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In Illustrator CS5 Essential Training, author Mordy Golding explains the core concepts and techniques that apply to any workflow in Illustrator, whether designing for print, the web, or assets for other applications. This course includes a detailed explanation of the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of the Illustrator drawing tools. Also demonstrated are techniques for combining and cleaning up paths, organizing paths into groups and layers, text editing, working with color, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
A Stroke Attribute is what the actual path looks like. It's an appearance that you apply to the path. We've seen already some of the basic settings you can apply to a Stroke, and even how to color stroke. But let's take a closer look at all of its settings. I am going to zoom in on just this middle flower right here. I want to focus on this path right here and applying some kind of Stroke Attribute to it. Currently, this path has a Black 1-point stroke applied to it. And if we look at the Stroke panel we will see where it says Weight, it's currently set to 1 point.
Again, that refers to this thickness of the Stroke itself. I'll click on this pop-up here and choose something like 10 points. Remember that Illustrator itself, by default, will always align the Stroke on the center line of the path. Again, because I have a 10-point Stroke, I am seeing 5 points of that weight being distributed on the inside of the path and 5 points along the outside of the path. When dealing specifically with closed shapes, like I have right here, there is an option in the Stroke panel called Align Stroke.
Right now, the Stroke is aligned to the center line of the path. However, I could also choose to align it to the inside or the outside of the path. But for now, I'm going to leave it set to the default setting, along the center line of the path. We have two other settings that are here, one called Cap and one called Corner. We'll take a look at the Corner one first, and then we will create a different shape to see exactly what the Cap Setting does. By default, Illustrator uses something called a Miter Join.
Basically, the Corner Setting refers to the appearance of the stroke anytime your path comes to some kind of a corner. For example, right here my path enters this Anchor Point, and then comes out in a completely different direction, creating a corner. Well right now the Stroke itself comes to a point here. However, I could choose to create something called a Round Join, where I have a little bit of a rounded appearance, a nice softer appearance to the Stroke. I also have the ability to create something called a Bevel Join, which kind of just chops off the corner and gives me somewhat of a different appearance.
As I am using Illustrator, I'll always have a choice of what type of corner I would like to see on the strokes that I apply. I will go back to default setting here of the Miter Join, and I'm going to take my Line tool here and draw a straight line across the top of the screen. Notice that right now the Stroke comes and ends exactly where the Anchor Point is. Here is my path in the middle. I'm still working with a 10-point Stroke here. So I have 5 points of stroke at the top of my path and 5 points at the bottom.
Notice that here because it's an open path, I do not have the ability to change the alignment of that Stroke. It's always going to be on the center line of that path. However, I can change the appearance of the end of the stroke right here. For example, instead of choosing the Butt Cap option, I could choose the Round Cap option. This will actually have the Stroke itself, kind of have a rounded edge that goes beyond the anchor point itself. In fact, if you can imagine drawing a circle that has the exact same diameter, as the Weight of my Stroke, meaning right now my Stroke has 10 points of Weight, so imagine if I've created a circle that was exactly 10 points in diameter and I positioned the center of that circle right on the anchor point itself, I would have this kind of a rounded edge, and that's exactly what this setting does when applied to a Stroke.
I also have the ability to completely square it off using something called the Projecting Cap. This, again, takes my Stroke Weight, calculates half of it, which in this case would be 5 points, and extends the Stroke Appearance 5 points beyond where my path actually ends. So as I am working inside of Illustrator, I have the ability to choose between these different Cap Settings. There is it is also a setting here called Limit. This refers to something called the Miter Limit, and very rarely will come in to play. That's because in Illustrator CS5 now, Adobe set the Default setting for this Limit to 10.
It used to be 4. Sometimes if you create very, very sharp angles and you use a heavy Stroke, part of the Stroke would get clipped off. By increasing this Miter Limit, that clipping would go away. If for some reason if you create very sharp angles, and you do see that parts of your Stroke is clipped, simply come here to the Limit setting and increase it until that clipping goes away. Finally, while all these settings that we've been applying to Strokes are all here inside of the Stroke panel, we could see some of those settings here inside of the Control panel.
And at anytime, I can also click on the word Stroke to bring up the entire Stroke panel temporarily. So if you find that you don't have enough room on your screen, you can always collapse this entire dock and still make Stroke adjustment changes through that Stroke panel. One other place to find it is, of course, in the Appearance panel. Remember that the Appearance panel also lets you access the Stroke panel, just by clicking on the word Stroke, where you can see all of it settings. Of course, you'll also notice that there are some other settings here inside of the Stroke panel, things like Dashed Lines and Arrowheads.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. We are going to cover those features in the next movie.
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