the shape to fit the letters. But is there an easier way?

In this case, it probably wouldn't be too hard. But I am going to have to prepare a variety of graphics and will likely run into some more complicated masks.

12/2/2013 12:56:00 AM

Accepted Answer

Intersect the paths using the steps below. Note that menu locations are for Illustrator 9.


  • Do not release the clipping mask.
  • The text should already be converted to outlines and be one compound path.
  • Make a duplicate of this path, using the layers panel. Window > Show Layers
  • Move the duplicate path behind the line and out of the group. Hide the duplicate for now.
  • Select the line and outline the stroke. Object > Path > Outline Stroke
  • Select the group containing the two paths and intersect the paths.1 Effect > Pathfinder > Intersect
  • Reduce the points to just those for the intersection.2 Object > Expand Appearance
  • Unhide the duplicate letters.


  1. After intersecting the paths, this is the result. enter image description here

  2. After expanding the appearance, this is the result. enter image description here

Pathfinder Panel

Using the intersect button on the Pathfinder panel (Window > Show Pathfinder) seems to intersect the paths and expand appearance in one step, at least in Illustrator 9.

12/2/2013 7:40:00 AM

A simple Merge should do the trick:

Merge button

Expand all text and strokes, then click Merge.

Original Artwork (Outline view in the bottom window):

Illustrator screenshot

Merged Artwork:

Illustrator screenshot