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
    Commented Apr 2, 2017 at 10:29
  • Yeah, I wish there was a way of making a ribbon shape from a path quickly without using the calligraphic brush. Commented Apr 2, 2017 at 15:29

3 Answers 3


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! Commented Apr 2, 2017 at 22:06

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


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! Commented Apr 2, 2017 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). Commented Apr 2, 2017 at 23:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.