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Illustrator CS5 Variable Width Strokes


One of my favorite new features in IllustratorR CS5 is the Variable Width Stroke controls. The new Width tool will give you better control over the width of a stroke in several ways. For example, if we click on a path with the Width tool and drag with our mouse, we can resize the width of the entire stroke. Notice how Illustrator shows us an outline of the new width as we drag our mouse (step 1) and fills in the path with the new width when we release our mouse button (step 2). Illustrator's new Width tool has increased the width of the stroke evenly on both sides of the path and automatically tapered the new, wider width to fit the ends of the path.

But you also have control over the width on each side of the path individually. Let's say we decide that we want to only increase the width of the bottom of the path. In this case we will need to reduce the width of the top of the path. If we use the Option (Mac) or Alt (Windows) button along with our Width tool, we can resize the top side of the path and keep the bottom side untouched. Notice that in step 3 we have reduced the width of the top side of the path considerably.

Creating nice sharp points on the end of strokes is much easier with the new Width tool and because you can save your new point as a Variable Width Profile, it's much easier to keep the ends of your strokes consistent. For example, let's click on the end of a stroke with the Width tool and drag outward. You will see the flat, square end of the stroke turn into a point.

Now that we have the point just the way we need it to look, we can save it for later use. In the Options panel, we can add this new profile to the Variable Width Profile menu. For those times when precision is important when reshaping the end of our path to a point, we can use the new Width tool along with the Width Point Edit dialog box to set the widths of the point manually.

Of course, as with the other Illustrator tools, with this new Width tool you can add width control points anywhere along a path and move then as needed.

*Adobe provided a review copy to me free of charge.



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Content copyright © 2014 by Diane Cipollo. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Diane Cipollo. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Diane Cipollo for details.

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