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Jun 28

Illustrator Art Brushes

2006 at 08.23 am posted by Veerle Pieters

The last couple of days brought me a lot of inspiration, because of the places I’ve visited. No stress, well expect to catch a train at 6.30 a.m. for Paris after 3 hours of sleep coming back from London. In fact, that was a bit crazy. A little too much in a short time (London, Paris and then driving to Normandy Honfleur). And so, I felt the urge sketch and draw this weekend and so I came up with some ideas, like using art brushes on text in Illustrator ...

details of the illustration' La belle Paris'

When I was at @media, I didn't do any sightseeing in London like I did last year. So as you can see Paris gave me inspiration as well as Honfleur, but this one I'll save for later :)

Tracing the sketch vs final result

tracing the scanned sketch vs final result

As always I start from a sketch, scan it and trace it using the Pen tool in Illustrator.

Final result

La belle Paris

As you can see I used some Illustrator brushes for my drawing here. Illustrator has some amazing Brush Libraries you can use. Only, you need to load them. You do this by choosing the Window menu and choose Brush Libraries and then select one of the libraries available in the submenu.

Applying brush strokes on text

Did you know you can use these brushes on text as well? And did you know that your text remains editable? These Brushes are in fact Illustrator Effects, but they are applied as strokes. After applying this brush effect, the text in my illustration is totally editable. Oh and you can layer several brush strokes on top of each other using the Appearance palette. Now how cool is that? :)

how to apply Illustrator art brush strokes using the Appearance palette

If you select the text using the Selection or Direct Select Tool, you can apply a brush stroke to the text. Go to the Appearance palette and choose "Add New Stroke" from the fly-out menu.

how to apply Illustrator art brush strokes using the Appearance palette

A 1 pt black border will be added to the text. Change the color and choose a special brush in the brush palette. For my illustration I chose Dry Ink 2 found in the "Artistic Ink" Brush Library. The thickness of the stroke will probably be much too heavy as you can see from the picture above.

Choose a color that suits perfectly with the fill of the text and reduce the stroke until you get the effect you want.

how to apply Illustrator art brush strokes using the Appearance palette

If you wonder how you get to see the names of the brushes, you need to choose "List View" from the palette's fly-out menu.

Experiment and create your own

Never forget to experiment with these brushes, there are tons of them and You can get real nice effects. Oh or even better, have some fun and create them yourself! Here is what you need to do in short:

  • Draw some random straight lines on paper using different crayons or pencils
  • Scan them at 300 ppi
  • Save them one by one as CMYK Photoshop files
  • Open Illustrator CS2 and create a new document
  • Select Place from the File menu
  • Select your scan and go to LiveTrace select and Tracing Options
  • Select Color 16 and 30 - 35 as Max Colors
  • Convert your effect into real vector paths by choosing Expand from the Object menu
  • Eliminate the light fillings of the paper background by selecting 1 path (using the Direct Selecting Tool) and choose Same Fill Color from the Select menu and press delete
  • Creating the brush by selecting your vector brush and click dragging it into the Brush palette
  • Select New Art Brush in the New Brush dialog window, click OK
  • In the Art Brush Options you can define the direction, size and colorization of the brush
  • Choose "Tints" to render the Stroke color that's been applied to the Brushed path

More detailed information on how to create your own Brushes can be found on this site.




permalink this comment Ronald Poi Wed Jun 28, 2006 at 10.31 am

Wow, several brush strokes. I didn’t know about that one!. It’s pretty cool!... Thanks Veerle! =)



permalink this comment Alexandre CHAILLEUX Wed Jun 28, 2006 at 11.41 am

Hi Veerle.
In French, we say “Le beau Paris” and not “La belle Paris”. I know, French is not easy.
Btw, everything you do is gorgeous. A real pleasure for the eyes. Bravo!




permalink this comment Maria Wed Jun 28, 2006 at 11.53 am

I’m really enjoying all this tutorial content you’re posting about illustration. I’ve wrestled with Illustrator for quite some time, and your posts are helping me get somewhere… FINALLY.
Thanks so much!... and please: keep it coming.



permalink this comment pet Wed Jun 28, 2006 at 01.49 pm




permalink this comment Ján Varhol Wed Jun 28, 2006 at 02.28 pm

Great. I didn’t know that thing about using brushes to achieve beautiful text effect. The only one thing I din’t like is that “here” link on the bottom of article. As I can see, there is allways a lot of learning.



permalink this comment Dominique PERETTI Wed Jun 28, 2006 at 03.15 pm

@Alexandre : I’m pretty sure you can say both.
“La belle Paris” doesn’t shock me at all.
In 1962, Maurice Chevalier wrote the song “Paris je t’aime d’amour”.
According to him Paris was definitely a woman.
I would say “Le Paris des années 60” but I would say “Paris, la belle”.



permalink this comment Richard Wed Jun 28, 2006 at 03.34 pm

Awesome, as always!



permalink this comment Ming Wed Jun 28, 2006 at 07.27 pm

I always think that someone who goes through the trouble of creating a toutorial deserves a thanks!

