Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery
Illustration by John Hersey

Applying and editing a calligraphic brush


Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery

with Deke McClelland

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Video: Applying and editing a calligraphic brush

In this exercise, I am going to show you how to apply and customize a calligraphic brush inside Illustrator. I'm still working away inside Consistent, and I am going to select this line of live editable point type, and we're going to apply the brushstroke to it. So ultimately, brushes are just another form of dynamic effect inside of Illustrator, one that is exclusively applicable to strokes, never to fills. So if I go up to the Brushes panel and I click on any one of these calligraphic brushes, for example, it should automatically apply to the stroke.
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  1. 37m 22s
    1. Welcome
    2. Linking AI and EPS files to Illustrator
      6m 34s
    3. Installing the dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts
      7m 43s
    4. Remapping Mac OS shortcuts
      6m 56s
    5. Installing the Best Workflow color settings
      4m 56s
    6. The color settings explained
      7m 4s
    7. Preserve Numbers vs. embedded profiles
      3m 24s
  2. 1h 35m
    1. My favorite features in all of Illustrator
      1m 21s
    2. Introducing the Transform effect
      5m 30s
    3. Repeating the last effect you applied
      4m 52s
    4. Applying multiple passes of a single effect
      5m 21s
    5. The wonders of editing dynamic artwork
      7m 13s
    6. Applying effects inside effects
      5m 11s
    7. Assigning an effect to an entire layer
      5m 42s
    8. Building a complex bevel effect
      5m 44s
    9. Placing artwork as a Photoshop Smart Object
      4m 55s
    10. Editing that Smart Object in Illustrator
      4m 21s
    11. Rotating continuously overlapping objects
      5m 34s
    12. Adjusting a dynamic transformation origin
      6m 22s
    13. Vector vs. raster effects
      5m 46s
    14. Introducing the Scribble effect
      5m 23s
    15. Copying effects between layers
      4m 20s
    16. Introducing Graphic Styles
      6m 50s
    17. Controlling the Filter Gallery preview
      2m 28s
    18. Document Raster Effects Settings
      4m 31s
    19. Combining and saving styles
      4m 32s
  3. 1h 25m
    1. Airbrushing with points and handles
      1m 45s
    2. Introducing the gradient mesh
      6m 10s
    3. Working with the Mesh tool
      6m 12s
    4. Lifting colors from a tracing template
      5m 47s
    5. Finessing the colors of mesh points
      4m 17s
    6. Creating a mesh with the Mesh tool
      7m 19s
    7. Adding a gradient mesh to a circle
      4m 37s
    8. Adding a gradient mesh to a slender shape
      8m 7s
    9. Creating soft and sharp transitions
      6m 56s
    10. Converting a linear gradient to a mesh
      7m 29s
    11. Editing a linear gradient mesh
      5m 6s
    12. Converting a radial gradient to a mesh
      8m 19s
    13. Editing a radial gradient mesh
      8m 15s
    14. Creating credible cast shadows
      5m 32s
  4. 1h 15m
    1. The best of static and dynamic adjustments
    2. Adding wings to a horse in Photoshop
      6m 52s
    3. Introducing the Warp tool
      6m 29s
    4. Brush size, Detail, and Simplify
      8m 24s
    5. The Twirl, Pucker, and Bloat tools
      6m 13s
    6. The Scallop, Crystallize, and Wrinkle tools
      5m 55s
    7. Creating a mind-blowing custom starburst
      4m 29s
    8. Introducing Envelope Distort
      5m 21s
    9. Editing the contents of an envelope
      5m 20s
    10. Warping an envelope mesh
      5m 20s
    11. Liquifying the contents of an envelope
      7m 7s
    12. Creating and editing an envelope mesh
      7m 59s
    13. Blending an envelope into a background
      4m 35s
  5. 2h 1m
    1. Outlines along a path
      1m 13s
    2. Weaving a pattern throughout an illustration
      6m 24s
    3. Introducing the Brushes panel
      4m 21s
    4. Applying and editing a calligraphic brush
      8m 28s
    5. Applying and scaling art brushes
      6m 6s
