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Jan 16

Creating simple Art Brushes in Illustrator

2008 at 02.12 pm posted by Veerle Pieters

Ever wondered how to create those popular, but elegant tapered lines? Or just simple lines that go from very thin to tick and back to thin? If you create an Art Brush for this, you’ve really done half the job already. So the good news is, it’s easy and it’s fast.

Geeky Dog loves Typography

Create an Art Brush

  • Select the the Circle Tool in the Toolbox
  • Draw a circle
  • Select the Direct Selection Tool (white arrow)
  • Click the bottom point of the circle and drag it vertically down holding down the shift key (see screenshot)
  • Select the object using the Selection Tool (black arrow)

Create an Art Brush - draw a circle and modify its shape

  • Drag the object in the Brushes palette (go to Windows > Brushes in case you don't see the palette on your screen)
  • Select Art Brush in the window

Create an Art Brush

Draw the arc/bow

  • Double click the Arc tool in the Toolbox (under the Line Tool) if the Pen tool isn't your favorite tool
  • Use Y-axis

Draw the arc

  • Click drag to draw a bow
  • Select the new brush in the Brushes palette
  • Adjust the Stroke width if needed

Draw the arc

  • Expand the object : Object > Expand Appearance
  • It's now a fill, but there is still a stroke inside the shape
  • Go to Outline mode (command/control + y)
  • Delete the stroke using the Direct Selection tool (white arrow)
  • Now you can fill the line with a gradient if you wish to
  • You can duplicate, flip, scale this line etc. to have a combination of lines

Draw the arc - expand the stroke

My set of simple brushes

Here is my set of 3 simple brushes:

My set of simple brushes

In case you're interested, you can download

This article was inspired by Simeon Griggs from Rimfya.

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 Damjan Mozetič Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 03.06 pm

Hey Veerle, always a pleasure reading your short but sweet tutorials! I must say I learned something today, thanks.



permalink this comment Kevin McGrath Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 03.17 pm

Nice! Extra brushes always come in handy



permalink this comment Sacha Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 04.29 pm

Cool tutorial. I always wondered how you could make such cool graphics in Illustrator. But using brushes is pretty easy I see :)



permalink this comment Notte Bianca Lecce Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 04.44 pm

Many thanks Veerle, I did not know the funcion Arc Tool..
Nice tutorial!



permalink this comment Heather Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 04.51 pm

Always a great read, Veerle! I love your site.



permalink this comment Gary Spedding Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 05.24 pm

Veerle, Super stuff. 

We have had some US Forum discussions recently on gradient (or psuedo-gradient) art brushes.  The only good way is to create a blend and make brushes to creat a gradient-like effect. However, the application of such brushes (because the blend is a series of objects)gives a staggered/jagged look in the Illustrator document/window. These are smoothed out in saved jpeg/gif files though.

Better yet is to take brush strokes and gradients to InDesign and apply there. The application of the gradient is very smooth in InDesign. Furthermore, you can apply those gradients to fills/strokes and get separate gradient effects applied on dotted strokes (and the gap fills).

Cool stuff. Using Illustrator and InDesign could be a most powerful combination for applying art brush strokes. Maybe an extension to your work discussed here?



permalink this comment Antoine Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 05.40 pm

Thanks a lot for the share, very interesting stuff again!



permalink this comment Andrew Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 07.24 pm

Thanks for the morning inspiration. Still trying to figure out the brush tolerances settings (fidelity/smoothness). Kind of weird how they work.



permalink this comment Vectorpedia(Rick) Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 10.24 pm

Excellent tutorial…......thanks for the very nice work



permalink this comment saina Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 10.29 pm

moy magnifico



permalink this comment Kate Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 11.38 pm

That looks awesome, I’ll surely try it out sometime :)



permalink this comment Simeon Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 12.16 am

Aw shucks! This is a great method huh, and the ways you can experiment with it are endless!



permalink this comment shortpier Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 12.28 am

Thanks. I have never taken the time to figure out how to do this, and you helped me learn it fast.



permalink this comment Sam Daams Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 01.01 am

I’ve been subscribed to your blog for a few weeks/months now Veerle and just love these tutorials. Your work is fantastic and the fact that you share so much is inspiring! Keep up the great work!!



permalink this comment Gordon Collins Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 08.55 am

I was trying to figure out how to do this for a while and so I asked one of my friends if he new how to…He told me to go to this website called to take some online training courses about it. These courses really worked. I would recommend this site to anyone.



permalink this comment Artist Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 03.05 pm

I am dreaming about it. Thanks for the simple steps!



permalink this comment revy Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 04.46 pm

That is some interesting stuff. Illustrator seems so foreign to me and intimidating, I am much more comfortable in Photoshop. But I keep giving Illustrator a shot. Cheers.



permalink this comment Salman Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 08.20 pm

Interesting, I am not a big Illustrator fan for vector art, but this has definitely created some interest. Thanks

Cheers :)



permalink this comment Matthew Griffin Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 09.35 pm

Great article. It’s surprising how helpful a short little tutorial like this can be.



permalink this comment Mike Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 11.35 pm

Thank you for this Article.



permalink this comment Bez zaświadczeń Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 12.22 pm

Nice brushes!
Great work!



permalink this comment Jasja ter Horst Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 03.33 pm

Thanx for adding the downloads. I’ll give it try as soon as I’ve finished work ;)



permalink this comment VJ Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 04.34 pm

Great tutorial



permalink this comment Chris Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 06.59 pm

Super post and site! keep it coming!



permalink this comment James Sat Jan 19, 2008 at 06.41 am

Excellent tutorial! Thanks for sharing.



permalink this comment Jay Sat Jan 19, 2008 at 08.17 pm

This site is amazing.  Great USEFUL tutorial.  I shall be using it in the near future.  Again, great site!



permalink this comment Gary Spedding Sun Jan 20, 2008 at 04.13 pm


Further to my earlier comment - I realized what a gem - worth its weight in gold - is the tip here about removing the expanded stroke from inside the shape.

A benefit to all!



permalink this comment Sohbet Sun Jan 20, 2008 at 07.35 pm

Which version of photoshop are you using?



permalink this comment Veerle Mon Jan 21, 2008 at 01.44 pm

Sohbet said:

Which version of photoshop are you using?

Duh! Did you read the title? It’s Illustrator :)

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