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Creating variable-width strokes

From: Illustrator CS6 Essential Training

Video: Creating variable-width strokes

Up to this point in this course, we've been performing some pretty static adjustments to our artwork. We've been doing some point and click things where we just added a color, added a stroke, et cetera. In this movie, we are going to get a little bit more exciting and actually change our artwork manually by hand, by utilizing one of the cool features called the Variable-Width tool. This is going to enable you to create some really stylistic strokes inside of Illustrator on your own. And the best part is with a little experimentation, you can create some awesome stuff with very little effort.

Creating variable-width strokes

Up to this point in this course, we've been performing some pretty static adjustments to our artwork. We've been doing some point and click things where we just added a color, added a stroke, et cetera. In this movie, we are going to get a little bit more exciting and actually change our artwork manually by hand, by utilizing one of the cool features called the Variable-Width tool. This is going to enable you to create some really stylistic strokes inside of Illustrator on your own. And the best part is with a little experimentation, you can create some awesome stuff with very little effort.

So what I am going to do is work on this piece of artwork here. Actually, I have several different pieces of art that comprises this little flower shape. I am going to start off with this petal right here on the left-hand side and I am just going to add a basic stroke to it. I will add a dark green color so it's easy to see, and let's also zoom in on it so we can see it a little better. Once I get that selected, I can then go over and grab the Width tool and with the Width tool selected, I can come out to the path itself and start to make adjustments. You will notice when I bring my cursor out and place it on my path, I get a little white dot that follows me all around the path.

You will also notice if you have Smart Guides turned on, that you get this small gray box popping up. The small gray box tells you two things; how much weight of the stroke is on each side of the path, in this case there is 0.5 pixels on each side of the path because it's a one-pixel stroke. And underneath, it tells you the width of the stroke overall. So at this current point on the path, I'm set to 1 pixel, with 0.5 pixels on either side. If I wanted to increase or decrease the size of the stroke, I simply click and drag either to the left or to the right to increase the stroke at that particular point.

I am going to come right down here, close to the middle of this side and I am simply going to click and drag to the left. Look what happens to the stroke; it actually grows as I drag. So I can drag this out to about, let's say, 20 points, roundabout. Once I get it to about 20 points, I'll release my mouse and there is my stroke. At this point it almost looks 3D. I could leave it like that or I could make other adjustments. You'll also notice that you can come and grab that point on there anytime you want and you can actually move it around.

As you move it, it increases the weight of the stroke wherever you move it. If I drop it back right about where it was, everything pretty much stays the same. You'll also notice that you can come in here and you can adjust the handles at any time as well, clicking and dragging towards the center point shrinks the size of the stroke, dragging it back out increases the size of the stroke. If you want to control these points individually, you can hold down the Option key on Mac, the Alt key on PC and drag one in or drag it out.

So you actually have independent controls of all of these different points. Let me undo to reset that back. Let's go over to the other side of my path and add another variable-width point, close to where the other one was. Click and I will drag out. I will try to make this as close as I can to the other, and release. Let's click away with the Selection tool. I will zoom out. See that nice little gradual fade of the stroke that I have created there? Here is the really cool part. I will select the shape again, and I am going to bring out the Stroke panel.

Inside of the Stroke panel, if you remember, you can go to the panel menu and choose Show Options. In the Show Options dialog box, you'll notice here at the bottom that you get something called a Profile, and we are going to actually go into profiles in depth in another movie, but I just wanted to make you aware that you can actually save the profile for this particular stroke that you've created and then apply that profile to every single piece of your artwork. So if you didn't want to take the time to go through and recreate what you've done on each individual piece in here, you could do it one time, save the profile, and then apply it to all pieces of your artwork.

So once you've got your variable-width stroke exactly like you like it, you are ready to then save it and apply it to any piece of your artwork in your design.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Illustrator CS6 Essential Training
Illustrator CS6 Essential Training

