When it comes to graphic design, adding an outline to your objects like text and shapes is a way to highlight them to make them stand out and differentiate them from other parts of your artwork. In this guide, you will learn how to make outline in Adobe Illustrator.
Making an outline is also known as adding a Stroke color along the edge of your objects, or making the color of the edge different from the fill color. There are both simple and advanced ways of adding and removing outlines from your assets.
Some examples of making an outline are when making a drop cap in Illustrator, making text stand out from a bunch of other words, or creating logos like these big brands:
How to Make Outline in Adobe Illustrator
💡 Pro Tip: You can make an outline for text, shape, or object in Adobe Illustrator so long they are vector paths. You can apply stroke to text but there is limited customisation. It's best for you to Create Outlines on the font to convert it into a vector format first. To make an outline, select the object, then double-click the Stroke option in the Fill and Stroke menu on the Toolbar. Select your desired color in the Color Picker, then go to the Stroke Panel and increase the Weight value. Adjust your stroke style within the Stroke Panel.
Meantime, I’m aware that Illustrator uses the word “Outline” for a couple of actions. Based on Illustrator’s terms, the word “Outline” also refers to Outline view or Outline mode, which is an Illustrator Preview Mode.
Don’t confuse making the outline term here with Outline mode. The article here touches on adding a colored line around the edge of an object or text. With that as clear as crystal, let’s get started!
Here are detailed steps on how to make an outline in Adobe Illustrator:
Step 1: Convert Object to Vector
The first step is to check if the object you’d like to outline is an image, a text or a vector format. You can make an outline for anything in Illustrator, but the method depends on the format of your object, and where you’d like to apply it.
If you wish to add an outline to some text, you will have to convert it into a vector path.
To convert the text into a vector, first, select the text by clicking on it. Then, select Type in the top menu and select Create Outlines in the drop-down menu.
Create Outline in Illustrator shortcut
Press Shift + Command + O for Mac on the keyboard:
Or Shift + Ctrl + O for Windows.
Your text is now like a shape or graphic made up of paths and anchor points.
If you were to double-click your text, you will see that you won’t be able to edit it like before. You can now make an outline on your text just like any vector object or shape created in Illustrator.
Why is create outlines greyed out in illustrator
There are times when you may encounter a situation where the Create Outlines is not clickable or greyed out. The keyboard shortcuts may not work either. In this case, you won’t be able to convert your text to a vector.
One reason why the option to Create Outlines is greyed out is that the text box of the text you want to convert to outlines is not selected. It also doesn’t work if you select the text by highlighting it.
Solution 1: Select Text Box
You will have to first click on the selection tool, or use the keyboard shortcut by pressing the letter “V“. Then, click on the box that contains the text. You will now see the Create Outlines function clickable in the menu.
Solution 2: Use the Expand Function
Instead of looking for ways to make Create Outlines clickable, the better way is to use the Expand function to Create Outlines for your text. First, select your text box, then select Object in the top menu, and select Expand in the drop-down menu.
Step 2: Add Outline Color to Object
Now your object is ready for you to add the outline. There are two methods, one for vectors and the other method for images.
Method 1: Apply Stroke on Vector
First, select your vector object by clicking on it once. If your object is a text, and you’d like to only add the outline around one letter, ungroup the text so that individual letters will not be linked together. To ungroup the letters, select Object on the top menu and select Ungroup, or go to Object > Ungroup.
If you wish to outline all letters in the same color and outline style, go ahead to select them as a group and outline them in one go.
With your object selected, go to the bottom of the Toolbar, and double-click on the Stroke option of the Fill and Stroke function. It is represented by a square outline with a red diagonal slash line.
Next, the Color Picker dialog box opens up for you to select the color you want to outline your object.
Once you are ready to give a color for your outline with the Color Picker, jump to this section: Choose A Color For Your Outline From the Color Picker
If your object is an image and this method does not work for you, read on to Method 2: Trace The Image Shape 👇👇👇.
How to Outline An Image in Illustrator?
Method 2: Trace the Image Shape
If your object is an image or picture like bitmap, JPEG, or PNG, you can’t use the Stroke function directly on it like how you use it on a vector object in Method 1. If you want to know how to create outline of png picture in Illustrator, or any other image format, one way is to create a shape out of the image.
Before you start, you may wish to embed your image to avoid missing links when you reopen your file later. Next, if your image has an irregular shape, get started by tracing the outline with the Pen Tool or Curvature Tool to create a vector shape of the image.
If your image is a regular shape like a rectangle, square, or circle, select the appropriate shape tool from the Toolbar and draw it over the image. You can move the shape to position it accurately over the edge of the image.
Next, click on the shape to select it. Then, go to the bottom of the Toolbar, and double-click on the Stroke option of the Fill and Stroke function.
This opens up the Color Picker dialog box. Next is to add color to the outline 👇👇👇.
Choose A Color For Your Outline From the Color Picker
With the stroke option selected, the Color Picker dialog box opens up where you can select the color you’d like to outline your object. You can use any of the color options provided:
- Select a custom color from the section that says “Select Color”.
- Scroll up and down the vertical color bar to browse more color choices
- Input the values for HSB or Hue, Saturation, and Brightness color model
- Input the values for RGB or Red, Green, and Blue color model
- Input the hex values in the # field
- Input the values for CMYK or Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key or Black color model
- Select the Color Swatches button to select preset colors
Once your desired color has been selected, click the OK button. You will now see the color applied as a fine or thin outline around the edge of your object.
