Archive for November, 2014

Catch-up: Images in Illustrator Brushes

This week’s (very quick) post looks at a feature that was introduced to Illustrator CC2014 back in June, that provides a solution to a long-standing problem where you need to create a complicated-appearance brush based on an image, such as in this example where we want to make a rope to use as a border.

Isolate the Image


In Photoshop, isolate the image to exist on transparency. Crop the image tight along the joining edges to avoid gaps. Save the image as a .psd and maximise compatibility, so that other CC applications can get access to it’s structure (that step isn’t vital here, but it is best practice).

Place the PSD

In Illustrator, use File > Place… (CMD+SHIFT+P/CTRL-SHIFT-P) and locate the .psd you just created. In the Control Strip, ensure that the file has been embedded—if not, click the button to embed the file.

Make the Brush


Now drag the image into the brushes panel, and when the dialog appears, select Pattern Brush. You’ll be taken into another dialog:

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 10.38.36

  • Give your brush a name
  • Determine if your brush uses scaling options, such as pressure
  • Choose corner tiles—CC gives options for auto generating corners
  • Click OK

Now draw a path and apply your brush to it!

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 10.44.22


If you need to make any modifications, double-click the brush in the brushes panel and edit as required. Sometimes I find that I need to change the options for how the image is stretched along segments, for example. This is something that only playing with the feature will really help you to learn what’s going on. Don’t forget that you can also change the options of a single instance of a brush stroke (so if you had three strokes for example, and wanted to make one thinner than the others) by going to the panel flyout of the Brushes Panel, and choosing Options of Selected Object…