Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced

Creating a custom art brush


Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced

with Deke McClelland

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Video: Creating a custom art brush

In this exercise, we are going to create our own custom art brush, and we are going to apply it to these paths down here at the bottom of the artwork. I have gone ahead and saved my progress as World of, and if you scroll down upward, you'll find this gray guy here out in the pasteboard. I want you to zoom in on it, and this is going to serve as the basis for our custom art brush. Now notice, if you click on it, it's got a lot of zigs and zags in it. There is a lot of random elements as well, the control handles sort of bend willy-nilly, and that tends to be a good thing. You want a lot of randomness inside of a custom art brush, because it's going to look more natural, when it's stretched across a path.
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  1. 28m 41s
    1. Welcome
      1m 7s
    2. Installing the dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts
      8m 59s
    3. Resetting the Function keys on a Mac
      4m 47s
    4. Installing the CS4 color settings
      4m 20s
    5. Loading the CS4 color settings in Illustrator
      6m 3s
    6. Loading the CS4 color settings in Bridge CS4
      3m 25s
  2. 1h 53m
    1. From the simple emerges the complex
    2. Introducing Pathfinder operations
      4m 17s
    3. Editing a compound shape
      4m 39s
    4. Adding to a compound shape
      3m 11s
    5. Inserting a subpath into a compound shape
      3m 56s
    6. Expanding a compound shape
      4m 53s
    7. Assembling primitives
      4m 42s
    8. Preparing a template in Photoshop
      7m 0s
    9. Uniting paths permanently
      5m 40s
    10. Minus Front vs. Minus Back
      1m 55s
    11. Working with compound paths
      6m 49s
    12. When in doubt, divide
      3m 54s
    13. Divide and Unite
      3m 2s
    14. Open path pitfalls
      5m 35s
    15. Strokes bad, fills good
      4m 38s
    16. Advanced Divide and Unite
      8m 59s
    17. Using the Crop operation
      8m 30s
    18. Expert Divide and Unite
      8m 45s
    19. "Ghosting" shapes with Fill Opacity
      6m 45s
    20. Anticipating and troubleshooting
      8m 16s
    21. Exclude and Intersect
      7m 24s
  3. 44m 59s
    1. Familiar one moment, different the next
      1m 3s
    2. Snapping to anchor points
      5m 41s
    3. Aligning a group to the artboard
      3m 34s
    4. Distributing objects on the artboard
      4m 16s
    5. Setting the key object
      4m 54s
    6. Distributing objects by space
      3m 6s
    7. Distributing objects by selections
      3m 19s
    8. Aligning point text
      6m 7s
    9. Aligning live text vs. using outlines
      4m 58s
    10. Aligning key letters
      3m 35s
    11. Aligning to key objects
      4m 26s
  4. 1h 4m
    1. CS4’s gradient renaissance
      1m 7s
    2. Applying a gradient
      6m 0s
    3. Dragging and dropping color swatches
      2m 55s
    4. Using the Gradient palette
      6m 27s
    5. Designing a shaded gradient
      5m 9s
    6. Saving a gradient swatch and adding a texture
      4m 2s
    7. Introducing the new Gradient tool
      4m 39s
    8. Editing color stops inside a shape
      3m 26s
    9. Setting multiple gradients to the same angle
      5m 0s
    10. Adding and adjusting radial gradients
      7m 20s
    11. Making a transparent gradient
      7m 6s
    12. Adding drop shadows (a kind of gradient)
      6m 28s
    13. Blends vs. blend modes
      4m 38s
  5. 1h 17m
    1. Creating freeform color flows
      1m 0s
    2. The power of CS4's transparent gradients
      10m 25s
    3. Creating a gradient mesh
      4m 30s
    4. Expanding a gradient to a gradient mesh
      7m 40s
    5. Adding and deleting rows and columns
      6m 13s
    6. Selecting and coloring points
      6m 5s
    7. Assigning colors with the Eyedropper tool
      7m 42s
    8. Cool mesh editing techniques
      3m 56s
    9. Warping and puckering a mesh
      7m 24s
    10. Applying precise finishing touches
      5m 48s
    11. Gradient strokes
      9m 45s
    12. Gradient text
      6m 50s
  6. 55m 35s
    1. The first of the dynamic functions
      1m 4s
    2. Making a blend automatically
