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Brush Basics in Illustrator 8

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Brush Basics in Illustrator 8

excerpted from Illustrator 8 for Windows and Macintosh: Visual QuickStart Guide, by Elaine Weinmann and Peter Lourekas

ILLUSTRATOR'S BRUSHES are an illustrator's dream. They combine the ability to draw variable, freehand brushstrokes or apply a pattern or objects to a path with all the advantages of vector graphics--small file sizes, resizability, and crisp output.

brushes paletteThere are two ways to work with the brushes: Choose the Paintbrush tool and a brush and draw a shape right off the bat with a brushstroke built in or apply a brushstroke to an existing path.

To change the contour of a brushstroke, you can use any tool or command you'd normally use to reshape a path (Reshape, Pencil, Smooth, Erase, Add-anchor-point, Convert-anchor-point, etc.).

The brushes come in four flavors: scatter, calligraphic, art, and pattern, and they are stored on and accessed from the Brushes palette. The brushes that are currently on the Brushes palette save with the document. If you modify a brush that was applied to any existing paths in a document, you'll be given the option via an alert box to update those paths with the revised brush. You can also create your own brushes.

As a first introduction to the brushes, grab the Paintbrush tool, click on a default brush on the Brushes palette, and draw (see the instructions on the following page).

To draw with the Paintbrush tool:

Paintbrush tool
Fig. 1 Paintbrush tool.

Fig. 2

simple strokes
Fig. 3 Simple strokes drawn with Illustrator's default "Marker" art brush.

  1. Choose the Paintbrush tool (B) (Figure 1), and choose a fill of None.

  2. Click a brush type on the Brushes palette: calligraphic, scatter, art, or pattern (Window menu > Show Brushes).

  3. Draw with the Paintbrush tool to create an open path shape (Figures 2-3).


A path created with the Paintbrush tool can be reshaped with the Pencil or Direct-selection tool.


Choose Edit menu > Select > Brush Strokes to select all the brushstrokes in an illustration.

Settings you choose for the Paintbrush affect only future--not existing--brushstrokes. You'll learn how to choose options for individual brushes later.

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