    6. Applying and editing a scatter brush
      5m 29s
    7. Formatting and scaling brushed text
      5m 40s
    8. Editing the path outlines of an art brush
      6m 2s
    9. Replacing an existing art brush
      6m 46s
    10. Creating and refining an art brush
      8m 3s
    11. Tiling pattern vs. pattern brushes
      5m 12s
    12. Creating a pattern brush
      8m 20s
    13. Designing the perfect side pattern
      7m 1s
    14. Start, end, and corner tiles
      8m 58s
    15. Expanding and filling brush outlines
      6m 49s
    16. Text brushes vs. type on a path
      6m 55s
    17. Combining a text brush with the Width tool
      8m 43s
    18. Introducing the bristle brushes
      5m 43s
    19. Adjusting the hairs in a bristle brush
      5m 24s
  6. 1h 32m
    1. Charts can be beautiful
      1m 17s
    2. Adding a gradient mesh to a complex path
      8m 9s
    3. Importing and graphing data
      5m 22s
    4. Switching between the kinds of graphs
      6m 8s
    5. Changing the Graph Type settings
      8m 7s
    6. Correcting and editing data
      6m 51s
    7. Selecting and coloring graph elements
      6m 29s
    8. Making nuanced changes to a graph
      8m 6s
    9. The pitfalls of manual adjustments
      8m 45s
    10. Creating and applying graph designs
      6m 28s
    11. Making a basic pictograph
      6m 47s
    12. Assembling sliding graph designs
      8m 33s
    13. Making last-minute tweaks and edits
      5m 37s
    14. Composing and customizing a graph
      5m 44s
  7. 2h 6m
    1. Perspective is all about real life
      1m 44s
    2. Assembling an isometric projection
      8m 5s
    3. Introducing Illustrator's Perspective Grid
      6m 8s
    4. Drawing a basic perspective cube
      8m 1s
    5. One-point, two-point, and three-point perspective
      8m 25s
    6. Creating automatically scaling box labels
      4m 41s
    7. Setting up a Perspective Grid
      6m 45s
    8. Perspective Grid tips and tricks
      6m 39s
    9. Drawing and editing a perspective shape
      5m 20s
    10. Shifting between planes on the fly
      5m 24s
    11. Creating a freeform shape in perspective
      7m 8s
    12. Working with perspective symbols
      8m 57s
    13. Matching perspective with the Shear tool
      2m 50s
    14. Rendering an off-plane path in perspective
      5m 7s
    15. Replicating symbols in perspective
      8m 12s
    16. Mass-modifying perspective instances
      2m 56s
    17. Adding and editing perspective text
      5m 37s
    18. Duplicating perpendicular shapes
      7m 17s
    19. Adjusting multiple shapes on a single plane
      4m 48s
    20. Creating a perspective column
      9m 23s
    21. Duplicating a series of perspective paths
      3m 20s
  8. 1h 25m
    1. Just another dynamic effect
      1m 10s
    2. Introducing the 3D Revolve effect
      5m 1s
    3. The 3D Revolve settings
      7m 24s
    4. Fixing 3D rendering problems
      6m 32s
    5. Establishing symbols for 3D art
      6m 50s
    6. Mapping symbols onto 3D surfaces
      6m 14s
    7. Adjusting shading and light
      6m 25s
    8. Toning down 3D art in Photoshop
      5m 43s
    9. Adding a photographic texture
      7m 36s
    10. Converting from Illustrator paths to Photoshop masks
      4m 50s
    11. Making 3D droplets in Photoshop
      5m 58s
    12. Unifying textures with Smart Filters
      5m 48s
    13. Creating 3D type with Extrude & Bevel
      6m 44s
    14. Coloring and correcting extruded edges
      9m 15s
  9. 1h 3m
    1. Take action today, save effort tomorrow
    2. Introducing the Actions panel
      4m 16s
    3. Initiating a new action
      5m 33s
    4. Recording a practical action
      4m 56s
    5. Four ways to play an action
      4m 27s
    6. Streamlining by disabling dialog boxes
      5m 48s
    7. Editing an action set in a text editor
      7m 20s
    8. Inserting an unresponsive menu item
      6m 16s
    9. Match-processing a folder of files
      5m 42s
    10. Recording a transformation sequence
      6m 11s
    11. Editing and troubleshooting an action
      5m 6s
    12. Recording actions within actions
      7m 21s
  10. 1m 36s
    1. See Ya
      1m 36s

