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Boolean Operations

In the Mac app, there are four boolean operations you can use to combine and create complex shapes. Select two or more shapes, then click on the boolean operations buttons in the toolbar.

  • Union boolean union creates a shape that’s the sum of multiple shapes’ areas.
  • Subtract boolean substract removes the area of a shape from the one underneath it.
  • Intersect boolean intersect creates a shape from the areas where the selected shapes overlap.
  • Difference Difference (blend mode) creates a shape from the areas where the original shapes don’t overlap. It’s the opposite of Intersect.

You can also access the boolean operations buttons from the Touch Bar.

An image showing boolean operations controls on the Touch Bar

Boolean operations apply from the top layer down. So, if you were to draw a smaller circle inside a larger circle and apply the Subtract operation boolean substract, you’d create a donut shape.

Combined shapes

When you apply a boolean operation to two or more shapes, it will group the original shapes together in a new combined shape group.

With combined shapes, boolean operations are non-destructive, so you can edit the original shapes and change the result at any time. You can even even bring together two or more combined shapes with a new boolean operation.

How to edit combined shapes in the Layer List

You can expand a combined shape just like a normal group in the Layer List. When you do this, you’ll see all the different shapes that make up your combined shape and the different boolean operations applied to them.

By clicking on a boolean operation icon next to a shape, you can change that boolean operation that’s applied to that layer.

To hide any of the original shapes in your combined shape, Control-click on them in the Layer List and select Hide Layer (or use H). This will change how your combined shape appears in the Canvas.

You can also create a combined shape in the Layer List by dragging one shape layer on top of the other. This will apply the Union boolean operation by default.

Last updated on 21 Apr 2021

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