Gradients on Strokes (AICS6)
This sounded like a gimmick to me at first, but it turns out this set of features is really powerful. I envisioned creating a rainbow effect by arching a multi-color gradient along a path—and yes, you can do this. But it’s much, much more than merely distributing colors along a path. With gradients on strokes, you can—with relative ease—create effects that once required complex calculations of object blends or masks, or both. You can apply either radial or linear gradients to strokes, which can be further modified by clicking an icon in the Gradient panel to choose whether the gradient is applied along the stroke, across the stroke, or within the stroke (see Figure 4).
Figure 4 The top row shows circles with linear gradients, the bottom row shows the same circles with radial gradients. From left to right, the figures show the circles filled, and then applied: within stroke, along stroke, across stroke
As cool as thee effects first seem, it’s in the hands of artists that this new set of functions really shine. Ryan Putnam used the Appearance panel to add multiple strokes to his paths and type, and then to each of these strokes he applied a variant of radial gradients. Although Aaron McGarry’s power cords in Figure 5 may look as if they’re constructed from filled objects, in reality the cords are really merely stroked paths using linear gradients. These are just two of the first artworks created using this amazing new feature, and I’m quite certain that we’ve only begun to see the range of effects that will be possible with this tool.
Figure 5 Two examples of gradients applied to strokes from The Adobe Illustrator CS6 WOW! Book. At left is an illustration by Ryan Putnam, created from a series of radial gradients applied to multiple strokes added to a path. The second example by Aaron McGarry shows linear gradient applied to paths.