Adobe Illustrator One on One Mastery Notes 02

Adobe Illustrator One on One Mastery Notes for Chapter 4: Brushes

Hello my name is Christian and I am a graphic designer based in Massachusetts. In this post I will be detailing my notes for Chapter 4 of Deke McClelland's Adobe Illustrator One on One Mastery. The chapter covers brushes.

First, to bring up the brush panel go to Window > Brushes or use the keyboard shortcut F5. While in the Brushes panel you will notice a wide variety of brushes. There are 5 different kinds of brushes: Calligraphic, Scatter, Art, Bristle, and Pattern. To apply a brush select a path and click on any brush within the Brush panel. This should work for most objects in Illustrator but for live editable text you need to use the Appearance panel. With the editable text selected and enter the Appearance panel via Window > Appearance or the keyboard shortcut Shift + F6. Within the Appearance panel add a new stroke with the icon at the bottom left of the Appearance panel or the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Alt + / (Cmd + Opt + / for Mac). This new stroke can have a brush applied to it.

How to Customize a Brush

Once you have applied a brush, you can customize settings in two ways. The first is to change the brush by double clicking on it within the Brush panel. This option will change the brush permanently. The second option is to click on the icon in the bottom of the panel called Options of Selected Object. This will bring up the Stroke Options menu. Any changes made here will apply to the currently selected object(s) and will not permanently change the brush. Another way to edit the brush appearance is to apply effects via the Appearance panel.

Color Issues

You may encounter an issue where the brush color does not match the fill color of an object. This will occur if the brush was not created with a rich black. There are two ways to fix this problem. Change the brush to be rich black or outline the brush stroke. To change a brush to rich black, click on and drag the brush you wish to change on the artboard. Once the brush has been moved from the Brush window onto the artboard select the object and change the color #000000. With the correct black version of the brush selected drag the object and place it within the Brushes window. Make sure to match the settings of the original brush. The second method of changing the brush stroke color to match the fill color of an object is to outline the stroke. This method does remove the stroke and editability but is another option.

Another color issue you may encounter is with a Scatter Brush. If a brush is not accepting the stroke color even when you select Hue Shift as the Colorization Method you need to edit the brush. First make sure to have your desired color as the stroke then double click on the brush. Within the Stroke Options menu change the Colorization Method to Hue Shift. Now click on the eyedropper icon. With the eyedropper tool active click on the image of the brush within the Scatter Brush Options. Whatever color you choose will be replaced by the current stroke color. You can see which color will be replaced next to the eyedropper icon.

Creating a Brush

To create a brush drag an object into the brush panel. As a general note when working in Adobe Illustrator with brushes make sure to have a copy to return to in case you need to edit the brush. To replace a current brush hold alt and drag the object above the brush you want to replace. Do note that with this method you cannot create a calligraphic or bristle brush as those brushes rely solely on numerical data. Within the Art Brush Options the brush scale option of stretch between guides is helpful if you have an object such as an arrow. By defining the guides you can avoid stretching the arrowhead. But for most brushes you will just want to rename, set the brush scale to stretch to fit stroke length, and set the colorization method to tints (if you are working with RGB Rich Black). You may encounter a problem at the start/end of paths when you are creating a brush where there is a gap or too much of the brush. The solution is to adjust the different ends and starts through trial and error. First by deleting the the points at both ends and making a smooth curve. Adjusting the curve as needed.

You may encounter an issue with a pattern brush not appearing correctly. This is more apparent when working with duplicates of a pattern brush such as a top and bottom border of an image. To resolve the lack of symmetry you can adjust flip the pattern brush within the stroke options menu found via the Options of Selected Object button from the Brush panel.

To apply a pattern to an art brush you must expand the object. You are removing the ability to edit the brush so creating a copy to return to is advised. Once you expand the object you can apply a pattern. As with all objects you can customize the object within the appearance panel with additional fills and strokes.

Type as a Pattern on a Path

It's good to start with the differences between an art brush versus type on a path. An art brush always adopts the size of the path while text does not. In some instances you may want to use type as an art brush. You cannot use editable text as a brush so the text must be converted to outlines by going to Type > Create Outlines. At this point you create the brush as you would any other object.

Adjusting Width of Paths

There are two ways to adjust the width of different points on a path. Manually with the Width Tool (Shift + W) or numerically via the Width Point Edit menu. The Width tool his is done by double clicking on a point while the Width Tool is active. This also adds an additional size option in the Stroke Options (Art Brush) menu of Width/Points/Profile where you can adjust the width further.


This is the section where I put some minor notes on things I learned from watching Deke McClelland work that I didn't know before.

Alt click on the Create New Layer button in the Layer panel to create a new layer with a dialog box.

In the far left corner of the control panel you can see a descriptor of the current selection such as a group, type, mixed objects, no selection, etc. It is right under the Ai Icon.

There is a Type on a Path Options menu which can be found under Type > Type on a Path > Type on a Path Options... Among other things you can change how the type aligns to the path with options of baseline, ascender, descender, and center. Furthermore you can adjust the baseline shift distance within the Character panel.

Video Tutorial going over Brushes

That's it for this post. Hope you enjoyed and found it useful. Coming soon is a video tutorial of this post and the next set of Adobe Illustrator Mastery One on One Notes for Chapter 5 and 6 Patterns and Gradient Mesh. For now check out the blog post that covers Blend Modes here: Adobe Illustrator One on One Mastery Notes 01

Please check out Deke McClelland's course here: Adobe Illustrator One on One Mastery.