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Working with strokes

From: Illustrator CS6 Essential Training

Video: Working with strokes

One of the great things about Adobe Illustrator is the fact that it gives you control independently of both your fill color and your stroke color. In this movie, I am going to show you how to work with strokes inside of Illustrator. As we know, a stroke is merely a border that goes around the outside of an object and in Illustrator CS6, it can actually be a solid color or a gradient color as well. In order to apply a stroke, you have to have an object selected on your artboard and then you have to gain control of the stroke and then apply a color to it. Once you've got the color applied, you can actually change several stroke options along the way to make the stroke look very different and even more artistic.

Working with strokes

One of the great things about Adobe Illustrator is the fact that it gives you control independently of both your fill color and your stroke color. In this movie, I am going to show you how to work with strokes inside of Illustrator. As we know, a stroke is merely a border that goes around the outside of an object and in Illustrator CS6, it can actually be a solid color or a gradient color as well. In order to apply a stroke, you have to have an object selected on your artboard and then you have to gain control of the stroke and then apply a color to it. Once you've got the color applied, you can actually change several stroke options along the way to make the stroke look very different and even more artistic.

You can even use brushes inside of Illustrator as strokes as well, to make your artwork look hand-painted, or have a decorative border around the outside of it. The possibilities are endless. So let's take a look at how we can apply strokes to some artwork. I have got some artwork on my artboard here and if I hover over the top, you'll notice that I have got a shape that has no fill and no stroke. If I click on it, you'll actually see that it's a flower that's behind the R in the logo. Now I don't want a fill applied to this necessarily, because I want it to almost be ghosted behind the R. I don't want it to detract away from the R, that's the main part of the logo.

What I want to do is add a stroke to this. In order to do that, I have to make sure that I am targeting the stroke first. I can do this in a lot of different ways, but the easiest way is just to change which part I am focusing on right over here. You will notice when I hover over that it says click to activate. When I click that, I am now working on the stroke of this object. For this particular object, I think a light blue color would work nicely. So let's go over here to the Swatches panel, and I'll just pick a light blue. When I do that, I can click away and you can see the work that I've done.

I actually think this is a little too much. It's a little too bright and I might want to take it down a little bit. So how then do I work on that? Well I'll target this object again and now I have control of it again, and I am also working on the stroke, as you can see. Inside of the Control panel, I can actually change several options about the stroke. For instance, I can open up the Stroke panel right here from this link and inside the Stroke panel I get a ton of options to choose from. I can choose the Weight of the stroke, which means the thickness of the stroke.

For instance, right now it's set to 1 point, which is pretty small, but I can take that up to any number I want. If I click here, I get some preset options. I can go all the way up to something like 100 points to where it's almost unrecognizable, or I can take it down to something like .25 points, where it's a little bit more fun. I actually like this smaller stroke. If I click away, you can see that it's just sort of ghosted behind this image. If it's a little too light, that's okay. You can click on it again and just bump it back up.

Maybe something like .75 would work nicely. Let's open up the Stroke panel again, and this time I am going to open it up from the panels on the right-hand side. If you will notice over here, by default, you have the Stroke panel, but it only shows something that says Weight. You don't actually see all those options that I got from the Control panel. So how do we get those? Well let's undock the Stroke panel for a moment and bring it out. Once I have it undocked, I can then go up to the menu and click here. Once I go up to the menu and click Show Options, it expands down to show me all of the options that I had in the Control panel.

Again, this is a little tedious though having to go find this panel, expand it out and all that stuff. So I actually prefer to work from the Control panel because I can just click that little word that says Stroke. It opens up temporarily, I make my changes and boom! I am back to working. In this case I have to deal with this panel being out in the middle, moving it back, it just kind of gets in my way, but I wanted to show you how to get there, just in case you like working this way. The Weight, I can change right there again. I can also change the Cap type. If you hover over these, they will tell you; Butt Cap, Round Cap or Projecting Cap.

The Butt Cap means that the end of the stroke is actually going to butt up right against the anchor points. The Round Cap means that it will round itself around an anchor point and the Projecting Cap means that it will just simply go outside of the anchor point, if it's at a corner for instance. You can also change the Corner type to a Miter Join, a Round Join or a Bevel Join. You can also set Limits, Align the stroke to different areas and you can set things like Dashed Lines and Arrowheads. We'll cover that in a future movie though.

For now, let's take a look at the alignment options. Let me zoom in a little bit so you can see exactly what I am doing. I'll zoom in and go right out here to the corner. You'll notice on this stroke that it actually goes on both sides of the path, the inside and the outside. If I increase the Weight of the stroke, you can actually see it a little better. So there is the path and it goes outside both ways. So if I want to change that, I can change the alignment of the stroke. Right now it's set to the Center. I can actually set it to the Inside, where it goes completely inside the path or I can set it to the Outside as well, which makes it go completely outside the path.

