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Distributing stroke weight along a path

From: Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials

Video: Distributing stroke weight along a path

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.

Distributing stroke weight along a path

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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  1. 8m 22s
    1. Welcome
      1m 15s
    2. Exploring the Illustrator Timeline
      5m 12s
    3. Getting the most out of this training
      1m 30s
    4. Using the exercise files
      25s
  2. 16m 27s
    1. Starting off on the right foot
      27s
    2. Knowing the difference between structure and presentation
      4m 38s
    3. Understanding paths and attributes
      4m 56s
    4. Distributing stroke weight along a path
      2m 25s
    5. Bottoms up: Object hierarchy and stacking order
      4m 1s
  3. 51m 9s
    1. The all-important Appearance panel
      37s
    2. Understanding attribute stacking order
      6m 45s
    3. Targeting individual object attributes
      7m 32s
    4. Adding multiple attributes to a single object
      9m 31s
    5. Modifying appearances with Live Effects
      7m 11s
    6. Using multiple strokes to create a border design
      4m 36s
    7. Using multiple strokes to create a map
      5m 52s
    8. Using multiple fills to mix spot colors
      4m 59s
    9. Using multiple fills to create textures
      4m 6s
  4. 46m 2s
    1. Learning to live with appearances
      30s
    2. Basic appearance vs. complex appearance
      4m 27s
    3. Clearing or expanding an appearance
      10m 52s
    4. Controlling the appearance of newly drawn art
      5m 11s
    5. Saving appearances with graphic styles
      6m 54s
    6. Changing artwork by modifying a graphic style
      7m 39s
    7. Uncovering a treasure trove of graphic styles
      5m 1s
    8. Copying appearances with the Eyedropper tool
      5m 28s
  5. 33m 28s
    1. Why do we create groups?
      1m 48s
    2. Applying an effect to a group
      4m 38s
    3. Understanding the difference between targeting and selecting
      4m 44s
    4. Knowing the dangers of ungrouping artwork
      2m 21s
    5. Using Isolation mode to preserve group structure
      6m 59s
    6. Adding a stroke to a group
      6m 13s
    7. Adding a 3D effect to a group
      3m 36s
    8. Extending the concept of groups to type objects
      3m 9s
  6. 46m 34s
    1. Are you a layers person?
      33s
    2. Learning to use the Layers and Objects panel
      9m 27s
    3. Making selections and editing stacking order
      6m 38s
    4. Reading and using the target circles
      8m 43s
    5. Copying artwork and appearances
      5m 37s
    6. Adding effects to layers
      9m 56s
    7. Getting the most out of the Layers panel
      5m 40s
  7. 47m 19s
    1. It's more than just a drop shadow?
      48s
    2. Adding basic texture with Mezzotint
      7m 50s
    3. Generating custom textures with Texturizer
      12m 22s
    4. Adding a stroke to an image with Outline Object
      5m 54s
    5. Aligning text precisely with Outline Object
      6m 31s
    6. Adding callout numbers with Convert to Shape
      4m 36s
    7. Enhancing performance with Rasterize
      2m 30s
    8. Avoiding pitfalls when using effects
      6m 48s
  8. 31m 59s
    1. Asking yourself the "what if?" question
      33s
    2. Outlining artwork with Offset Path and Pathfinder Add
      5m 36s
    3. Adding captions with Convert to Shape and Transform
      7m 1s
    4. Creating a crosshatch effect with Scribble
      5m 44s
    5. Creating buttons with Round Corners and Transform
      13m 5s
  9. 25m 21s
    1. Working with other people's files
      36s
    2. Setting up a workspace that makes sense
      9m 43s
    3. Learning to "read" an Illustrator file
      5m 48s
    4. Controlling pixel resolution
      9m 14s
  10. 1m 2s
    1. Next steps
      1m 2s

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