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How to Create Variable-width Stroke Profiles in Adobe Illustrator

Creating a variable width stroke is one technique that is often used to give a art a more organic, or hand-drawn look by letting you make the line thicker or thinner in different spots. If you create a varied stroke that you really like, the stroke can be saved for use in other projects.

  1. Using the Line Segment Tool [ Line Segment Tool ], draw a line.
  2. With the line selected, go to the Tool Bar and choose the Width Tool.
    Width Tool
  3. Hover over a point in the selected line where you want the stroke to be wider, then click, hold and drag away from the path.
    Line Segment
  4. Move to a different point on the line and hover over the outer edge of the fattened stroke. Click, hold and drag in toward the path to make the stroke narrower.
    Line Segment
  5. Continue going to different spots on the stroke edge, pulling toward or away from the path.
    Line Segment
  6. If you want to save the custom stroke, keep the line selected and go to the Options Bar. The Variable Width menu will show a profile of the selected line. Click to open the menu and then click the Save button.
    Variable Width Menu
  7. A dialog box will open where the custom line can be named.
    Variable Width Profile Dialog Box
  8. The custom line will remain in the Variable Width menu for use in any project. To apply the custom line to another object, select the object, then go to the the Variable Width menu and choose the custom line.
    Custom Line Applied to Oval Path
Author: Kate Cahill

Kate Cahill is a graphic designer, writer, and creative director who has developed content for print and web. As creative director, she has produced award-winning work for agencies focused on the pharmaceutical and health and beauty aid industries. She has also served as production manager, with responsibility for the successful fulfillment of long-run print contracts. Kate has been delivering training for Webucator clients since 2010. Her enthusiasm for cutting-edge technology, combined with hands-on practical experience, brings an added benefit to her classes. Kate teaches real-world techniques and integration of Adobe software, as well as Microsoft PowerPoint, to produce a fully developed and cohesive brand identity.

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