Adobe Illustrator to Inkscape: clipping paths and masks

Inkscape’s default version of SVG is an Inkscape-modified version. That’s why there’s a SaveAs option to save it in a standard SVG.

It’s still likely though that AI’s version may not be entirely true to the definition either, but that’s the nature of supporting interchange files.


Basic question about all of this … is there a specific glowforge related reason for using Inkscape over Illustrator or is it that Inkscape is free?



Inkscape is free. :smile:


Yes. It’s free. It’s open source and there is very active development too. Lots of nifty extensions.


I’ve been frustrated by this too - definitely something @Tony has in the hopper.

If memory serves, PDFs have a clipping path around the page border - I think to constrain what’s shown to only what fits on the page. That’s the bit you have to find and release.


Adding my question here, to this very old post. I searched on the forum and saw Marion’s post about clipping paths, read it all, and decided to ask here. I also searched online for a definition of clipping paths. I also recently experienced the error for clipping paths when I got ready to print something. At the time, my way around it was to set it to ‘ignore’ that step, which worked for me. Even though we’re all using different software for designing (I use AD), I’m thinking that the term clipping path is pretty universal. Will someone please give me an easy to understand definition of the term? What I found online would confound even the most versed person. What does clipping mean ? And what does path mean? And all together…what does it mean? Please and thank you.


I’ll try.

A clipping path is generally a border around an image that is used to hide surrounding background. The clipping path lets you see only what you want to see. The problem a that the rest of the image is still there but it’s not visible, it’s just been masked out.

That would be the part that annoys the GFUI but I’m guessing since I don’t have a PRU to play with.


Exactly right. It didn’t change the ACTUAL drawing, just what is visible (figure it is a cutout piece of paper, you can’t see what’s outside the hole, but it’s still there. That is different than if you take that clipping path and do a boolean operation (via Pathfinder in illustrator) where you truly eliminate inside or outside that path forming a new image.


I don’t know about @Xabbess, but I just can’t picture what you are trying to describe. It sounds great, and I’m sure it actually makes sense. But I’m not getting the “lightbulb moment” of understanding on this one.

Would it make sense to request an graphic of what you are describing? with arrows and such?

Ask and ye shall receive:


I moved away from the computer for a couple minutes so you beat me. :grinning: Excellent example.


haha. I sometimes feel that the forums operate more like a Slack channel rather than a typical forum, given the rapidity of posts back and forth…


OH! ok, 90% of the way there.

The only thing causing confusion is the middle of your three yellowish lines.

I think that clipping paths work like looking through a paper towel roll. The only things “visible” is the part inside the tube, anything outside the walls of that tube would not be visible.

This could work for any shape. But still confused why one of your lines is pointing within the “visible” area


Ah yes, you are correct. However the GF sees ALL the yellow arrowed parts since it knows nothing about postscript masking, and doesn’t have a concept of masking at all (if you have 2 paths on top of each other you get 2 cuts at the same place, rather than a postscript printer which does have Z-masking and only prints the visible parts.

We need to stop thinking of drawings as images, but rather a collection of instructions, so on that image there is a set of instructions to draw the minuteman and a second set to draw an oval and they are independent of each other as far as the GF is concerned.


Now this is the true boolean crop where you eliminate the part outside the circle, the GF would cut this one correctly, since on select all you note there are no points outside the circle area


Thank you @henryhbk, I think I “get it” now. You actually have to delete the parts you don’t want to be engraved or cut, since “hiding” things in the editor won’t translate to what the laser “sees” and will engrave or cut. The clipping path is the boundary that will determine which part is hidden and which part is visible in the digital file, but does not delete any of that information, just hides it.

Thank you @Xabbess for asking the question!

One additional question. Can this be “reversed”? Can I use “reverse clipping” to visualize a light switch or an outlet cover?


welp, this was certainly true. After @henryhbk put it in a graphic format, I re-read the explanation from @hansepe and @henryhbk and they both make perfect sense to me now.


Glad it helped. Yes if you look at all the little icons on this panel each one does a different boolean (of course Adobe has to name them differently than every other CAD program on earth) so you can end up with unions, and any difference you want. It’s best to just experiment with an image and a circle over it like I did. And I’d take a screenshot of each combo so you remember what each one does to an image…

BTW: have to give credit to the insanely awesome @Jules for being a fount of knowledge for illustrator as I have had my PRU, since illustrator is one of the most opaque programs ever (the good/bad news is it can do anything with paths).


The clipping path is essentially the lines along which you would cut with scissors if you were working with a physical drawing on paper, and cutting shapes from it. It can be a solid shape (like a rectangle) or it can be a compound shape (like a rectangle with a hole in the center.). The digital clipping path does not actually cut that part of the image away, it just hides it. This makes it a non-destructive editing method that is fine for representation onscreen.
The laser, though, does not understand the clipping paths, so it throws the error. This is better than if it just cut/engraved everything that it saw, as getting an error and fixing your file is probably better than ruining material by cutting all sorts of data that you did not want.

edit: wow, that moved along quickly while I was making my little drawing


This brings up a good question though. You are showing three clipping paths. Do they automatically work together? Or is it essentially the most recently made clipping path is the one that is ultimately chosen for the graphical editor?

If they all work together, I’m confused as to what the final picture would be, post clipping. (my best guess is two rectangles with their smiley faces, the inner circle one on the left side would be essentially ignored.

If it works where the most recent one is the one used, then your “output” makes sense assuming that the circle was the most recent one created.

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