Join Von Glitschka for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating an organic pattern brush, part of Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory.
- [Instructor] Welcome to Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory. In this movie I'm going to answer a question sent in about creating a pattern brush in Illustrator. The person was struggling to get the artwork to align and work correctly, so we're going to create one from scratch and I'm going to show you how it's done, and some tips and tricks that are going to make it a lot easier for you. Now, in this case I wanted to create one that was more organic. Creating a geometric one using 90 degree angles is pretty simple once you see how in general you go about creating one that's far more complex, like this sketch here.
Now, this is just a rough sketch that I just roughed out and created just to guide my general proportions. It isn't by any means precisely drawn, and in this case I didn't bother to even draw it out more precisely. I just used this as my guide, but the one important thing I want you to keep in mind are nesting shapes. Think squares and rectangles. So these are the exacting shapes of the pattern that we're going to create, or the pattern brush that is we're going to create.
And it's made up of these shapes which are just simply two squares. One for the corner, one for an end cap type part of our pattern brush, and one for the areas that are straight. And all of these work together to form everything needed for a pattern brush. So, a nesting shape's going to guide our building efforts, if you will. So, if I turn on my base vectors for this artwork, we'll lock this layer again, you can see how I've created these shapes just to go up, and it stops at this edge.
Now I actually built this full shape so the entire shape looked like this. I just segmented it out for each section it goes into. So where it exits, the top of this straight area, is where it enters this part of the corner, and then where it exits that part of the corner, it has to align and enter into the next end cap in this case for the pattern brush. Now one thing to keep in mind is you want your artwork within these nesting shapes to be centralized, and what I mean centralized is they align through the center of the artwork.
Whether it's going horizontally like this one is, or it's going vertically like this one is, when it gets to the end of each of these shapes, it's towards the center. Now, this isn't absolute, because as you create your artwork, in this case we're going to add leaves to this, if I took the absolute furthest item on the left, which might be this leaf right here, and the furthest item on the right here, which might be this leaf, and I align it with this nesting shape, this blue box, it might not line directly perfectly centered, and it doesn't have to.
That's why we're using a nesting box, because the actual nesting box shapes are going to be part of the pattern brush to ensure that alignment stays intact. So centralized alignment is good in general to keep in mind as you're designing it, but the most important aspect is centralized connections, and these are where it transitions from one part of the pattern brush to the next, have to be aligned. And if they're not, they're not going to work.
Meaning when you go to use the brush, they're not going to line up and it's not going to create that illusion of your pattern wrapping around the path you've applied it to. And I'm going to show you another example moving forward at the end here that will show you another way to think about centralized connections. It doesn't have to be four connections obviously. That's only happening because I have these four vines here. So, what we're going to create here is this simple kind of vine pattern, and we're going to go ahead and do a few things on the artwork to create or further that illusion.
And that is, we're going to go ahead and create some overlap here. So I'm going to zoom in on this. We want to take this shape and this shape is going under this one, over this one, under this one, over this one. So how do you create that illusion? Well it's really simple. We'll select this vine shape here, and on this one we're going to go to Object. We're going to go to Path, Offset Path, and in this case we'll do 2.5 points. I always like working in points.
It makes it easier. And we'll go OK, so you can see what it creates here, and now the next thing I'm going to do is create a couple throwaway shapes. We're going to do one circle just to denote the area where this overlap is happening here, and we'll scroll up here a little bit and denote this area where the overlap is happening here. We're going to select both of these circles, go to Path Finder, and go Unite. And check Appearance, it's a group so we'll turn it into a compound.
I have that setup with my F7 key for keyboard shortcuts. I'm going to select this offset path, select the circles, and we're going to go Intersect on Pathfinder, and you can see how we get these shapes right here, and if you look it's a group, so we want to make sure that's the compound, turn it back into a compound, and now just so you can see what's going on a little better, we'll color this yellow, and now we're going to use this, select this next vine shape here, and we're going to go ahead and remove from that, and it creates this nice little gap, so now this vine looks like it's going under.
And we'll repeat this process to create that illusion of the vines interwinding with one another, and overlapping each other as they kind of grow and the tendrils move upward. And we've done that as you see here. So all we need to do at this point is unite all of our artwork. So let's go ahead and zoom in on this. We're going to go ahead and drag select this artwork, go to Pathfinder. Hit Unite, go to Appearance, and hit Compound Path, which is once again setup as F7 key to create a compound here.
And we can even colorize this just so you can see how it's looking so far. You can see the overlap which goes over and under. We'll go ahead and select the corner part of the brush here. We'll Unite it. Make sure it's compound, and we'll apply the color to this. So once you have your base art, it goes really quick to color it and to get the artwork ready to start using. So you can see how we now have this pattern, and the nice thing about this, let's zoom out a little bit, is if we go back to our nesting box and unlock.
If I go ahead and copy this, Command + C, Command + V. Paste it and let's go ahead and rotate it. You can see when I bring it down here, it's going to perfectly align with the bottom here and create that illusion of the continuation of the vines. That's what a pattern brush is all about. It's almost like a repeat pattern, but applied to a linear path if you will. And so this is the principle by which this kind of design works, but when you go to actually make the working brush, it's okay to design it like I did here, because this is how I sketched it out.
This is how I created it, but it is going to work better if we format it a little differently to create our actual brush. It actually works better to setup a format like this, because if we open up our Brushes palette, you can see I have one pre-formatted, pre-created here. It's mimicking what's shown in the Brushes palette itself, and when we go to create a brush, your brush has to be a distinct black. It can't be a color, it has to be black, and these nesting boxes we have here, these nesting shapes, we don't want these to be any color so I'm going to select these, and we want them there, we just want them no fill and no stroke so you don't see them.
