Graphic Styles & Appearance Settings


In our previous lesson we examined how a complex look, an appearance, can be created for a single object or path by layering strokes, fills and effects in the Appearance Panel. These combinations of appearances will then move with the object as you alter the basic path lines or change the shape of the object. They are highly editable and a nondestructive way of working. In addition, once we create a complex look with several strokes layered, we can expand that object and break the strokes and fills into separate parts that can all be treated as new objects.

We however come to the issue of what do we do once we create a complex look and want to recreate it on another object. For example, we have used this Appearance Panel to create a combination of strokes that when applied to a single line, resemble a piece of road on a board game or simple map. When we want to add more roads, how do we then make sure the new road pieces we draw all share the same look to achieve visual unity. The good news is these appearances can be saved and used again and again as something called a Graphic Style. Much like a Layer Style in Photoshop, a Graphic Style can be stored, applied again, and then edited once applied to an object saving vast amounts of time.


To save an appearance as a Graphic Style we start by opening our Graphic Styles panel. This may be layered with the Appearance Panel window already, if so drag it out away from the Appearance Panel by clicking on its tab and dragging it away. If it is not on a separate tab, go Window>Graphic Styles to launch it. It will look something like this and have several styles visible already.

To create a Graphic Style is easy but you need to have both the Graphic Style and the Appearance Panel open to do it. All you do is go to your Appearance Panel and in its top left, directly under the tab, click on the small icon that is next to the Path name and drag it into the Graphic Styles panel.


It will copy all the aspects of the appearance into a single button that, when a path or object is selected, will apply the appearance combination of strokes, fills, colors and effects to the new path so it will match your original object.

 Just like layer Style, it snaps the look to the newly created object.

To change the name of a style, just doubleclick on it in the graphic styles panel and you can give it a new name.

To apply a style, just select an object, open the Graphic Styles and then click on the icon for the style you want applied. All attributes get applied. The biggest difference however is that a graphic style, once applied, is still linked to the image. Altering the Graphic Style will ripple across all images it is applied to making it easy to edit multiple images that all have the same style applied. This is very different then a Layer Style in Photoshop which does not link but is easily changed and modified once applied. This ability to modify all appearances of objects by altering the Graphic Style applied is called updating a graphic style and is a powerful tool when used on large documents with many parts that must remain consistent in design look.


Updating a Graphic Style:

To update a style on a single object:

To update a style to ripple across all objects that have the style applied to it


Shortcut to Update a Graphic Style:

Graphic Style Library: