Can’t Make Clipping Mask the Top Selected Object Must Be a Path

I know how freaking annoying that error is – “Can’t make clipping mask the top selected object must be a path.” Like, come on, you’re just trying to create something dope and bam! That stupid message pops up and kills your creative vibe. But chill, I got you covered in this article. We’ll figure out why it’s happening and how to make it stop for good.

The short story is, it’s happening due to the object order in the illustrator. I’ll break it all down in plain English. And by the end, you’ll be slaying clipping masks like a boss!

Can't Make Clipping Mask the Top Selected Object Must Be a Path

Why You’re Having Such Error? 

Imagine trying to cut out a heart-shaped cookie with a blob of Play-Doh. It wouldn’t work, right? The Play-Doh wouldn’t hold its form, and your cookies would look more like amoeba experiments. Similarly, clipping masks need well-defined shapes, technically known as vectors or paths, to function.

Here’s the lowdown on why you might be encountering the “Top Selected Object Must Be a Path” error:

  • The Wrong Object on Top: You might have accidentally selected an image (like a photo) or another non-path object instead of the actual shape you want to use as your clipping mask. Remember, clipping masks need well-defined vector paths, not random objects floating around.
  • Open Paths Aren’t Cool: Even if you’ve selected a shape, it might not be a closed path. Think of a closed path as a complete loop, like a circle or a square. Open paths, on the other hand, have gaps or breaks, which won’t work for clipping masks.

How to Troubleshoot the Clipping Mask Error? 

Alright, enough with the why, let’s get to the how! Here are some troubleshooting steps to banish the clipping mask error and get your design flowing smoothly:

Solution 1 – Check Object Order 

One of the simplest yet most overlooked reasons for the “Can’t make clipping mask the top selected object must be a path” error is the order of your objects. It might seem like a no-brainer, but trust me, it’s a common culprit that trips up even the most experienced designers.

  1. Identify the Object Position: Take a good look at your design workspace. Locate the object you want to clip (the image or element you want the shape to reveal) and the shape you want to use as the clipping mask.
  2. Stack ’em Up: Make sure the clipping mask shape (the path) is positioned above the object you want to clip in the Layers panel. Imagine it like stacking Legos – the clipping mask needs to be on top for it to work its magic.
  3. Bring to the Front: To do so, right-click on the shape or the picture (you can choose either one), click on Arrange, and then click on Send to back/ press Ctrl + Shift + [ (if you select the picture), click on bring to front/ press Ctrl + Shift + ] (if you select the shape). 
Check Object Order

Once you’ve verified that the clipping mask shape is on top, give it another try. If the error persists, don’t worry – I’ve got another troubleshooting method up our sleeve.

Solution 2 – Verify Path Type 

Sometimes, even if you have a shape selected, it might not be a single, closed path that the clipping mask needs. This can happen when you are creating the shapes with the pen tool or without using the shape tools. In this case, you will need to check out the path of the shape. Here’s how to double-check:

  1. Closed Path Check: Zoom in on your shape and inspect its outline. Does it form a continuous loop, like a circle or a square, with no open ends? If it has any gaps or breaks, it’s considered an open path and won’t work for clipping masks.
  2. Unite Your Shapes: If your desired clipping mask is made of multiple shapes or lines, you’ll need to combine them into a single, closed path. Select all the shapes you have created, and click on Window > Path Finder > Unite. You can also use a keyboard shortcut to open the Path Finder panel – Shift + Ctrl + F9.
Verify Path Type
  1. Text to Path Transformation: Did you create your clipping mask using text? Illustrator allows you to convert text into a path. This essentially transforms the text into a defined vector shape that can function flawlessly as a clipping mask. To achieve this, simply select your text and head over to the Type menu. Look for options like “Create Outlines” or “Convert to Path” to solidify your text into a usable path.
Create Outlines

Remember, if you’re still having trouble, don’t hesitate to consult the documentation or support resources for your specific design software. They may have additional tips or troubleshooting steps specific to their application.

End Notes

By following these simple troubleshooting steps, you should be able to conquer the “Top Selected Object Must Be a Path” error and create awe-inspiring clipping masks in Adobe Illustrator. Remember, the key is to ensure you have a well-defined, closed path as your clipping mask. It’s like having the perfect cookie cutter for your design dough – the cleaner the path, the sharper and more precise your results will be.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *