Illustrator CS6 New Gradients for Strokes

Illustrator CS6 New Gradients for Strokes
One of the reasons I have preferred raster graphics to vector in the past is the uniformity of the vector graphics. But I have to admit that Illustrator has come a long way. With IllustratorR CS6, we can create variable width strokes to create complex shapes and then apply gradients to the strokes. These new features give us many new options for creating "raster looking" vector digital art.

First let's take a look at the new feature for applying gradients to strokes. We will begin by drawing a spiral path with the Spiral tool.

  1. With the path selected, open the Gradient panel and click on the Stroke icon.

  2. To apply a gradient to the Stroke, choose a preset from the Gradient menu. As in previous versions of Illustrator, you can adjust the Angle or edit the color stops in the gradient.

Now we can experiment with the new Stroke Menu and the three options. As you can see, each option creates a different gradient with the path. The Across Stroke option is the one I like because it looks very much like the raster gradient Layer Style that I use in Photoshop.

Within Stroke
Along Stroke - along the length of the stroke
Across Stroke - across the width of the strock

We can create some very interesting objects in Illustrator by creating complex shapes with the Width tool and then applying gradients.

  1. Starting with a thin red colored path, we can widen the path with the Width tool. Click on the end of the path and drag with the Width tool to widen the path. As you drag, you can see the dynamic changes to the path. When you release your mouse, the path turns red.

  2. The fun starts when we begin to bend the path. To do this we need to create two new Width-Control points very close together. The first point will act as a starting point for the bend in the path. When we drag the second point, the path widens beyond the starting point causing a bend in the path.

  3. We can get different looks by applying the three options from the Stroke Menu in the Gradient panel.

*Adobe provided a copy of this software to me for review purposes.

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