How to cut parts of an image in illustrator

Updated July 19, 2017

The term image is sometimes used to refer to graphic art as well as bitmap images. Editing vector graphics, objects and shapes is an easy task for Illustrator to handle. Illustrator is a vector drawing program for drawing logos, outdoor signs and vehicle graphics. If you must edit raster images in Illustrator it should be an image with little data.

Go to "File" and "Place" the image into Illustrator. Select the image using the Selection Tool located in the tools panel.

Use the Selection Tool from the tools panel to select the image. Go to "Object," "Live Trace," then "Tracing Options."

Make the "Mode" in the "Adjustments" section "Color." The "Max Colors" setting should be lower for graphics with few colours and higher for graphics with several colours.

Check "Ignore White" to remove white from the background of the graphic. This setting works well for logos with a few colours. Once everything is set select "Trace."

Select the graphic, go to "Object," then "Expand." Expanding an object breaks it into sections.

Place the raster image into the document. Choose "File" and "Place." Select the Selection Tool from the tools panel to select the image for tracing.

Choose "Object," "Live Trace," then "Tracing Options." Set the "Mode" to "Color," "Black and White" or "Grayscale."

Set the "Max Colors" high for more colours and low for fewer colours. If the raster image has an all white background, check "Ignore White." Then select "Trace."

Select the image. Choose "Object," then "Expand." Now the image is broken into sections.

Choose the Ellipse Tool or any shape tool from the tools panel. Turn off the fill and stroke by selecting the white square with a red line through it. Draw the ellipse over the image you want to cut parts of.

Open the Pathfinder Panel from the "Window" menu. Select the image and the ellipse.

Select "Divide" located under the Pathfinders section. The divide effect makes separate shapes from the overlapping paths.

Use the Direct Selection Tool to select on the new parts that have been divided from the image.


If the image is saved in a raster file format, it must be traced first and then expanded from the "Object" menu. Raster file formats include JPEG, PNG and TIFF.

Things You'll Need

  • Illustrator CS3 (or later)
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About the Author

Payton Pritchard is a writer, graphic designer and adjunct instructor. She got her start in journalism in 1996 writing and designing newsletters and writing for newspaper before switching to radio news for eight years. Pritchard has a Bachelor of Arts and an Associate of Applied Science in journalism and graphic design from Truman State University and Sullivan College of Technology and Design, respectively.