Seamless Illustrator pattern brushes with outer corner tiles
2009 at 04.07 pm posted by Veerle Pieters
Pattern brushes in Illustration… Honestly? It’s something I hardly (read ‘never’) use. That’s just because I haven’t looked into this feature and now that I have I truly believe in its powers. Ever since I started writing Illustrator and Photoshop tutorials, I come to the conclusion that I know and use so little of certain features that can really save me a lot of time. When I’m writing these tutorials, I always take time to explore and experiment a lot to get to know and understand these features better and to see how far I can go. Sometimes, depending on which feature of course, I’m only scratching the surface. It’s good to question the different ways or techniques to accomplish the same result. Without further ado, here is my version of how you can use seamless Illustrator pattern brushes with outer corner tiles...
Pattern side tile
After you've created the elements that need to be repeated, draw a square that has no fill or stroke and paste your pattern elements into this square. This first square will be the side tile pattern. It needs to be horizontally repeatable. You can test how things will look if you simply duplicate the tile 3 times in row and see if it the result looks seamless. If it passes the test, you can safely drag your square and its content into the Brushes palette. If not, you need to do further tweaking, and have a closer look especially at the left and right side of the square. These 2 sides need to connect seamlessly. In our example it doesn't need to be pixel perfect. It's a very easy example to start from. Later in this article I show you an example where things need to connect seamlessly. They are the more tricky pattern brushes. Anyhow, I hope in the way I show you these examples, it'll help you on the way to create your own.
After you have dragged the square tile into the Brushes palette, a window appears to choose your type of brush. Choose New Pattern Brush and click OK.
We've created a side tile for our pattern brush. Give the pattern a name and leave all other options unchanged and click OK.
Outer corner side tile
The brush we've created will work perfectly on a circular shape, but how about a rectangle or square? For these shapes we need an outer corner tile. If you look at the brush you've just created in the brush palette, you'll notice 6 squared spaces where 2 of them are filled with the side tile. 4 of the spaces are empty. The most left one is the one for the outer corner tile, which is what we'll need. The other 2 are for the Start Tileand End Tile which serves their purpose for open shapes like lines (the beginning and ending of the line).
Repeat the same technique as before: Use a square to surround the object(s) you'll use as an outer corner pattern tile. To be sure the corner and side tile will fit perfectly, place both perfectly next to each other. Once the tile is finished and ready, select the objects plus the square and drag it into the Brushes palette onto the left square of the brush you've just created, holding down the Alt/Option key.
The Pattern Brush Options window appears again and now we see that the pattern tile that we've just added onto our brush appears in the outer corner tile thumbnail. Click OK.
Apply the pattern brush to a square or rectangle shape
To apply the pattern brush to a square or rectangle shape, give the object no fill but only apply a stroke first. Now click the brush in the palette. Chances are it still needs some tweaking. Maybe the pattern is too big or toosmall. Change the stroke weight to adjust this. If the corner doesn't fit, then you can tweak this and drag the tile again on top of the outer corner tile space in the palette. It'll open the brush options again where you can click OK. Illustrator will also ask you if you want to update the objects that have this brush applied, which I believe is handy.
Examples to learn from
An example of an outer corner tile and side tile to be used for a pattern brush
Pattern brush with outer corner tile applied to a square.
Another example of an outer corner tile and side tile that seamlessly fit together to be used for a pattern brush. The clue is to work with a square to place each of the tiles in.
The above pattern brush applied to a square.
In a next tutorial...
In a next tutorial I'll explain how I created the simple flower shape you see in the first image on the left and how I created the decorative curl shape used in the first example to learn from. So stay tuned ;)
Want to learn 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.