Skip to main content

Pattern Brushes

Lesson 7 from: Create Brushes in Adobe Illustrator

Jason Hoppe

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

7. Pattern Brushes

Pattern brushes can be created with simple or complex designs and create patterns, arrows, borders, frames, corners and end points over any length or size of stroke. Pattern brushes uses the Patterns Panel to correctly set up the artwork for repeating patterns in the brush.
Next Lesson: Brush Libraries

Lesson Info

Pattern Brushes

Moving on to pattern brushes. Pattern brushes take a little bit of planning to make them work really well. But they're also pretty dynamic brushes. Here, I've created a shape in one of the default set of brushes is called this denim seam. And you can see that no matter what shape I make, large or small, this pattern brush will simply go along the stroke. It seems like it morphs to the stroke. It's just this nice repetition. Here is another pattern brush here called rectangles and it simply repeats. So what I'm gonna do is show you how we can go and create a pattern brush using a couple different methods here. First of all, I'm gonna just start off with some green circles. So kind of like this linked chain and with this links I'm gonna select them first, go to the brushes panel, use the brushes drop down menu, choose new brush, but I wanna turn this into a pattern brush. The pattern brush style log box comes up and it's going to show me how this pattern that I have created actually turn...

s into a brush. Now what's interesting is you can see that I can see my repeating sets of elements here. I need to do a little bit more planning in order to make this pattern brush work. I have to create basically segments that are going to link together or else I'm going to get these very clear delineations between these edges. So I'm going to click cancel and I'm gonna show you what we have to pay attention to in order to make this work. I'm going to use the direct selection tool and take off the ends of my circles. To create kind of like the set of links. And another thing that I have to keep in mind too, this bounding box that's going to go around this so I can truly define my pattern. I'm gonna put on some guides on the page, I'm gonna turn on my rulers by going under view. Go to rulers, I'm going to show them. Command or Control R. And then I'm going to pull a guide from the side ruler and I'm going to snap it to the very end of my artwork here and the far end of the other end of my artwork. And this is basically the area in which my pattern has to reproduce. Now you'll notice that if I don't run these circles to the ends here, when I put this and I try to make this into a pattern brush, I'm gonna have gaps in between. So I'm going to move those shapes until they go right to the end of my object. And I can move my guide out of the way and make sure that I get it right there, okay, so it fits right at the end of the object. I'm going to do the same thing here. So with my guides in place, I wanna make sure that my artwork goes to the very end of the far edge of my repeating pattern. I'm going to move my half circles to the end where it goes and touches the guide as well. And the reason why is because if I don't, I'm going to have a gap between where these are going to join together. Now you don't have to turn on the guides, but it does make it very easy to then be able to move this and snap them to this. I'm going to turn off the guides by going under view and going under guides, then I'm going to hide the guides. Now to see if this is actually going to repeat in a continuous fashion, I'm going to select all of my artwork here and use my option or all to click and drag. And if I plug this in right over here, I can see that I get a perfect repeating pattern. So, that's gonna work really well. Now I'm going to take my objects, go to the brush panels, new brush. I'm gonna turn this into a pattern brush and I'm going to click okay. Now you'll see that it creates this very nice continuous pattern with no gaps. And the tile that is going to be the main tile, they call it the side tile that can go along and create the entire line, self-propagates into this little tile window. The outside corner tile, there's a drop down menu, and it will auto-generate these tiles for you. So you can choose from the different auto-generated tiles how your corners are going to be. In this case, I think the auto-sliced version looks pretty good. I'm gonna do the same thing for the inner corner tile. Click on the drop down menu and I can choose the auto-generated ones here too, to create those. The end, the start and the end ones have to be done in a way to make this so that I create the little caps on the end. You're gonna find that most of the pattern brushes that you either load in or you find in the libraries, so we're gonna talk about libraries after this video, don't have the end caps on it. It's not very common that you see end caps on there. But I'm gonna show you how to build it anyway. So, here in my pattern brush name, I'm going to call this my green circles and I'm gonna click okay. And they will be applied to my brush as a pattern brush. Now, I'm gonna zoom out and I'm going to grab my brush and I'm simply going to paint a line and apply that. And there's my green circles. Great. Let's see how this looks when I apply it to an existing shape. Gonna apply this, click on the green circles. I can reduce the point size of my stroke and I can see that this does a really nice job of repeating all around here instead of placing all these circles manually. So this, very cool. This is why I like to use the pattern brushes, cause you can seriously create anything. Takes a little bit of time, little bit of complication, but it can be done. Now, I want to show you a little bit more advanced portion of this. What I'm gonna do is instead of selecting my object and making the brush directly from here, I'm going to turn this into a pattern before I create my brushes panel. So this is going to be my edge or my field tile right here and I've created it so it's got perfect symmetry left and right if I were to flip this, everything's going to be exactly the same. I've also created end caps for my start and my end here that line up exactly, so that if the end caps were put together, it looks like this is a continuous shape. I'm gonna take my edge tile or my field tile, go to the window menu, go down to my pattern options, and the pattern options panel will pop up here. Now, it's not lit up because we have not turned this into a pattern. The pattern options panel is a little bit different because it doesn't stay up with your other panels. It only pops up when you call it up and disappears when you're done. So I have my edge tile selected, I'm gonna click on the pattern options drop down menu and choose make pattern. It's gonna tell me that this pattern has been added to my swatches panel. If your swatches panel isn't