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Brush Corners

Pattern Brushes Made with a Raster Image

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Overview: Isolate a part of a photo to use as a raster brush by creating a mask for it in Photoshop or image editor; import image into Illustrator, embed and resize image; create a Pattern Brush from the raster image; use the Pattern Brush Options to specify the attributes.

Applying a pattern brush along a path is fairly simple, and now Illustrator can help create the corners for you. In fact, Illustrator can assist in creating corners for raster brushes!

  1. Preparing a bitmap image to use as a brush in Illustrator. In Photoshop, Lisa Jackmore selected the medallion in her photo, clicked the Layer Mask icon (to isolate it) and then with the mask selection active she chose Image> Crop to trim the file to the size of the medallion. To bring the image into Illustrator as an embedded image, she then saved it as PNG to keep the file size as small as possible. You can use either PSD or PNG to bring in a masked object with opacity. Jackmore opened the image directly in Illustrator. Alternatively if you choose Edit> Place, you can disable the Link option, or if it’s already a linked image in your document you can click Embed from the Control panel. Jackmore then resized the image to the correct size for the frame she intended to make (holding Shift when she dragged the corner of the bounding box).

  2. Creating the Pattern Brush. Jackmore dragged the image to the Brushes panel, selected Pattern Brush, and clicked OK. For the first version of her brush, in the Pattern Brush Options, she named the brush, kept the scale Fixed (100%), Spacing 0%. She selected the Outer Corner Tile and chose Auto-Centered and then clicked the Inner Corner Tile and chose Auto-Centered as well. Jackmore chose Approximate Path and Spacing at 0%. She made a rectangle with the Rectangle tool and selected the Medallion Pattern Brush in the Brushes panel. Because Jackmore chose the Approximate Path option and Spacing at 0%, her medallion Pattern Brush evenly distributed around the path without gaps between the medallions, and without distortion. However, depending on the size, it adjusts the path size to accommodate the pattern tile. The smaller the pattern, the less your pattern will be modified as it’s applied. You can reduce the scale of your pattern by just adjusting the stroke weight in the Control panel.

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    By clicking Stroke in the Control panel, you can reduce the stroke weight and minimize the adjustment of your path when choosing the Approximate Path option

  3. Experimenting with brushes. When experimenting with brushes, it’s always best to work with a duplicate. To do this, drag the brush you wish to modify to the New Brush icon in the bottom right of the Brushes panel. Then to modify this brush, double-click it in the panel. In Pattern Brush Options you can then try the different spacing options as well as a different type of Auto-Corner, Fit, and Scale. Rename the brush to reflect the modifications that you chose, and click OK. You can then apply this brush to another path, or you can duplicate the original path and then apply the modified version so you can compare the brushes.

    You can continue to make new brushes until you’ve experimented with all the different parameters, and if the brushes are meaningfully named, you’ll be able to figure out if there is a different combination of Corner, Fit, and Scale you want to try. If your image is a complicated shape or has a repeating pattern, it will be more challenging to find the right Auto-Corner. If you find you do not like the Auto-Corner results, you may have to go back into your image editor and make adjustments to the image and then try the Auto-Corners again. If that doesn’t completely fix your corners, you can manually edit the corners in Illustrator (see the following galleries for more about updating brush definitions).

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