Thanks. & nice stuff.



permalink this comment René Kleizen Thu Jun 29, 2006 at 12.13 am

Tres jolie ;-)



permalink this comment Rubinered Thu Jun 29, 2006 at 01.09 am

Illustrator brushes are so cool… It gives you the ability to put more soul in static graphics.
I use them regulary but I always encounter one enoying problem. Brusches can be expanded (expand appearance) but how about a simple dotted line? I can’t find a way to get a dotted line in outline strokes!

Officially de-lurked, a day to remember!



permalink this comment Roger Thu Jun 29, 2006 at 04.11 am

next time when you go to Normandie ( of Honfleur ) give me a buzz, my mother lives over there in a huge ‘Ile de Paris style’ house with 1.000.000 rooms at approx. 15 km of the seashore of Deauville, very near to Lisieux ( talking about ‘inspiring’ ) in a nice and quiet valley near the river Touque…but best of all she has lots of space ...for you and Geert it would have been a nice rest! Gent is just 4 hours to drive back home!
Just let me know !



permalink this comment Mark Forrester Thu Jun 29, 2006 at 04.24 am

Very interesting. I myself am still a freehand user for vector sketches. I Feel like I’m getting left in the lurch though, think it may be time to empty the piggy bank and buy the Adobe Creative Suite. Ouch ...

I’ve just re-designed my site, and your design posts have been very helpful. Thanks for all the great advice you post on this site.



permalink this comment Martin Thu Jun 29, 2006 at 04.41 am

Wow, I didn’t know you could apply several strokes either.  Thanks for the tips as always!



permalink this comment willem Thu Jun 29, 2006 at 07.27 am

I think it’s le Paris, but it’s une ville

so you could read the illustration as “la belle (ville qui est) Paris”

or something. It does look fantastic as always, anyway



permalink this comment Matt Thu Jun 29, 2006 at 10.11 am

Hi Veerle
I’ve used this technique a few times in the past, and found that if you convert your text to outline, and then cut the outline path of the text at certain points, you have more control of the appearance of the stroked outline.

Most of the Illustrator brushes seem to ‘tail off’ at the end, so that the stroke is uneven around the complete outline of a letter / object.

Of course, this isn’t always a problem, but if you do need an effect where the stroke pattern continues at a regular thickness around the whole path, chopping up that path does the trick. You can then apply slightly different brushes to the same path for different effects - some of them look very good going rouond sharp corners, for example.

Obviously one downside is that your text is no longer editable.

Here’s an example, which was for a record label design.

Hopefully I’m not stating the obvious! (^;

I always feel like I should say ‘thanks’ when I post on here - your site is a great resouce!

All the best



permalink this comment Adam Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 02.04 am

Thanks for another great tip!



permalink this comment Kris Solveig Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 03.27 am

Great. I often use Illustrator for my job, I have some problems with my own sketchs :) , but I have good sketchs by my frends. So, it needs experiments!



permalink this comment Rubinered Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 04.04 am

When you place a scanned document or photo in illustrator, place it in a new layer. Double klick on it in you layer palet. Now you make a template of this layer and dim the image. This is very handy when you trace a difficult image and your vector lines are hard to see.



permalink this comment Phunk Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 07.04 am

@Alexandre CHAILLEUX

What a smart ass you are! Et La premiere chose que tu trouve a dire est qu’elle ai fait une faute francais?

Ce doit etre une vision bien etroite que de regarder avec tes yeux et une putain de pain in ze ass de t’avoir comme compatriote.

A chaque fois que je croise un de ces commentaires arrogants je me dis qu’on merite bien la reputation qu’on nous donne…

C’est la honte Chailleux


PS: Keep on the good work Veerle and thanks for the tutorials and inspiration!



permalink this comment Soyuz Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 08.12 pm

I’m not very good with Illustrator and rare to use it. This tutorial is very interesting, very inspiring. I think I will start to open the Illustrator deeper :)

Thanks for the tips :)



permalink this comment Montoya Sun Jul 2, 2006 at 04.50 am

I’m going to send this tutorial to my g/f who is great at sketching and has a tablet but doesn’t know how to convert a sketch to a graphic like you did here. I’m sure she will love it. Thanks for writing this!



permalink this comment Kaer Mon Jul 3, 2006 at 04.15 am

Nice post :)



permalink this comment Richard Payne Tue Jul 4, 2006 at 09.50 am

Very cute - I’m attempting to get my Illustrator skills in line with Photoshop knowledge.

Tips like these can only help!



permalink this comment artbitz Wed Jul 12, 2006 at 01.28 pm

Very cool. Great tip…I’ve got a long way to go to exploit the power of Illustrator.



permalink this comment Ashley Tue Jul 18, 2006 at 03.26 pm

Beautiful design!

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