35 Free Abstract Illustrator Brushes
by Jay Hilgert
on April 10, 2007
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In my opinion, one of the most underused features of Illustrator is the creation of custom brushes. You can literally make ANY shape into an Illustrator brush to get all kinds of cool effects. I put together a set of 35 abstract brushes for you to play with. The example below was made only with the brushes I provided in the set, and I only used 3 shapes: Mostly circles, a couple starbursts, and a spiral or two. Every bitt of detail in the example is created from the brush strokes alone, on different sized shapes/stroke sizes. (I also played around with blending modes of certain shapes. Download the source file below.)
No, I wasn’t kidding when I said that all of the detail above was made from brushes, and brushes alone. Here is what the “wireframe” of the example file looks like:
Download the Brushes:
Here is a Screenshot of some of the brushes in this set.
Even though it has an .ai extension, the file you downloaded is an “Illustrator Brush Library,” not an actual Illustrator file. You will not be able to open the file in Illustrator.
1. Unzip the File.
2. Copy or move the file to your Illustrator > Presets > Brushes folder.
3. Restart Illustrator If it was open during installation.
Loading the Brushes:
1. Open Illustrator and make sure the Brushes Palette is open. (Window > Brushes)
2. Click on the little arrow in the upper right of the rushes palette and got to “Open Brush Library,” then click on “BB_abstract” to load the brushes.
3. Start drawing and go nuts!
Download the Example Source File:
In order for you to view the example file properly in Illustrator, you must have the brushes installed.(above)
Brushes Source Shapes:
This file contains the shapes I made the brushes from. This would be for those of you who don’t have Illustrator, but want to try and make your own brushes from another program. (e.g. InkScape)
Tips for exploring this on your own:
I can’t stress enough how much blending modes can effect your design. I urge you to try new blending modes when overlapping your shapes. You can get some really nice effects, and it’s super simple.