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Up and Running with Illustrator

Working with specialty strokes


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Up and Running with Illustrator

with Deke McClelland

Video: Working with specialty strokes

In this exercise we are going to take a look at the various kinds of specialty strokes that are available to you in Illustrator. They allow you to get all kinds of work done that you are about to see. And they include dashed outlines, dotted outlines, arrowheads and variable weight strokes. I am working inside Ready for strokes.ai and I want to assign a dashed outline around this sign. So I'll go ahead and click on it to select it. Then I want to bring up my Appearance panel. I could go to the Window menu and choose the Appearance command, but this panel is already represented by one of these icons over here on the right-hand side and to see which icon it is, I am going to go ahead and drag the left side of this panel column, so that I can see the name of each one of my panels.

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Up and Running with Illustrator
2h 52m Appropriate for all Jul 19, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

This course is a streamlined introduction to Adobe's popular vector drawing application. Expert Deke McClelland shows how to create professional-quality illustrations for print and electronic output, in the shortest time possible. The course covers the basics of setting up artboards, formatting type, drawing and combing path outlines, and applying dynamic effects.

Topics include:
  • Getting around an illustration
  • Drawing shapes and brushstrokes
  • Applying fills and strokes
  • Designing custom gradients
  • Creating type on a path
  • Working with the Layers panel
  • Scaling and rotating artwork
  • Drawing with the pen tool
  • Saving and exporting artwork
Subject:
Design
Software:
Illustrator
Author:
Deke McClelland

Working with specialty strokes

In this exercise we are going to take a look at the various kinds of specialty strokes that are available to you in Illustrator. They allow you to get all kinds of work done that you are about to see. And they include dashed outlines, dotted outlines, arrowheads and variable weight strokes. I am working inside Ready for strokes.ai and I want to assign a dashed outline around this sign. So I'll go ahead and click on it to select it. Then I want to bring up my Appearance panel. I could go to the Window menu and choose the Appearance command, but this panel is already represented by one of these icons over here on the right-hand side and to see which icon it is, I am going to go ahead and drag the left side of this panel column, so that I can see the name of each one of my panels.

Now I'll click on the word APPEARANCE in order to bring it on up. And the reason I am working from the Appearance panel instead of the Control panel, is because they need to specify which of my two strokes are going to be dashed. I'll go ahead and click on the top Stroke that brings up the Stroke panel, and then notice you have this Dashed Line option. Go ahead and turn it on. And then specify the length of your dashes there in that dash value and the gap between the dashes in that gap value. And you can enter a sequence of as many as 3 dash in gap values if you want to.

I am just going to stick with this repeating sequence of dash, gap over and over again. Now notice this icon over here. If you want to preserve the exact dash and gap dimensions then you click on this first icon. But what's going to happen is that as a result your dashed dot line is not necessarily going to align properly with the corners and the endpoints in your path. If you would prefer to have alignment, which typically looks better, then go ahead and bring up that Stroke panel again and click on that second icon, which aligns the dashes to the corners endpoints and so forth.

And you get this effect right here. All right! Let's try out something little more ambitious. Let's say you want to create a dotted outline. I'll go ahead and select his top path right there, and then I'll click on the word Stroke here inside the Appearance panel, which is still up on screen for me. And I am going to raise the Weight value to 8 Points, and then I am going to turn on Dashed Line and I am going to set that dash Value to 0; so that we have the thinnest dash as possible. And then I am going to raise the gap value beyond the line weight to 12 points. So we have big gaps.

Now this might not look anything like a dotted outline, all we have to do though, we've just got one more option to change and that's the Cap setting. Go ahead and set it to Round Cap. And that goes ahead and wraps the stroke weight evenly around each one of the dashes. Now you can do all kinds of stuff using dashed dot outlines, it's amazing. I am going to select this bottom path right here, and just for fun I'll quickly show you how to throw together a train track. Go ahead and select a stroke and let's change its line weight to 16 Points.