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Watch the Online Video Course Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery
13h 5m Advanced Jan 28, 2011

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In Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery, the third and final part of the comprehensive Illustrator One-on-One series, author and industry expert Deke McClelland shows how to take advantage of the wide array of dynamic effects in Illustrator CS5. Deke explores Illustrator’s powerful Gradient Mesh feature, great for creating photorealistic airbrushing effects. He also covers graphic styles, the liquify tools, envelope-style distortions, the new Bristle Brushes, 3D text, and perspective drawing. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Working with dynamic effects
  • Placing artwork as a Photoshop Smart Object
  • Creating and editing a Gradient Mesh
  • Distorting artwork with an Envelope Mesh
  • Using the Calligraphic, Art, and Scatter Brushes
  • Creating an intricate Pattern Brush
  • Importing and graphing data
  • Creating a complex pictograph
  • Drawing and editing a perspective shape
  • Working with the new Perspective Grid tool
  • Using the 3D Revolve effect
  • Creating 3D type with Extrude & Bevel
  • Recording and playing automated actions
Deke McClelland

Applying and editing a calligraphic brush

In this exercise, I am going to show you how to apply and customize a calligraphic brush inside Illustrator. I'm still working away inside Consistent, and I am going to select this line of live editable point type, and we're going to apply the brushstroke to it. So ultimately, brushes are just another form of dynamic effect inside of Illustrator, one that is exclusively applicable to strokes, never to fills. So if I go up to the Brushes panel and I click on any one of these calligraphic brushes, for example, it should automatically apply to the stroke.

So I will go ahead and click on 5 pt. oval, and nothing happens. So you might think I'm a big liar and you can't actually apply brushes to text. Well, the problem is, currently our individual characters are fills, we don't have a stroke, and so there's nothing for Illustrator to latch on to, because it can't apply brushes to the individual characters, just to the entire text object. So what you need to do is go over to the Appearance panel. And as with many dynamic effects inside the program, you first have to add a fill or a stroke to the entire object.

So I am going to drop down here to the Add New Stroke icon in the bottom-left corner of the panel and click on it, and now we have a black stroke, by default, that's tracing each one of letterforms. Fine! Now, if I go up to the Brushes panel, I can apply any one of these thumbnails in the first row, and then we can work from there. But I am going to start with 5 pt. Oval. Now, this is a uniform 5-point stroke. The only difference between it and your standard 5-point stroke is that it's oval. So it's thinner than it is wide, and it's also set to an angle so that the stroke appears to grow thinner and thicker as it traces the letterforms.

Now, let's say we want to customize things a bit, and there are two ways to do that. One is you can customize the brush definition, and the other option is to customize the brush as it's assigned locally to the selected object. So notice I've got the selected text, and I have this Highlight, this thick border around 5 pt. Oval. That shows that there's a link between the text and this brushstroke. So if I double-click on that Brush icon, I'll bring up the Calligraphic Brush Options dialog box, and then I can modify a variety of settings. You can, for example, drag this arrowhead in order to change the angle of the brush; you can drag these black circles to change the roundness of the brushstroke; you can change the diameter as well if you want to, I could raise it to 30 points; and then I might change the name of this brushstroke to 30 pt.

Oval, and then I'd click OK in order to apply my changes. Well, here is what's going to happen. You're going to get this alert message saying, "Hey, what do you want to do at this point? Do you want to not only modify the active brush, but also assign it to any and all objects that are linked to this brush?" So they don't have to be selected, just as long as they're linked to the brush, they will be updated if you click Apply to Strokes. If you don't want to update any of those linked objects, then you would click Leave Strokes, and you just modify the definition of this specific brush, and you would break the links as well. Or of course you can cancel out.

Now, here's a problem: none of these things is what I want to do. I want to change my selected object without modifying 5 pt. Oval. I want to leave the 5 pt. Oval brush the way it is. So assuming that's the case-- and that's generally the way you want to work by the way--then you'd cancel out of here. And then you'd drop down to this icon, the center icon at the bottom of the Brushes panel that says Options of Selected Object, click on it, brings up that same dialog box, minus the Naming option, and then you would change your settings. Now, in my case, I am going to change the Angle value to -30 degrees, let's say, and I want my brushstroke to vary randomly, in terms of its angle.

Now, you can link the variation to other settings if you want to. Pressure through Rotation, however, all rely on pressure-sensitive input. So I would have had to have drawn the path in the first place using a pressure- sensitive stylus, such as that included with a Wacom tablet. Now, whether every single one of these options has any meaning varies depending on your tablet and your stylus and so on, but you can bet that pressure is supported. However, you can bet that none of them is supported when you're working with live editable text, which I did not draw using a tablet.

