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Creating variable-width strokes

From: Illustrator CS5 Essential Training

Video: Creating variable-width strokes

In Illustrator, I can apply a stroke that has a certain thickness to it. We refer to that thickness as the Stroke Weight. In fact, in this example right here on this object, I can see that this object has a stroke weight set to 1 point. I'm actually going to increase that stroke weight to about 10 points, because I want to go over to some interesting new features that were added to Illustrator CS5. You see for the first time, we have the ability to modify the weight of a stroke as it travels along a path.

Creating variable-width strokes

In Illustrator, I can apply a stroke that has a certain thickness to it. We refer to that thickness as the Stroke Weight. In fact, in this example right here on this object, I can see that this object has a stroke weight set to 1 point. I'm actually going to increase that stroke weight to about 10 points, because I want to go over to some interesting new features that were added to Illustrator CS5. You see for the first time, we have the ability to modify the weight of a stroke as it travels along a path.

Right now, I have a 10-point stroke that's applied across the entire path. However, there is a new tool now here, called the Width tool, which appears inside of the Tools panel. I'm going to click on that and move my cursor over to the shape. I'm actually going to press Command+ Spacebar or Ctrl+Spacebar and zoom in a bit closer so we can see exactly what's happening here. You see, this path itself has some anchor points. Those anchor points define the shape of the path itself. However, there is a new type of point that Illustrator now has, something called a Width Point.

That width point determines the shape of the stroke itself, meaning the appearance of the stroke, not the path itself. As I move this Width tool over the path itself, a little kind of dot appears letting me know that I'm looking at that part right now of the path itself. If I go to my View menu here, and I turn on my Smart Guides setting, as I mouse over these parts of the path, I'll also see a little box pop up, and that will let me know the width of my path at any point of that path.

Now as we said before, right now I have a uniform width of 10 points across my entire path, and Illustrator is also letting me know that there are 5 points of that path that are being applied to either side of that path. Well, what I'm going to do here is I'm going to click and then drag. I'm dragging out something here called the width point. Right now, my width point allowed me to go ahead now and increase the thickness of this part of my path. In fact, if I move my mouse over this area, I can see that right now the width, at this point of my path, is a little bit over 17 points.

As I move my cursor here, I see that as it gets towards this part right over here, it returns back to 10 points. If I want to delete a width point, I can double-click on it, which brings up the Width Point Edit dialog box, where I can see exact values and even edit them, or I can click on the Delete button. That returns things back to the way they were before, but there are a few interesting things to note about working with these width points. For example, I'm going to come to this part of the object right here. I'm going to drag out to increase the thickness right here.

I'm also going to come to this point right here and reduce the thickness. So basically, my path starts out really thick here and comes to a point over here. You can really add as many width points as you want on to a path, but basically, whenever Illustrator finds a regular anchor point, it tries to return the width of that stroke back to that setting at that point. So if I click over here and reduce this also back to 0, I now kind of get an appearance that looks like this. Notice that I also have the ability to click on one of these width points and move them around, which adjusts the thickness as I do so.

For example, I can move one right about over here, add another one over here, click and drag, and move this one. Notice that right now, I'm just moving one width point at a time. But if I hold down my Shift key, you can notice that all the width points are now moving in proportion. One of the really cool things about working with the Width tool is how you have control over both sides of the path. You see, until now, we've always been talking about Illustrator aligning the thickness of the stroke along the center line of the path.

For example, right now, where my width is about a little bit more than 14 points, there is a little bit more than 7 points of stroke being applied to either side of that path. However, if I hold down my Option key or the Alt key on Windows and click on one of these points here, I can adjust just one side of that path. This gives me complete control over the appearance of my strokes as I work with them. Now, as I'm making these changes, you can see that at the bottom of the Stroke panel, I have something called a Profile. This is an incredibly powerful feature.

It allows me to save a tremendous amount of time. We'll discuss that feature in the next movie.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Illustrator CS5 Essential Training
Illustrator CS5 Essential Training

