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Working with the Brush tool


Animated Character Design with Illustrator

with Angie Taylor

Video: Working with the Brush tool

Working with the Brush tool provides you with in-depth training on 3D + Animation. Taught by Angie Taylor as part of the Animated Character Design with Illustrator
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Watch the Online Video Course Animated Character Design with Illustrator
Video Duration: 6m 52s2h 33m Intermediate Jan 14, 2011

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This workshop from author and animator Angie Taylor teaches how to use Illustrator's tools and features to prepare 2D files for animation in Adobe After Effects. Discover how to make the most of Illustrator's drawing tools and Autotrace feature, and to how use Live Paint and Kuler to recolor artwork. Plus, get a ton of tips and tricks for giving artwork a hand-drawn look and find out how to set up layers, aspect ratios, and transparency options for importing into After Effects. The lessons are focused and solution-oriented, and all the project files are included.

Topics include:
  • Setting up the work area
  • Bringing artwork into Illustrator
  • Tracing artwork manually
  • Creating complex shapes
  • Working with paths
  • Using Live Trace
  • Coloring artwork
  • Applying 3D effects
  • Exporting artboards
  • Options for saving files
3D + Animation Design video2brain
Angie Taylor

Working with the Brush tool

If you're used to painting in applications like Photoshop, you may want to try using the brush tool. Now, the brush tool uses brushes to draw vector lines in Illustrator. They're still vector-based lines, but they draw using textured brushes. Now at the moment, if I open up my brushes panel over here, if you can't see your brushes panel, you can open it up by going to the window menu, and choosing brushes, or hitting F5. Now, with the brushes panel, I can load up different styles of brushes.

So I can go to this win menu here, and choose open brush library. And Illustrator comes free with lots of different kinds of brushes. Now, the ones that I'm going to use are the artistic brushes. And we're going to start by having a look at the calligraphic brushes. And these represent calligraphy tools, like fountain pens and different shaped nibs. So, it allows you to draw as if you're drawing with a shaped nib like a flat chiseled nib for example. Now if I look at the thumbnails, I can get a rough idea of what the line is going to look like.

But I can get more of an idea if I go to list view, because then it will describe the shape of the brush, as well as showing me a little indication of the shape. So if I'm looking for something flat, maybe a ten point flat brush and it's very easy for me to select it. Now notice that, when I choose it here in my artistic calligraphic panel, it places it into the brush's panel, and makes it live. Which means, when I start to draw, it's going to draw using that brush. You can also see the brush listed up here as well and these options can be changed at anytime. Now, if I start to draw with that you'll notice that ten points is probably a little bit too fat.

So, I'm going to undo that. Now, you would think that you would adjust size of the brush by doing this. Now, you can do but if I draw now It's kind of going 2 points away from 10 points, which is confusing so it's kind of like 12 points. So, rather than adjusting the stroke settings what I recommend you do so we'll just undo that, and we'll undo our stroke settings back to 1 point. We'll choose our 10 point brush, what I recommend you do is actually double-click this and edit it. So, I am going to double-click it here and I am going to change it to four point flat brush and will change it here as well. And the good thing about this is you are changing it forever, we can start to build up a set of brushes that you want to use in Illustrator, so click on Okay. And now if I draw with that brush, you'll see I get a nice, variable width. So sometimes it's fatter, sometimes it's thinner, depending on the angle that I draw with.

And of course, I'm drawing with my Wacom pen, so the Wacom pen, the direction it's moving is relating to the direction of the curve, if you like. So, we're getting a really nice inky kind of look. You know, it really feels like I'm drawing with ink, it's really nice to draw with. So, if you want a varying edge rather than a really straight edge, it's nice to draw with the calligraphic brushes. Now, once you've drawn them, you can select them, and edit them, and smooth them, and redraw them in the same way that you can with a pencil tool.

If I go back to the brush tool and double click it, I'll open up the Options. And you'll see it's got the same options as the pencil tool, but it defaults to having edit selected path switched off. Because usually, when you're drawing with the pen tool, you're doing multiple strokes. But if you want to adjust any of your strokes, you can just switch that on and then just redraw the strokes until you're happy with them, exactly the same as the pencil tool. Now as well as having calligraphic brushes like that, you can also go back to the brushes panel and choose from open brush library, some artistic brushes. And the ones that I'm going to look at are ones that look like paintbrushes. And you'll see it lists then here for me in this little panel, and I can scroll down and decide which kind of brush I want to use. So, I'm going to start with something like this.

Now, you'll notice that if I have a stroke selected and I choose that brush, it's going to apply it to the brush strokes. So I'm going to undo that and just deselect that before I choose the brush. Now, instead of having to go to the selection tool and back to the brush tool you can simply hold down the Command key or Control key on PC and that will toggle to the deselection tool. Now again I'm going to select the brush that I want to use and now every line that I draw from this point on will be using that style.

Now again, you'll notice that it's a little too fat, the default settings, so I'm going to undo that. Now, you can double-click the brush here, it's slightly different from the calligraphic brush. You can adjust the width here, so if you want to bring down the width of the stroke you can do, and click okay, and now when I redraw it you'll see I've got a narrower stroke. Now if I had drawn that and then double clicked it and made a change and clicked Okay. It would ask me, do you want to apply that to the stokes or do you want to leave them as they are? And if I say apply to strokes, it will fatten any existing strokes. Again, if I'd said no, I don't want to apply it to strokes, then it would leave the stroke as it is, but from that point on it will adjust the stroke. So let's apply to strokes again.

So now I've got much finer line. Again, I can redraw it for once to be a little bit more precise. And what I'm going to do is just draw in his nose and his mouth, and his chin. Of course, you don't have to draw that as one continuous line but I just felt confident there so I decided to do it. And we'll draw his ear over there, and a couple of lines there. Now again, you'll notice that it's redrawing the lines so I may have to change my options take off, edit selected paths and just redraw that.

You'll see I'm getting a much more inky look to my brush strokes. You can just up the stroke setting as well and you'll notice that effects the line. If I only want it to effect it on the non-selected lines, then I'll put up 2 to 3 points and draw in the eyebrows. You'll see for the eyebrows I get a nice thick, (UNKNOWN) stoke for his bushy eyebrows. So that's a little bit about the paint tool. As I said, all the paths that are created are editable, and you can adjust the settings for the brush by double-clicking it here in the brushes panel.

And there's various different techniques that you can use for doing that if you also click on this button that opens a dialog box, which allows you to adjust the width, flip it, and add tints to it. That, that's a little bit about the brush tool.

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