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Width Shape Tool

Lesson 12 from: Infographic Elements from Scratch in Illustrator

Jason Hoppe

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Lesson Info

12. Width Shape Tool

Lesson Info

Width Shape Tool

So other things that we can create with basic shapes and lines. Now one of the things we talked about when we were doing our little wavy things with coffee here, we can do those little effects that'd go on there. And we'll talk about the appearance panel later and how we can edit those applied effects. But I wanna show something else about what we can do with actual lines as well. Now if I go in and draw a line, I really have not much control over this other than the weight, if I hot-dog the ends, the color here, and that's basically it. So I can create a shape, and I can apply that path to it. But I'd like to create something that's gonna be a little bit more dynamic. What I'd like to do is I'd like to be able to go in and maybe control this. So I'm gonna make it kinda like an exclamation mark, where it's gonna be wide at the top and narrow at the bottom or actually change some aspect of the line, so it isn't just like a line. So any path that I have I can use this awesome width shape...

tool, which really looks like a chicken on a skewer, okay? This is the chicken-on-the-skewer tool. And so not to be confused with hot-dogging the ends, but the chicken-on-the-skewer tool allows you to take a path and allows you to vary the width of the path. Right now the entire path is a certain size, 40 points. But I'd like to be narrow at the top and wide at the bottom or vice versa. So with my stroke, I can take my width shape tool here and any place along the path here I can click, and I can pull out from the path, which will allow me to change the width of the path. Now if you've used lines before, and you've applied strokes to them here up in the stroke area, here we got our stroke, we've got our weight right here. Then we have this thing called Uniform. Well, every stroke that we draw, every path that we draw is a uniform path. But you'll notice we have a drop down menu of all these different profiles. And these are preset width profiles that allow us to go in and allow us to apply these profiles to a path. And these profiles are just presets. But they're all created by using the width shape tool. And they take a line, and you create a profile by clicking on the ends, or anyplace here, and you're able to go in and create a profile on this path. So even though this stroke is a 20-point stroke on this path here, or actually it's a 100-point stroke, I have a profile that has it very wide at the end. And this is what it looks like without hot-dogging the ends. That's what it looks like with hot-dogging the ends. So you can really develop some dynamic interests with this. And there's my profile of that shape right there. It starts out wide, and it tapers. If I take this shape and I make it longer, it's just going to distribute that profile over the line. Now if I've created a cool profile like this, I could save the profile by selecting it, go into my Profile drop down menu and click on the hard drive icon to save this. And I'm gonna save that profile, so if I then draw any other shape, and I would like to apply that profile, by the way, if you have a very thin line here, you're profile isn't going to show up. So if you have a one or two-point line, you won't see it, because there just isn't enough line to go ahead and do that. So get a heavier stroke line, and then go in and apply your profile. And there's my new profile right there. Now it does not save the hot-dogging of the ends. That's a different type of thing. But I can go in, and I can create an interesting style or use any of my profiles here if I would like to go in and create that particular shape on a line. And it's nice. I mean, we could just have a basic uniform line that, when I say, okay, a 50-point line, I just get the continual width. But this will also create some really nice effects if you want. Maybe you want some type of burst, or you want to do something like a sun, and you create a center point of the sun. And you wanna create a burst of some sort, I could go in and I could draw a line and then using my profile apply that stroke to that line there, hot-dog the ends of it. And I could apply a profile to that, which gives me my little burst of the sun right there. And then I could take that, and I could copy that and put that around my sun. Doing this the long way around. And I can create something like that. Instead of just boring lines coming out, I can always select those, and just say, hey, I wanna different width. I wanna different profile. A little bit of fun with that as well. There it is. Maybe put them so they go the opposite direction as well. And you could create that. You know, those would make great spoons for a table setting, wouldn't it? Totally, see how this stuff happens? Yeah, I don't know. I just think this way all the time. Actually, for people that know me, every single thing that I see, person that I meet, everything that's said, first of all, I always think of all the different meanings of the words people say. Everything is hysterical, because I always draw correlations from it. Now matter what it is that I see or do, I always try to analyze it, pull it apart, find out what makes it work, the process that goes in and put it back together. That's just how I am. So I think infographics really come into this. But it just, everything snowballs. So with profiles, can be really interesting on a shape. Taking it one step further, if I go in and I draw a shape like my little cinnamon swirl here, I can use the width profile on this as well, because any stroke that I have can have this width profile. I'm gonna go in and I'm gonna do less lines here. Let's see, I want a lot less segments. Oh, yeah, it's too many segments. 15 segments, there we go. If I use my width profile on this line, I can go in, and I can change this whole thing. So I can create that width profile that goes from basically wide to narrow right here, or I could do that. Or I could do any other profile on there as well, and create some really interesting shapes. There you have it. So don't be afraid of the width shape tool. Any path that you draw, you can have that. Now it doesn't have to be an open path. I could have a basic shape. And if I wanna do, actually I'm gonna use an oval here. I'd like to create a shape that has some interesting dynamic to it. Let me just throw a nice stroke in here as well. Okay, and I would like to kind of create a little bit of dimension with the outside stroke. I could take that stroke and use the width shape tool here and pull it to kind of create an offset right there. And a little bit more of the offset I could kind of create something interesting where it looks like there's a shape inside the shape. It's like, okay, that could be cool. Right there, it's like, well. All that is, is an oval, but it just has a profile applied to it. So as that goes around, it gets wider and then goes back around. And it's like, hmm, I wonder what that could be Maybe it goes in, and maybe we can do some alien eyeballs. Oh, yeah! Look at that. See? There you go, mm-hmm. Yep, it all happens, folks. None