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Part: Four Color and Effects > Strokes and Brushes

Chapter 16. Strokes and Brushes

The terms fill and stroke are often mentioned together—fills go inside a path, and strokes go outside. A stroke is what other programs often call a border, outline, or frame, but Illustrator being so closely tied to the PostScript page-description language, uses the term stroke because it's a PostScript term. It describes the visible mark that a path makes. Not the path itself, mind you, but only the visible mark (it's possible to have an unstroked path, which is present but invisible). You've learned how to draw paths. In this chapter, I'll tell you how to decorate them.

Strokes in Illustrator used to be really boring to write about because all you could do was add a colored line of a certain weight. There were so many limitations, yet so few choices. Today strokes are very important, very exciting parts of Illustrator, dare I say—even more exciting than fills. When Illustrator's engineers added brushes a few years ago, the excitement level of strokes went up considerably. All of a sudden you could stroke a path with expressive flourishes and drawn patterns, opening up many more creative possibilities.

Strokes have their own palette with their own controls. The dash patterns allow you to stop and start strokes in ways that fills could never dream of. And straight out of the box, Illustrator displays a black stroke around objects. Once you get comfortable with strokes, the next step is to play with brushes. They have their own palette, too, which you can use to personalize the brush strokes. Brushes are a great way to infuse Illustrator art with the personal style you might have already developed on traditional media.


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