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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.
In this exercise, I'm going to introduce you to the last of the brush types inside of Illustrator, and that's the new bristle brush inside of Illustrator CS5. I have saved my modifications as Flexible text brushes.ai, found inside the 26_brushes folder. And what I want you to do, we're just going to start by creating a base bristle brush, and we'll work from there. So I want you to press Ctrl+Shift+A, or Command+Shift+A on the Mac. Just make sure nothing is selected inside of your artwork. Then bring up the Brushes panel, and if you scroll all the way to the bottom of the list, you'll see that you've got one and only one bristle brush. And you can tell it's a bristle brush because we have a profile of our brush over here on the left-hand side of the preview.
Now, this is Filbert, which is the one that's included with new documents inside of Illustrator CS5. Rather than muck it up, let's create a new one by dropping down here to the New Brush icon. Go ahead and click on it, the little Page icon down there at the bottom of the brushes panel, and then select bristle brush. And by the way, even though it's listed fourth, we're discussing it last because it's the newest of the brush entries inside of Illustrator. Now click OK in order to bring up that Bristle Brush Options dialog box. Let's go ahead and name this guy, let's say, base bristle, and we'll worry about the specifics later, but for now this will get us started.
I want you to know, there is a lot of options here, but don't worry too much about them, because they're actually not as hard as they look; they are fairly easy to figure out. And you can preview the results of your modifications after you get done applying a brush to a piece of artwork. So we'll check that out shortly. But I want you to notice upfront that in addition to all these numerical settings, you have ten different fundamental kinds of brushes. Now, bear in mind the whole idea of a bristle brush is that it's a brush with bristles, with hairs in other words. So it's simulating real-world traditional art brushes.
So we have ten different varieties, divided into two categories: Round and Flat. And Flat, by the way, would be a calligraphic brush; in other words it's wider than it is deep. So when you paint, you're going to get non-uniform results. If you want more uniform results, not entirely uniform by any stretch of the imagination, but more uniform than Flat, then you choose one of the Round brushes. Notice within Round and Flat, you have five consistent variations. You've got a point brush, so you've got a round point, and you also have a flat point. And to get a sense of what's going on there, just check out that profile; it will show you what the brush looks like.
So these are hairs that are sharpened to a point. Round blunt and flat blunt are hairs that end essentially in a crew cut, and then we've got round curve and flat curve, the hairs curve gently. Round angle and flat angle, once again, crew cut, but in an angle this time, and then round fan and flat fan, the bristles fan out from each other. I am going to go with round fan, just as a starter point. And you know what? I'm going to increase the size of this brush to 8 millimeters. I like how, even though everywhere else in Illustrator we have been dealing with points, here in the States, all of a sudden we have to do millimeters where the bristle brush is concerned.
So I guess Adobe is trying to get us in the States on the metric system. Anyway, we might as well go ahead and rename this, let's say 8mm round fan, because that's what it is. And we won't worry about the other settings quite yet. Now I'll go ahead and click OK in order to create that new brush. All right, now let's apply it to something so that our settings have some meaning. We can actually preview our adjustments on screen. I'll go ahead and zoom out from the illustration, and just to hide that junk that's up there in the pasteboard, I'll go over to my Layers panel and I'll turn off the chalk alts layer and I'll also turn off the patterns layer.
That way we'll just be able to focus on the illustration itself. And the portion of the illustration I want to change is the big rectangle in the background. And the reason I am selecting the back rectangle is because the forward rectangle is on a locked layer. All right, having done that, I am going to go ahead and switch to the Appearance panel, click on my stroke right there, and I'm going to change the stroke color to white, like so. And we're not really seeing it at this point because it's just a white 1-point stroke. And I'm going to switch out that stroke with this guy right here, my new bristle brush, which is 8mm round fan. I'll go ahead and apply it.
And you're not going to see much going on inside of the illustration window, so what we need to do is tuck the stroke in, so that it's stroking inside of the artboard, and we're going to achieve that using a dynamic effect. So I'll go up to the Effect menu, choose Distort & Transform, and I hope you know where we're going; we're going to choose the Transform command. Or if you loaded DekeKeys, you can press Ctrl+E or Command+E on a Mac. And just through trial and error, I came up with the following values: a Horizontal value of 92.5% and a Vertical value of 91%, and that's it.
Turn on the Preview check box, and you should see a very light brushstroke that's well within the confines of the artboard. All right, so that's good. Click OK. One other modification I want you to apply for now, and that is a little bit of a round corner effect, so that we're rounding off these corners that are associated with the brushstroke and only the brushstroke. So the stroke should still be selected-- that's very important. Then go up to the Effect menu, choose Stylize and choose Round Corners--a command that we have not visited in a long time in this series, even though I use it all the time.
I have set the Radius value to 50 points. That's what I'd like you to do as well. You can turn on Preview, just to get a sense of what's going to happen, and notice that you just go ahead and round off the corners of that brushstroke. Everything else about the rectangle remains nice and sharp. Go ahead and click OK in order to accept that modification. And now what I am going to do is hide my Brushes panel for a moment, and I'm going to zoom in to this upper-left corner of the document, so I can keep an eye on what's going on here. And now we're ready to adjust the bristle brush, and I'm going to show you exactly how to do that, and how the various numerical settings work, in the next exercise.
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