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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.
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.
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