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I know that Illustrator does not allow the use of width tool or a variable width profile for a stroke/path made with a calligraphic brush. I am looking for alternative ways of producing the same effect.

First, let me show you what I am trying to achieve. Excuse the crude WIP graphics:

enter image description here

So, I have this cassette tape. Two strands of tape will come out and wrap around other objects and eventually the remaining strand expand in size and break into pixels. I am looking for a way for the last 15-25% of the strand to start expanding in width, kinda like that:

enter image description here

The first line is where I would like the tape to start smoothly expanding, to the size shown at the end.

To give you more info: The tape is made using the pen tool with the Illustrator default 5 pt. flat calligraphic brush from the brush definition menu. I can technically achieve the expanding effect by hand, but it will be hard to keep it really smooth and make it more difficult to modify the shape afterwards (which I would like to keep). Is there a way I can achieve this effect without making the shape by hand?

Thanks in advance.

  • With any other brush you'd simply use the width tool... unfortunately you can't use it on calligraphic brushes – Cai Apr 2 '17 at 10:29
  • Yeah, I wish there was a way of making a ribbon shape from a path quickly without using the calligraphic brush. – FredBednarski Apr 2 '17 at 15:29
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You can achive this via distort mesh: Select tape and create mesh: Object>Envelope Distort>Make With Mesh, left default values:

enter image description here

Select Mesh Tool (U) and add some mesh nodes at the tape end:

enter image description here

Use mesh tool (U) some move mesh nodes to various directions: enter image description here

Calligraphic brush remains editable at the same time, to edit brush itself use toolbar button 'Edit Content'

  • Yeah, it seems this is the best way to achieve that effect. Thank you! – FredBednarski Apr 2 '17 at 22:06
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An idea that may work for you...

Instead of a calligraphic brush, use a normal brush stroke with a Transform effect (Effect → Distort & Transform → Transform...). Set some movement and a number of copies to fake the calligraphic effect...

enter image description here

You can then use the Width Tool (SHIFT+W) on the original path...

enter image description here

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Expanding the appearance of the stroke will let you edit the thickness at the end.

  1. Create a calligraphic path.

Calligraphic path in Illustrator

  1. Choose ObjectExpand Appearance to convert the stroke to a path.

Expand Appearance

  1. You can now move the points in the path, and make the edge jagged.

Adobe Illustrator

  • This will be my last resort, because I will lose the editable path and making a smooth width transition for the calligraphic line will require some fiddling. Nevertheless, thanks for your help! – FredBednarski Apr 2 '17 at 15:32
  • @FredBednarski Yep. You could keep a copy of the original around. Or, you could do this to just get the end portion, then use the original for the rest (keeping it editable). – Marc Edwards Apr 2 '17 at 23:51

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