open, it will open it and it adds it right here. But it also says that any changes made while we're working with this will automatically by applied to the swatch upon exit. It'll save that swatch. There's nothing else that I need to do. If I do make any edits, it'll automatically update my swatches. Once I click okay and get into the pattern options, I have my little preview window or my definition of where this pattern is coming from and how it's going to be reproduced. I can dim the reproductions of this back in the background here so that I don't have them as strong, simply for viewing purposes. But what I'm most paying attention to here is how this pattern repeats from left to right. And I can see that it has a very nice repetition but no cuts or slices or little blips in there. And I like this. So to say okay we're all finished with this, I'd go up to the gray bar up here in my new pattern editing and I simply click done. If I hit cancel, I have to start all over. If I hit save a copy, that's now gonna save a duplicate of this in the swatches panel and that's not what I wanna do. I just simply wanna click done. Remember that there is no save button cause it told me with that preview window anything that I do will automatically be saved. Basically, updated. So if I'm done and everything looks good I'm simply going to click done. Now let's see how this works. Going back to the brushes panel, I'm going to create a new brush and you notice that I have nothing selected in my document. So I'm gonna choose the pattern brush and I'm gonna click okay and the brush options come up empty. So in my tile drop down sections, I'm going to choose my new pattern that I created here and it creates all of my edge or my field tiles. Cool! Looks good. Preview looks great. Let's go and pick out the corners. So I'm going to choose the auto-generated corners. And I've got the different sets of corners that I can choose from here, whichever is going to look the best. And I like this particular version of it. Creates a nice set of corners the way it renders that graphic there, looks good. I'm going to do this for the inner corner tile as well and I'm going to choose from the auto-generated patterns right here. This looks good overall. Now I want to do my end caps and you'll notice when I click on here, there are no end caps because I have to specify the end caps. So for now, I'm going to name this pattern brush and I'm gonna click okay. Let's now go in and create our end caps. I've already created my end caps and I've showed you how when I move them up there they fit perfectly and they look like they're going to be a perfect fitting end cap. So I'm gonna select one of the end caps here and go under the window menu. Go to my pattern options. Comes up blank until I click on the drop down menu and choose make pattern. It's now added to my swatch panel. I click okay. Now, what I need to do here is I need to give this a little bit more space. The reason why is if I am fine with this end cap, what it's going to give me is, is gonna give me this repeating end cap that kind of shows me in the preview here and I want just one end cap. I don't want them stacked right on top of each other. In the patter options, I'm gonna click on this little robot looking tile here, which is the pattern tile tool. And it gives me a bounding box around my pattern. I'm going to specifically pull this out so that it's going to be about three times as wide here and the reason why is because I don't want this pattern end tile repeated numerous times. I simply just want it to be here and then it stops with nothing else repeated after it. Now I'm going to click done. I'm going to select the other end tile here. Again, go under the window, go under the pattern options, drop down menu, make a patter with this, it adds that one to my swatch panel and I'm then going to use my pattern tile tool and I'm going to pull this bounding box all the way here, giving it lots of space at the end of my end cap so it doesn't repeat. This is what it's going to look like. I may gonna, I'm gonna pull this out ever so slightly more. There we go. So now I get that space on the end. This is what the end cap is gonna look like. Just, the end cap by itself. If the preview looks like this and you see something like this, you're going to get multiple end caps together. And that's not what you want at all. So I'm gonna pull that out until I get it free and clear, lots of space and I'm gonna click done. I now have my end caps. Going back to my brushes panel, I'm going to double click on the chain icon, the one that I just created and I'm gonna edit this. So here is the start and here is the end tile. So from the drop down menu, I'm going to go and I'm going to choose my start pattern and my end. So this is the start and that's the end. So I'm gonna choose my start one here and I'm gonna apply that and its like, oh, whoops, that's not the one that I wanted. Not a problem, I'm going to go here and that's going to be the end right there. Okay? And that applies. Now you'll look at that and it's like, oh it doesn't line up. It will. And the reason why I know it will is because I made this to match here. So, yes this preview looks funky but here's one of these things you're just gonna have to trust me. So the start tile I'm now going to go in here and I'm gonna choose my start tile and apply it there. So here's my auto-generated corner, my side or my field tile, my other auto-generated corner and then the patterns that I made and specified here. Again, this preview is not exact, all right? But it is going to work. Now I'm gonna click okay. So now it's updated. Let's see how this works. I'm going to apply this to an existing shape and see how this works. So I click the chain and it comes together. Wow! Okay, so the stroke is big but I can adjust the stroke weight down. Well let's see how the end caps look when I'm working with an open shape. So I'm gonna take my brush tool and I'm gonna come in here and I'll do a nice little flowing line with this. (gasps) Look at those end caps. Beautifully placed, two different ways. You can start off with artwork first and then just apply that or you can go and create a new brush and then define each one of these as a pattern and make your own. So this is how the pattern brushes work. Going onto the libraries you're gonna see all these really cool pattern brushes as well as all different styles of brushes that are available to you in the library and how you can access those, modify those and you can see how those are built but also get really cool ideas of what pattern brushes you can make.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Illustrator Brushes

Ratings and Reviews

Angie redpolkadot

Illustrator is my favorite Adobe product, and I have been using it for a while, but I still learned so much watching this webinar. And Jason's teaching style is pleasant to listen to, and his enthusiasm is infectious.


Student Work