I just want to throw together a really quick post on how to create complex shapes in expression design.

There are heaps of sweet tools at your disposal to create the look you want and here’s how to use them.


Here is 2 simple shapes I am going to use for the examples, with a blue gradient, corner radius of 20px and a stroke thickness of 5px

Compound Paths


Compound paths take the existing paths and find the overlapping sections and remove them (the paths are un-altered but the shape is merged).

How to: Select both shapes and goto Object > Compound Path (or just hit ctrl+8)

Clipping Paths

Clipping paths remove anything that is outside the selected “clipping path”.


I have turned the top shape into a clipping path, so it deletes any part of the bottom shape that is outside its path, when you create a clipping path you are given the option on which path you wish to use as the clipping path.

How to: Select both shapes and goto Objects > Clipping path  and select if you want to top or bottom shape to be the clipping path, you can also release a clipping path from here.


Intersect is very cool, all it does is find the overlapping sections of the 2 objects and keeps it, then deletes the rest


How to: select the 2 objects, goto Objects > Path Operations > Intersect


This takes each section of the paths and “divides” them into parts.


This is cool is you wanted to explode the object.


How to: Select the 2 objects, Object > Path Operations > Divide (to detach each section just select each part and move as if they were separate objects)


Unite simply makes the 2 objects one. Removing any overlapping sections


How to: Select the 2 objects, Object > Path Operations > Unite

There are 2 other options in the Path Operations menu which are:

Front minus back and Back minus front

These items simply remove one object from the other.


How to: Select the 2 objects, Object > Path Operations > Front Minus Back (or Back Minus Front)

And last but not least… the Envelope distort tool…

This doesn’t need 2 objects to be done, but it will work with multiple objects selected…

This will create a grid over your object, and using the Direct Select tool directselect you can manipulate each point in the grid for some really cool effects!


How to: Select you object/s and goto Object > Envelope Distort, then use the direct selection tool to manipulate each point.

Hopefully with these tricks you will be able to get the most out of Expression Design and create some really interesting stuff.

Made using compound paths and clipping paths