126 video lessons · 81263 viewers

Mordy Golding
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 3m 35s
    1. Welcome
      1m 18s
    2. What is Illustrator CS5?
      1m 46s
    3. Using the exercise files
      31s
  2. 12m 37s
    1. What are vector graphics?
      6m 3s
    2. Path and appearance
      3m 42s
    3. Stacking
      2m 52s
  3. 32m 6s
    1. The Welcome screen
      2m 23s
    2. Creating files for print
      6m 7s
    3. Creating files for the screen
      2m 55s
    4. Using prebuilt templates
      2m 40s
    5. Adding XMP metadata
      4m 18s
    6. Exploring the panels
      6m 33s
    7. Using the Control panel
      3m 11s
    8. Using workspaces
      3m 59s
  4. 43m 44s
    1. Navigating within a document
      9m 15s
    2. Using rulers and guides
      7m 26s
    3. Using grids
      3m 6s
    4. Using the bounding box
      3m 37s
    5. Using Smart Guides
      5m 56s
    6. The Hide Edges command
      3m 22s
    7. Various preview modes
      3m 47s
    8. Creating custom views
      4m 3s
    9. Locking and hiding artwork
      3m 12s
  5. 28m 46s
    1. Using the basic selection tools
      8m 50s
    2. Using the Magic Wand tool
      5m 22s
    3. Using the Lasso tool
      2m 28s
    4. Selecting objects by attribute or type
      3m 37s
    5. Saving and reusing selections
      2m 15s
    6. Selecting artwork beneath other objects
      2m 13s
    7. Exploring selection preferences
      4m 1s
  6. 1h 16m
    1. The importance of modifier keys
      1m 52s
    2. Drawing closed path primitives
      11m 38s
    3. Drawing open path primitives
      5m 47s
    4. Understanding anchor points
      3m 43s
    5. Drawing straight paths with the Pen tool
      7m 37s
    6. Drawing curved paths with the Pen tool
      9m 47s
    7. Drawing freeform paths with the Pencil tool
      5m 33s
    8. Smoothing and erasing paths
      3m 8s
    9. Editing anchor points
      7m 21s
    10. Joining and averaging paths
      10m 9s
    11. Simplifying paths
      4m 55s
    12. Using Offset Path
      2m 17s
    13. Cleaning up errant paths
      2m 32s
  7. 48m 26s
    1. The Draw Inside and Draw Behind modes
      7m 34s
    2. Creating compound paths
      5m 56s
    3. Creating compound shapes
      8m 0s
    4. Using the Shape Builder tool
      10m 28s
    5. Using Pathfinder functions
      8m 6s
    6. Splitting an object into a grid
      1m 16s
    7. Using the Blob Brush and Eraser tools
      7m 6s
  8. 49m 5s
    1. Creating point text
      4m 2s
    2. Creating area text
      8m 13s
    3. Applying basic character settings
      7m 44s
    4. Applying basic paragraph settings
      4m 28s
    5. Creating text threads
      8m 25s
    6. Setting text along an open path
      6m 29s
    7. Setting text along a closed path
      6m 24s
    8. Converting text into paths
      3m 20s
  9. 18m 55s
    1. Create a logo mark
      11m 26s
    2. Add type to your logo
      7m 29s
  10. 42m 42s
    1. Using the Appearance panel
      8m 21s
    2. Targeting object attributes
      4m 42s
    3. Adding multiple attributes
      4m 25s
    4. Applying Live Effects
      5m 18s
    5. Expanding appearances
      4m 42s
    6. Appearance panel settings
      4m 33s
    7. Copying appearances
      4m 51s
    8. Saving appearances as graphic styles
      5m 50s
  11. 34m 0s
    1. Applying color to artwork
      5m 57s
    2. Creating process and global process swatches
      8m 54s
    3. Creating spot color swatches
      3m 19s
    4. Loading PANTONE and other custom color libraries
      4m 49s
    5. Organizing colors with Swatch Groups
      3m 31s
    6. Finding color suggestions with the Color Guide panel
      4m 24s
    7. Loading the Color Guide with user-defined colors
      3m 6s
  12. 50m 23s
    1. Creating gradients with the Gradient panel
      8m 12s
    2. Modifying gradients with the Gradient Annotator
      4m 37s
    3. Applying and manipulating pattern fills
      5m 33s
    4. Defining your own custom pattern fills
      9m 13s
    5. Applying basic stroke settings
      5m 22s
    6. Creating strokes with dashed lines
      3m 41s
    7. Adding arrowheads to strokes
      2m 45s
    8. Creating variable-width strokes
      4m 35s
    9. Working with width profiles
      2m 36s
    10. Turning strokes into filled paths
      3m 49s
  13. 32m 46s
    1. Creating and editing groups
      8m 18s
    2. Adding attributes to groups
      12m 17s
    3. The importance of using layers
      5m 9s
    4. Using and "reading" the Layers panel
      7m 2s
  14. 12m 13s
    1. Creating and using multiple artboards
      7m 52s
    2. Modifying artboards with the Artboards panel
      2m 2s
    3. Copy and paste options with Artboards
      2m 19s
  15. 31m 10s
    1. Moving and copying artwork
      3m 55s
    2. Scaling or resizing artwork
      6m 47s
    3. Rotating artwork
      2m 44s
    4. Reflecting and skewing artwork
      2m 34s
    5. Using the Free Transform tool
      2m 15s
    6. Repeating transformations
      3m 39s
    7. Performing individual transforms across multiple objects
      2m 10s
    8. Aligning objects and groups precisely
      4m 27s
    9. Distributing objects and spaces between objects
      2m 39s
  16. 35m 40s
    1. Placing pixel-based content into Illustrator
      5m 14s
    2. Managing images with the Links panel
      4m 49s
    3. Converting pixels to paths with Live Trace
      8m 44s
    4. Making Live Trace adjustments
      6m 9s
    5. Controlling colors in Live Trace
      6m 4s
    6. Using Photoshop and Live Trace together
      4m 40s
  17. 14m 42s
    1. Managing repeating artwork with symbols
      4m 38s
    2. Modifying and replacing symbol instances
      3m 8s
    3. Using the Symbol Sprayer tool
      6m 56s
  18. 16m 57s
    1. Cropping photographs
      1m 59s
    2. Clipping artwork with masks
      3m 22s
    3. Clipping the contents of a layer
      3m 31s
    4. Defining masks with soft edges
      8m 5s
  19. 26m 2s
    1. Defining a perspective grid
      7m 48s
    2. Drawing artwork in perspective
      8m 46s
    3. Moving flat art onto the perspective grid
      9m 28s
  20. 25m 8s
    1. Printing your Illustrator document
      3m 26s
    2. Saving your Illustrator document
      6m 39s
    3. Creating PDF files for clients and printers
      7m 30s
    4. Exporting Illustrator files for use in Microsoft Office
      1m 4s
    5. Exporting Illustrator files for use in Photoshop
      2m 31s
    6. Exporting artwork for use on the web
      3m 3s
    7. Exporting high-resolution raster files
      55s
  21. 2m 18s
    1. Additional Illustrator learning resources
      1m 36s
    2. Goodbye
      42s

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