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I'm going through such a hard time trying to figure this out. In the illustration below, you can see that the edges of the guy's fingers are bleeding off the artboard and into the canvas. It's my goal to animate it frame by frame, and have his hands move in from the canvas. The thing is, when I export the frames as PNG files, I am still able to see what is on the canvas. I don't want that. I want to only see what is on the artboard.
As I was researching into this, it appears that I have to create a clipping mask, but none of the pages I read really seemed to specify on how to do that. There is this page which is in 7 steps (http://www.bittbox.com/illustrator/requested-tutorial-crop-excess-illustrator-artwork), but I can't complete it since I don't know my changed image attributes. And it appears that the image attributes are not in the Document Setup, so how do I determine how large my artboard is (besides using the rulers)?
Is there not just a regular cropping tool that automatically clears anything exceeding the edges of the artboard? It would save so much time.