Using variable-width profiles
Video: Using variable-width profilesWith Illustrator CS5, we have the ability now to create variable-width Strokes. That means we no longer have to have one uniform width applied to an entire Path. We can have a Stroke have different widths along that Path. You can control the thickness of a Stroke at any point along the Path by using the Width tool here inside of the Tools panel. However, if you're working with a lot of artwork, it can be quite tedious to go in and add all these width points along every part of your Path. So, to make it easier to draw an expressive Paths directly inside of Illustrator, Adobe made it easy to apply, save and reapply these widths across multiple Paths.
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In Illustrator CS5 New Features, author Mordy Golding discusses noteworthy features and improvements in the latest upgrade of Adobe's vector graphics editor and drawing program. This course includes overviews of perspective drawing, expressive bristle brushes, and variable-width strokes, as well as anti-aliasing features for web design, a new Artboards panel, improvements to symbols and drawing modes, and integration with Adobe Flash Catalyst. Exercise files are included with the course.
- Creating complex art from basic shapes with the Shape Builder tool
- Transforming flat artwork using perspective grids and vanishing points
- Creating variable-width strokes
- Controlling dashed line length, corners, and gaps
- Creating original brushes using the Brushes panel
- Adding arrowheads to strokes
- Creating web-ready graphics, text, and slices
- Integrating with Flash Catalyst
Using variable-width profiles
With Illustrator CS5, we have the ability now to create variable-width Strokes. That means we no longer have to have one uniform width applied to an entire Path. We can have a Stroke have different widths along that Path. You can control the thickness of a Stroke at any point along the Path by using the Width tool here inside of the Tools panel. However, if you're working with a lot of artwork, it can be quite tedious to go in and add all these width points along every part of your Path. So, to make it easier to draw an expressive Paths directly inside of Illustrator, Adobe made it easy to apply, save and reapply these widths across multiple Paths.
Let's take a closer look. I'm going to zoom in on this piece of artwork right over here, this little leaf over here, and I'll show you that I could use the Width tool to adjust the width on this particular Stroke. Let me pull so that it's a little bit thicker over here and a little bit thinner here on the top. So, I get this nice little even look that's over here. Now I'll go ahead, and I'll switch to my regular Selection tool, and I'll select just this part of the leaf right over here. Take a look over here at my control panel. Next to the Stroke weight, I also have now a pop-up menu, which currently says Uniform. That means that right now I have a uniform Stroke width applied to the Path itself.
However, when I click on this Path, the one that I've just adjusted a moment ago, you can see that now it's changed from Uniform to something else. Well, this pop-up menu actually contains something called Width Profiles. These profiles save the variable width information that are applied to Strokes so that I can easily apply them to other Paths. For example, I can select this Path right over here that has no Width Profile applied to it at all. It's set to Uniform, but I could choose this one over here called Width Profile 1. That's one of the default profiles that ship with Illustrator and now with a single click of a button, I can apply a very nice Width Profile to the shape.
Going back to the one that I've created earlier, if I click on his right now, you'll see this is currently set to a custom one that I've just defined. If I like this profile, I can click over here, and I can save it. And while there is no limit to how many profiles you can save, you can delete them at any time or simply reset the entire list back to the default settings. Note that when you save Width Profiles, those will be available in other documents. Now that we know what Width Profiles are, let's take a look at how they can help us throughout our day. Let me zoom out just a bit over here so we can see some of the other artwork on this page.
As you can see, this beautiful motif that appears over here looks pretty static and uniform, because that has the same Stroke weight distributed across the entire piece of art. So, what I'll do is I'll click and drag to select this, and then I'll simply apply a different Width Profile, for example, maybe this one right here. Now with a single click, I have artwork that looks far more expressive, and at least in my opinion, quite beautiful. I can do the same for these pieces of art down here as well. Let me click on this piece of art, this nice little swatch here, and I'll apply a different Width Profile, maybe one that starts thick on one end, but becomes thin on the other.
At first glance, it can be a little bit hard to see the difference here. It's starting off thick on this side and then thinner on this side, but that's because the Stroke weight here was only set to 1 point in my Path. It's important to realize when you select the Path with a Width Profile applied to it, the Stroke Weight that you see displayed in the control panel and also in the Stroke panel, refers to that thickest point on that Path. So, for example, by increasing the Stroke weight here, the same Width Profile is applied, but you could see that it starts really thick on one side of the Path and then simply reduces all the way down to this side over here.
This brings us to another important aspect about working with Width Profiles. As you can see, the profile's being applied in one direction. It starts thick on one side and becomes thin on the other. Well, let's say I wanted the reverse. Let's say I wanted the thickness to start in the left side at this piece of art and then become thin as it goes towards the right. Well, I'll select the Path, and then I'll open up my Stroke panel. The Stroke panel has all the settings and profiles that appear on the bottom, with one important addition. It has the ability to flip that profile along the Path. With a single click of the mouse, I can flip the profile to get the results that I'm looking for.
Another example would be all these circles that appear here, a really cool design. Let me zoom in just on that area so you can get a closer look at it. I'll select all these elements right here. They're grouped together. And rather than go to control panel over here, I'll go down to the Stroke panel and choose a Width Profile - they appear here as well - and I'll apply this one here. Let me increase the Stroke weight just a little bit more so we could see how that profile affects the appearance of the Stroke on that piece of art. So, you can see how easy it is to add beautiful thick and thin attributes to your Strokes inside of Illustrator, using Width Profiles.
Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Illustrator CS5 New Features .
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- Q: In the “Mapping flat artwork to perspective grids” video, directions for moving a box in a perpendicular direction say to use the Tilde key. However, upon attempting to move the box using this method, the box continues to move in the same plane, not in a perpendicular fashion. Is the technique in the video incorrect?
- A: Adobe changed this keyboard shortcut just before the final release. The shortcut is the "5" key. The video tutorial has been updated to reflect this.
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