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Adding a stroke to an image with Outline Object

From: Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials

Video: Adding a stroke to an image with Outline Object

You know, it's important to remember that appearances, such as Live Effects for example, are useful not only for working with vector-based graphics, or even text, inside of Illustrator; they can also be applied to images. In fact, there are some Live Effects that you can use inside of Illustrator that help you get around some seemingly basic tasks when it comes to working with images. For example, on this layout here of this file called images.ai, I have two layouts which are identical, except that I wanted to offer my client two potential of design ideas. The one the left has an image that's just in a rectangle. The one on the right has an images that's actually been silhouetted.

Adding a stroke to an image with Outline Object

You know, it's important to remember that appearances, such as Live Effects for example, are useful not only for working with vector-based graphics, or even text, inside of Illustrator; they can also be applied to images. In fact, there are some Live Effects that you can use inside of Illustrator that help you get around some seemingly basic tasks when it comes to working with images. For example, on this layout here of this file called images.ai, I have two layouts which are identical, except that I wanted to offer my client two potential of design ideas. The one the left has an image that's just in a rectangle. The one on the right has an images that's actually been silhouetted.

However, I want to add some kind of an outline around the image. I want to put like a key line around the image here. And if you've used a program like InDesign, for example, we know that images always appear inside of frames, so you can always apply a stroke setting to the frame that contains the image. However, in Illustrator, I'll see that when I click on this image here, in my Appearance panel it tells me that I currently have an image that's targeted and inside of that Image are Image Pixels. Now I may say to myself, oh you know what? Illustrator is targeting the image. I know that I can add attributes like fills and strokes, so maybe I can just apply a stroke to the image itself.

So I'll come down to the Appearance panel and I'll choose the Add a New stroke. However, if I do so--I'm going to make that stroke a little bit heavier here, maybe around 10 points even. If I take a look at the artwork, I don't see that stroke appearing at all. So Illustrator seemingly allows me to add a stroke, but it does not display a stroke. Well, the answer to the reason why that does not show up is because an image is not a vector object. Only vector objects can have attributes such as fills and strokes. Because an image is not a vector object, there is no path here that Illustrator can use to apply a stroke to it.

In other words, the structure necessary to apply that presentation does not exist. I'm going to press D to reset my settings back to their default. And sure, I can select my Rectangle tool and I can draw a completely separate object on top of this shape. I can set its stroke weight to 10 point, and give it a fill of none, and now I've added that line around the image itself. But now I've created a completely separate object and now anytime I want to resize the image, I have to make sure that I'm also resizing the separate rectangle, so on and so forth. It can be difficult to manage. I much prefer if I can actually add a stroke to the image itself.

Well, if you were thinking about adding a stroke to the image itself through the Appearance panel, you are halfway there. Our only issue is that we don't have a path for Illustrator to apply that stroke to. But we can call upon a certain effect to help us out in this regard. So I'm going to press Delete to get rid of that rectangle I've just created. I'm going to use my Selection tool here to actually select the image itself. And, by the way, this image is one that I have placed and then embedded in to Illustrator, but the technique that I'm about to show you right now also allows you to apply strokes to linked images.

Now if you remember before, we actually apply the stroke to this image-- a 10 point-stroke--but it wasn't visible. So we see in our Appearance panel right now that we have the image targeted. We've already applied the stroke, which is 10 points in weight, but we just don't see it because remember, there is no path for Illustrator to apply that stroke to. But our stroke right now is targeted. If I click over here, the stroke is highlighted, so now I've targeted my stroke. Now, I am going to go to the Effect menu and I'm going to choose an option here called Path > Outline object. This is actually an effect that's going to look at the balance of the object itself and outline the object with a path, only it's doing so as an effect. But when I do that, now Illustrator has the information it needs to apply that stroke setting.

The stroke right now is being applied to the object that Illustrator now just created as a Live Effect. So in other words, we told Illustrator, take our image, and yes, we don't have a path that's there, but look at the balance of that object and generate a path that we can use to now display that stroke. So at the end of the day, we can actually apply a stroke directly to an image; we just have to use the Outline Object effect and apply it to that stroke in order to get that stroke to appear inside the document.

Now let's kind of take that same concept and talk about this image right here, because this was, again, something that I created inside of Photoshop and I silhouetted the background here. I kind of got rid of all of the leaves. All I'm left with are the flowers themselves, and I have a transparent background. Now I don't want an outline to appear around the bounds of the entire object here. I would like an outline to appear around the actual edges that I've silhouetted. Well, the nice thing about the Outline Object effect that we just applied is that it can honor the transparency found inside of a PSD file.

