Well, I thought this would be easier than it was...

I want an effect like this, but which I can apply to any stroke:

enter image description here

I tried using stroke arrowheads, but they all seem to start just behind the end of the stroke, so it didn't work:

enter image description here

I tried pattern brushes, but the results weren't clean, and in particular, the arrow tips get distorted if there's any curve at the tip:

enter image description here

How can I add this effect to a stroke in Illustrator CS6 and reliably get a square right-angle point flush with the end of the stroke?

Just saw Scott's answer to Custom stroke caps in Illustrator?. The Art brush trick sadly has the same problem with distorted tips as the Pattern brush option, but the custom arrowhead option looks promising - will add an answer if it works and is possible to snap 100% to the stroke width and tip of the stroke.

  • No need for brushes you can do it with profiles (I'm certain there's a default already). And for the ends just extend a straight segment enough for the point to be straight. (I'd post an answer but I'm away from my computer)
    – Cai
    Aug 18, 2016 at 12:00
  • Profiles? Can you be more specific? Aha - width profiles! Got it, will try it Aug 18, 2016 at 12:04
  • Just tried it, looks like the width profiles have the same problem as the brushes - if the end segment is curved, the arrowhead gets distorted. I'm looking for something where the arrowhead stays straight, looks like I'll need to make a custom arrowhead Aug 18, 2016 at 12:09

1 Answer 1


Got it working with the arrow heads staying sharp even on curves:

enter image description here

It's a bit involved though. You have to copy the Illustrator arrowheads file and make a very precise new arrowhead option inside it.

This means that the stroke won't arrows won't be recognised if someone else opens your illustrator file - you need to expand strokes before sharing the .ai.

  1. Copy the Illustrator arrowheads.ai file to the illustrator plugins folder (not any of the subfolders), then in that file, copy an arrowhead onto a new layer (can be off the artboard), break the link to the symbol, make it a new symbol, give the layer, text and new symbol all a new name. More details on Scott's answer here
  2. To get the new arrowhead perfectly flush, I'd recommend:

    • Delete the existing arrowhead shape, leaving just the line. If there are any anchor points other than the start and end of the line, delete them

    enter image description here

    • Beef up the stroke size of the line so it's easier to work with.
    • Duplicate it, make it shorter off to the side, and Object > Path > Outline stroke it into a being a rectangle

    enter image description here

    • Draw a small square, rotate it 45 degrees (hold shift while rotating)
    • Object > Transform > Reset Bounding Box
    • Make sure Smart Guides (View menu or ctrl-u) are on, snap it to the top of the rectangle, to the left a little

    enter image description here

    • Holding shift, stretch the bottom right corner until it snaps precisely to the bottom of the rectangle
    • Delete the rectangle, and snap the diamond to the edge and centre of the stroke line

    enter image description here

  3. Save. The new arrowhead should appear in new documents right away (if not, try restarting)
  4. When applying it to strokes, make sure "Extend arrow tip beyond end of path" is selected.

enter image description here

If anyone else needs to work on this illustrator file, you'll need to either:

  • Share your arrowheads.ai file with them and probably tell them what to do with it
  • Or, Object > Path > Outline Stroke on all items that use this.
  • The only problem with this is that you can now not share your files.
    – joojaa
    Aug 18, 2016 at 13:25
  • Good point, unless you expand them. I'll add that caveat. Aug 18, 2016 at 13:30
  • I allways wondered why Adobe does not make these panel items like everything else. I
    – joojaa
    Aug 18, 2016 at 13:32

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