Working with Illustrator ‘Art’ Brushes: Options and Adjustments

by Jay Hilgert
on April 21, 2008

In this tutorial, I’m going to cover several things that effect the way we use Illustrator brushes. Remember, there are 4 types of Illustrator brushes, and this tutorial will be covering “Art” brushes. There are many things that effect the way your brush stroke will take form, and I hope by the end of this tutorial, you have a better idea of what you can tweak to get the results you’re looking for when using your art brushes.

Working with Illustrator 'Art' Brushes: Options and Adjustments

1. Document Size

This one might be a little obvious, but the same stroke size will appear smaller as the document gets bigger.

Working with Illustrator 'Art' Brushes: Options and Adjustments

2. Stroke Weight

Another obvious but necessary mention. The same brush can appear much different by simply changing the stroke size.

Working with Illustrator 'Art' Brushes: Options and Adjustments
Working with Illustrator 'Art' Brushes: Options and Adjustments

3. “Scale Strokes and Effects” Option

In the Transform palette, there is an option to “Scale Strokes and Effects.” When turned on (checked), Illustrator will adjust the Stroke weight as you scale things up and down, often leading to undesirable results.

Working with Illustrator 'Art' Brushes: Options and Adjustments

Scale Strokes and Effects on:

Working with Illustrator 'Art' Brushes: Options and Adjustments

Scale Strokes and Effects off: Illustrator will scale the path itself, but retain your current Stroke Weight.

Working with Illustrator 'Art' Brushes: Options and Adjustments

4. Color Options

Illustrator Art Brushes have individual options that can be set within the brush itself. One of these options is colorization method. To open the art brush options, double click on the brush itself from the “Brushes” palette. Note: You must double click from the original Brushes palette, not one that you loaded. If you don’t see your brush in the Brushes palette, just click on it once from your loaded palette, and it will appear in the Brushes palette.

If you’ve ever downloaded an Illustrator brush, and you weren’t able to change the color, this is why. In order to change the color of your brush strokes, you need to select a colorization method. I recommend “Tints,” as this will allow to simply change it to any color you like, but you’ll just have to play around with it and see what you think works best for you.

Working with Illustrator 'Art' Brushes: Options and Adjustments

5. Proportional or Not Proportional

This one can sometimes save the day if you feel like your brush just isn’t coming out right. The “Proportional” option is another individual brush setting. Just like above, open the brush options by double clicking on your brush from the Brushes palette.

Working with Illustrator 'Art' Brushes: Options and Adjustments

When you enable the “Proportional” option, Illustrator will keep the aspect ratio of the original brush when applying it to your path. Think of it as “Constraining Proportions” when scaling an image. You might notice in the example below what a big difference this option can make, especially apparent on the round end of the stroke below.

Working with Illustrator 'Art' Brushes: Options and Adjustments

There are other brush options that you can play with, but most of the others are more helpful for duplication and flipping the orientation of the brush, more than actually adjusting during application. So there you have it, the 5 things I typically rely on when working with Illustrator “Art” Brushes.

About Jay Hilgert

Formally trained at Oklahoma State, Jay Hilgert is a graphic and web designer, font designer (Link), software developer (Brush Pilotâ„¢), and the founder of BittBox.

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