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

Editing the path outlines of an art brush


Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery

with Deke McClelland

Video: Editing the path outlines of an art brush

In this exercise, I am going to show you how to modify the core path definitions associated specifically with an art brush, although this technique works just as well for scatter brushes. I've saved my progress as Minion Pro, and I don't need those guidelines anymore, so I am going to press Ctrl+Semicolon, or Command+Semicolon on the Mac, to hide them. Now you may recall our big problem here is that this chalk brush traces unevenly around the letter, so sometimes it's quite heavy and other times it's so light as to be invisible. I can't see the chalk stroke in the top left corner of the U or the H and so on, so I need a more uniformly constructed 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

Editing the path outlines of an art brush

In this exercise, I am going to show you how to modify the core path definitions associated specifically with an art brush, although this technique works just as well for scatter brushes. I've saved my progress as Minion Pro, and I don't need those guidelines anymore, so I am going to press Ctrl+Semicolon, or Command+Semicolon on the Mac, to hide them. Now you may recall our big problem here is that this chalk brush traces unevenly around the letter, so sometimes it's quite heavy and other times it's so light as to be invisible. I can't see the chalk stroke in the top left corner of the U or the H and so on, so I need a more uniformly constructed stroke.

I am going to go ahead and scroll my way to the top of the illustration--that is, above the top of the illustration, into the pasteboard--and I am going to turn on this patterns layer, just so that you can see that this is where I defined my tile patterns. So altogether there's four tile patterns in the Swatches panel: beige wedges, orange wedges, red wedges, and violet wedges. And I created them in the opposite order up here in the pasteboard. Well, I want to do the same kind of work with my brushes, but I want to work on a separate layer just to keep things tidy. So I'll go ahead and click on that cap layer to make it active, the very top layer in the stack, and I'll press Ctrl +Alt+L, Command+Option+L on a Mac, to bring up the Layer Options dialog box.

I am going to call this guy "chalk alts" because these will be alternatives to the chalk brush, which is the brush that's currently failing me where these letters are concerned. And I'll change the color from magenta to lest say violet and then I'll click OK in order to create that new layer. Now with that layer active, I'll bring up the Brushes panel and I am going to grab Chalk-Round, which is the brush that I assigned to the letters, and I am going to drag it and drop it into the pasteboard, so that we can work away with it. All right, now I'll go ahead and hide the Brushes panel, and I am going to zoom in by Ctrl+Spacebar+Dragging around this brush; that would be a Command+Spacebar+Drag on the Mac.

Actually, let's zoom in even further. What we have here is a compound path, so I'll twirl open my chalk alts layer and then I'll twirl open this group, and I'll twirl open that group. Actually, you know what? Let's go ahead and cheat and make this a lot tidier by dragging those guys out of that nested group. Now, the group contains a bunch of different paths and there might be a compound path or two, but the idea is we have a have a bunch of random edges, and it may not be a particularly good-looking path, but it ends up creating a very naturalistic brushstroke. A word to the wise, by the way: if you are going to create your own custom brushstrokes then bear in mind that random is good if you're trying to simulate a real-world tool such as chalk.

This larger outline, this item that's called "path" here inside the panel, that's your clipping path, so that defines the actual size to which the brush is clipped. All right, so we are not really interested in that guy, so I am going to go ahead and meatball this group inside the group, which contains all of the path outlines there, and then, just so I can see what I am doing, I'll press Ctrl+Y, or Command+Y on the Mac. That way I can see that rectangle in the Outline mode as I work away. And you know what I am going to do, because I want to smush this stuff outward and I don't want to redraw it or anything like that, I am going to take advantage of the Warp tool, that really great liquify tool that we saw on our previous chapter.

So, I'll get to it by switching from the Width tool to the Warp tool. And of course, by the way, its way too big; I've got it set back to its default settings here. I am going to double-click on the Warp Tool option here inside the toolbox and I'm to reduce the Width and Height values to 20 points; Angle and Intensity are fine as is; Simplify, off. You do not want to simplify an art brush; that's very bad. So turn the check box off, click OK, and now check this out. I can just start dragging this guy all over the place like so and it stays nice and random, and I get these wacky edges.

And I want to make sure not to push the edges too far out of the rectangle; I want to keep them more or less in the rectangle. And also, I don't want too much variation around the edges of the rectangle. That's why I am sort of dragging the tall edges down and then dragging the short edges back up. And you might need to reduce the size of your cursor by Shift+Alt+Dragging, or Shift+Option+Dragging, down left like so, and then you can make more nuanced adjustments like so. Because this guy in particular, this little thing that's sort of stabbing up into the air, if you leave it alone, you're going to end up with these weird juts that are coming out of the top of the U and the H and everywhere else, and they look terrible; they look absolutely ridiculous actually.

All right, now that I've gotten this guy out of the way--he is the biggest problem area-- I am going to Shift+Alt+Drag up-right, or Shift+Option+Drag, in order to increase the size of my brush, and then I'll drag this up and this down and drag this up and drag this up, too, and drag this back down and drag this area up and drag this area down and so forth. It's fairly tedious work. Well, you know what? It's not tedious, I'm enjoying every moment of it, I tell you. But it does take a little bit of effort and a little bit of manual effort, by which I mean it's entirely manual effort, isn't it? And I'll go ahead and drag these guys down like so.

Now, you may look at this and think, well gosh, it's getting kind of uniform, Deke. We're losing some of those choppy edges, which really make the effect work; otherwise, if we have this kind log shaped brush, it's going to look like a log shaped brushstroke, which is going to look fairly uniform. Well, check this out. Let's go ahead and switch over to our friend, the Crystallize tool. And I am going to double-click on it, too, in order to bring up the Crystallize Tool Options dialog box and take the Intensity down to 5. Then let's just click, and then you might just want to do a few long clicks here and there in order to add some random elements and things, and then you can click inside as well, and so you can do little bit of back-and-forthing, and you can see what kind of random edges you get.

But I find that Crystallize tool-- Scallop tool as well--can deliver some very nice random edges that are indicative of traditional brushstrokes. All right, so that's one way to modify the core path outline that's associated with an art brush. In the nice exercise, I am going to show you how to take this modified path outline and reintroduce it as an art brush inside the Brushes panel.

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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