Illustrator - brushes, strokes, and appearance

introduction to adjusting brushes and strokes in Adobe Illustrator. also how to manipulate the appearance of elements

We have seen what can be done with just shapes. Now we are going to see what happens when strokes and brushes are added to our elements. We are also going to see how the Appearance panel can be used to make visually interesting things out of simple shapes.


A Stroke is the outline of a shape or element. By default, you get a boring single thickness outline. It is quite easy to add variable thicknesses, adjust endpoints or even add specialty brushes to add more visual interest.


Brushes are special graphics that add variety to your strokes. With the right brushes and settings you can replicate traditional drawing mediums or achieve specific stylized effects.

Illustrator's brush engine is quite powerful. You can build your own brushes without too much trouble. I can show you how, if you would like. For now, know that many people have created and shared tons of brush packs on the internet.


By default, any object or element in Illustrator has a single fill and stroke. The Appearance panel allows you to tweak those settings, adjust Opacity, add Styles, or even add multiple Fills and Strokes to an element.

mister chad
mister chad
teacher . artist . human

I make stuff and show people how to make their own stuff.