I am trying to make a gradient going from the edge of a shape to its offset center, to make it look like letters that have been forged or carved in stone, in this style (but with 0° shadows):

enter image description here

Basically, I am trying to give letter O/shape A's appearance to shape B, but without changing Shape B's proportions/thickness. Shape A and shape B are the same object before I apply styles:

enter image description here

Unfortunately, "Align stroke to inside" in the Align panel is disabled for shape A, and I can't figure out why:

enter image description here

Scaling down doesn't work either, even with "Scale strokes and Effects" ticked / unticked.

I looked online, but the only post on Adobe's forums that was remotely close to my problem had to do with shapes within groups. Shape A is not a part of any group:

enter image description here

These are the gradient options:

enter image description here

I would like the gradient to look like it does on Shape A but within the bounds of Shape B. I don't think Offset Path does what I want. I would prefer not to have to expand the gradient for this.

Can I align this gradient stroke to another setting besides "Align to center"?

2 Answers 2


You cannot select align inside or outside if gradient is set to stroke. If i correctly undestood, shape A consists of 2 stroke - inside and outer and you apply gradient to outer stroke, but in this case you can use shape A with a single stroke, it's just a closed path and then apply gradient to this stroke with appropriate stroke width: enter image description here

Also you can use Width Tool to achive some interesting results:

enter image description here

If you already have drawn letter forms and you don't want redraw them, gradient along stroke not a solution at all. I am afraid, but in case of 2d soft (like Illustrator) you can not just 'create a style and then apply to all forms', it's more for 3d soft: you create 3d objects, choose light source and get result. Here you should deal with each object's surfaces separatly, keeping in mind light directions and manually recreating lighting/shading effects. You can use gradients applied to form, not stroke (especially several various gradients applied to the same form with various color blend modes) or use mesh, there are a lot of tutorials about this.

  • Please see me edit (paragraph before the second image). Ideally I would like to apply this style to all the letters and numbers of several whole alphabets without losing too much time tinkering. Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 5:33
  • see updated answer
    – emax
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 7:07

You cannot. That's how Illustrator gradient on stroke works.

However, you can cheat using the appearance panel:

Add the gradient stroke to your text and select Path > Offset path in the Appearance panel. Use a negative value to align the stroke to the inside of the text. You might have to tinker with the stroke width / offset value to get better results.

I also added a mask made with the text itself, to control part of the stroke "spilling out" of the shapes.

I don't believe it will be perfect, as you can see in my example below, it distorts a lot depending on the shape of the letter. On the top right corner there's an ellipse with the same gradient applied.

gradient applied to text

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