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Let's take a moment to talk about stroke weight inside of Illustrator. Now, as we know, one of the attributes that we can apply to a path is a stroke. So, for example, if I took, let's say, just a regular rectangle right here and added that to my artboard, I can specify a stroke weight of, say, about 20 point, for example. Now, we already know that the weight of a stroke refers to the thickness of the stroke itself. By default, the thickness of a stroke is consistent along the entire path, meaning that any point along this path the stroke weight is going to be 20 points. One of the new things about Illustrator CS5 is the ability to create something called variable-width strokes. Using that feature you can actually vary the weight of a stroke as it travels along a path.
However, for the most part, a stroke is actually going to be consistent along the entire length of the path. Now, I am going to zoom in just a little bit here on this rectangle itself, because you'll notice that the actual path itself here appears on my screen-- we can see the actual four anchor points of the rectangle--and the stroke weight itself is distributed along the center line of the path, meaning that if my stroke weight is 20 points in this case, that means that there are 10 points of that stroke that appear towards the outside of the path and 10 points that appear along the inside of the path.
So the weight of the stroke actually kind of, like, straddles that path itself. And this is Illustrator's default setting. Now, as of Illustrator CS3, we did get some options inside of the Stroke panel that allow us to align our stroke either to the center line, the inside part of my path, or the outside part of my path. In this example right here, all 20 points of my stroke is aligned towards the outside of the path itself. But again, the default setting for Illustrator is that paths are always aligned on the center of the path itself.
As we're soon going to find out, this is an important concept to realize inside of Illustrator, because even though we do have these additional settings those settings are not always available for every kind of path. For example, right now I am dealing with a closed path. However, for open paths inside of Illustrator those additional align settings are grayed out, meaning that when you have an open path, you can only align a stroke to the center line of the path itself. But we are going to come back to this concept several times through out the training, so keep this in the back of your mind, that Illustrator, by default, always aligns the thickness, or the weight, of a stroke along the center line of the path.
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