Arrowheads.ai file in C:\Users\admin\Documents\Illustrator specifies: " ... add new arrowhead symbols of your own design. A horizontal stroked line in the back of the design is used to indicate the placement of the arrowhead and the default scale relative to the stroke weight. (The preset arrowheads are drawn with a stroke weight of 1 pt, but you can use any stroke weight as long as the arrowhead is drawn as it should look with a Scale option of 100% on a stroke of that weight.)

However after numerous attempts to create a new arrowhead and add it to symbols, it does not perform as it should when used from a "Stroke" pannel in a project.

This is what happens: Different weights on line

Can anyone elaborate on any kinks that may arise out of this process? There doesn't seem to be any tutorial online to show the exact way this should be done. Thanks for any help in advance.

  • 2
    Do not expand the line!
    – joojaa
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 14:29
  • 1
    Basically, draw a 1pt stroke, then whatever "head" you want. There's no need to use a thicker stroke weight in my experience. That's what the stroke panel is for.
    – Scott
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 20:08
  • helpx.adobe.com/illustrator/how-to/…
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 21:18

5 Answers 5


Here's one way to do it:

  • Find the "Arrowheads.ai" file - It's in the Illustrator/Support Files/Resources folder, but it's probably quickest to just search for "Arrowheads.ai"
  • Create a duplicate / backup copy of this file because, you know, stuff happens
  • Open up the Arrowheads.ai file in Illustrator
  • Open up the Symbols palette (Window > Symbols)
  • In the Symbols palette, duplicate any existing arrow head, it will be incrementally numbered automatically
  • Double click the new symbol
  • Make the required changes to this symbol to create your new, custom arrow head (only change the head, not the outer box or the line)
  • Save and close the arrowheads document
  • Restart Illustrator (it seems to require a restart for the changes to take effect, not sure why)

If you want to be tidy then you can use "Place Symbol Instance" from the Symbol palette to add your new arrowhead to the document and label it up appropriately, but that's not a requirement to make it work.

This probably isn't the definitive, one and only way to do it, but it works.

  • Wow never thought of that, thanks for the headsup. I had been thinking about this to find out, then gave up and used the default flat ends. One thing to note, the symbol needs to be static for this Commented Feb 11, 2021 at 19:27

After much struggling and experimentation, I figured out how arrowheads work. You need to have one 1 point horizontal stroke, and it needs to be "sent to back" before you add it to the Symbol palette. This 1 point line is the reference by which it is applied as an arrowhead from the stroke palette, and it will curve or bend according to whatever stroke you apply it to.

Now the arrowhead design, whatever it is that you create, needs to be scaled so that it too looks exactly the way you want it to look at the scale of that 1 point horizontal reference line. But here's the secret sauce: the design of the arrowhead you make (not the reference line) should be a stroke outline. Otherwise the anchor points of your design will scale using whatever stroke weight you created it with, which is not what you want. Essentially your stroke weight to make the arrowheads should be 0, and you should use shapes and fills to simulate strokes, sized relative to the 1 point reference line.

Hope this makes sense.


Westside's answer works. But to avoid the original post's problem of the stroke not behaving correctly you need to make sure the arrow "head" isn't a stroked object. So before saving and closing the "arrowheads" document make sure to "outline stroke" the arrow head.


I ran into the same issue as the original poster KeVal after following Westside's solution. I wanted to create a white-filled version of Arrow 5, but with the arrowhead outlined.

To avoid the odd stroke thickness issues pictured above (that I encountered as well), from the Illustrator Arrowheads.ai Symbols panel, I duplicated hollow-filled Arrow 26 that I wanted to reshape.

Illustrator labelled this duplicated new symbol, Arrow 40.

As I wanted Arrow 5's shape but a white-filled version, I pasted that on top of Arrow 26 and moved the points to match those on Arrow 5.

Since a line stroke could not be used on the arrowhead, I made an inner 1-point offset, and again moving the Arrow 26 points to match this offset shape then deleted the extraneous objects.

I'm on a Mac, so I overwrote the original file with the revised Arrowheads.ai file inside Illustrator application folder at:

/Applications/Adobe Illustrator 2021/Support Files/Resources/en_US/Arrowheads.ai

I couldn't overwrote the changed file so I saved it in different place and then after closed Illustrator I've changed the original file with mine. It worked out!

  • To me seem a comment.
    – Sebastiano
    Commented Jun 5, 2021 at 14:44

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