I'm making something in Adobe Illustrator CS6 that has a stroke with 'charcoal - feather' as brush definition. This gives the shape a asymmetrical, sketchy/smudgy look. To improve the look of the shape, I made a copy of the original, pasted it next to the first, and altered the second one to see which result I like better.

Now an unexpected problem arises: though the two shapes are nearly the same, the same stroke effect is reflected in the second shape. See the image below:

enter image description here

The only difference is that the teeth on the second skull are a bit rounder. Otherwise they are exactly the same. But for some reason, Illustrator decided that it's better to give the second one a stroke with its effect in the opposite direction.

I can't figure out how to fix this. I'm not sure if it's a bug or whether there's something I have overlooked? Anyway, except for the teeth, the shape is the same (drawn with the pen tool). They both have a 3-point stroke with the same brush definition. enter image description here

Things I have tried to fix this are:

  1. going to the stroke options and ticking 'flip along' and 'flip across', but neither reflect the stroke vertically.

  2. going to the brush options of the applied brush definition, and changing the direction of the brush stroke. If I do this and click OK, Illustrator gives me two options, Apply to stroke and Leave strokes. The first choice changes the direction of all shapes that use the same brush definition, the second doesn't do anything.

  3. In the 'graphic styles' tab, I created a new style while having the original skull shape selected. Applying it then to the second gives me the exact same result.

  4. on two web sites I found a workaround (see third post here) as a solution that involves clicking anchor points with the pen tool. Like with my first fix attempt though, I can only get it to reflect the stroke horizontally by doing this.

So am I missing an important option? What am I to do with this?

  • The stroke may reverse if you use the pen tool on a point it also may change the starting point of the curve. This is more of a feature than a bug tough.
    – joojaa
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 10:16
  • 3
    Possible duplicate of Is there a way to reverse the order of anchors in a path?
    – George C
    Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 22:04
  • 1
    @GeorgeC This question is 5 years old.
    – paddotk
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 15:18

3 Answers 3


It's not actually reversing the stroke, it's just starting from a different point.

If you select the point (using the direct selection tool enter image description here) at the top of the second skull and click this button enter image description here it will split the here and force Ai to start the stroke there.

  • Nice, that brings me closer to the solution. However, the result isn't completely satisfying. It looks a bit more like the first one, but still different and now both at the top and at the bottom there is a 'fade' in the stroke. Any idea on how to get past this?
    – paddotk
    Commented May 20, 2014 at 22:35
  • It seems like the path breaks somewhere down on the bottom right-hand side of the graphic, You'll need to figure out where it is breaking and join the two points.
    – Circle B
    Commented May 20, 2014 at 23:15
  • After a few tries (perhaps I cut at an anchor point next to the one I tried earlier) I got it to work. Thanks.
    – paddotk
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 15:13

This is most likely too late for you, but for everyone else...

You can change the direction of the stroke by going into your Brushes panel. Follow path: Window > Brushes > Options of selected object > Flip along

This will 'reverse' the brush stroke :)

  • Thanks, but as stated in the question I did try that already.
    – paddotk
    Commented Dec 2, 2014 at 15:01

You could also use a script to reverse the direction of the path

  • Cool, I never knew you could use javascript in Illustrator! How do I implement this though?
    – paddotk
    Commented Dec 2, 2014 at 14:59
  • Here's a quick tutorial: youtube.com/watch?v=072tQefb0_4
    – spiral
    Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 19:31

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