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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 am going to introduce you to the fourth kind of brush that's available to you inside Illustrator, and that's the pattern brush. I am working inside of a document called pattern brushes.ai, and it's a kind of pattern laboratory. So over here on the right-hand side you have a series of tile patterns. These are the objects that I use to construct the original tile patterns, all of which are available to me here inside the Swatches panel. So I've got violet wedges, I've got red wedges, and so on all, the way over to beige wedges--so, four of them in all. All the colors in the rainbow represented right here.
Tile patterns, by the way, are pivotal to understanding what's going on with pattern brushes, because you need the former to create the latter. In other words, you need tile patterns to create pattern brushes. Now down here at the bottom of the illustration, you'll see a bunch of objects that I used to build up my pattern brushes. And in all, inside of this document, I have a series of three pattern brushes that I've created: beige wedges brush, orange wedges brush, and red wedges brush. The only one missing is violet wedges brush, and that's the one that you and I are going to build together. All right! I am going to go ahead and hide the Brushes panel for now, because before we can assemble a pattern brush, you have to understand how they work.
I am going to go ahead and zoom into the upper-left corner of this illustration, and notice that I have a couple of path outlines in the shape of Zs--or if you prefer outside the States, Zeds. One of them is stroked with the tile pattern, and the other is stroked with a pattern brush. Now, at first, they may look non- identical with the exceptions of these little sort of sparkles in the corners of the pattern brush shape. But there is a lot of differences going on, even though they are quite similar to each other in terms of the way that they are constructed. But notice this path outline that's stroked with the tile pattern, and you can assign tile patterns as either fills or strokes inside of Illustrator.
When you assign a tile pattern as a stroke, you're essentially masking this repeating pattern inside of the stroked path outline. So the tile pattern is going to respond to any stroke attribute. In other words, I could bring up my Stroke panel. And if I change the line weight, then the stroke is going to get thicker; if I reduce it, it's going to get thinner. I can change my Cap settings. For example, I can switch my cap to a Butt Cap, and that's going to lop off the ends there. I can miter my joints if I want to for nice sharp joints. I can even add a dashed outline if I want to. Now that's not the effect I am looking for, so I am going to go ahead and restore the original settings for this stroke.
However, it is just your everyday, average stroke, albeit we've got a repeating tile pattern going on inside, and the tile pattern notice is repeating without any regard for the angle of my path outline. Compare that to a pattern brush in which the pattern actually follows the contours of the path outline. So rather than masking the tile pattern inside of that stroke, you're actually creating a pattern that follows the stroke, much like text along a path for example. Now, that means that some of your stroke options are not available to you.
You can change the size. Notice right now my Stroke Weight is set to just 1 point. You can change the thickness of the stroke-- I will go ahead and raise it to 2 points-- and that will increase the thickness of the pattern as well. However some of the other attributes make no difference. For example, if I bring up my Stroke panel and I change the Cap, that doesn't matter. If I change the Join, that doesn't make any difference either. You can go ahead and create a dashed outline if you want to, in order to get this wacky effect right here. I don't recommend that where this pattern is concerned, but you may find some use for it in the future. Anyway, I am going to go ahead and once again restore the settings that matter here.
I will go ahead and change that Weight value to 1 point, for example. Now perhaps to compensate for the fact that some of these other stroke options aren't available to you, you have all kinds of additional options when you're creating a pattern brush. And that is, for example, you can create not only the pattern that flows along the sides of the path, but you can also create special patterns that appear at the beginning of the path outline, at the end of the path outline, and at the corners: inner corners, and outer corners.
It gets a little bit complicated, by the way, and it's totally up to you how much you decide to avail yourself of this feature. But it can be a very useful effect, for example, for creating frames, as you're seeing right there. So these rectangles, I've got a couple of rectangles around my Z paths, and each of them are stroked with variations on that wedge brush. Now one more thing I want to tell you before we break here. I am going to bring up the Brushes panel for a moment, so that you can see what the brush looks like inside the Brushes panel. Notice that it's divided into a bunch of chunks, and the reason is we're seeing, first of all, the outer corner, and then we're seeing a couple of sides, and then we are seeing an inner corner effect. And I've got the same effect, by the way, the same pattern set up for the inner and outer corner.
Then you'll see the Start brush and then you'll see the End brush if they are available. There's this other pattern brush that's included with this document, one of the Adobe defaults that's called Decorative Border. It includes a corner, and it includes a side. Illustrator goes ahead and duplicates the side for some reason, just to show you what the sides look like in a row I guess. But it does not include a second corner, nor does it include a start or an end. So you don't have to create anything but a side if you don't want to. I just want you to understand that before we proceed. All right! So that's how pattern brushes work.
In the next exercise, we are going to take a swing at creating one.
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