Create custom brush strokes

In Microsoft Expression Design, any path or shape (or multiple shapes) that you draw can be converted into a custom brush stroke by following these steps. For information about how to turn bitmapped images into brush strokes, see Create brush strokes from images.

To create a custom brush stroke

  1. Select the path or shape you want to convert into a new stroke.

  2. On the Object menu, point to Stroke, and then click New Stroke Definition.


    Any stroke or fill already applied to the path will become part of the new stroke. However, live effects are not included in custom strokes.

  3. Expression Design opens the shape in a new window. Edit the path using any path editing tool, and then press CTRL+S to save the stroke.

  4. In the Save Stroke dialog box, type or select the following:

    • Name   Type the name of the stroke.

    • Folder   Select the folder for the stroke.

    • Default width   Slide the pointer up or to the right to increase the default width, and down or to the left to reduce the width. The default width is used when you apply this stroke to a path that currently has no stroke.

Stroke Definition box

In addition to the stroke, you'll see a red box that has a horizontal arrow in the Stroke Definition window. This is named the stroke definition box.


The red arrow (also named the reference backbone) is the path that you will later assign your stroke to. The end of the arrow represents the starting point of the destination path and the arrow head represents the ending point of the destination path. For example, if you later apply this stroke to a circle, you can imagine that the red arrow is being wrapped around the circle. Expression Design positions your stroke along the circle in the same way that you see the stroke mapped along the red arrow. If your brush stroke starts at the arrow's left edge, then when you apply the stroke to the circle, it also starts at the circle's starting point. However, if your stroke starts to the left or the right of the arrow's endpoint, when you apply the stroke to the circle, Expression Design offsets your stroke so that it starts either before or after the starting point of the circle.

The height of the stroke definition box is a reference for the stroke width. In other words, imagine the height of the stroke definition box as being the thickness of the destination line. If you later apply this stroke to a 50-point thick line and your stroke extends all the way to the top and bottom edges of the stroke definition box, your stroke will also appear 50-points wide. However, if your stroke doesn't reach all the way to the top and bottom edges, then it will appear thinner than 50-points. Similarly, if your stroke extends past the top and bottom edges, it will appear thicker than 50-points.

To change the height of the brush stroke

  1. In the Toolbox, select the Stroke Definition Box Cc294775.f06c42c7-c90a-4d3f-8cbb-8ba47f466aa4(en-us,Expression.40).png tool.

  2. Drag the tool diagonally over the stroke.


This tool only appears in the Toolbox when you create or modify a custom stroke.

See also

Other resources

Editing paths

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