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. Like pencil tool, brushes can be used to draw all sort of shapes and another image. They are the most flexible features of illustrator as they can be molded to almost any form and shape for your own purpose. These illustrator brushes are available for free on this site and they are designed to be employed for almost any purpose. The example below was made only with the brushes I provided in the set, and I only used 3 shapes: Mostly circles, a couple of starbursts, and a spiral or two. Every bit 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:
These brushes have been designed with great care and precision devoting a lot of time to the designing process. Beginners will not be that perfect to design such kind of brushes and you will surely enjoy your time as a designer while using these brushes.
Here is a Screenshot of some of the brushes in this set.
Even though it has a .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 brushes 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 affect 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.