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Illustrator CS6 New Features
Illustration by John Hersey
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Adding gradients to strokes


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Illustrator CS6 New Features

with Justin Seeley

Video: Adding gradients to strokes

When I first saw this next feature touted as something new, I was a little surprised. In fact, I was almost certain that this was possible in a previous version of Illustrator, but it wasn't. Thankfully now it is possible, because now that I have this feature, I find myself using it all the time. I'm talking about adding gradients to strokes. As I said, in previous versions of Illustrator, you couldn't add a gradient swatch as your stroke color. It just wasn't possible, but now in CS6 you can do just that and it's really simple.

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Illustrator CS6 New Features
56m 58s Intermediate Apr 23, 2012 Updated Oct 04, 2012

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With the CS6 release, Adobe Illustrator is turning 25 and has a new look and a few new features. In this course, Justin Seeley hosts a tour of the interface changes and the tools introduced in this version. The course covers Pattern Options for creating simple, repeatable patterns for web graphics, advanced tracing options with the Image Tracing tool, and the improved performance and file management features. Justin also discusses the exclusive features you get with the Creative Cloud subscription to Illustrator, like the ability to quickly unembed images and one-click file packaging.

This course was updated on 10/04/2012.

Topics include:
  • Adjusting the interface brightness
  • Understanding updates to panels and preferences
  • Creating a repeatable pattern
  • Performing a basic trace
  • Converting pixels to paths
  • Understanding what 64-bit support means for you
  • Introducing startup profiles
  • Understanding the Save for Web changes
  • Enhancing artwork with gradients on strokes
  • Working with the improved Gaussian Blur
Subject:
Design
Software:
Illustrator
Author:
Justin Seeley

Adding gradients to strokes

When I first saw this next feature touted as something new, I was a little surprised. In fact, I was almost certain that this was possible in a previous version of Illustrator, but it wasn't. Thankfully now it is possible, because now that I have this feature, I find myself using it all the time. I'm talking about adding gradients to strokes. As I said, in previous versions of Illustrator, you couldn't add a gradient swatch as your stroke color. It just wasn't possible, but now in CS6 you can do just that and it's really simple.

So as you can see here I have two stars both identical on my artboard. The one on the left already has a gradient stroke applied to it. As you see, it's just a yellow star with a blue gradient that fades to transparent. On the right I have just an ordinary star with no stroke applied to it. So let's see how easy it is to add a gradient swatch to the star. I am going to make sure I am working on the stroke color, and I'll come over here the right and I will find one of the gradient swatches, and I will simply click it. Once I do that it automatically adds the gradient swatch to the stroke.

You can't really see it, because a stroke is so thin. So let's go ahead and bump up the size a little bit. I'll go ahead and bump it up to about 20 Points so it's big enough for you to see. Once I have that done, I can then go into the Gradient Section, and I can edit my gradient. So for this stop over here on the left, I am simply going to take the Opacity to 0, and then I will take a blue color and I'll drag it down and drop it right on top of this stop. Now I have a gradient stroke that fades blue to transparent going all the way around my star. Once you've got your gradient applied you can even use the Width tool to vary the width of your gradient stroke simulating a hand-drawn look or even creating something crazy like I have got over here on the left.

All you have to do is go over to your toolbar and find Width tool, or hit the keyboard shortcut, Shift+W on your keyboard. Once you've got that you can come in here and actually expand and contract your stroke in different areas to create a really cool effect. So I will just manipulate this a little bit to show you exactly what I mean. Once you have got that applied, simply click away from it and you are done. As you can see, adding a gradient stroke to your artwork lends itself to a whole range of creative possibilities. Try it out and see what you can come up with in your next project.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Illustrator CS6 New Features.


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Q: This course was updated on 10/04/12. What changed?
A: We added a new chapter to address the new features that come with Illustrator when you have an Adobe Creative Cloud membership. These include features like the ability to quickly unembed images and one-click file packaging.
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