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When it comes to applying Strokes in Illustrator, we have several different settings that we can apply to adjust the appearance of that Stroke. One of those setting is something called the Dashed setting. Really, what the Dashed setting does is it turns a Stroke on and off at intervals to make it appear as if the Stroke is broken, or a Dashed Line. However, because dash lines use precise measurements, you can often get unsatisfactory results. To demonstrate what I mean, I am going to create a new document here, just a blank document, and I am going to draw a rectangle on my artboard.
Let me open up my Stroke panel. In fact, I'll bring the Stroke panel out over here so we can take a better look at it. I'll increase the Stroke Weight somewhat, to around 6 point. Next, I'll turn on the Dashed Line setting. Illustrator provides me with three groupings of dashes and gaps. The dash refers to the visible part of the Stroke, and the gap refers to the part of the Stroke that is missing. The way that Illustrator works that if you specify just one dash and one gap, all the other dash and gaps pick up the same values. In other words, this is the same as seeing 4-5, 4-5, 4-5.
If they don't specify a gap at all - I will go ahead, and I will delete that setting - Illustrator picks up the gap setting from the dash setting, meaning that right now, this would be 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, and 4. But to better illustrate the point that I want to make, I am going to specify a dash value of 12 points, and I'll specify a 6 points for the gap. Let's turn our attention to the appearance of the Dashed Lines on this Path. By taking a look at the corners here, you can see that they don't really line up correctly. As the dashes get to the corner itself, they don't match up or line up very well.
The reason for this is because Illustrator starts at one point in the Path. In this case, it starts right over here, and it gives me a 12 point dash, a 6 point gap, and then, again, a 12 point dash and a 6 point gap and repeats that along the Path. If the width of my Path is not exactly divisible by these values right here, I end up with a dash that may not end perfectly on this end of the Path. This has always been a problem inside of Illustrator, and it applies to all types of Paths, not just rectangles. For example, if I were to draw an ellipse right now and have the same Dashed Line applied to that.
I'll deselect it so that you can see that where the Path starts and ends. I have an odd looking dash, because the exact circumference of the circle does not match up with the exact settings to the dash and the gap. Well, now in Illustrator CS5, we do have a setting that will fix this. I'll select these two Paths right here, and then in my Stroke panel, I'll choose this option over here. This aligns dashes and the corners so that they adjust perfectly along the Path. Notice now that all the corners appear even on this rectangle and more importantly, for this circle right now, all the dashes appear even as well.
What's really cool about this setting though is that it applies not just for circles and for rectangles, but for other shape as well. Let's take a closer look. I am going to go to this document right here, and I am going to zoom in this flower here. Say I want to apply a Dashed Line to the outside of this flower. Well, I'll select the Path right here, and I'll turn on the Dashed Line setting. Notice that now since this option is chosen in my Stroke panel, all of the corners of this flower line up very evenly. So that you can see what this would have looked like in previous versions of Illustrator, I'll choose the other option here, and you could see here the Dashed Line does not necessarily line up evenly along each petal of his flower.
So, with this fine control that we now have inside of Illustrator CS5, you can get really nice Dashed Lines.
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