Now let's add another stroke by clicking on the little page icon to duplicate the existing one. I am going to change the Line Weight to 14 Points this time around; click on the little Color Swatch and select this orange color right there. All right! Now I am going to duplicate both of these stroke attributes by clicking on one, Shift+Clicking on the other. Clicking on the little page icon, once again, and that makes a duplicate of both as you can see right there. I am going to change the weight of the black stroke to 10 Points, and then I am going to change the weight of the lighter stroke to 8 Points.

Now let's go and change the color of that top stroke to White, and I am going to add one more stroke by clicking on this 10 Point stroke. Duplicating it by clicking on the little page icon. Let's go ahead and drag that stroke to the top of the stack. I am going to change its line weight to something heavier, actually 12 Points. And then I am going to click on the word Stroke, turn on Dashed Line and I am going to enter a dash value of 2 Points and a gap value of 4 Points, in order to produce this effect here.

Now the amazing thing about this little train track we threw together is that now you can modify this path and the stroke will bend along with it. So if I get my direct Selection tool, that white arrow right there, I'll click off the path for a moment, then click on its first point right there in the center on the left-hand side of the path outline, and I'll go ahead and drag it to a different location like so, and the train track goes ahead and extends along with the extension of these points; notice that.

It's absolutely amazing. All right! Now let's check at arrowheads. I'll go and switch back to my black Selection tool, and I'll click on this path right there, Shift+Click on this one, so that these two paths on either side of the dotted outline are selected. Then I'll switch over to the Appearance panel once again. I'll go ahead and click on the word Stroke and notice these Arrowhead options down here. I'll go ahead and change the first Arrowhead setting to let's say Arrow 3. And I'll change the last one to one of these tail options such as Arrow 20.

And now we have an Arrowhead and a tail associated with both of these paths. I can change their sizes, percentage of the Line Weight incidentally. I can also go ahead and reverse the direction of one of these arrows, for example, I'll click off the path to deselect them. And then, just click on this right had past. Click on the word Stroke in the Appearance panel once again, and reverse the Arrowhead and tail by clicking on this little swap icon. And I end up with that effect there. All right! Finally, I want to show you variable weight strokes. I am going to click on this curlicue path over here in the left-hand side and I am going to grab this tool, it's called the Width tool.

Now just go ahead and drag somewhere along the path outline like so, in order to thicken up the outline at that location and I'll make it nice and skinny at the very beginning. So notice I am dragging tight to that endpoint. Now I'll drag inward on this portion of the path too, so I am just trying to add some variability here and there. So the path gets alternately thicker and thinner as we go along here. I'll go ahead and thicken it up right there, for example,; I'll make it narrower at this point and so forth.

If you feel like you go too far with the modification, try to locate that width point, for example, I've set one right there, and double-click in order to bring up the Width Point Edit dialog box. And then you can actually change the width numerically at that location. And notice I am just going ahead and adjusting the Total Width value. You can if you like, modify exactly how much of the line weight resides on one side of the path and how much resides on the other. But Total Width is just fine for our purposes. I'll click OK in order to accept that modification.

Maybe double-click at this point too and take that down to something like 4 Points as well. What's amazing about this is you can combine width information along with a custom brushstroke. So I am going to go ahead and grab my Selection tool once again, click on this curlicue path, go up to the word Basic, up here in the Control panel. Click the down-pointing arrowhead and choose this brush, it's called Charcoal. And now press the Escape key in order to hide that panel. Notice that we have this custom brush going, that's great we can customize it even further however, using the Width tool if we so desire.

So I'll go ahead and select out Width tool and increase the thickness of the brushstroke at this location here. Increase its thickness there as well. Possibly make it a little thinner at this location like so, and so forth. Go ahead and add some thickness right there. So the ultimate moral of the story is you have all kinds of control over your strokes here inside Illustrator.

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