So then your options are either Fixed, which assigns no variation whatsoever. Notice when you set this option to Fixed, Variation becomes dimmed. Or you can switch to Random. I am going to switch to Random, and I am going to take this value up to 90 degrees. Now, what am I saying? I am saying that the angle of this brush can vary from -30 -90, which is -120, to -30 +90, which is 60. And if you want to see what that means, go ahead and increase your Diameter value to something ridiculous for now. Don't look at the illustration window in the background; just look at these little dollops of paint. The center dollop shows you your three numerical options right here: -30 for Angle, in my case Roundness of 50%, and Diameter 58 points. And that's what the brush is going to look like.

However, it can also vary to this extreme on the left-hand side or this other extreme on the right-hand side. So this would be the lowest Angle value, and this would be the highest Angle value. Well, you might look at these and say, "Well, that's not really the difference. One looks like a pancake and the other looks like the moon," or something along those lines, and that's because we're also seeing the variations in Roundness, which can vary from 50 -40 to 10 or 50 + 40 to 90. Well, let's say what I want is 25%. But if I dial in 25%, then the Variation is going to have to decline with it, because Variation, for both Roundness and Diameter, cannot be any larger than the core Roundness or Diameter value.

So I'll go ahead and enter 25%, press the Tab key, and notice that Variation drops to 25%. That becomes its maximum as well. So now the thinnest brushstroke is just a line, and the thickest brushstroke has a Roundness of 50%. All right, now let's mess with the Diameter value. I'm going to take that core Diameter value down to 10, and I don't want it to be fixed. I want it to get thicker or thinner. So I am going to switch it to Random, and here's where I cross my fingers and hope things are going to work, because there is a bug associated with this Variation value. I am going to crank it up to 10, and I see my calligraphic brushstrokes just get thicker; they don't get any thinner ever.

They're just getting thicker. So I should see the brushstrokes decline to 10 -10, which would be a 0 point brushstroke, and grow as thick as 10 +10, but in my case they're just growing thicker. Notice the difference. This is a Variation of 0, which is thinner, and here's a Variation of 10, which is thicker. So there's two ways of working. One is to try to get to the bottom of it. And what I've found to work--although I'm never so sure if this is going to pay off or not--if you really want to solve the problem, you can cancel out here and then you can go ahead and click on this flyout menu in the Appearance panel and choose Clear Appearance, and essentially start over again.

Click on the Stroke icon once again to make it active. Let's go ahead and switch to a light stroke, so we can see what in the world we're doing against these dark letterforms. So I went ahead and selected, by the way, OW yellow. And in case you're wondering what's with that naming convention, well, I've got this tile that's called Orange wedges, and it's the yellow that's found inside that tile pattern, so that we get a match between the Stroke and the background pattern. All right! Now, I will go ahead and apply 5 pt. Oval. I have no assurance this is going to work, by the way. And then I'll drop down to the Options of Selected Object, and the first thing I am going to change is that Diameter value.

I am going to change it to 10, and then I'm going to change Fixed to Random, and then I am going to crank up the Variation value, and it gets thinner this time, yay, it worked. Now, it's not necessarily going to work for you. I have beat my head against the monitor over this one. I am actually extremely excited it worked this time. Can you tell? But if it doesn't for you, you might just want to look at this and say, okay, so 10-7 would be 3, so maybe I will start with a 3-point diameter, and I'll give it a variation of about 2 points and try to see if that comes up with a reasonable match.

But anyway, these are the settings I'd like to use and they are working for me. So I'll change the Angle now to 30 degrees, and the Variation value to 90 degrees, and the Roundness value to 25%, and leave Variation set to 25%, and this is it folks. Click OK in order to accept that effect, and then I am going to click on Fill, because when I added the stroke, I got a fill as well. I am going to click on this Fill item in the Appearance panel. I am going to click on the down-pointing arrowhead, and I am going to change the fill to this dark green, which is C=90 M=30 Y=95 K=30, one of the default swatches included with Illustrator, and I get this effect here.

But that's not nearly enough, of course, I figure we ought to add an art brush and a scatter brush and more, and I'll show you how those work starting in the next exercise.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery .

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Q: The instructions for installing the dekeKeys don't work on my computer (which is running Mac OS X Lion). Is there an update to these?
A: The dekeKeys distributed with this course will still work for Lion. You just need to add them to a slightly different folder than in previous versions of OS X.

Open a new Finder window and choose Go > Go to Folder. Type the following file path exactly as written below. Copying and pasting may result in an error.

~/Library/Preferences/Adobe Illustrator CS5 Settings/en_US

Move and/or copy/paste the dekeKeys to this folder and follow the rest of the instructions as outlined in the video, "Installing the dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts."
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