Application of Multiple Fills and Strokes in Adobe CS5 Illustrator

Adobe Creative Suite 5 (Adobe CS5) Illustrator allows you to apply multiple fills and strokes to an illustration. You can use this feature to put differently colored fills on top of each other and individually apply effects to each one, creating truly interesting and creative results.

Just for fun, follow along to see what you can do to a single object from the Appearance panel:

  1. Create a star shape.

    Neither the size of the shape nor its number of points matters — just make the shape large enough to work with.

  2. Use the Swatches panel (choose Window→Swatches) to fill the shape with yellow and give it a black stroke.

  3. Choose Window→Stroke to use the stroke panel to make the stroke 1 point; alternatively, choose 1 from the Stroke drop-down list in the Control panel.

    Notice that the present fill and stroke are listed in the Appearance panel. Even in its simplest form, the Appearance panel helps track basic attributes. You can easily take advantage of the tracking to apply effects to just a fill or a stroke.

  4. Click Stroke in the Appearance panel.

    If the Appearance panel isn’t visible, choose Window→Appearance.

  5. Choose Effect→Path→Offset Path.

  6. In the Offset Path dialog box that appears, enter –5pt in the Offset text box and select the Preview check box.

    Notice that the stroke moves into the fill rather than on the edge.

  7. Change the offset to a number that works with your star shape and click OK.

    Depending on the size of your star, you may want to adjust the amount of offset up or down.

  8. From the panel menu of the Appearance panel, add a fill to the star shape. Click the arrow next to the new fill to open the Swatches panel and change the new fill to a different color.

    Change the new fill to a different color right in the Appearance panel.
    Change the new fill to a different color right in the Appearance panel.

    This step may seem ridiculous, but you can create some super effects with multiple fills.

  9. Click Fill in the Appearance panel (the top one) and choose Effect→Distort and Transform→Twist.

  10. In the Twist dialog box that appears, type 45 in the Angle text field and select the Preview check box.

    Notice how only the second fill is twisted. Neat, right?

  11. Click OK to close the Twist dialog box.

  12. Select the top fill from the Appearance panel again.

Always be sure to select the fill or stroke you want before doing anything meant to change just that specific fill or stroke.

  1. In the Transparency panel (choose Window→Transparency), choose 50% from the Opacity slider or simply type 50% in the Opacity text field.

    Now you can see your original shape through the new fill.

  2. With the top fill still selected, change the color or choose a pattern in the Swatches panel for a truly different appearance.

    Continue playing with combinations of fills and strokes for hours, if you want.

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