I am looking for a way for all existing black arrows in my illustration to have a white halo to stand out against a colorful background in Illustrator. I would also like the halo to be easily changeable for all arrows (like when using graphic styles).

Theoretical solutions:

  1. Adding an additional stroke helps for ordinary lines, but does not outline the arrowhead.
  2. Copying an arrow, placing it in the back, slightly enlarging it and making white will surely work, but is tedious. Also, it cannot be saved as a graphic style, so cannot be automatically applied to the existing arrows (you will have to copy the one you created).

As you see, these theoretical solutions do not work. So, the question is is there a simple and automatic way to create halos for multiple existing arrows?

  • The truth is there's no easy answer here if using the Stroke Panel arrowheads. You can expand the artwork, but you'll have to do that for all arrows. You can group and then apply a stroke to the group, but that can appear "wonky" depending upon the arrowhead and stroke weight.
    – Scott
    Mar 25, 2015 at 18:00
  • Take a look at this: helpx.adobe.com/illustrator/using/create-drop-shadow.html or helpx.adobe.com/illustrator/using/… Change the color to white, and the blend mode to normal. Play with the values.
    – Rafael
    Mar 25, 2015 at 18:34
  • Help files are of no use here. The issue is the arrowhead. I suggest you all try it yourself... there's no easy way to add a glow or stroke to a path with an arrowhead, unless you expand appearance first.
    – Scott
    Mar 25, 2015 at 18:39
  • @Scott So, I believe the solution is not to use standard path arrowheads and create my own arrows as shapes? That should both normal double strokes or shadows/glows, which would outline the whole arrow. However, I will have to copy the new arrow shape and replace all the old arrows.
    – Dr_Zaszuś
    Mar 25, 2015 at 21:48

2 Answers 2


Because of how the arrowhead for strokes feature works, there's no easy solution to getting a hard-edged halo here and retain the existing art as it is.

enter image description here

If you group the stroke/arrowhead and then apply a second stroke to the group it still looks wrong.

enter image description here

The best solution may be to select all the strokes/arrow and use Object > Expand Appearance. Then you can add an additional stroke to one stroke/arrow group, configure it and save as a Graphic Style. And then reselect all the other strokes/arrow groups and apply that same Graphic style.

  • Actually, it's a very nice idea with expanding, but I believe after expanding you get a group stroke+shape and you won't be able to apply a new stroke to them straight away, will you? Shouldn't you first combine them into one shape so as not to have artifacts at the arrowhead-path connection point?
    – Dr_Zaszuś
    Mar 25, 2015 at 22:10
  • Yes. You can apply a stroke to the group like my second screen shot. It won't have the extra weight around the arrowhead after expanding.
    – Scott
    Mar 25, 2015 at 22:15
  • Ah, I see, you propose to expand other arrows as well. Well, it seems to work. At small stroke weights the result is a bit bizarre, but greater stroke weights look quite as expected. I have a feeling that this may be the simplest solution. Thanks.
    – Dr_Zaszuś
    Mar 25, 2015 at 22:37
  • Glad to help. :)
    – Scott
    Mar 25, 2015 at 22:45
  • @scott you dont have to expand you can use a layer (the ball next to layer name) effect where contents is first then you make a stroke and apply outline stroke and outline to the troke. Does same thing as expanding but is not destructive lines are still lines.
    – joojaa
    Mar 26, 2015 at 20:29

Select your arrow, hit effect, hit stylize, hit outer glow, turn on preview and adjust the settings until you're happy with it.

  • Thanks, but like Scott shows, I am afraid you cannot achieve a sharp boundary for the glow, can you?
    – Dr_Zaszuś
    Mar 25, 2015 at 22:19
  • @Szczypawka you didn't ask for "sharp boundaries" you asked for a Halo. I've never heard of anyone referring to a Halo as something sharp.
    – Ryan
    Mar 26, 2015 at 12:48
  • You are right. That's a matter of taste. I believe your solution may be useful for someone. I have tested both. Somehow I decided that I prefer my arrows to have a sharp boundary.
    – Dr_Zaszuś
    Mar 26, 2015 at 19:17
  • @Szczypawka that's fine, I was more hinting at the idea you might want to edit your question... and that I wouldn't have left this answer had I known you wanted a sharp boundary :)
    – Ryan
    Mar 26, 2015 at 19:19
  • Well, but as I say, now that you have left it, the question itself is OK, since I've got answers for both sharp and not sharp boundaries. :) And the "halo" is a standard term used for such arrows appearance, isn't it?
    – Dr_Zaszuś
    Mar 26, 2015 at 20:24

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