How to Create Characters Using the Width Tool in Adobe Illustrator

I have decided to take whatever time is necessary to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator. I have been a traditional painter for at least 50 years, and I am relatively fluent in Adobe Photoshop, but because of the Pen Tool, I have avoided Illustrator like the plague. I have discovered Lindsay Marsh on Udemy, and I can readily recommend any classes that she teaches. Just go to, and search for Lindsy Marsh.

During the first practical exercise of Lindsay’s Logo Design Class Here, Lindsay introduced the Width Tool, and what I learned in just a few minutes of that course, my opinion of Illustrator changed entirely.

Jacki Kellum Watercolor Paintings [by Hand]

Because I am a very loose and free and intuitive painter, the Illustrator Pen Tool totally frustrates me, but the Width tool is very intuitive, and it is an excellent way to discover new image ideas.

Goldfish Created by Jacki Kellum in Adobe Illustrator
The Goldfish Was Almost Entirely Created With Illustrator’s Width Tool

The body of the goldfish was initially a straight black line, but I used the Width Tool to contort the line into the above shape. Afterword, I applied a gradient to the line-shape.

I added the top and bottom fins on a separate layer. I created one fin from another straight black line, using the Width Tool, and then I copy-pasted the first fin to become the second. The fin layer is below the body layer, and the body layer blocks part of the fins. To increase the feeling of depth, I did not add a gradient to the fins.

The side fin also began as a straight black line, and because that fin is the most outward feature and thereby catches the most light, I added a gradient to that fin, too. Notice that the side fin gradient is lighter than the body’s gradient. Again, that is because the side fin is the most outward feature and thereby catches the most light

The eyelash is another straight line that I altered with the Width Tool. I created the eyelash on another separate layer. To increase the feeling of depth, I did not use a gradient with the eyelash.
[Just a note here, doesn’t that eyelash make you think of a unicorn’s horn? Almost every line that I create with the Width Tool, the lines spark other character ideas.

I created the rest of the parts of the Goldfish with the Ellipse Tool. I joined two ellipses to create the lips. After I joined them, I added a gradient to the newly created shape.




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