Join Chad Chelius for an in-depth discussion in this video Gradients on strokes, part of Illustrator CS6 New Features Overview.
For the first time in its 25 year history Illustrator allows users to apply a gradient to the stroke of an object. No longer is it necessary to expand stroked objects in order to apply gradients to those elements. We can now apply the gradients directly to the strokes themselves. Along with this ability comes some pretty useful controls for gradients applied to strokes as well. Let's take a look at how this works. So I have this file open on my computer, and these objects here are simply as you can see here objects that have a stroke applied with no fill.
And this is simply replicating a neon sign. So what I'm going to do here, I'm going to zoom in a little bit so that we can see this a little bit better. And I'm just using the Zoom tool to do that. And then using my Selection tool, I'm just going to Marquee across this to select all of these items. And as we can see inside of the stroke indicator, all of these elements are stroked with a yellow color. Now what I'm going to do is I'm going to open up my Gradient panel and I'm going to float this panel to make it a little bit easier to work with and then I'll open my Swatches panel so that I can get access to them as well.
Now, with the object selected and with my stroke active, I'm going to make sure that in the Type drop down menu, I choose Linear. And you're going to notice now that the gradient is applied directly to the stroke itself which is incredibly powerful. Now what's even more powerful is that inside of the Stroke panel we have the ability to apply a gradient to a stroke in three different ways. The default as you see here, is applying the gradient to the stroke, just across the overall objects as you can see here in a linear direction.
Now we can, of course, change the angle right here. If I change it to 45, you'll see how this changes as it's applied to the object. The second button allows me to apply the gradient along the stroke, so this is really great because as you can see it starts at the beginning of the path and then extends to the end of the path in every example, as you can see here. So that's pretty valuable as well. But the third option, and the one that we're going to use for this particular artwork is to apply the gradient across the stroke. So I'm going to go ahead and click on that third option, and we can see that the gradient is now applied across the path.
Now this is a really powerful feature because, what we can do down here in the Gradient Ramp, we can change this. So I'm going to drag the black towards the middle. And then what I'm going to do is up here in the Swatches panel, I am going to drag the yellow swatch. And I'm going to go ahead and drop it right on top of the white swatch because that's the color I want to use for my gradient. Now you can also double-click on any one of these gradient stops to adjust the color in here as well or pick a swatch this way.
So this is really nice to be able to do. So that looks good for that one. I'm going to go ahead and double-click on the black one, go to the Swatches category, and we want to apply maybe an orangeish color. Maybe a darker orange color to go in the middle there. Then we'll click off of that. And a little tip here, I'm just going to hold down the Option key on Mac or the Alt key on Windows, and I'm going to click on this color style, and drag it over here to the right to make a copy of it. And as you can see, we now have the gradient going from yellow to orange, and back to yellow. And it's going across the stroke.
I'm just going to adjust the transition point so that I'm pushin' a little bit more orange towards the ends. Not too much. And then what we can do is click off of it to see the effect that's been applied. To finish up this artwork, we can go to our Layers panel and just turn on the Blur layer so that we get a little bit of an outer glow applied to that. I'm going to go ahead and press Cmd+0 on Mac or Ctrl+0 on Windows. As you can see, the ability to apply gradients to strokes in Illustrator CS6 is an incredibly powerful feature that I've been able to put to good use on numerous projects already. I'm certain that you'll find a great usage for these features, as well.
- Performance and interface enhancements
- Pattern creation
- Image trace
- Unembedding images
- Package files
- Links panel enhancements