Join Deke McClelland for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating a pattern brush, part of Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery.
In this exercise, we're going to try our hand at creating a basic pattern brush, and we'll see what can go wrong, and of course I'll show you how to make things right. I'm still working inside pattern brushes.ai, which is found inside the 26_brushes folder. Now down here at the bottom of the illustration, you see the objects that were required in order to create the three brush patterns that I included along with this document. But you'll notice I have several additional path outlines devoted to the red pattern brush, the reason being because that was the first one I created and I had to make certain determinations about what was going to work and what would be aesthetically pleasing and so on.
I am not going to dwell on all of that. However, I'm just going to let you know that these objects are here in case you want to test them out for yourself. Every single one of these six groups down here at the bottom, these are all different variations on the corner tile. And you can try them out if you want to, and you'll see what kind of goes wrong and what works and what doesn't. Anyway, I ended up finding out that this guy worked out the best of the bunch. But again you can try out the others if you like. What I'd like you to do right now however is turn off the build work layer here inside the Layers panel, and then turn on the violet brush layer, because we're going to be creating the violet brush variation, and then go ahead and zoom in on these elements down here in the lower-left region of the illustration. And notice I've already created the corner tile for you, as well as the end tile and the start tile.
But I've not created the all-important side tile. The one tile you have to have when you're creating a pattern brush is that side tile. So we're going to be creating that together. I've gone ahead and created dummy side tiles in the form of these beige tiles right here, but we want violet ones, so we are going to make them ourselves, and here's how, starting with this guy right there. Now this is a group of objects. If you were with me back in chapter 16 of the Advanced portion of the series, you may recall how tile patterns work. But I'm going to do a little refresher here, because they are so darn weird.
The idea is that you have to make sure to include as many objects as are necessary to establish a seamlessly repeating pattern. But even more to the point, then you need to figure out how to crop them; you need to define the style. Now, you don't use any specific crop function, you don't mask the objects. What you do instead is you draw an invisible rectangle, which is this guy right here. You draw that rectangle. That is your tile. You send it to the back of the stack. It has to be in back of the other objects that define the tile pattern, and then it has to have no fill and no stroke.
If you violate any of those rules, then Illustrator slaps you. Basically, the tile pattern isn't going to work. However, this one is set up exactly the way it should be. So you would think, hey, this should work for a pattern brush as well because pattern brushes are based on tile patterns. You have to create the tile patterns first and then the pattern brush second, and I'll show you how that works. So let's start with the tile pattern. I'll go ahead and grab this guy, and I'll drag him and drop him into the Swatches panel, and that creates a new tile pattern swatch. Now, for me, it's called New pattern Swatch 26; for you, it's going to have some other number.
However, I want to rename it. Well, I can't right now because the object is selected. If I try to double-click on the swatch, then I am going to actually apply the tile pattern to either the fill or the stroke, whatever is active inside my selected paths, and that's going to make a mess of things. And the reason I dwell on this is it's so easy to do. You'll just be sitting there working away, especially when you are creating pattern brushes, you create like several tile patterns in row and you're just not paying attention and you end up ruining everything because you forgot to deselect. So make sure to take a moment to click off your paths or press Ctrl+Shift+A, Command+Shift+A on a Mac. Then go over to the Swatches panel and double-click on, in my case New pattern Swatch 26. It might be whatever for you.
I am going to call this "Test pattern" because that's what it is. Click OK. I want to test if it works after all. I am going to zoom out a little bit here, and I am going to scroll up to that first big red Z, the one that is stroked with a tile pattern. So let's go ahead and click on the Z in order to make it active, with the Black Arrow tool. Then I'll click on the down-pointing arrowhead up here in the control panel that's associated with the stroke swatch, and I'll change that stroke to test pattern, and it works brilliantly. Oh my gosh, what a success.
So you would think this is going to work beautifully for a pattern brush as well, because Illustrator should be consistent and follow the same darn rules. Well, it doesn't. Anyway, I'm going to go ahead and scroll over a little bit here because I want you to see that that invisible rectangle serves a different purpose when we're working with pattern brushes. It doesn't crop the pattern. It does define how the pattern fits the outline, but that's it. So, let me show you what's up. Don't select the Z. So we'll start off with it deselected.
