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Stroking a Placed Image in Illustrator



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How to stroke a placed image

There's a trick to it, but I'm going to let you in on it! This trick comes from Paul Asente, who posted it on the Illustrator newsgroup.


Open Illustrator, start a new image and place a photo or image.

This tip only works on embedded images, not linked ones. After placing the image, open the Links palette, highlight the image, then open the palette options (the small right facing arrow at the top of the palette) and choose Embed Image.


You can try setting a stroke in the stroke palette or the stroke and fill boxes on the tools palette but nothing shows up no matter how wide the stroke. Here's how to make it work.


Look at the appearance palette and you will see there is no stroke, just an image composed of pixels.


Open the options in the Appearance palette and choose Add New Stroke. A stroke will now be listed in the Appearance palette. make sure it is highlighted in the Appearance palette. That means it is selected.


Go to Effect > Path > Outline Object. Now you can add brushes, change stroke size or change color.


Using the Appearance palette you can add more strokes the same way. Make sure to go to Effect > Path > Outline Object!

Notice the new stroke is 8 points so it covers up the 4 pt original stroke we added.


Highlight the new stroke and drag it below the original one in the Appearance palette so the new stroke shows from behind the first one.


You can even add brushes.


The Appearance palette can also be used to tint a photo.

Open the options and choose Add New Fill. With the new fill selected in the Appearance palette, go to Effect > Path > Outline Object.

Set the fill color and reduce the opacity in the transparency palette.

Drag the fill under the strokes. This one was filled with brown at 48%.




Experiment with gradient fills and blend modes.

Black-white radial gradient fill at 48%
blend mode: hard light

White-green radial gradient fill at 51%
blend mode: multiply



Download this tutorial as a PDF file

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Disclaimer: Site Design and all graphics on this site are the property of and copyrighted to Sara Froehlich and Northlite Designs. Usage is permitted by written permission. Mail me at if you have questions or requests. Thank you!


June 5, 2002

©2002 Sara Froehlich and Northlite Designs