Sep 102011
Step 10-1c

Continuing on from part One, I will now show you how to use the Stroke Width tool and finish off the character in illustrator.


The exciting new feature for Illustrator CS5: The Stroke Width Tool (Shift + W) allows you to vary the width of a stroke along its length at any point regardless of where the anchor points are. This means that you can change a stroke’s weight at any point. To get started zoom in on your stroke, select the tool and click and drag from the middle of the stroke outwards. Continue to do this along the line until you achieve the desired effect.

Any points you do not want can be easily deleted by selecting the centre dot and pressing the backspace key with the stroke width tool is still selected. Clicking and dragging the centre point along the path allows you to move the point. Grabbing the outer handles and pulling them in or out adjusts the width of existing points. Thicker strokes exaggerate the effect of your shadows while a thinner stroke will bring out highlights. Be as creative as you like with this to create a bold and exciting character.

Exaggerated example of effects achievable

For those of you not using Creative Suite 5, a similar effect can be achieved using a custom art brush. Create a shape like the one above and select Window > Brushes (F5). Drag and drop the shape into the Brushes Palette to start creating your custom brush. We want to create a new art brush. Give your new brush a name and use the direction buttons to choose which way the shape will sit along the stroke. Click ok to create the new brush.

To apply our new brush, select the shape with the standard stroke and click on the new brush in the palette. The brush will then stretch along the path. It might appear quite large so either double-click the brush in the palette to edit its settings and reduce the width percentage, or change the stroke weight.

The custom art brush method does not provide us with as much control as the CS5 stroke width tool does. However, with some experimentation custom art brushes can produce similar results to the Stroke Width tool.


Now that the graphic is complete we need to save it with a transparent background and at varying sizes for the different iOS devices. I will take you through this process in Creating an iPhone Graphic Part 3 and finish off this tutorial trilogy.

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