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Brushes and the polar grid tool tutorial

polar grid tool and brushes in Illustrator

How to use the Illustrator's polar grid tool with brushes tutorial. Illustrator brushes can be used with the polar grid tool. You can use calligraphic brush strokes with the polar grid tool. You can use the scatter brush strokes in Illustrator with the polar grid paths. You can also use bristle brushes as well as artistic and pattern brushes in Illustrator CC 2020 2019 2018 2017 2015 etc with the polar grid paths. This tutorial shows you how to create a polar grid and how to combine the result with Illustrator brushes. The tutorial also shows the use of the grid with artistic and bristle and other brush types such as calligraphic. The resulting Illustrator brush strokes can be expanded and then smoothed. The polar grid paths can be used with Illustrator brushes. All kinds of stunning brush designs can be created using the brush panel and the Polar grid.

  1. Select the polar grid tool found in the Illustrator toolbar

  2. Click the artboard to create the grid

  3. drag the mouse to define the size of the grid. The effect is not a live effect so if you wish to have 10 concentric dividers then it is best to set that before you apply it to the artboard.

  4. You can set the stroke width but if you try and set the brush stroke before you add the grid then the grid will appear but not with the brush applied. If you wish to add a brush stroke to the PG then add it afterwards along with any width profile.

  5. You can modify the polar grid in 1000s of ways by using combinations of brushes and width profiles, scatter brushes, artistic brushes, pattern brushes etc. You can recolor the grid and stroke via the stroke color setting.

  6. You can expand the polar grid and stroke by using the object menu and expand appearance and then combine the result by using the pathfinder tool and the unite option.

Calligraphic brush strokes / Illustrator

polar grid tool and brushes and calligraphic illustrator

The polar grid path can be modified in countless ways simply by using the calligraphic brushes (and not even using the scatter and artistic brush strokes)

  1. Go to the polar grid tool

  2. Create a polar grid path

  3. go to the brush panel

  4. select a calligraphic brush and apply that to the polar grid path in Illustrator

  5. double click the brush

  6. change the angle, roundness etc


Save brush stroke as new brush

Scatter brush strokes and polar grid

scatter and polar grid tool and Illustrator brush stroke

As any number of designs can be used as a source for a scatter brush, the polar grid can be modified in millions of ways simply by changing the scatter brush. The example shows a star but the design can be expanded type, dots, spots, blots and more.


  1. Select the polar grid

  2. select the scatter brush

  3. apply the scatter brush

  4. double click the brush in the brush panel

  5. set the preview to on

  6. see the size, spacing etc settings change the applied brush


Double click the brush stroke in the panel and set the tint so the color of the stroke will change the color of the stars (brushes) and set scattering so you can barely see the polar grid

Artistic brushes and polar grid

paintbrush artistic brush strokes and polar grid tool in Illustrator

All kinds of weird and wonderful designs can be generated by using artistic brushes. Even a very simply brush stroke of two different color rectangles can be used to create wonderful designs with polar grid paths

  1. generate a polar grid path (default one)

  2. go to the brushes panel and click an artistic brush (if there are none, you can find a number included with Illustrator via the supplied brush libraries).

  3. re-edit the settings by double clicking the artistic brush in the panel


The image on the right uses one of the Adobe's paintbrushes

Other brush strokes

polar grid tool and type

There are also pattern brushes, image brushes and bristle brushes that can be used with the polar grid. The image on the left uses an image used as an artistic brush in Illustrator


Type can be used also as a source for artistic brushes and that can be applied to the polar grid path. See image on the right.

Smooth the generated brush stroke

The result of any expand with the brush stroke and width profile will result in an awful lot of points so you may wish to use either the simplify tool (never that impressed by the results of the standard tool) or use the Astute graphics' smart remove brush which generally reduces the points and leaves a pretty decent grid behind.


The artwork can then have additional live graphic styles etc applied such as adding extrudes and twirls. You can also add multiple brush strokes to the PG if you use the grid with the appearance palette by adding two or more additional strokes with different or the same brushes and also with the same or different width profiles and strokes.

Other tutorials

1. How to create amazing concentric circles using the polar grid tool

2. How to generate multiple rings in Illustrator using the polar grid tool



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