Join Justin Seeley for an in-depth discussion in this video Changing brush size on the fly, part of Illustrator: Shortcuts.
- Whether you're painting in Photoshop, or Illustrator for that matter, it helps to have full control over your brushes, and it really helps to know how to automate the process of controlling those brushes as well. And so, in this movie, I'm going to give you a couple of ways to do that. Let's go to the File menu here, choose New. Just create any document, doesn't matter how big or how small. And then, what we're going to do, I'm going to go into the Preferences. I'm going to Illustrator, Preferences and selecting General. You can also press Command or Control K on your keyboard. I've been using the Show Precise Cursors, I'm going to turn that off.
If yours is already unchecked, that's fine. Go ahead and hit OK. And so once I do that, it's going to then give me the regular cursor, like it does here. So, one of the things that is a little bit confusing about Illustrator, that's not confusing in Photoshop, is the fact that when you're working with the regular Paintbrush tool, just using a regular old brush, and let's just go in here and select the regular brush here. I can't really control the size of this brush by increasing the width of it with my keyboard. The keyboard shortcuts for increasing brush size are the left and right bracket keys, by the way.
And so, when I hit the left and right bracket keys, it doesn't do anything for this particular brush. That's because by default this brush is controlled by stroke weight, so if I increase the size of the stroke here, it's going to make it a little bigger, but I can't control it with my keyboard. Which is an unfortunate thing. But there are certain brushes that you can control with your keyboard inside of Illustrator. So for the most part, just the regular old brush tool, that's not what a lot of people use anyway. People who paint inside of Illustrator use things like the blob brush tool and also the bristle brushes. So let's go over here to my brushes panel, and let's drop this down and to go to the bristle brush menu Choose bristle brush library.
And then in here let's just grab one of these, let's say the 3 point fan. And then let's just collapse this panel, and move this over. Now, one of the things that is a little tricky here is the fact that when you're using this brush and you're increasing the size of it, you're not going to get a visual representation of that. So you have to be very careful. Let's just make what I call a reference stroke. So I'll just make a stroke, sorta like this. If I want the stroke to be thicker, I'll tap the right bracket key a few times, and then I'll make a stroke right next to it, so I can see the difference between the two.
Now, let's decrease the size of it a bit. And I'm just tapping the left bracket key to do that. Here we go, so now you can see I didn't switch brushes, all I did was tap the left and right bracket keys a couple of times so I can make this thicker or thinner. So let's just tap up to make it a little thicker and make another stroke, something like that, and then let's make it thinner, doing something like that. And all I'm doing in between is tapping the left and right bracket keys. You may have to tap them several times to get it to the weight that you want, but that's why you should go in and make what I call a test stroke, just to make sure you're getting exactly what you need.
Often, times when I'm painting or drawing inside of Illustrator using this tool, I'll have two art boards, one where the actual artwork goes, and one as a scratch pad allowing me to quickly and easily set up the brush before I start working so that I know exactly what I'm going to get. Now the blob brush tool works a little different. If you click and hold on the paint brush over here, you can get the blob brush. And the blob brush actually does have a visual representation of how big or how small the brush is going to be. So in this case I can hold down the right bracket key, and as you see, as I'm holding down this bracket key, the blob brush is getting significantly larger.
If I hold down the left bracket key, it starts to get significantly smaller. Once I get it to approximately the size I want it to be, all I have to do is release the bracket key, and then start painting, and it makes marks that are roughly the same size as the cursor that you see here. I can decrease the size and make smaller marks. I can increase the size and make larger marks. So these are the ways that you can control your brushes inside of Illustrator, you just have to know their limitations and how to control them the best.
So my recommendation is to always have some sort of scratch pad handy so you can quickly and easily create your brush and then also get into creating your own brushes as well. We have courses here at lynda.com that cover that, so if you're interested in that, I highly recommend doing a search for Illustrator brushes and then taking some of those courses.