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Creating Scatter Paintbrushes

Is throwing paint against a wall "art"? We’ll pass on that aesthetic and philosophical debate, except to note that if that’s the effect you want, the scatter brush is your tool. Scatter brushes scatter a defined pattern along a path.

In my book Adobe Illustrator CS3 HOW-TOs: 100 Essential Techniques, for example, I use a scatter brush to create a swirling field of stars, as shown in Figure 9.

Figure 09

Figure 9 Scattering a field of stars with a scatter brush.

Here’s how it works:

  1. The first step in creating a scatter brush is to draw some artwork. Then drag the artwork onto the Brushes panel. The New Brush dialog box appears.
  2. Select the New Scatter Brush option and click OK. The Scatter Brush Options dialog box opens.
  3. Type a name in the Name field.
  4. Use the sliders and other options in the Scatter Brush Options dialog box to modify the pattern as desired:
    1. Size determines the size of the pattern in relationship to the size of the original drawing.
    2. Spacing defines the space between instances of the artwork as it scatters on the artboard.
    3. The Scatter slider specifies how far from the scatter brush art will be placed.
    4. The Rotation setting controls how much objects will rotate as the paintbrush is applied to a curved path. Rotation can be relative to either the page or the path (see Figure 10).
    5. The Method pop-up list in the Colorization section of the dialog box controls how coloring is added (or not added) to the original stroke color. (Click the Tips button to see a preview of each option.)
    Figure 10

    Figure 10 Defining scatter brush options.

  5. When you’re finished defining your scatter brush’s options, click OK to generate the brush.
  6. 6. Apply the scatter brush by clicking on a selected path with the Selection tool, and then clicking the new brush in the Brushes panel.
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