Calligraphic Brushes In Illustrator And Painting

Youtube video on subject


How to create amazing calligraphic brush strokes in Adobe Illustrator ? simply go to the Window menu and then brushes and then with the brushes panel displayed go to the right side menu and select the new brush command and select the calligraphic brush open and then set the name as well as the various settings and then click OK and the stroke will then be added to the presets.


Size and roundness and angle, you can set a value for those. There is a preview showing the current roundness etc. As well as all the variation features


You can keep the options as fixed but if you change the variation options to pressure / random etc then you will also have access to change the size based on those. The variation is slightly odd in that you cannot have an unlimited variation, the variation size is limited to the size of the brush etc so if you have a brush of 10pt then the variation is limited to that as well. The angle has no use if you have 100% roundness, set the roundness less then 100% then the angle of the brush will change and you can see the effect far more clearly

You will also notice from above that the randomness is per brush stroke and not as you apply the brush so if you set the value to 10pt and the variation to 8pt then each brush stroke will be up to 18pt but there will be no variation in the actual stroke (such as with a width profile)

Accessing the libraries

A couple of stroke libraries come with the application for starters. You can find them artistic section of the libraries but sadly they offer nothing more than a selection of presets based on different roundness / diameter etc but you can quickly use these with any selected stroke and change a round artwork into a slanted or straight line artwork in seconds. You can also quickly create your own variations by changing the current ones or by going to the new brush command in the panel and then defining them there with different roundness etc settings

How to use with art pad

They come into their own if you are using them with an art pad and the pressure setting. Using them with a mouse is fine but with an art pad you can create all kinds of stunning line work with the paintbrush tool.

You can also use the tool with paths

You can use them as is and never change them but you can always select a path (either open or closed) such using with an arc tool path and spiral tool paths then add a stroke and then go to the object menu and use the expand appearance command to generate a normal filled closed path instead. The result will probably have too many points and you may like to use the smooth tool to remove or reduce the points or perhaps the path simplify command found in the object menu. Another option to remove and cleanup the path is to use the Astute Graphics' excellent VectorScribe plugin which includes a smart remove tool. You can also then add the preset to the end result. Once you have the designs into normal paths you can also convert them into library presets or symbols. For example, create spiral path and select and go to the brushes panel. Double click the required preset and et angle to 40 and random and variation to 113 and set roundness to 40% and random and variation to 20% and size 10pt and random and variation 5pt. Click OK and click apply to strokes

How to use with color

You can use them in black but you can always add the strokes in any color. You can set the color via the stroke panel / panel. You can create a multiple colored item by alt key to duplicate the item and then re-color them and having them slight offset.

How to use them with the appearance panel and effects and combine with 3D

You can re-color the calligraphic Illustrator brushes via the fill and stroke panel but if you want to add a more color then you can use them with the appearance and you can add multiple fills and multiple strokes as well as effects such as blurs and zigzags and distortions etc). All can then be expanded via the object menu expand appearance command. You can add the effect to the fill which is not so effective as adding the effect to the stroke. You can also add into the mix effects such as transformations via the effects menu. The transform command is great for a single path but you can also add a number of copies so instead of one stroke, you can see 100s of the strokes all rotated or scaled in different ways though the actual setting is the same for all of them (even if randomness has been set with the preset). A workaround would be just to duplicate the items and perform the transformation for all manually.

Using them with type to create amazing type effects

You can't add them straight to type but you can add them to type via the appearance panel. To do this, select some type and go to the appearance panel. Add a new stroke via the right side menu and then add the calligraphic brush presets so you can create a whole range of interesting slanted strokes / rounded strokes with the type. You can also add multiple strokes and combine them with different effects such as offsets to create interesting contour effects; or perhaps use them with transformations / live effects to create all kinds of echo strokes. If you select the stroke entry in the appearance and there is randomness included in the preset then the type stroke will change over and over every time you click the preset. If you have multiple strokes added to the item (and perhaps the offset) then all the strokes will have different randomness so one slant will be one way and the other in a different direction etc.

How to use it with the blob tool

You can use it with the blob, add to the design as a stroke Youtube video on subject

Repeat feature

You can use the brush stroke with the powerful new feature 'repeat radial'. Apply the stroke and then go to the object menu and repeat and radial (as well as grid and mirror) and then you can modify the number of instances of the design as well as the radius. You can also double click the stroke and modify the design within the repeat object. Youtube video on subject