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Pattern Brush

A pattern brush has slots for the graphics (which are called 'tiles') that will be repeated along the lines and the corners of the brush. The more slots you fill with tiles, the more complete the brush will be even on complex cornered lines that twist and turn in many directions. To make a pattern brush, you will need to create the artwork you want to use. I am using the same shamrock I used for the Scatter Brush tutorial.



Make sure the Brush palette is open, and from the palette options menu choose New Brush. Tick the Pattern Brush box and click OK.



The Pattern Brush options should be open now, and you will be able to see your artwork in one of the slots. Look at the diagram under the slot that holds your artwork. It will tell you where this portion of the brush will be used when you draw. Notice some of the options are the same as those in the Scatter Brush options.


Name the brush. I used Shamrock2.

Size and Spacing are here, but you don't have choices for random or pressure. The size and spacing will be fixed at the values you specify here.

Colorization is the same as it was in the Scatter brush options. Choose Hue Shift here so the brushes will change color according to the stroke color you have set in the toolbox. (Clicl the Tips button to see how the different color options work.)


Flip lets you flip the tile along the X or Y axis (or both if you wish).

Fit: This determines how the tiles are laid along the path.

Stretch to fit is the default. It can distort your tiles so you may not want to use it all the time. Sometimes one of the other options is a better choice.

Choose Approximate Path (which is for rectangular paths only) to fit tiles to the closest approximate path without distorting the tiles. However, this option applies the pattern slightly inside or outside the path, rather than centered on the path, to maintain even tiling.

Add space to fit distributes the tiles evenly without distortion, but it can leave unsightly gaps so you will need to experiment when making your own brushes.

Choose Stretch to Fit and click OK to close the brush options. The brush palette looks like this with two slots filled:



If we were to use this brush now it looks great on an ellipse or circle. You can see the problem right away if you apply the brush to a square. There are no corners!



The next step, rotation, really depends on your artwork, so you may have to adjust the angles for your particular brush, but this will give you the basic steps.

For the first corner we need to rotate the shamrock. Go to Object > Transform > Rotate and enter 45 to rotate the shamrock 45°. Click OK. Hold the Option key (Mac) or the Alt key (PC) and drag the rotated shamrock to the first slot and drop it. Note: If you forget to hold the OPT/ALT key as you drag and drop the tile into the slot, Illustrator will try to create a new brush. If that happens, hold the OPT/ALT key and try again. The options will open again and you can see we have filled the first corner slot. Notice the next slot in line is an inner corner. Click OK. When Illustrator asks, choose Apply to Strokes.



The tiles in the brushes palette now look like this:

new tiles


The square now has corners. A more intricate shape with inner corners would still need more help though so we aren't done yet.



Select the shamrock again, and without rotating, hold the option or alt key and drag the shamrock to the next empty slot and drop it in. In the options, you should have this:

inner corner


Click OK and choose Apply to Strokes again when asked. The brushes palette now have 4 slots filled, and a shape with inner corners looks good.

inner corners


The last two slots can be filled with the same shamrock we used at the start, left blank, or with something completely different. They only time they are used is at the beginning and ending of a straight line, arc, or other open shape. If left blank, they will use the first added tile, which works fine. Or you can add an arrowhead, circle, square, or other tile to make the end and beginning different from the rest of the brush. Here's a straight line if you don't add any tiles to the last two slots:



To add circles like these to the last two slots, use the ellipse tool to draw a circle. Opt/Alt+Drag the circle to the next empty slot in the brushes palette. When the brush options open, click OK, and choose Apply to Strokes when asked.



Opt/Alt+Drag the circle to the last empty slot in the brushes palette. When the brush options open, click OK, and choose Apply to Strokes when asked.



Now the brush palette slots are full, and the straight line has a beginning and ending tile added. Save your brushes as before, and make sure to use them on the document before saving!



If you filled all of the empty slots with circles, you would get a brush that had circles at every corner and artwork in between.



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