I am moving it over to left, however, so we can keep an eye on it. Actually, I am going to scroll it down just a little bit. Then I am going to bring up the Brushes panel, and here's how to make a pattern brush. You drop down to the bottom of the Brushes panel to this little page icon, the New Brush icon, click on it. I'll go ahead and select pattern brush, click OK and that brings up the incredibly complicated Pattern Brush Options dialog box, which contains just about all those options that we saw when we were creating an art brush and then some-- including, by the way, a list of all the tile patterns inside the current document down here in the lower-left region of the dialog box, and these five little buckets.
Notice that there is a side tile, and I was telling you that is the one you have to create. You've got to fill that bucket. Then you've got outer corner and inner corner. All right! So what in the world are those? Well, outer corner, inner corner, those are easy enough to predict where closed path outlines are concerned, and it sort of even gives you a sense of what that's going to look like. So the outer corner would be that outside corner of course of a rectangle, and then if the rectangle was to tuck in, why then those inner areas would be the inner corners. Fair enough. But what happens with an open path like our Z right here? Well, for example, where the Z is concerned, the bottom-left corner is an outer corner, and the upper-right corner is an inner corner.
How do I know that? Because I tested it out. How would you know that? You wouldn't. Only Illustrator would. So what I tend to do is just assign the same corner to the outer corner and the inner corner tile, because both of those need to be filled if you're going to do a corner. But you can experiment, figure out what works for your various path outlines. We also have Start Tile, and then finally we have End Tile. But for now, we're just going to fill one of them, the Side Tile. So I'll make sure that one is active and then I'll drop down here to test pattern, not listed in alphabetical order for some reason. Click on it to make it active, and there we go.
Now, that's the only setting I am going to change other than the name. I'll go ahead and call this guy test pattern brush. But otherwise, I am going to leave all the settings as is, that is, set to their defaults. I am going to mention however that we have a Spacing value. Currently it's set to 0%. That means there is no space, there is no gaps between the repetitions of the tiles. If you want a gap--because what, you're out of your mind--but if you want one, then you can increase that Spacing value. You could say 10%, and of course then you'd have 10% of the size of the tile devoted to spaces between the tiles, and that would result in gaps, and that's not what we want.
Anyway, so I am going to restore that Spacing value to 0 and then click OK in order to create that new pattern brush. There it is! It's called test pattern brush, as you can see, and we're seeing two repetitions of that Side Tile. So it looks like everything is going to work out beautifully. Maybe, I guess. Let's go ahead and click on the brush in order to make it active, or I'll marquee because it's kind of hard to find. So I'll go ahead and select this guy and now let's assign the test pattern brush. It doesn't matter whether the fill or the stroke is active because when you're applying a brush, it always goes to the stroke.
So I'll click on it, and what a disaster. Now, ignore for a moment that we're missing some corners. Well that's because we didn't create any corners. But that's fine. We don't need those. What we need is some semblance of seamless repetition, which we don't have here. First of all we didn't get any cropping from that background rectangle, and that's because the rectangle is used for positioning purposes only. It doesn't crop. But then, why does one overlap the other? There is some sort of cropping going on here, but it's not right. What we need to do is we need to be more careful about our implementation, and frankly, we need to actually manually crop our tile pattern before we begin.
So that background rectangle isn't really going to do us any good. You may find it helpful occasionally, but for our purposes here it's not the right approach. So what I am going to do is show you the exact right approach using some static pathfinder operations in the next exercise.
- Working with dynamic effects
- Placing artwork as a Photoshop Smart Object
- Creating and editing a Gradient Mesh
- Distorting artwork with an Envelope Mesh
- Using the Calligraphic, Art, and Scatter Brushes
- Creating an intricate Pattern Brush
- Importing and graphing data
- Creating a complex pictograph
- Drawing and editing a perspective shape
- Working with the new Perspective Grid tool
- Using the 3D Revolve effect
- Creating 3D type with Extrude & Bevel
- Recording and playing automated actions