Building a hole “see through” text or object in Adobe Illustrator

In all software, there is many ways to accomplish the same results. Adobe Illustrator is not an exception. In the image below we see four rectangles with some text where we “see through” them allowing the image underneath to be visible. They look identical but each one have been made with different technic in Illustrator. We will see each one of these method to achieve the see through effect. It’s up to you to pick the method that best fit your need.


A. The Compound Path Method


1. Draw a rectangle
2. Click on Artboard with the type tool and enter/set your type
3. Convert the type to outline Type > Create Outline [Cmd+Shift+O (Mac) / Ctrl+Shift+O (Win)
4. Select both the rectangle and the outlined type and Use the Object > Compound Path > Make [Cmd+8 (Mac) / Ctrl+8 (Win)]

B. The Compound Shape Method


1. Draw a rectangle
2. Click on Artboard with the type tool and enter/set your type
3. Select Both, than Option+click (Mac)/Alt+click (Win) the Minus Front Button in the Pathfinder Panel

C: The KnockOut Group Method #1


1. Draw a rectangle
2. Click on Artboard with the type tool and enter/set your type
3. With the text still selected, set the opacity to 0% in the Transparency panel
4. Select both objects and Group them Object > Group [Cmd+G (Mac) / Crtl+G (Win)]
5. In the
Transparency Panel, enable the Knockout Group option.

D: The KnockOut Group Method #2


1. With the Text tool, click and drag to create an Area Text (to the desired size of your rectangle)
2. Enter and set your text attributes, set the opacity of the type to 0%
3. Choose Type > Area Text options to enter a Inset amount to position the text.
4. Now with the Direct Selection Tool, click on the edge only of the text area (by doing so you are selecting the “frame” of the text only and you can than apply a fill/stroke color different than the one apply to the text character)
5. Deselect everything and reselect the entire text object with the Selection tool
6. In the Appearance panel, click on the Opacity blue link and enable the Knockout Group option.

In conclusion: It’s easy to see why the method B, C and D is favorable since the text is kept editable and can be modified anytime. The Knockout Group method is C and D add the capabilities to use a semi-opaque effect on the type and use different colors. Like in this example below:seesplit_062

It’s also important to remember that the method in C can be used to create a hole in everything like: image, complex objects or even entire group or layer and is not limited to text as the source for the “see through”. Let’s go and make some holes!

Update: Doug Katz in the Adobe Illustrator User to User Forum showed me a fifth way to create hole.

Let call it:
E: The Pathfinder Effect Method

1. Draw a rectangle & Create your text object
2. Group both
3. With the Group selected, Choose Effect > Pathfinder > Substract

Bookmark and Share Add This
Categories : Adobe, Illustrator | Monday, February 8, 2010

One comment on «Building a hole “see through” text or object in Adobe Illustrator»

  • Steven Gordon has commented on Monday, January 14, 2013 at 14h14

    Nice work, JC. It helps knowing there are different approaches to create the identical–or nearly identical–visual effects. That’s a good way to learn more about Illustrator.

Add a comment

Veuillez reproduire le code affiché

* The fields marked with an asterisk are mandatory.



T. (514) 629-0949



Twitter bird

Follow me


© Copyright 2019 Proficiografik, all rights reserved.