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Using Pattern Brushes in Adobe Illustrator CC

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In Adobe Illustrator CC, there are hundreds of interesting Pattern brushes that you can choose from when creating your own projects, from grass to cityscapes. This excerpt shows you how to apply an existing Pattern brush to a path.

Note: This excerpt does not include the lesson files. The lesson files are available with purchase of the book.

From the book

Pattern brushes paint a pattern made up of separate sections, or tiles. When you apply a Pattern brush to artwork, different tiles of the pattern are applied to different sections of the path, depending on where the section falls on the path—the end, middle, or corner. There are hundreds of interesting Pattern brushes that you can choose from when creating your own projects, from grass to cityscapes. Next, you’ll apply an existing Pattern brush to a path to create window on the ship.

  1. Choose View > Fit Artboard In Window.
  2. In the Brushes panel, click the panel menu icon (), and choose Show Pattern Brushes, and then deselect Show Bristle Brushes.
  3. Click to select the brush named Windows in the Brushes panel.
  4. Next, you will apply the Pattern brush and then edit its properties.

  5. Select the Selection tool () in the Tools panel. Shift-click the two paths on the orange ship shape to select them both.
  6. Choose the Windows Pattern brush from the Brush Definition menu in the Control panel to apply the Pattern brush.
  7. Next, you will edit the brush properties for the selected paths.

  8. Choose Select > Deselect. Click the bottommost path with the Windows brush applied to select it.
  9. Click the Options Of Selected Object button () at the bottom of the Brushes panel to edit the brush options for only the selected train tracks on the artboard. This opens the Stroke Options (Pattern Brush) dialog box.
  10. Select Preview in the Stroke Options (Pattern Brush) dialog box. Change the Scale to 110% either by dragging the Scale slider or by typing in the value. Click OK.
  11. When you edit the brush options of the selected object, you only see some of the brush options. The Stroke Options (Pattern Brush) dialog box is used to edit the properties of the brushed path without updating the corresponding brush.

  12. Choose Select > Deselect, and then choose File > Save.

Creating a Pattern brush

You can create a Pattern brush in several ways. For a simple pattern applied to a straight line, for instance, you can select the content that you’re using for the pattern and click the New Brush button () at the bottom of the Brushes panel.

To create a more complex pattern to apply to objects with curves and corners, you can select artwork in the Document window to be used in a pattern brush, create swatches in the Swatches panel from the artwork that you are using in the Pattern brush, and even have Illustrator auto-generate the Pattern brush corners. In Illustrator, only the side tile needs to be defined. Illustrator automatically generates four different types of corners based on the art used for the side tile. These four auto-generated options fit the corners perfectly.

Next, you’ll create a Pattern brush for the border around the poster.

  1. Choose View > Pattern objects. This should show you a zoomed-in view of the life preserver and rope off the right edge of the artboard.
  2. With the Selection tool () selected, click to select the rope group.
  3. Click the Brushes panel icon () to expand the panel, if necessary, click the panel menu icon (), and choose Thumbnail View. In the Brushes panel, click the New Brush button () to create a pattern out of the rope.
  4. Notice that Pattern brushes in Thumbnail view are segmented in the Brushes panel. Each segment corresponds to a pattern tile. The side tile is repeated in the Brushes panel thumbnail preview.

  5. In the New Brush dialog box, select Pattern Brush. Click OK.
  6. A new Pattern brush can be made regardless of whether artwork is selected. If you create a Pattern brush without artwork selected, it is assumed that you will add artwork by dragging it into the Brushes panel later or by selecting the artwork from a pattern swatch you create as you edit the brush. You will see the latter method later in this section.

  7. In the Pattern Brush Options dialog box, name the brush Border.
  8. Pattern brushes can have up to five tiles—the side, start, and end tiles, plus an outer corner tile and an inner corner tile to paint sharp corners on a path.

    You can see all five tiles as buttons below the Spacing option in the dialog box. The tile buttons let you apply different artwork to different parts of the path. You can click a tile button for the tile you want to define, and then you select an auto-generated selection (if available) or a pattern swatch from the menu that appears.

  9. Under the Spacing option, click the Side Tile box (the second tile from the left). The artwork that was originally selected is in the menu that appears, along with None, and any pattern swatches found in the Swatches panel. Choose Pompadour from the menu.
  10. In the Preview area below the tiles, you will see how the new artwork effects a path.

  11. Click the Side Tile box again, and choose the Original option.
  12. Click the Outer Corner Tile box to reveal the menu.
  13. The outer corner tile has been automatically generated by Illustrator based on the original rope artwork. In the menu, you can choose from four types of corners that are automatically generated:

    • Auto-Centered. The side tile is stretched around the corner and centered on it.
    • Auto-Between. Copies of the side tile extend all the way into the corner, with one copy on each side. Folding elimination is used to stretch them into shape.
    • Auto-Sliced. The side tile is sliced diagonally, and the pieces come together, similar to a miter joint in a wooden picture frame.
    • Auto-Overlap. Copies of the tiles overlap at the corner.

    Choose Auto-Between from the menu. This generates the outer corner of any path that the Pattern brush will be applied to from the rope.

  14. Click OK. The Border brush appears in the Brushes panel.
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