      5m 48s
    3. Fixing problem blends
      3m 56s
    4. Making a blend with the Blend tool
      3m 6s
    5. Cloning and coloring a blended path
      4m 37s
    6. Creating a mask
      3m 53s
    7. Blending between translucent shapes
      5m 30s
    8. Blending along a curve
      4m 34s
    9. Adjusting the speed of a blend
      2m 58s
    10. Filling and stroking a mask
      4m 36s
    11. Creating a compound clipping mask
      6m 3s
    12. Nesting one clipping mask inside another
      6m 7s
    13. Ghosting nested masks and blends
      3m 23s
  7. 1h 13m
    1. Patterns that repeat forever and ever
    2. Introducing tile patterns
      6m 36s
    3. Beginning a core design
      5m 6s
    4. Building an interlocking element
      6m 25s
    5. Achieving precise radial symmetry
      4m 46s
    6. Rotating duplicates around a common center
      3m 10s
    7. Determining how a pattern repeats
      9m 54s
    8. Coloring the core objects
      5m 0s
    9. Identifying the rectangular tile
      7m 14s
    10. Saving tile patterns
      7m 19s
    11. Applying tile patterns to a shape
      3m 25s
    12. Protecting patterns from transformations
      7m 36s
    13. Moving patterns without paths
      5m 51s
  8. 1h 19m
    1. Illustrator gets natural
      1m 15s
    2. Introducing the vector painting tools
      3m 16s
    3. Calligraphic brush options
      4m 3s
    4. Pressure sensitivity
      5m 17s
    5. Editing a calligraphic brush
      5m 53s
    6. Repainting and smoothing paths
      5m 30s
    7. Making the paintbrush behave
      6m 16s
    8. Erasing stroked paths
      3m 17s
    9. Painting with the new Blob brush
      6m 24s
    10. Refining filled paths with the Eraser
      4m 14s
    11. Painting independent paths
      3m 53s
    12. The Selection Limits Merge options
      3m 20s
    13. Applying and scaling an art brush
      6m 23s
    14. Snipping a brushed path
      4m 55s
    15. Colorizing an art brush
      4m 9s
    16. Heaping a stroke on an art brush effect
      4m 32s
    17. Creating a custom art brush
      6m 51s
  9. 1h 44m
    1. The computer art world’s dynamic duo
      1m 7s
    2. Copying and pasting pixels from Photoshop
      7m 21s
    3. Linking is efficient, embedding is not
      2m 47s
    4. Editing an image in Illustrator
      7m 30s
    5. Filtering an image in Photoshop
      6m 34s
    6. Adding a filter mask in Photoshop
      6m 25s
    7. Masking a woman from the background
      3m 49s
    8. Creating a sepia effect
      6m 37s
    9. Adding a second gradient map layer
      2m 13s
    10. Achieving a graphic effect with Levels
      8m 10s
    11. Preparing an image for use in Illustrator
      5m 46s
    12. The importance of image resolution
      9m 40s
    13. Placing and linking images
      4m 43s
    14. Managing linked images
      6m 18s
    15. Integrating an image into a design
      5m 12s
    16. A better way to wrap text
      7m 28s
    17. Previewing the trim size
      4m 25s
    18. Layer comps and editable text
      8m 42s
  10. 2h 11m
    1. Transparency is safe and fun
      1m 27s
    2. Introducing the translucent composition
      4m 39s
    3. Assigning opacity to an Appearance attribute
      3m 41s
    4. Creating a knockout group
      5m 7s
    5. Defining an opacity mask
      7m 15s
    6. Using the Clip checkbox
      2m 41s
    7. Opacity mask tips and tricks
      3m 20s
    8. The Multiply blend mode
      6m 8s
    9. Adding to an existing opacity mask
      7m 53s
    10. Blending between parallel groups
      7m 27s
    11. Creating a gradient opacity mask
      4m 54s
    12. Employing an opposing gradient mask
      7m 57s
    13. Combining Multiply and Screen
      3m 49s
    14. Blend mode roundup
      5m 24s
    15. Mixing blend modes inside a single path
      3m 48s
    16. Blend mode and transparent gradient
      3m 49s
    17. Masking an entire layer
      7m 0s
    18. Combining Screen with 100K Black
      7m 43s
    19. Knocking out a drop shadow
      5m 18s
    20. But will it print?
      3m 8s
    21. Working with the Flattener preview
      8m 44s
    22. Rasterizing an illustration in Photoshop
      9m 16s
    23. Super-rich blacks and raster effects
      3m 35s
    24. Exporting TIFF artwork from Illustrator
      7m 48s
  11. 58s
    1. Until next time

