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One of the great new features of Illustrator CS6 is the ability to add gradients to strokes. In this movie I'll explore this feature and how it can help you enhance some of your artwork. Up until now, we've just been applying basic colors to our strokes, nothing real fancy, but now I'm going to show you how to add a gradient to a stroke. And some of you might be thinking that this has been around in Illustrator for a while, and when I first heard about it being a new feature I thought the same thing, but it's actually new to CS6, but now we can indeed add a gradient to a stroke.
So I'm going to select this circle in the background here and I'm simply going to add a gradient to the stroke. The easiest way to do that is to target the stroke and then simply hit one of the gradient swatches in the Swatches panel. Once I do that the gradient stroke is applied, you might not be able to see it, because it's such a small point, but if I increase the size of it, you will see it as it grows. So I'll increase that to about 20 points, then I'll go into the Gradient panel and I'll drag that out so you can see it. When we first have this setup, you'll notice here that I have the ability to change the way the stroke is applied. I can choose to apply the gradient within the stroke, which is the default, apply the gradient along the stroke, which look like this, and also apply the gradient across the stroke, which look like this.
In this case, I think applying the gradient along the stroke looks best. It's kind of got a swirl, as if I was brushing this with a paintbrush or something. I can then go in and make edits to the gradient as well. Like for instance, I think the midpoint is a little too far to the left, so I'll drag that over, make it a little bit more towards the middle. If you won't know where the middle is, just try to get the location to around 50%, or you can just simply come down and type 50 and you're good to go. Once I do that, I'm going to take a blue color from my swatches and drag it over on top of the black.
If you're wondering how I got this transparent end over here, you can just select the stop and take the Opacity level down to 0. If you wanted to make this a color again, you can take the Opacity back up to 100, and so I could change this to let's say a green color by dragging a green down and dropping it on that stop. Now once I change the color of the gradient, you'll get a better understanding of what it means when I reflow the stroke. Let's come up here and take a look again. Let's apply the gradient within the stroke, looks like this, let's apply the gradient along the stroke, looks like this, and then applying the gradient across the stroke, looks like that.
So now that I've changed the color, I'm actually liking the across method the most, because it fades in from green to light blue, giving it sort of a 3D like appearance. Now I can close the Gradient panel and click away, let's zoom in to see exactly what we've done. Basically, I've added a 20 point stroke all way around the outside of this object and then I used the gradient on a stroke to create this illusion of depth. It's actually still just a normal stroke with a gradient color applied to it. And as I said, this is new to Illustrator CS6, but it's a great way to add a little something extra to your strokes and give your artwork a little bit more depth and flair.
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