116 video lessons · 70186 viewers

Justin Seeley
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 15s
    1. What is Illustrator?
      1m 15s
  2. 2m 17s
    1. Welcome
      58s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 19s
  3. 41m 25s
    1. Understanding vector graphics
      5m 0s
    2. Setting preferences
      9m 24s
    3. Touring the interface
      9m 41s
    4. Exploring the panels
      6m 54s
    5. Working with the Control panel
      4m 25s
    6. Creating and saving workspaces
      6m 1s
  4. 43m 42s
    1. Creating files for print
      4m 42s
    2. Creating files for the web
      3m 36s
    3. Managing multiple documents
      3m 25s
    4. Navigating within a document
      5m 21s
    5. Using rulers, guides, and grids
      6m 59s
    6. Changing units of measurement
      1m 50s
    7. Using preview modes
      3m 10s
    8. Creating and using custom views
      3m 12s
    9. Locking and hiding artwork
      3m 43s
    10. Creating and using artboards
      7m 44s
  5. 1h 1m
    1. Setting your selection preferences
      5m 57s
    2. Using the Direct Selection and Group Selection tools
      4m 6s
    3. Using the Magic Wand tool
      5m 45s
    4. Using the Lasso tool
      4m 9s
    5. Selecting objects by attribute
      6m 48s
    6. Grouping objects
      3m 7s
    7. Using isolation mode
      4m 48s
    8. Resizing your artwork
      3m 55s
    9. Rotating objects
      2m 10s
    10. Distorting and transforming objects
      6m 26s
    11. Repeating transformations
      5m 6s
    12. Reflecting and skewing objects
      4m 54s
    13. Aligning and distributing objects
      4m 38s
  6. 29m 27s
    1. RGB vs. CMYK
      1m 46s
    2. Adjusting Illustrator color settings
      5m 10s
    3. Process vs. global swatches
      5m 6s
    4. Creating spot colors
      3m 40s
    5. Using the swatch groups
      2m 33s
    6. Working with color libraries
      3m 17s
    7. Importing swatches
      4m 4s
    8. Using the Color Guide panel
      3m 51s
  7. 57m 36s
    1. Understanding fills and strokes
      4m 18s
    2. Working with fills
      4m 58s
    3. Working with strokes
      8m 46s
    4. Creating dashes and arrows
      8m 1s
    5. Creating variable-width strokes
      4m 3s
    6. Using width profiles
      3m 31s
    7. Outlining strokes
      3m 51s
    8. Creating and editing gradients
      5m 45s
    9. Applying gradients to strokes
      3m 8s
    10. Applying and editing pattern fills
      4m 52s
    11. Creating your own pattern fill
      6m 23s
  8. 20m 20s
    1. Understanding paths
      2m 41s
    2. Understanding anchor points
      4m 20s
    3. Working with open and closed paths
      5m 28s
    4. Joining and averaging paths
      4m 9s
    5. Using the Scissors tool and the Knife tool
      3m 42s
  9. 37m 56s
    1. Understanding drawing modes
      4m 23s
    2. Creating compound paths
      5m 15s
    3. Creating compound shapes
      4m 11s
    4. Working with the Shape Builder tool
      6m 32s
    5. Working with the Blob Brush and Eraser tools
      5m 26s
    6. Working with the Paintbrush and Pencil tools
      7m 8s
    7. Smoothing and erasing paths
      5m 1s
  10. 35m 53s
    1. Exploring the Pen tool
      2m 39s
    2. Drawing straight lines
      5m 12s
    3. Drawing simple curves
      5m 23s
    4. Understanding the many faces of the Pen tool
      6m 10s
    5. Converting corners and curves
      1m 46s
    6. Your keyboard is your friend
      2m 14s
    7. Tracing artwork with the Pen tool
      12m 29s
  11. 35m 33s
    1. Adjusting your type settings
      4m 10s
    2. Creating point and area text
      3m 36s
    3. Basic text editing
      2m 14s
    4. Creating threaded text
      4m 59s
    5. Using the type panels
      9m 48s
    6. Creating text on a path
      5m 11s
    7. Converting text into paths
      1m 43s
    8. Saving time with keyboard shortcuts
      3m 52s
  12. 27m 25s
    1. Exploring the Appearance panel
      4m 44s
    2. Explaining attribute stacking order
      1m 40s
    3. Applying multiple fills
      3m 1s
    4. Applying multiple strokes
      4m 20s
    5. Adjusting appearance with live effects
      4m 46s
    6. Saving appearances as graphic styles
      8m 54s
  13. 20m 44s
    1. Exploring the Layers panel
      4m 18s
    2. Creating and editing layers
      3m 27s
    3. Targeting objects in the Layers panel
      3m 3s
    4. Working with sublayers
      3m 0s
    5. Hiding, locking, and deleting layers
      4m 14s
    6. Using the Layers panel menu
      2m 42s
  14. 46m 0s
    1. Placing images into Illustrator
      2m 53s
    2. Working with the Links panel
      6m 5s
    3. Embedding images into Illustrator
      3m 12s
    4. Cropping images with a mask
      5m 8s
    5. Exploring the Image Trace panel
      12m 14s
    6. Tracing photographs
      8m 6s
    7. Tracing line art
      4m 33s
    8. Converting pixels to paths
      3m 49s
  15. 19m 21s
    1. What are symbols?
      2m 45s
    2. Using prebuilt symbols
      3m 3s
    3. Using the Symbol Sprayer tool
      4m 19s
    4. Creating new symbols
      3m 50s
    5. Breaking the symbol link
      3m 19s
    6. Redefining symbols
      2m 5s
  16. 12m 9s
    1. Defining a perspective grid
      4m 29s
    2. Drawing artwork in perspective
      3m 49s
    3. Applying artwork to the grid
      3m 51s
  17. 35m 7s
    1. Printing your artwork
      6m 16s
    2. Saving your artwork
      2m 2s
    3. Saving in legacy formats
      3m 0s
    4. Saving templates
      4m 18s
    5. Creating PDF files
      5m 23s
    6. Saving for the web
      4m 46s
    7. Creating high-res bitmap images
      3m 58s
    8. Using Illustrator files in Photoshop and InDesign
      5m 24s
  18. 56s
    1. Next steps
      56s

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