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Feb 03

Create a flag from a brush stroke in Illustrator

2010 at 10.38 am posted by Veerle Pieters

Last week I talked about the logo design for Visit France. Looking at this logo again, I thought this would be a good opportunity to explain a bit more how I created the flag. No special tricks were involved though, a lot of Pen drawing and tweaking work was needed to get the result I wanted. It’s time to brush up your Illustrator Pen tool techniques.

Blue part of the flag

We'll be building the flag starting with the blue part, secondly the red part and last the white part with a 'ribbon' effect.

Starting with a brush stroke

I started from a Brush Stroke that I found in the Artistic Brush Library if I'm not mistaken. I've made it very tick and scaled it in the size that would fit perfectly for the size of the flag. I expanded the stroke via Object > Expand Appearance.

Minus Front

After duplicating the brush (so I have another one as back up), I drew a rectangle on top of the brush and moved it to the position so it covers the part of the brush I want to get rid off. I selected both and I chose Minus Front from the Pathfinder palette.

Deleting & recovering particles

I deleted all remaining particles and I also recovered the ones on the right that got lost while using the Pathfinder option from my original brush.

Apply blue gradient

I added a subtle blue gradient. The blue part is finished. I gave the layer the name Blue part.

Red part of the flag

I created a new Layer on top of the 'Blue part' layer and named it Red part.

Starting with a brush stroke

Then I pasted the original brush shape into this layer and flipped it vertically using the Reflection tool.

Minus front

Here I did the same like before. I drew a rectangle on top of the brush and moved it to the position so it covers the part of the brush that I wanted to get rid off. Then I selected both shapes and chose Minus Front from the Pathfinder palette.

Add red gradient

I added a subtle red gradient.


Next I did a lot of tweaking with the Pen tool. This took a bit of time to get it perfect the way I wanted. First I deleted the vertical line that connects the top and bottom part of this shape and redrew this line by placing a lot of random points to make it very wobbly like the brush stroke. Next I also tweaked the ragged lines on the right to my liking.

White part of the flag

For the white part of the flag I created a layer that sits in between the blue and red part.

Draw a rough line

Just like with the red part I used a very rough line for the creation of the white part. This white part consists of 3 different shapes, starting with the back part.

Apply subtle gradient

To create the perfect depth, I added a subtle linear gradient going from white to 22% black.

Draw the in between part

Next I drew the middle part of the curl and I applied a radial gradient to create the perfect depth effect.

Draw the top part

Then I drew the last part to finish of the curl and I applied a subtle linear gradient. I moved the red part of the flag into position.


The flag is finished.

Want to learn more?

VECTORTUTS+ Vector Tutorials and More A good and not expensive source to learn more about Illustrator, Photoshop, or web design is by joining the Tuts+ sites. You get access to the source files for just $9 a month. So your ONE membership gives you access to members-only content for ALL the Plus sites. I've written a tutorial for the Vector Tuts section.




permalink this comment Daniel Belchí Wed Feb 3, 2010 at 11.54 am

I love your style and your way to do the best simply, Verlee.



permalink this comment John Rawsterne Wed Feb 3, 2010 at 12.03 pm

That’s a really nice technique. I wonder if the edges of the white section could be frayed a little to match the other sections.



permalink this comment Pasquale Wed Feb 3, 2010 at 12.12 pm

Really neat idea Veerle!

I think it’d help to add a little more definition to the bottom of the white stripe if it sits on white to stop it flattening into the background.

The organic-ness is nifty



permalink this comment Dave Wed Feb 3, 2010 at 03.11 pm

Love the effect and the logo. My question has to do with the fished appearance of the white part of the label. The red and blue portions reflect the rough edges of the brush stroke. The white section reflects that in the transition from one color to the next, but not on the top and bottom edges - for obvious reasons. Any ideas for addressing that inconsistency? The white part of the ribbon just looks too “clean” on the top and bottom.



permalink this comment Sean Foushee Wed Feb 3, 2010 at 05.02 pm

Excellent technique! Simple and quick to reproduce, once again Veerle thank you for sharing.



permalink this comment Tim Driver Sat Feb 6, 2010 at 01.49 pm

Thanks for the easy to follow instructions - Hopefully I will get a chance to try this out this week



permalink this comment Markus Sun Feb 7, 2010 at 10.53 am

even with this detailed description I’m not able to create such a nice flag as you did. Actually I’m more a programmer than a designer



permalink this comment Sam Logan Sun Feb 7, 2010 at 06.21 pm

Great technique Veerle, was very easy to follow and I love the finished result :) thanks again!



permalink this comment Jillian Mon Feb 8, 2010 at 05.52 am

Thank you for such easy to follow instructions. You make it sound easy for anyone to create this same project. But it is more than just mechanical work. You have a wonderful sense of design and style that I admire.



permalink this comment Tony Mon Feb 8, 2010 at 05.27 pm

Thank you Veerle, I’m pretty new to illustrator but this tutorial was very easy to follow and the technique is very useful.



permalink this comment James London Mon Feb 8, 2010 at 09.07 pm

A suprisingly simple technique.  I’m not sure my result is quite as good but a great learning tool.  Thanks again.  I’m loving your blog!



permalink this comment daveconrey Mon Feb 8, 2010 at 10.26 pm

nice tutorial, but what if you’re from England or the U.S. and not France?



permalink this comment L@ux Tue Feb 9, 2010 at 10.16 am

It’s very ingenious. Great.



permalink this comment Samantha Wed Feb 10, 2010 at 06.48 am

Hi Veerle

Your tutorial has given me a great idea for a new invitation design.  I tried your technique despite being rather inexperienced in illustrator and it worked out suprisingly well!  Thank you very much.  I’ll be following all your posts .... some really innovative ideas.



permalink this comment martin Wed Feb 10, 2010 at 03.02 pm

really good tutorial, thank you veerle.
i’ll try it!



permalink this comment Beartland Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 08.38 am

I never thought of applying a gradient “after” making a brush stroke for some reason. I’m going to have fun with this. I can take a shape and slice it basically, and then add gradients to each of the slices. Cool. Thanks !!



permalink this comment Regina Fri Feb 26, 2010 at 08.58 pm

I am learning so much here! Even though I use standard software for wedding album design, it’s pretty boring for my taste and I like to add little designer extras. After reading this post I’ll be able to add ribbons and perhaps few more elements to the album pages. Thanks for the great post!

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