In this post, we’ll cover the first four functions of Illustrator’s Pathfinder tool: Unite, Minus Front, Intersect, and Exclude.
Unite: Merges any shapes that are touching, then groups everything. If the objects have different colors, the result will take the color of the top object.
Minus Front: Subtracts the area of the front object(s) from the back object. If there are more than two objects selected, ALL of the front objects will be subtracted from the back one.
Intersect: Leaves only the area covered by all objects. If more than two objects are selected, it will only leave the area that is covered by ALL objects.
Exclude: The least intuitive of the bunch. Leaves only the areas that are covered by an odd number of shapes. With two shapes, this makes sense. The area shared by overlapping shapes is removed:
With three shapes, notice that the center where all three overlap is still there:
Now with four shapes. In this one, the initial shapes have been made semitransparent, so that you can see exactly where they overlap. The places where 1 or 3 shapes overlap remain, the places where 2 or 4 shapes overlap have been removed:
That’s it for the first set of pathfinder buttons!