Again, this is an embedded PSD that has transparency, but this would also work with a linked PSD as well. So let's repeat the same steps here. In the Appearance panel here, I have my image. I can add a stroke to the image. I don't see anything yet because there's no path that exists, but because that stroke is now highlighted right now, or that stroke is now targeted, I can go to the effect over here, choose Path > Outline object, and now I see a path that has been created, so that I can now apply a stroke around the balance of this artwork.

Maybe I'll increase that stroke weight just a little bit, and now I've created an outline around my image. You know, it's funny. Now that I see that I've added a stroke here, I think I probably could've done a better job silhouetting this inside of Photoshop. But the beauty here is that if I am using a linked Photoshop image, I can simply do an Edit > Original, make changes or adjustments inside of Photoshop, save the file, and when I returned back to Illustrator, the image will update, as will the stroke that's applied to it. So in this movie, we found a great use for the Outline Object effect, which may have seemed like an obscure effect to you before. And perhaps most importantly, we've learned that we can actually apply appearances to images inside of Illustrator.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials
 
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  1. 8m 22s
    1. Welcome
      1m 15s
    2. Exploring the Illustrator Timeline
      5m 12s
    3. Getting the most out of this training
      1m 30s
    4. Using the exercise files
      25s
  2. 16m 27s
    1. Starting off on the right foot
      27s
    2. Knowing the difference between structure and presentation
      4m 38s
    3. Understanding paths and attributes
      4m 56s
    4. Distributing stroke weight along a path
      2m 25s
    5. Bottoms up: Object hierarchy and stacking order
      4m 1s
  3. 51m 9s
    1. The all-important Appearance panel
      37s
    2. Understanding attribute stacking order
      6m 45s
    3. Targeting individual object attributes
      7m 32s
    4. Adding multiple attributes to a single object
      9m 31s
    5. Modifying appearances with Live Effects
      7m 11s
    6. Using multiple strokes to create a border design
      4m 36s
    7. Using multiple strokes to create a map
      5m 52s
    8. Using multiple fills to mix spot colors
      4m 59s
    9. Using multiple fills to create textures
      4m 6s
  4. 46m 2s
    1. Learning to live with appearances
      30s
    2. Basic appearance vs. complex appearance
      4m 27s
    3. Clearing or expanding an appearance
      10m 52s
    4. Controlling the appearance of newly drawn art
      5m 11s
    5. Saving appearances with graphic styles
      6m 54s
    6. Changing artwork by modifying a graphic style
      7m 39s
    7. Uncovering a treasure trove of graphic styles
      5m 1s
    8. Copying appearances with the Eyedropper tool
      5m 28s
  5. 33m 28s
    1. Why do we create groups?
      1m 48s
    2. Applying an effect to a group
      4m 38s
    3. Understanding the difference between targeting and selecting
      4m 44s
    4. Knowing the dangers of ungrouping artwork
      2m 21s
    5. Using Isolation mode to preserve group structure
      6m 59s
    6. Adding a stroke to a group
      6m 13s
    7. Adding a 3D effect to a group
      3m 36s
    8. Extending the concept of groups to type objects
      3m 9s
  6. 46m 34s
    1. Are you a layers person?
      33s
    2. Learning to use the Layers and Objects panel
      9m 27s
    3. Making selections and editing stacking order
      6m 38s
    4. Reading and using the target circles
      8m 43s
    5. Copying artwork and appearances
      5m 37s
    6. Adding effects to layers
      9m 56s
    7. Getting the most out of the Layers panel
      5m 40s
  7. 47m 19s
    1. It's more than just a drop shadow?
      48s
    2. Adding basic texture with Mezzotint
      7m 50s
    3. Generating custom textures with Texturizer
      12m 22s
    4. Adding a stroke to an image with Outline Object
      5m 54s
    5. Aligning text precisely with Outline Object
      6m 31s
    6. Adding callout numbers with Convert to Shape
      4m 36s
    7. Enhancing performance with Rasterize
      2m 30s
    8. Avoiding pitfalls when using effects
      6m 48s
  8. 31m 59s
    1. Asking yourself the "what if?" question
      33s
    2. Outlining artwork with Offset Path and Pathfinder Add
      5m 36s
    3. Adding captions with Convert to Shape and Transform
      7m 1s
    4. Creating a crosshatch effect with Scribble
      5m 44s
    5. Creating buttons with Round Corners and Transform
      13m 5s
  9. 25m 21s
    1. Working with other people's files
      36s
    2. Setting up a workspace that makes sense
      9m 43s
    3. Learning to "read" an Illustrator file
      5m 48s
    4. Controlling pixel resolution
      9m 14s
  10. 1m 2s
    1. Next steps
      1m 2s

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