Illustrator Quick Tip: Adjusting Line Width with Stroke Profiles

Illustrator Quick Tip: Adjusting Line Width with Stroke Profiles

I’m constantly in search of adding hand drawn touches to vector illustrations. I recently stumbled across stroke profiles, which are new to Illustrator CS5. Using stroke profiles you can instantly adjust line weight from think to thin, giving it a hand drawn calligraphy appearance.

Lets take a quick look at how to use stroke profiles. First, draw a curved line using the Spiral Tool. You can adjust the openness of the spiral by holding down the cmd key while you draw the spiral.

Give the spiral a healthy stroke, maybe 3 or 4pt. Once your spiral is drawn, open the stroke panel (Window | Stroke). Notice at the bottom of the stroke panel there is a drop down labeled “Profile”, and the default selection is “Uniform”. With your line selected, try some of the different profile selections.

Pretty quick and easy. In the past I always created custom brushes to achieve this look in my lines.

If you need further variation on your line weight, you can manually adjust the line using the Width Tool (Shift+W). Using this tool you can manually drag the line weight at any given point, or even add points.

Once you’ve made adjustments to the line you can then save the line as a new stroke profile. Pretty amazing, right!?

Try creating some of your own custom stroke profiles that fit your illustration style. Have fun and experiment!

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Nathan Brown

Nathan Brown is a graphic designer who loves working with various media. He combines traditional art styles with a little experimentation and digital flare. Nathan's works have contained everything from ink and paint to leaves and a box of dirt. Everything is fare game when it comes to his approach to art. Nathan lives in Austin, Texas where he has been working as a designer for 10 years.


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  1. Eric

    That is awesome. must play!

  2. Patara

    Thank you Nathan. I appreciate that you include your tutorials in the email so we always have them at hand.

  3. Sweet I didnt know that either! Cheers for sharing…

  4. This is an amazing tip! Great stuff!

  5. Topan

    Thanks Nathan..

  6. Maciej

    thanks Topan, that is what I need for my present project :) good tips

  7. Ruben

    I never knew this thank you for sharing.

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  10. Ines

    Great tip! Thanks! :)

  11. Anne

    A question for you: is there any way to save it as an appearance? Or even something that will register with the eyedropper tool? I use these a lot, and I want to speed up my workflow. Right now when I use the eyedropper, it captures the stroke weight only, then I have to manually click the stroke profile.

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