And if I select the straight path here and I drag it into the brush here and let go, it will bring up what kind of brush you want to make. We want to select Pattern Brush and click OK. Then that will bring up this dialog, and Illustrator tries to automate corners for you, which I really don't like algorithms kind of designing for me, so I always turn that off and say no I'll create it myself. And on this case, we'll call this Organic Vine Brush.
And we'll go down to Colorization Method and hit Tints. This will allow us to color it. Stretch to fit is fine. Everything else by default is fine. We'll click OK. So now that we have that, you can see we have this straightaway here. Well how do you get the other pieces? Well it's easy. If I bring this over to the center here, all we have to do is grab this corner. If you hold Option and click and drag you can drag it right into the box it goes in. Ignore what it shows you on here. I really don't like how it does this.
It makes it look like you have the wrong size, which you don't, that's just the way they decided to display it. That's what you want, and then once you've done that, click OK and you can see how it shows up right there. Then we're going to click this one which is the same corner, but we're going to Option + Drag it down right here, let go, click OK, and you can see how now we have that set. We'll go ahead and click on this guy, and Option + Drag him here, and go OK.
That works fine. Then we'll select this one, Option + Drag him at the end here, and click OK. So we've created our pattern brush as you can see there. We'll go ahead and collapse this for now. We'll come back to it in a little bit, and we're going to go ahead and put this to the test. So I'm going to turn this layer on, and what we're going to do is I'm going to apply the brush to this path, so we'll open the brushes here, and with this path selected, because the path is already colored green it will take on that attribute.
So we'll click our brush, and you can see what it looks like. That doesn't look bad. I think it may be a little big. I might want to make the brush a little smaller. In which case there's a couple ways you can do that. You can just do it now immediately with the stroke by going into Strokes and changing the stroke weight. So, maybe you want to change this, since it's one point, we'll try .75, and we'll apply it, and you can control it that way, but I don't like doing it that way because you never know the exact size of the brush, and what it's being used.
So what I do is I'm going to undo that because I'm going to show you what I think is the better way to handle it. And we're going to go back to Layers. We'll turn this off, I'll turn this back on. This was the original brush size. We're going to turn on a Resize Brush so you can see that here. It's the same brush, it's just sized smaller, and what we can do is just Option + Drag these, and just replace everything and you'll have to say Yes, Apply Strokes, and then we'll Option + Drag this into this one.
Then we'll bring this one into here. Then Option + Drag this one in, and all we're doing is just replacing our art with updated sized art. And it's going to ask you that same question each time. So now if we go back to our artwork, it's now the right size and I think this works a lot better. Now obviously if you want to go larger, you could go in here and kick this up, another one, but I don't think it's distorting the art as much.
So that's why it did that. But in this case we can apply this brush to any path so this shows how the end caps work. So you can create really nice motifs. It can be applied to any kind of path that's bending or curving, with exception. I mean, if you get too sharp with a corner or an angle, it's going to distort the pattern. There's no way around that, so it's best to use it elegantly in my opinion, and I'm going to show you one elegant way to use it.
And we'll go ahead and collapse this panel now, and put it back. It's fun to use on circular shapes like this, so I have this brush applied to a circle out here. Then another circle here, and another circle, and I also have applied a different value to each path, so it gives that illusion of depth from more vibrant as it comes closer to you, and dulling the color as it moves away from you. So there's a lot of fun ways you can use it.
So next thing I want to show you is that when you have a brush applied to a path like this, you do want to expand it if you're going to use it in any context. Because if somebody doesn't have a default turned on in Illustrator to scale strokes, you could run into problems. So it's best to go to Object, Expand Appearance, and go ahead and expand it into actual shapes. Now one thing I'll point out because I really don't like it, is that Illustrator, it'll automatically group, so you'll have to ungroup these, but if I select this, look at how many anchor points it adds to it if you use expand like this.
There's no way around it. I don't know why it needs to do that. It just does, I don't like it, but one thing I do before I fuse these together is I'll go into areas that are directly next to each other, or butt-fit if you will, and I'll go ahead and I will adjust these paths and just make them purposefully overlap this other part of the pattern, and the reason why I do that is when I select everything and I go Unite with Pathfinder, if I go to Keyline View, most of the time, Illustrator will fuse them correctly, but sometimes it leaves little lines in it, and so that just prevents that from happening.
And you get clean art that's fused together, in a way that's going to work well. So just a little production thing there, but if you go to Appearance, you can see compound is retained and it's ready to use, and in this case the final artwork was like a sign for a restaurant area, if you will. Now this is just one example of how you could create a pattern brush and use it in the context of design for example. Now I'm going to show you another brush really quickly before we end this, because you can do all kinds of things with pattern brushes.
So on this one you can see the patterns up here, and if I turn on Centralized Alignment, it violates that in terms of it's balanced more to the top side than the bottom side here. And that's okay, because what is the absolute critical part is the centralized connections. These are all dead center, all aligned, so it doesn't matter when you apply it to a path, like this one. You're going to get it working really well.
Now on this one, I just applied it to two different paths, and just reversed the direction, and had Multiply applied to these, so I get this really cool effect. So a lot of things you can do with pattern brushes. So much can be kind of replicated. You could do things that were more realistic, like a chain if you will, to make links in a chain. All kinds of things you can do with it. It's a lot of fun. I highly encourage you to experiment with this and try to create your own pattern brush.
It's not hard, so don't get frustrated, and if you ever get frustrated with anything, I encourage you to send your questions in and let me know what they are. Just send them to email@example.com, and I'll be happy to address it in a future movie. Thank you for watching DVG Lab, and until next time, never stop drawing.
Skill Level Intermediate
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