How to Create a Pattern Brush in Adobe Illustrator

Art brushes in Illustrator stretch artwork along a path. A pattern brush repeats the art on the path and even allows you to define different art for different sections of the path, such as endpoints, corners and runs. You can also create pattern brushes from raster image files.

These functions are available Illustrator CC.

  1. Here are three shapes that will be used to create a pattern brush. Because multiple shapes will be used, each must first be defined as a pattern swatch. Drag each shape separately into the Swatches Panel.
    Shapes and Swatches Panel
  2. Open the Brushes Panel (Window > Brushes). With nothing selected, click the New Brush button at the bottom of the panel.
    Brushes Panel
  3. In the dialog box, select Pattern Brush and click OK.
    Dialog Box
  4. The Pattern Brush Options dialog box has five menus for specifying the treatment of different parts of paths: 1. Outer Corner, 2. Side, 3. Inner Corner, 4. Start, 5. End.
    Pattern Brush Options
  5. In this example, I've selected patterns for Side, Start and End.
  6. If you'll need to change the color of the stroke after the pattern brush has been applied to a path, go to the Colorization Method menu and choose Tints.
    Pattern Brush Options
  7. Here the pattern brush has been applied to paths, each with a different color stroke.
    Pattern Brush Applied to Paths
  8. Raster images can also be used to create pattern brushes. The images must be embedded. Images can be embedded using the Links Panel (Window > Links). Click the Links Panel menu and choose Embed.
    Links Panel
  9. In this example, I'm using a grayscale bicycle in .psd file format, dragging it directly into the Brushes Panel.
    Bike Image and Brushes Panel
  10. Select Pattern Brush in the dialog box and click OK.
    Dialog Box
  11. If you want space between the repeats in the pattern, set the percentage in the Spacing field.
    Pattern Brush Options
  12. Here's the bike pattern applied to a path.
    Bike Pattern Brush
Author: Kate Cahill

Kate Cahill is a graphic designer, writer, and creative director who has developed content for print and web. As creative director, she has produced award-winning work for agencies focused on the pharmaceutical and health and beauty aid industries. She has also served as production manager, with responsibility for the successful fulfillment of long-run print contracts. Kate has been delivering training for Webucator clients since 2010. Her enthusiasm for cutting-edge technology, combined with hands-on practical experience, brings an added benefit to her classes. Kate teaches real-world techniques and integration of Adobe software, as well as Microsoft PowerPoint, to produce a fully developed and cohesive brand identity.

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