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Watch the Online Video Course Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced
12h 54m Intermediate Jul 09, 2009

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Knowing the fundamentals of drawing and reshaping paths is only part of the story. In Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, the second of the popular One-on-One series, computer graphics expert Deke McClelland covers some of Illustrator's most powerful and least understood features. He shows how to merge simple shapes to create complex ones with the Pathfinder palette, as well as align paths to create schematic illustrations. Deke explains how to paint fluid, multicolor fills with blends, and the new and improved gradient tool. He explores seamlessly repeating tile patterns, blobs and brushes, and imported images. He also dives into one of the deepest features in all of Illustrator, transparency. Exercise files accompany the tutorial.

Recommended prerequisite: Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals.

Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Illustrator from the Exercise Files tab.

Topics include:
  • Working with compound shapes in the Pathfinder palette
  • Ghosting shapes with Fill Opacity
  • Understanding gradients and the gradient tools
  • Cloning and coloring a blended path
  • Saving tile patterns and applying them to a shape
  • Importing and linking images from other applications
Deke McClelland

Creating a custom art brush

In this exercise, we are going to create our own custom art brush, and we are going to apply it to these paths down here at the bottom of the artwork. I have gone ahead and saved my progress as World of, and if you scroll down upward, you'll find this gray guy here out in the pasteboard. I want you to zoom in on it, and this is going to serve as the basis for our custom art brush. Now notice, if you click on it, it's got a lot of zigs and zags in it. There is a lot of random elements as well, the control handles sort of bend willy-nilly, and that tends to be a good thing. You want a lot of randomness inside of a custom art brush, because it's going to look more natural, when it's stretched across a path.

And also you want some length associated with the art brush, something along the lines of what we have here, and finally I go ahead and fill my art brushes with gray, just to make them as easy to colorize as possible. All right, so I'm going to grab this guy, and I'm going to drag it into the Brushes palette, and drop it. And then you'll get this dialog box, and it's asking you what kind of brush you want to make? Well, it's not going to be a calligraphic brush, because you can't base the calligraphic brush on an existing shape. Calligraphic brushes are just those circles that we saw earlier that can be squished and angled and so on. It could be a scatter brush.

A scatter brush is going to be a repeated pattern. So in other words, you're going to take whatever objects you have here, and you are going to repeat it over and over again at different angles, so you might take a leaf, for example, and you might paint the leaf repeatedly over the course of the path, so you create this little fall pattern, or you might take some blogs and build, and actual walking path out of it, by repeating those blocks over and over again. That's not what we want to do with this guy right here. We want it to be an art brush, as we'll see. It's going to work out delightfully well. We'll come to that in just a moment. But first, Pattern Brush. Pattern brushes are repeating tile patterns analogous to what we saw in the previous chapter, but instead of filling or stroking the way we did, you'd rather bend the pattern across the stroke, and then you also have the option of adding special corner patterns, and all kinds of other stuff. You can have five different patterns in all for a single pattern brush, and it is quite the thing. It's really for creating apache or quilt of a stroke. And it goes above and beyond any patterning we're trying so far, I think it's very special interest thing, you can look into it if you'd want to in the help documentation, but I'm going to go ahead and say New Art Brush, and click OK. And up comes the Art Brush options dialog box.

