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Once you've completed your artwork inside of Illustrator, especially if you've been using strokes, one of the things you might want to do is gain full editable control over those strokes. Or if you get artwork from someone else, and you can figure out exactly what's happened to the strokes that have been applied, chances are they've used something called outlining. And that's what we are going to focus on in this movie. Basically you can think of outlining as a way of taking a stroke, from just being something that flows along the path and turning it into its own separate object.
So for instance, when I select this leaf over here on the left, let's zoom in so I can see exactly what's going on. When I have this selected, I only have control over the path, that's the blue line that you see in between the stroke. The stroke actually doesn't exist as its own object. It's a piece of this object. It's actually an attribute that's applied to it. But what If want to independently edit the stroke? I wanted to move it, or use it in another project, or something like that? I can utilize something called outlining in order to do that. In order to outline a stroke, or to turn it into its own object, you go up to the Object menu, you go down to Path and you select Outline Stroke.
Once I do that, you can see that the stroke now becomes its own editable vector object with tons of anchor points all around it. If I wanted to utilize the stroke as its own object, I could then select it, but when I select it, I notice that it grabs the underlying path as well. That's because after you outline a stroke, it's automatically grouped with the object that it was associated with before. If you want to get this alone by itself, you can either ungroup it or enter into the isolation mode. I'm going to jump into isolation mode by double-clicking on the stroke, and then selecting it.
You can see when I select it, it gives me just the stroke, not leaf underneath. I'll copy it to my clipboard by using Command+C or Ctrl+C, and then I'll double-click to exit isolation mode. I'll then zoom out using Command+0 or Ctrl+0, and then I'll paste the stroke all by itself, Ctrl+V or Command+V. Once I do that, let's move it up and there we go, all by itself, just the stroke. Now here's what's bad about outlining strokes. Number one; it's not necessarily associated with its parent object anymore. That way if you resize the parent object independently with the stroke, the stroke does not follow suite.
Number two; the stroke no longer has the ability to be changed via the Variable-Width tool, nor can you change the Weight of the stroke by utilizing the Stroke panel. You'll notice when I have this selected, there's nothing in the Stroke panel, because this is now a filled object. There's no stroke, only a green fill. If I added a stroke to this, it would simply add another stroke outside of it. It would not change the overall stroke that we had before. So you have to think really long and hard before you actually outline a stroke. And there are certain instances where outlining a stroke makes more sense, than not outlining it.
For instance, if you're going to be scaling up artwork, especially in older version of Illustrator, and you're sending it to someone who might not know how to scale the effects properly, you might want to outline the strokes, so they go up and down as they are supposed to. In Illustrator CS6 that's not such a big deal, because you can set it up in the preferences to make sure that strokes scale proportionally, no matter how you resize them. But like I said, if you're sending this to someone who doesn't know a whole lot about Illustrator, you might want to outline the stroke to ensure that it looks the same, no matter what they do to the file after they get it.
In any case, outlining a stroke is certainly a great way to get full control over the vector object that is your stroke. Once you have control over it, you can manipulate independently, change it, do whatever you like to it. The only problem is it's just not linked to the original object. So if you ever find the need to outline your stroke, hopefully now you have a better understanding of how to do so, and why you would ever need to do it.
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