How to Resize Your Strokes Proportionally in Adobe Illustrator

Although Adobe Illustrator offers easy ways to scale your work, it’s common to find that the stroke width doesn’t scale with the rest of the object. Even when holding down the Shift key to keep the constraints proportional, you need to check a separate setting to keep the stroke widths proportional to your artwork.

If you’ve ever been frustrated that your lines look too wide when scaled down or too thin when scaled in Illustrator, here’s how to fix it.

How to Scale Objects in Illustrator

Scale the anchor point in Illustrator.

If you draw or write something in Adobe Illustrator, you can easily scale your object up or down. Clicking and dragging a corner or edge anchor point allows you to scale or distort the size of your object. However, this does not scale proportionally and can lead to unsightly deformation.

Scale slider in Illustrator.

To resize an object proportionally, all you have to do is press and hold Gap while dragging an anchor point and the object as a whole will remain proportional to itself. It works for any object you can create in Illustrator: paths, words, shapes, and finished artwork. Unfortunately, the stroke widths will not scale.

Scaling objects and paths in Illustrator can help you create great animation video in After Effects. Find out how use Illustrator and After Effects together to create animation.

How to scale stroke paths proportionally

Example of Illustrator strokes that are scaled but not scaled.

Although scaling in Illustrator resizes the entire object, unfortunately it does not resize the path width of the object. Downscaling an object results in paths that appear too thick for the size of the image. The reverse is true when scaling; the paths become too narrow for the size of the object. A 2px wide path will remain 2px wide even when the object is smaller or larger than the original size.

Scaling the strokes proportionally means that the width of the stroke will be much better when you scale the rest of the object up or down. It’s simple to resize line widths in Illustrator.

Adobe Illustrator Transform Panel options.

Go to Window > Transform to open the Transform panel. Select the Transform icon to open or close the panel.

To start, select at least one object you want to scale. The effect will apply to all scaled objects after changing the setting, but it will not affect previously scaled objects.

Adobe Illustrator scale proportions.

Open the Transform panel and check the Scale lines and effects box at the bottom. When this box is checked, you can scale any object up or down and the stroke width will adapt to the aspect ratio. Downscaling will no longer result in overly wide paths overwhelming the artwork.

You can turn off the scaling setting just as easily as you turned it on. But as long as you don’t uncheck it, you can resize your strokes proportionally to the size of the artwork, even on new projects.

How to change line width

Illustrator’s stroke settings offer a variety of styles and sizes for your strokes, including variable widths and tapered ends. If you want to customize the thickness of your line paths, you might get frustrated trying to find the right style in Line Properties.

Width tool adding thickness to a path in Illustrator.

By using the Lenght tool (Gap + O), you can add thickness or thinness to any area of ​​your stroke path that you want. This gives you full creative control.

To customize the line width, select the Lenght tool from the vertical toolbar and hover over any path you want to customize. You don’t need to preselect the path. With the Width tool cursor, click on a path and drag your cursor left or right to change the width.

Variable widths on a path in Illustrator.

You can add or remove width from any area of ​​a path; however, it will only be affected for areas of paths between anchor points. If your path uses multiple anchor points, you need to simplify by deleting some of them.

These new stroke widths will also be affected by the proportional checkbox in the Transform panel. When you resize your drawing, you can also keep the new widths scaled.

You can do many cool things with paths and strokes in Adobe Illustrator, including interlacing and overlapping of paths and images or even create scary cobwebs.

Elevate your illustrator artwork with proportional strokes

Without adding proportional stroke widths, your artwork can look complex and fuzzy when small, or appear too thin and delicate when large. By checking the Scale strokes and effects checkbox, your artwork and strokes stay crisp and perfectly proportioned to size.

Your paths won’t look out of place anymore, and you can easily resize your artwork without creating extra work for yourself.

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