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Stroke Weight on Path Segments in Adobe Illustrator

Modifying stroke weight on a segment while maintaining the original fill By Dave Nagel
How do you vary the weight of a stroke along a path in Adobe Illustrator? You can always split up the path with the Scissors tool, then adjust the stroke weights on the newly formed paths. But problems arise with this method when you path contains a fill. Fortunately, there is a simple workaround for this problem using Illustrator CS2.

Let me show you an example of the problem before we get into the solution. Here's a path with both a stroke and a fill.

What I want to do is to change the weight of the stroke on just one portion of the path. But when I split it with the Scissors tool to do this, here's what happens.

Although I've achieved the stroke weight change along the path, my fill is completely ruined. Using this method, I'd have to create another object in the background to fix up the fill. But that's a waste of time, and it may not even be feasible on complex illustrations.

But in Illustrator CS2, you can use the Live Paint feature to overcome this problem. And it's a fairly simple procedure.

1. Begin by selecting your path that contains a fill.

2. Choose Object > Live Paint > Make.

Your object will now have a Live Paint bounding box, rather than a standard bounding box.

3. Select the Scissors tool (C) in the Tool palette, and click on the path where you want to split it. Notice that the fill remains as it was.

4. Use the Direct Selection tool (A) to select the segment you want to modify.

5. In the top Tool Options bar (or in the Stroke palette), change the weight of the stroke. You can also change the color of the stroke, as well as other attributes. In the example below, I've changed the stroke weight and color of four segments along the path.

When you're done, you can choose to leave the object as a Live Paint Group, or you can convert it back to regular paths and fills. To convert it back, choose Object > Live Paint > Expand, or just click the Expand button up in the top Tool Options bar.

When you do this, you'll notice something interesting about your shape. It's been converted to individual path objects, plus a fill object in the background, just as would have been the case had you performed this operation manually. The Live Paint action just saves you some time and effort in the process.

If you have any further questions, be sure to visit me in the Adobe Illustrator forum at DMN Forums by clicking here.

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Related Keywords:paths in adobe illustrator, strokes, stroke weight, line weight, varying thickness

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