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How to scale a graphic style in Adobe illustrator

October 22, 2015

Great question! They did not make an easy way to do this. In Photo shop the way you do it is by scaling the layer effects. That lets you scale all the elements of a style at one time by adjusting the scale percentage. Why illustrator doesn’t have this feature is a mystery.

I had to do it a bunch for a graphic I was working on last night. I’m putting together a new brush bundle and wanted a graphic that used all four. This is what I came up with…


…and for the garland, icicles and lights I needed to scale them to match the scene. I used a work around. It is very easy to change the size of an individual brush by changing the stroke weight, but with graphic styles that only changes one layer of the appearance. That is helpful for tweaking but not for changing the scale of the whole thing.

The Holly garland has 13 layers; I don’t want to scale them individually, that would be silly and frustrating. Here is what the Holly looks like bringing it in at the default size…


…tiny, tiny! The technique I used was creating a short ‘Temp’ line segment next to the ‘Target’ graphic I want to scale, then scaling the segment up or down with the pulldown menu ‘Object/ Transform/ Scale‘. Make sure the ‘Scale stroke and effects’ option is checked. You can type a value in the uniform scale box. You can also preview the result with the preview checkbox. Only remember that the results won’t refresh after you type a value until you click another field. Dumb, yes. So, click the horizontal field for instance and the view should then refresh and show you the preview. Hit OK.

Yes, you can do the same thing by just scaling that segment with the normal onscreen scaling. I use both methods. For that to work though your preferences have to be set to scale strokes and effects in the general settings. There is a third way of scaling the the entire graphic and toggling the scale strokes and effects, but I’d rather not get into that one here, especially if you have more than one style, brush or pattern going on in the graphic as I did in the example.


Basically from there you save that new ‘scaled’ graphic style in the graphic style panel with the ‘new graphic style button’ at the bottom of the panel. A new square with an preview icon will pop up in the graphic style panel. You can double click on it and rename it something like ‘Bigger Holly’ if you like.


Then apply that back to target shape. Once you are happy with the result you can kill the ‘Test line’ and Voila, Beautiful. And you now have it saved at that size if you need to use the effect again at that scale. You can make as many of these revised styles as you need for your project. 

I don’t understand why they won’t just let you uncheck the scale objects checkbox in the transform popup panel. Until they figure out a tidy way, we’ll just have to do the work around dance.

Check out the Holly Layered Brush Set here!

Also used in this illustrations were…

Icicles Brush Set:

Big Chistmas Lights Brush set:

Snowflake Brush Set:

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