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Illustrator can be used to accomplish many different design tasks. For this reason, Illustrator CS4 Essential Training teaches core concepts and techniques that can be applied to any workflow for print, the web, or assets that will find their way into other applications. Mordy Golding explains the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of Illustrator's drawing tools. He demonstrates how to combine and clean up paths, and organize them into groups and layers. Mordy also covers text editing, working with color, expressive brush drawing, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
Of all the four types of brushes, Pattern brushes are by far the most powerful. They are also the most difficult to define, but that's okay, because Illustrator ships with a whole range of Pattern brushes that you can use, and they are also pretty easy to modify. Let's take a look. I go to the Brushes panel, and then from the bottom over here I'll choose to open up some Borders, and then choose for example, Borders_Decorative. Let me click on a few of these just to add them to my current Brushes panel in this document, for example, this one here, and maybe this one, and maybe this one as well. Now what I'm going to do, is I'm going to draw out a regular shape. Let's say for example, the Rectangle tool. Click and drag and draw out a shape, and what's great about brushes is that, and this applies by the way to all brushes, you don't need to use the paint brush tool to paint with a brush. You can actually apply a brush, because if you think about it, we discussed before that every time you used the brush, it was simply a path that you created, and then you had some kind of appearance that applied to a particular path.
Well, if you have a path selected, you can then click on any brush and apply that to that path. So I'll click on this one called Accordion Fold, and what it does is it creates basically a border, but notice that no matter what size I make my particular rectangle, let me go ahead and switch to my Regular Selection tool. I'll turn on my bounding box, to Show Bounding Box, and as I go ahead and I stretch this, and I basically adjust the way that the shape of the rectangle is, the borders simply adjust itself to fit that particular shape. That's the beauty of working with the Pattern brush. The Pattern brush adapts itself, to automatically repeat as many patterns as much as possible, in order to make it fit to the path that you have selected.
For example, I'll switch to this one over here, and I'll see how I get a beautiful border, notice that the corners meet up very well. It doesn't make any difference how I adjust it; the border will always adjust itself automatically to fit that particular path. The way that this works is that the Pattern brush itself has a setting inside of it that will automatically allow it to adjust itself to fit the right path. Let's see how that works. Let me move this particular item down here. I'm going to go to my Brushes panel, and say let's go to this Baroque pattern and double-click on it. You notice that right now for Pattern Brush Options. Let's click on the Preview button here. I see that there are five, what we call Tiles that can be assigned to a particular Pattern brush. These are regular pattern swatches, and we learned how to create pattern swatches before, if you wanted to create your own pattern brush, you would simply create a pattern swatch and drag it in to this particular area. Now when you have a Side Tile here, the Side Tile are the areas along the sides of a shape, and they simply repeat itself over and over again.
Then you have other ones here, for example, Outer Corner and Inner Corner. These are the swatches that are used for whenever you come with a particular corner in your path. Then you also have Start and End points as well. These are used when you are working with paths that are open, not closed. But the most important settings are right here where it says Fit. You can either choose to have your particular pattern Stretched to fit the path or you can choose Add space to fit, which would basically add spaces in between each of the tiles, or you could choose Approximate path, which basically changes the size of your path, so that it best fits the actual pattern tiles in the Pattern brush.
But obviously the one you use most often is Stretch to fit. This will automatically adjust the pattern tiles just a little bit, to make sure that it fits perfectly in a path. I'll click OK over here, and remember that there are plenty of Decorative borders, and other kinds of pattern brushes that come with Illustrator, and if you want to reverse engineer them, simply take any brush whatsoever from the brushes panel, drag it out on to your desktop, and you will see the actual artwork that was used to define those pattern tiles.
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