Easy question for someone familiar with Illustrator - I have a path and I want to create a line effect similar to the 'soft line' in Fireworks. I want the line to be a bit blurry around the edges instead of really sharp how it is by default.

Is this possible?

5 Answers 5


I'm not familiar with Fireworks but you can apply blurs in Illustrator.
Based on this video, I'm guessing you're looking for some sort of anti-aliased sub-pixel rendering.

There is nothing like this in Illustrator because, at least with the Path tool, you're working with vectors and not pixels. If you draw a 10px by 1px shape in photoshop and offset it so that the top edge is at .5px and the left edge is at .5px, you will see the same behavior that you see with the soft lines in Fireworks. If you draw a 10pt x 1pt rectangle in Illustrator and move it by arbitrary point fractions, it will always* be as sharp as the print and screen previews will allow. The distinction is that Illustrator is working in Points and not Pixels. You can keep zooming in and see a "pixel-perfect" line even if the object is located at an odd fraction-of-a-point coordinate.

*- The exception is that Illustrator will have to convert points to pixels if you do a "Save for Web" operation. At that point, Illustrator will treat Points as Pixel dimensions (because it has no choice). If you have a 10 x 1pt rectangle located at 0.5,0.5 on you artboard, you will see antialiased edges on your saved-for-web image.

You can try and mimic "soft" edges using a blur effect. Look in EffectBlurGuassian Blur. Select your path and then apply the blur to it. Since it's a "Photoshop Effect", it is subject to the settings in you Document Raster Effect Settings (also found on the Effects menu).

  • Jack also suggested checking out how to make smooth lines in illustrator. (Jack, I moved it to the comments since I do not think it's related to the rest of the answer.)
    – Farray
    Jul 29, 2011 at 5:38
  • no hard feelings mate ;)
    – Jack
    Jul 29, 2011 at 7:39

Here is another solution: Apply a gradient to the stroke.

To do this:

  1. Select the path with the direct select tool (black arrow)
  2. Open the Gradients window Menu->Window->Gradient.
  3. Indicate you want to apply the gradient to the foreground by clicking on the "foreground colour" icon under the gradient swatch.
  4. Besides "Stroke" select the last option, which reads when you hover "apply gradient across stroke".
  5. Build your gradient as you would normally do. Things to notice: in the latest versions of AI you can specify the opacity of a colour in a gradient so, for example, the gradient can start with 0% opacity black (transparent), have 100% opacity black in the middle (solid black) and end in 0% opacity black. This will make the stroke look "fuzzy".

enter image description here

Things to consider:

  • In order for the gradient to show, the stroke will have to be more than 1px. Play also with the stroke width until you are happy with the result.
  • You will notice when you apply the gradient that, if you have sharp corners in your path, they will look too strong. Using the corner radius handlers to round them a bit softens their look.
  • The gradient does not have to start and end the same way. It can be fuzzier in the outside and harder in the inside of the shape, for example. Use the handles on top of the gradient ramp to control the transition of the gradient. You can also move the colour markers positions until you achieve the desired look. Here are some examples of the same gradient with different transitions.

enter image description here


Just use the Gaussian blur filter on a line with a stroke.


Although not exactly the same, AI behavior can be made very similar to FW.

New in AI CS5 was a checkbox when creating a new Web document to "Align New Objects to Pixel Grid" at the bottom of the "Advanced" settings. If you turn that on, all lines are "hard."

AI web document dialog

If you turn it off, and also uncheck "View > Snap to Pixel" (which would otherwise force exact pixel alignment) you get the same effect as a "soft" line in FW, as far as I can see. This screen grab shows a fractional length 2-pixel-wide line at a fractional position, viewed at 3400% in Pixel Preview mode.

!soft line in AI2

A 1-pixel line with the stroke aligned to a pixel boundary (placing half the stroke in each of two pixel locations) is all "soft":

1-pixel line

Other Adobe tools have been adding pixel behaviors. InDesign now has a web document mode, and a setting to "Align to Pixel Grid" to avoid softening of strokes when the page is rasterized.


Create a line using the line tool. Select: Effect> Stylize> Feather.enter image description here Decide on the amount of feathering.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.