When drawing strokes with the graphic tablet using brushes, the paths are editable and can accept color change or applying gradients only after expanding.

I wanted to apply the "gradient across stroke" to the brush stroke but because it's ineditable unless expanded, I can't do it because when expanded the brush strokes turns into shapes.

At the same time paths made with a pen tool for example are fully editable and it's possible to apply the "gradient across stroke" to them.

I can't figure out why strokes drawn with the brush are not editable as other strokes like the pen tool ones.

It is possible somehow to make the brush strokes editable and apply the "gradient across stroke" to them?


enter image description here

  • I edited your question and its title for clarity - if you feel like I've hacked it up, feel free to revert it back! Commented May 23, 2019 at 16:06

1 Answer 1


Brushes (which can also be applied to pen strokes, BTW) have colour limitations baked in to how they work: you can over-ride their pre-stored colour to allow tint shift or hue shifts or both; they will not accept gradients. To get into the settings of a brush you've applied, open your applied brushes pane and double-click the brush in question - go to the colourization area, and you can change there to accept tints and shade, or hue shifts. This, as already stated, still won't allow you gradients with applied brushes.

However, you are not actually stuck: Illustrator allows you to draw simple strokes with the pen tool, and then afterwards using the Width Tool you can edit the thickness of a pen stroke to get an imitation of carefully-controlled pressure-based width variations - and as there isn't a Brush per se applied to the stroke, this stroke will accept gradients!

enter image description here

So it's not exactly what you asked for, but it can get you a close visual analogue to the type of brush look in your example image, and with a gradient, and still an editable path - like so.

enter image description here

Actually I was in error here - the basic round brush will accept gradients too, and you can set the size attribute to accept pressure as an input - see below.

enter image description here

So, to recap what we've learned - you've two viable options, both of which are quite effective:

1. the basic brushes, including calligraphic brushes, with pressure driving size
2. pen stroke with the Width Tool after the fact, and gradients will work fine for either

You cannot use art brushes or pattern brushes and gradients on strokes.

Hope this helps.

  • 1
    Thanks you for a great explanation, very appreciated, i'm going to try this out :)
    – Adonxx
    Commented May 23, 2019 at 16:51

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