Design Quickie – Expressive Line Weight

The precision of modern drawing programs makes them a quick and easy solution creating fast and iterative drawings. Some might argue this comes at the price of the human element that allows drawings to be expressive. I think there is some merit to this opinion. Being able to see the hand of the artist in their work is one of the main things which differentiates fine arts from photography. I also think that line of logic is dismissive to the large array of digital tools in modern drawing programs you can use to customize the look of your drawings. One of the most important is the ability to alter the way line weight tapers along the stokes of vector drawn objects in Adobe Illustrator.

Take a look at the two tiger drawing above. The top one  looks scribbled and off-putting. The bottom illustration, however looks expressive and organic. Literally the only difference between the two drawings is using multiple line weights and the tapering options for the stoked black elements. These changes were all made in the “Stroke” menu in Adobe Illustrator. The other advantage is the vector and vertex count of the drawing are kept low, which can help keep your files to a usable size even in the most complicated of designs. Below are the raw vectors for the project to demonstrate how few you need with this technique.

Just go to the “Stroke” menu and select show options if not already done as shown below.

Once in the extended menu look at the bottom to select the shape profile for the stroke elements.

You can the go in to your drawing and adjust the tapering and weight of all of your vector elements. This can be the difference between a flat and lifeless illustration and an expressive and flowing design.  Below are some additional example of how varied line weight brings a drawing to life.