Now I've got the front of the stroke over here on the left-hand side of this preview, and therefore, I want the direction to go away from it. So in other words, the arrow indicates the end of the path, and the non-arrow side indicates the beginning of the path. I want the thick part on the beginning and the thin part or the scraggly part I guess of the brush at the end, so this is perfect. If you've flipped your brush design in the other direction, then you would click on this guy right there, but anyway, you want a kind of common effect, so that the tail is trailing away, although, I don't think real comets work that way. I think the tail is in front of the comet, but anyway, this is what we want. Think of a pretend classic where you think of comets is being, and that's what you're going for.

All right, next thing you want to do, you might as well name the brush. I'm going to call my dekeBrush or something along those lines. You can substitute your name instead of Deke if you want, and then for a Method, I recommend that you go ahead and say Tints and Shades. That's your when in doubt setting, but you can always change it later, as you know. You can always change it when you are applying the brush to the shapes, but I want to show you Hue Shift right here. What Hue Shift allows you to do, when you are creating a brush in the first place, is you can now select the key color, by grabbing the Eyedropper and clicking inside of your artwork, inside of the Preview, not inside of your larger artwork. It doesn't work there. You have to do it inside of the preview, and that's great if you have multi- colored brush of some sort, and you want to specify exactly who is going to be the hue shifter. So in other words, let's say you've got red inside of your art brush. If you click on that red, that becomes the color that is going to be mapped to whatever the stroke color is that's assigned to the path outline.

And if you want to investigate that and make sense of it, good luck, but it's not your everyday average type of art brush effect. Anyway, in our case we don't need it. I'm just going to go ahead and set this guy to Tints and Shades, and then I'm going to click OK. And we have now created this brush called dekeBrush down here at the bottom of the Brushes palette. All right, let's zoom out a little bit, and actually zoom out another click, and I'm going to select all of these objects, all four of these objects, down here at the bottom of my artwork. So this path right here, this vertical line, this arc and then going into the spiral, and they are both separated right now.

Go ahead and click now on the brush in order to apply it to the paths and I think it actually looks pretty darn good, but I'm going to drop down, just because you always want the finesse things. Go ahead and drop down to Options of Selected Object, click on it, and make sure Preview is turned on, and I'm going to take my Width value down to 80% just to make my brush strokes a little thinner. And I don't need to change anything about Flip, because everything is at the right angle, but you could try Flip Along, and see that that messes things up, and then you could try Flip Across and see that also messes things up, especially we get this portable bevel over there. So let's turn that off, so that we get a nice bevel on this side.

All right, so I was telling you Tints and Shades, that's a when in doubt setting, but in our case, Hue Shift actually produces a pretty great result. Now it has a habit of taking the average color in the document, and infusing it into the color of the strokes, and also does this thing where it is supposed to take whatever the key color is and map it to the underlining stroke color, but in this case we are taking gray and we are mapping it, so it doesn't really make that much sense. But why may make a sense, why not just try it and say uh, that looks good, and that's what I'm going to do, and then I'm going to click OK in order to accept that modification.

Now finally we have this break at this location right there, because this is one path, and this is another path. That's no good. So go ahead and get your White Arrow tool. I'm going to marquee this end points right there, and they are coincident end points, don't you know? So one is directly on top of the other, and then I'll go up to my Control palette and I'll click on Connect Selected End Points, in order to bring up the Join dialog box. I'll turn on the Smooth option, click OK, and we create this nice continuous stroke effect right there. Now I'm going to go ahead and zoom out to 125%, and scroll down a little bit, and you are now looking at the final version of the album cover, complete with our brushes, thanks to the power of the Brushes palette inside Illustrator.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced .

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Q: In the lesson on pressure sensitivity, exactly what kind of Wacom tablet is the instructor using?
A: The instructor is using a Wacom Intuos 3 tablet
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