How to use the width tool in Illustrator tutorial

Learn how to use the width tool in Illustrator CC 2018 2017 2015 CS6 etc

Width tool

How to use the width tool in Illustrator tutorial
  1. Select the width tool (halfway down the Illustrator toolbar)

  2. Goto to a path with a stroke (weight such as 10pt etc)

  3. Hover over the actual path (not the stroke) and click and drag outwards or inwards to modify the width of the stroke

  4. Click with width tool in a different position along line to drag inwards or outwards to modify the profile


Video tutorial on the subject by (youtube)


Basics : moving pointsFind the Illustrator width tool in the toolbar (halfway down). It can be used to create all kinds of amazing designs in Illustrator with a path with a stroke. It can be used with all kinds of paths such as closed paths and open paths as well as circles, curves, etc.


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Add to a path : addYou can use the width tool in Illustrator with all kinds of paths and you can make as complex and as basic modifications to the artwork as you wish once you start using the tool. There are no options available. It is interactive and can be used as little and as much as required.


You can modify the profile in many ways by hovering over parts of the 'path'.


Select a path in Illustrator (any path, open or closed) such as line segment or spiral or circle etc and apply. Make certain there is a path stroke (it will not work otherwise). Go to the path and hover over the path and you will see a + appear. Click and Drag outward (hold down the alt / option to just drag one side of the profile). Go to another part of the path and see the '+' appear again. Drag out the profile


Move added point : moveClick the center of one of the added points with the Illustrator width tool. Drag the point and move back and forth along the path (or up and down). You will notice that the point can only be dragged so far (in some cases) but this depends on the path and the other points (you cannot stretch it beyond its limits).


Sometimes the center point can be dragged over multiple points. Click the side of the stroke profile you wish to change and drag


Modify only one side : sideIf you wish to modify the outer points of the profile then hold the alt / option to alter just one side with the width tool in Illustrator


You can click on the curve at any point and hold the alt / option key and then shift the curve. You can also use an existing point and modify that as well.


On the right, you can see the artwork is very different on the right to the left.


Expand artwork : expandGo to the object menu and use the expand appearance command to expand the path generated with the Illustrator width tool


Once you have expanded you can then manipulate the artwork as a normal path and use curvature etc to manipulate the anchor points and segments


Excess points : smoothOne of the key issues with the Illustrator width tool is that it generates a lot of excessive points. You can remove the points by using a variety of tools in the application as well as third party plugins.


I would suggest using a plugin like smart remove brush from Astute graphics or perhaps use the in built smooth feature to remove some of the points.


Use to create unique frames : frameYou can select a rectangle or circle and you can create amazing frames simply by clicking on the path with the Illustrator width tool and shifting the generated curve and adding points (you can click anywhere on the stroke or where you see the + indicated.


Save the artwork : Once you have created your amazing designs you can then save the artwork generated by the width tool in Illustrator to the symbols panel and use them as a new symbol. You can then re-apply the symbol instances multiple times and also tweak the work multiple times as well as re-color the work if saved as a dynamic symbol. You can also save the artwork to the CC library and then use the wonderful designs in applications such as Adobe Photoshop as well as Adobe After Effects and Adobe Premiere and Adobe Indesign.


You can also save the artwork as an AI file and then use the designs in apps such as Painter. You can also save the artwork as vector designs by saving them as PDF files as well as SVG files and using them directly in web pages. You can also use the file export command and save the artwork as a PNG or PSD or JPG raster format file.


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