For this particular piece of artwork, I think going on the outside of the path works pretty well. I may even take this down a little bit though, back to about 2. Now let's zoom back out. I'll move my panel out of the way a little bit, and click away. So there's my newly stroked path right there. I am going to leave that the way it is for a moment, I'll show you how to make some other changes to it in just a second. I'm then going to select this big circle in the background. Now let's talk about how we can utilize some of the more creative stroke options inside of Illustrator.

So the first thing I'm going to do is I am going to stroke it with the exact same color as I had before. So I am just going to come over here and pick that light blue color. It's going to be difficult to see, but I am going to increase the Weight of the stroke quite a bit. So let's take this up to somewhere like 10, that way you can actually see what's going on. I'm then going to add what's called a Bristle Brush stroke. So I'm going to find the Brushes panel which is right here beside the Swatches, and I'll just drag that out and dock it with my Stroke panel. We are going to cover brushes a little bit more in-depth later on, but I wanted to give you an idea of how to work with these as you're using strokes inside of Illustrator as well.

I'll go to the Library button right here at the bottom, and I am going to go down and choose Bristle Brush and I'll open up the Bristle Brush Library. This is how you can create some really realistic almost painted-like effects inside of Illustrator. I am going to drag this down and I am going to select one of these brushes. As you can see when you hover over them, you get a descriptor of what they are, Spotter Brush, Round Brush, Liner Brush, et cetera. I am going to pick the Liner Brush and watch what happens when I click. It actually changes the overall appearance of the stroke.

It's set to 1 point right now, so I need to blow that up so you can see it a little bit more. I'll increase the Weight, something kind of like that. Then when I click away, you can see that it's got almost like a painted effect around the outside. I didn't have to paint that, Illustrator did that for me and it did that simply by adding a stroke and changing the brush that was applied to it. It's pretty neat. Let's see what happens when I change the flower inside of the logo as well. I'll change that to the exact same brush. When I do that and click away, you can see that it added a pretty interesting effect, although I don't like the way it overlaps in certain areas.

So I may have to change the alignment of the stroke or maybe even back down the weight of the stroke a little bit. Let's take that back down to about .5 and see what happens. When I take it down, some of the overlapping points get a little better, still not exactly what I wanted, but I can continue to refine this and get it exactly where I need to go. Let's click on it to select it, and the first thing I am going to do is I am going to tone it back a little bit. The easiest way to do that is to tone down the Opacity. In order to tone down the Opacity of this object here, I am simply going to come up to the Control panel and I'm going to change the Opacity from 100 to about 50%.

When I do that and click away, you can see that I have sort of ghosted it into the background. You could change the opacity to whatever level you want, but in this case I think 50% works pretty good. So as you can see, if I revert back to the original here by going to File > Revert, it's going to say that it's going to revert back to the saved version of this document and you are going to lose all of your current changes and that's okay. I'm simply going to hit Revert. Watch the difference between the before and after here. Now I'll center it on screen.

Look how plain and simple this looks compared to what we just created beforehand. It's an amazing transformation and it's all done through the magic of strokes. So as you continue to work in Illustrator, take some time to explore, both the Stroke panel, as well as the Brushes panel and see what kind of creative stuff you can come up with.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Illustrator CS6 Essential Training
Illustrator CS6 Essential Training