Step 3: Adjust the Stroke Style
Next, you may wish to change the style of the stroke, such as the thickness. You can do this in the Stroke Panel.
With your object or traced shape still selected, select Window from the top menu and select Stroke in the drop-down menu. Or Window > Stroke.
The Stroke Panel will open up.
Double-click the mini arrow icon on the tab that says Stroke to fully expand the panel.
Go to the Weight section to change the thickness of the stroke. The higher the number, away from 0, the thicker the outline. The smaller the number, the closer to 0, and the thinner the outline. The thinnest you can go is 0.25 pt and the thickest would be 100 pt.
Next, go to the Corner section, you will see three corner-style options. Each of them represents the shape of the corner of the stroke. Select the first one, or Miter Join for all corners on your object to be sharp. This is how it will look like:
Select the second one or Round Join for all corners on your object to be rounded. It will look something like this:
Or select the third one, or Bevel Join for all corners on your object to be flat like this:
Then, go to the Align Stroke section to select where you want the stroke to appear. If you select Align Stroke to Center, half of the stroke will take up the space of your object.
If you select Align Stroke to Inside, the outline stroke will appear on the inner edge and take up more space inside the object. Like this:
And Align Stroke to Outside brings the stroke to outline the outside edge of your object, making most of your object look bigger.
How to Remove Outline in Adobe Illustrator?
Now that you know how to make an outline in Adobe Illustrator, the next thing is to remove the outline as and when you need to. There are three methods to remove the outline from your object.
Method 1: Advanced Toolbar
One method to remove the outline from your object is to do that in the Advanced Toolbar. If you only see the Basic Toolbar, you won’t be able to see the function to remove outline.
To open up the Advanced Toolbar, select Window on the top menu, and select Toolbars and Advanced on the drop-down menu. Or go to Window > Toolbars > Advanced.
Your Basic Toolbar will now expand to show more tools. Then, select your object (text or shape) first by clicking on it once.
Next, go to the Advanced Toolbar and click on the white square with a red diagonal line or slash. The outline will now be removed and you won’t see it on your object or shape anymore.
Method 2: Swatches
The other way to remove the outline from your object is to use the Swatches Panel.
First, open up the Swatches Panel by selecting Window on the top menu, and selecting Swatches in the drop-down menu. Or go to Window > Swatches.
Then, select your object (text or shape) first by clicking on it once. Next, select the Stroke icon or press the letter X on your keyboard so that it will appear in front of the Fill icon. Then, select the white square with the red diagonal line to remove the outline.
Method 3: Reduce Stroke Weight
The next method to remove the outline from your object is to use the Stroke Panel. First, open up the Stroke Panel by selecting Window on the top menu, and selecting Stroke in the drop-down menu. Or go to Window > Stroke.
Then, select your object (text or shape) first by clicking on it once. Next, go to the Stroke Panel and replace the stroke weight in the Weight section. Delete the current stroke weight value and type in “0” in the weight section.
You will see that the outline or stroke is removed from your object.
💡 Pro Tip: If you tried these methods but your outline is still there, this may mean your outline is not a Stroke, but it’s an Outline Stroke. In other words, it may not be an outline created with the Stroke function. To remove the Outline Stroke, you will have to ungroup your object until the point where the outline is an individual layer separated from any other object layers. Then make sure the outline stroke is selected and hit the Delete key on the keyboard.
Change Image Color In Illustrator FAQs
You can undo outlines with a few methods. If you have not saved the file, you can use the undo function. Otherwise, you can use Adobe Acrobat’s OCR technology to convert the outline text to editable text. You can also revert to the version when the text was not outlined using the Version History function.
You can redo an action by using the keyboard shortcut, Command + Shift + Z for Mac, or press Ctrl + Shift + Z for Windows. You can also redo an action by selecting Edit on the Illustrator menu, then choose Redo in the dropdown menu.
How do you create outlines in Illustrator?
The Create Outlines function in Illustrator is meant to be applied to text. To do that, select your text, go to Type in the top menu, and select Create Outlines from the drop-down menu. Your text is now uneditable and converted to a vector format.
Which Adobe Illustrator tool is best for outline?
The best tool to use to outline vector objects in Adobe Illustrator would be the Stroke tool. Simply select the object and give it a Stroke weight of more than 0 pt. Add your desired color and adjust the Stroke settings to style the outline.
How do you outline only part of a shape in Illustrator?
One way to outline only part of a shape in Illustrator is to trace the shape with a Pen Tool, a Curvature Tool or a shape if it’s a regular shape. Then, create anchor points on the path outline and delete the path that you don’t want to keep.
Final Thoughts: How to make outlines in Adobe Illustrator
Creating an outline in Adobe Illustrator can be a straightforward and efficient process with the right tools and techniques. Whether you’re working with text or objects, you can use the stroke tool to achieve a professional-looking outline that enhances the visual appeal of your design.
With these steps in mind, you can easily create an outline that matches your design vision and takes your projects to the next level. Whether you’re a professional graphic designer or a beginner, this tutorial has provided you with all the information you need to make an outline in Adobe Illustrator with confidence.