of this was planned out. It just comes to me like that. Oh, yeah, create like a seed inside. It's a pod or something like that. You could use it as well. But all those are is just a shape with a profile applied to the width of that shape. Now that tempts me too. It's like, oh, could I go in and apply the width profile to this right here and make those do that? Look at that! Hmm. Okay. Now I'm on to something. Don't know what it is, but I'm all over it. But try this with any of your shapes. It's pretty cool. I've got my little corner widget here. I could go in, or my little highlight noodle, I could go in and add a little bit more dramatic effect to that and be like, oh, yeah, look at that, even more dramatic. Mm-hmm, you can do that. Very, very, very cool. So we're getting a lot of cool collection of things here going on with this. We're gonna start to run out of room, so I'm gonna have to make a bigger art board here for all of this content. Right there. We have any questions, any other questions online here, things to build, places to go, things to do? We did have a question from our jury. It was back when, earlier, when we were talking about corner widgets and you said that it's not available on CS6. Is there a work-around? What would you do if you're trying to achieve that functionality? So if you have CS6, what was gonna happen is you're going to be able to draw a shape and you get your corners. So if you take your rounded radius, or your rounded rectangle and click on there, you can go in, and you can set your radius on there. But the problem is, is that you don't really have the ability to change one corner or another. So the long way around this would be if I wanted to have a rectangle that had rounded corners on one side and square corners on the other, I would need to draw a rectangle. And then I would need to then draw a square over each one of these corners and copy them. And then I would need to use the pathfinder tool to merge all of those together to give that look and feel of those particular corners. Because in CS6, if I remember that far, I don't think you have control over the corner sizes after you're done, other than scaling the object or pulling each one of these specific anchor points more on the grid structure to get it. But this is how we used to do these. If we wanted to go in and create some type of really cool leaf effect or graphic style, this is how we'd have to do it. Now, of course, if I wanna create some type of really cool graphically-designed leaf, I draw my shape, I make it green, 'cause all leaves are green, and take my corner widget, and I need to show my corner widgets here in order to work that. I could take those corner widgets, and I could bring those in. I could select the two opposite ones here and bring those in. And then I could have my really cool leaf, scale that down, take that, right click on it, reflect that over the vertical axis. And now I've got my little leafy plant that looks so graphic-designerly, I just can't stand it. (laughter) Right there, not a problem. And of course, I'm gonna make this one slightly darker green just because, to give that dramatic effect. Yeah, and there's my little leaf right there. It's all possible. Oh, it's all possible. Jason, I do have another question for you from Inferno tonight. What is the difference between the knife and the scissors tools? Well, you don't bring a scissor to a knife fight. I have no idea. No, so the scissor and the knife tool, well that's a great question, because the scissor tool literally just cuts a line. And of course, you'd think, well, a scissor and a knife, they both do cutting. Two totally, completely different tools. If I have any type of path, and I would like to just simply break that path at some point, so I can use it as two separate paths. That's where I'm going to use the scissor tool. And I can tell you right now, I can never remember where the scissor tool is. Of course, I go right to it, 'cause I never use it. And the only time I use it is to show somebody what the scissor tool does. So if I take the scissor tool, I can go in at any point along the path or a shape, and I can simply just click. And when I click right there, what I've done is I've actually just separated that point out. So if I have this leaf right here, and I would like to cut out a section of it, I can just take my scissor, and I click right there. You don't usually think of a scissor as just being a click. But if I click there, and I click there, what I end up with is, I end up with a line segment that's completely separated. And there's the line segment completely separated from this. So if I put a stroke around it, you can see that. So it's simply a click. It adds a point, and it literally cuts it right there. Let me put that back, so I don't have that. Okay, so there it is. So that's what that does. If I use the knife tool here, if I have a shape, and I go in, and I use the knife tool, the knife tool allows me to go ahead and cut over that shape, which kind of is like a free-form draw kind of thing. And wherever I draw over, it's like I'm drawing the knife, and I'm actually doing that. So, yeah, a little bit different, yeah, as well. Not to be confused with the slice tool, which actually slices up objects for web graphics. But anyway, so the knife tool is more of a free-form one. The scissor tool is literally a click, where you click on the path. You gotta click on the path. You just can't click randomly in the middle of something. You click on the path, and you can see it cuts it. So you can then separate those points. And so if I wanted to go in and just separate this out, right here, that's where I'm gonna use the scissor tool. Click right there, it cuts it. And now I have separate pieces right in there, like so. It just breaks it all apart. Mm-hmm, that's what you have. As I was doing this line here, we had talked about lines and how we don't have a lot of cool things that we can do with lines. But we do have all of our effects under here, which we can do to the lines here.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Infographic Assortment

Ratings and Reviews

Patricia Green

This class is so much fun! I gobbled it up because I enjoyed every minute. It begins my journey into infographics, something I intend to put in my portfolio. Jason Hoppe is a great instructor who really knows his stuff. If you want to have fun with Illustrator, this is the class for you!


I bought the first version of the course of Infographics and I strongly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn how to use Illustrator. Exactly as he explains in the video, this is not a course just to learn how to make graphics. At the end of the course you will be able to develop just about anything in Illustrator. Really! All the knowledge I have today of this tool, started from this course of Infographics to which he refers. Not only the content is comprehensive, but Jason is a great teacher, explaining everything very, very simply. I'm looking forward to watching this update.


Jason, you ROCK! I learned a lot of things during this class. Thank you for being such a great teacher and taking time to share your knowledge. Will continue to purchase your classes. Sandra

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