116 video lessons · 73005 viewers

Justin Seeley
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 15s
    1. What is Illustrator?
      1m 15s
  2. 2m 17s
    1. Welcome
      58s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 19s
  3. 41m 25s
    1. Understanding vector graphics
      5m 0s
    2. Setting preferences
      9m 24s
    3. Touring the interface
      9m 41s
    4. Exploring the panels
      6m 54s
    5. Working with the Control panel
      4m 25s
    6. Creating and saving workspaces
      6m 1s
  4. 43m 42s
    1. Creating files for print
      4m 42s
    2. Creating files for the web
      3m 36s
    3. Managing multiple documents
      3m 25s
    4. Navigating within a document
      5m 21s
    5. Using rulers, guides, and grids
      6m 59s
    6. Changing units of measurement
      1m 50s
    7. Using preview modes
      3m 10s
    8. Creating and using custom views
      3m 12s
    9. Locking and hiding artwork
      3m 43s
    10. Creating and using artboards
      7m 44s
  5. 1h 1m
    1. Setting your selection preferences
      5m 57s
    2. Using the Direct Selection and Group Selection tools
      4m 6s
    3. Using the Magic Wand tool
      5m 45s
    4. Using the Lasso tool
      4m 9s
    5. Selecting objects by attribute
      6m 48s
    6. Grouping objects
      3m 7s
    7. Using isolation mode
      4m 48s
    8. Resizing your artwork
      3m 55s
    9. Rotating objects
      2m 10s
    10. Distorting and transforming objects
      6m 26s
    11. Repeating transformations
      5m 6s
    12. Reflecting and skewing objects
      4m 54s
    13. Aligning and distributing objects
      4m 38s
  6. 29m 27s
    1. RGB vs. CMYK
      1m 46s
    2. Adjusting Illustrator color settings
      5m 10s
    3. Process vs. global swatches
      5m 6s
    4. Creating spot colors
      3m 40s
    5. Using the swatch groups
      2m 33s
    6. Working with color libraries
      3m 17s
    7. Importing swatches
      4m 4s
    8. Using the Color Guide panel
      3m 51s
  7. 57m 36s
    1. Understanding fills and strokes
      4m 18s
    2. Working with fills
      4m 58s
    3. Working with strokes
      8m 46s
    4. Creating dashes and arrows
      8m 1s
    5. Creating variable-width strokes
      4m 3s
    6. Using width profiles
      3m 31s
    7. Outlining strokes
      3m 51s
    8. Creating and editing gradients
      5m 45s
    9. Applying gradients to strokes
      3m 8s
    10. Applying and editing pattern fills
      4m 52s
    11. Creating your own pattern fill
      6m 23s
  8. 20m 20s
    1. Understanding paths
      2m 41s
    2. Understanding anchor points
      4m 20s
    3. Working with open and closed paths
      5m 28s
    4. Joining and averaging paths
      4m 9s
    5. Using the Scissors tool and the Knife tool
      3m 42s
  9. 37m 56s
    1. Understanding drawing modes
      4m 23s
    2. Creating compound paths
      5m 15s
    3. Creating compound shapes
      4m 11s
    4. Working with the Shape Builder tool
      6m 32s
    5. Working with the Blob Brush and Eraser tools
      5m 26s
    6. Working with the Paintbrush and Pencil tools
      7m 8s
    7. Smoothing and erasing paths
      5m 1s
  10. 35m 53s
    1. Exploring the Pen tool
      2m 39s
    2. Drawing straight lines
      5m 12s
    3. Drawing simple curves
      5m 23s
    4. Understanding the many faces of the Pen tool
      6m 10s
    5. Converting corners and curves
      1m 46s
    6. Your keyboard is your friend
      2m 14s
    7. Tracing artwork with the Pen tool
      12m 29s
  11. 35m 33s
    1. Adjusting your type settings
      4m 10s
    2. Creating point and area text
      3m 36s
    3. Basic text editing
      2m 14s
    4. Creating threaded text
      4m 59s
    5. Using the type panels
      9m 48s
    6. Creating text on a path
      5m 11s
    7. Converting text into paths
      1m 43s
    8. Saving time with keyboard shortcuts
      3m 52s
  12. 27m 25s
    1. Exploring the Appearance panel
      4m 44s
    2. Explaining attribute stacking order
      1m 40s
    3. Applying multiple fills
      3m 1s
    4. Applying multiple strokes
      4m 20s
    5. Adjusting appearance with live effects
      4m 46s
    6. Saving appearances as graphic styles
      8m 54s
  13. 20m 44s
    1. Exploring the Layers panel
      4m 18s
    2. Creating and editing layers
      3m 27s
    3. Targeting objects in the Layers panel
      3m 3s
    4. Working with sublayers
      3m 0s
    5. Hiding, locking, and deleting layers
      4m 14s
    6. Using the Layers panel menu
      2m 42s
  14. 46m 0s
    1. Placing images into Illustrator
      2m 53s
    2. Working with the Links panel
      6m 5s
    3. Embedding images into Illustrator
      3m 12s
    4. Cropping images with a mask
      5m 8s
    5. Exploring the Image Trace panel
      12m 14s
    6. Tracing photographs
      8m 6s
    7. Tracing line art
      4m 33s
    8. Converting pixels to paths
      3m 49s
  15. 19m 21s
    1. What are symbols?
      2m 45s
    2. Using prebuilt symbols
      3m 3s
    3. Using the Symbol Sprayer tool
      4m 19s
    4. Creating new symbols
      3m 50s
    5. Breaking the symbol link
      3m 19s
    6. Redefining symbols
      2m 5s
  16. 12m 9s
    1. Defining a perspective grid
      4m 29s
    2. Drawing artwork in perspective
      3m 49s
    3. Applying artwork to the grid
      3m 51s
  17. 35m 7s
    1. Printing your artwork
      6m 16s
    2. Saving your artwork
      2m 2s
    3. Saving in legacy formats
      3m 0s
    4. Saving templates
      4m 18s
    5. Creating PDF files
      5m 23s
    6. Saving for the web
      4m 46s
    7. Creating high-res bitmap images
      3m 58s
    8. Using Illustrator files in Photoshop and InDesign
      5m 24s
  18. 56s
    1. Next steps
      56s

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