Pretty simple question - hopefully I can ask it in a clear manner.

When I want to create a logo or other illustration that is based on paths, is it better to create open paths and assign an appropriate heavy stroke to get the desired width or is it better to draw a complete closed path and then use live paint to fill it in.

Take the attached image. The top shape was done by creating a simple open path and setting the stroke to 30 pixels to get the desired thickness. The bottom shape was done by drawing the outline with a closed path and then filling the path with the live paint tool.

I'm just getting started with graphic design and I have a feeling that the second way is better but can anyone give me any pros and/or cons to each method. I have a cool idea for a logo and would like to know the best way to make it.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Craig enter image description here

  • 1
    you don't need to use live paint to achieve the effect in second shape - just use the 'fill colour' part of the colour palette
    – Hemi
    Commented Mar 11, 2011 at 11:38

2 Answers 2


There is no "one way is better than the other"; it really depends on your current needs. You need to be sure that you are using the tool and method that does the most work for you to get the effect you want with the least amount of effort. I suggest you do some more reading and practice with the Pen tool before settling on a methodology. The Pen tool is the core tool of Illustrator and really makes Illustrator what it is.

The first example offers complete control over the direction of the line while maintaining consistency in width, and that includes bezels in the corners. Consistency in lines is really important in graphic design. Even though style is an "all or nothing" proposition with an open path, that is really all you need (or want) more often than not.

But the open path is especially useful if any one of your path components all of a sudden needs to be curved, because that's where the real power of bezier paths come into play. A closed path is almost impossible to keep consistent in that scenario. If you create path and then play with the Anchor tool, you'll quickly see what I mean.

In your second example, it is harder to maintain path width consistency in a straight or curved line. You get a lot more control all of the individual components of the line, but it can also mean a lot more work when an open path would have been sufficient. An easy way to get from the first to the second example, however, would be to create a path that is generally what you want it to be, then use the Outline Path tool to give you something that has more control, but there is no going back once you've done that.

In my work, I would really only go with the closed path for a line if more of a casual, almost hand-drawn look is required for a project. Otherwise, I just stick with the open path for just about everything.


Using a closed path means that you can have better control over editing it, say you don't like the position of the very top point, or you someday want to round the corners, make the ends a little fatter, squeeze in some parts, etc.

All of the above (apart from rounded corners) is impossible with a single stroked path, my advice would be to go with filled paths, while it may take longer, you'll have much better editing control at your hands and able to really make your logo look exactly as you like :)

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