How to Create a Climbing Rope Pattern Brush


A simple 2-point-path can be transformed into a powerful Pattern Brush. The virtual Climbing Rope may not save your life, but the technique behind this tutorial may help save a lot of time. Let's get started!

Final Image Preview

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Tutorial Details

  • Program: Adobe Illustrator CS3 (MAC OS, German Version)
  • Difficulty Intermediate
  • Estimated Completion Time: 30-60 minutes

Step 1

Use the Pen Tool (P) to create a 2-point-path. The handle of the lower anchor point has to be horizontal and the handle of the upper anchor point 45°. Activating the Magnetic Guidelines (Command + U) will help you during this tutorial. The length of the handles affects the look of the rope and can be varied.

Step 2

Duplicate the path, rotate it 180°, and move it until the two paths connect. Use the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the two overlapping anchor points, and join them (Command + J).

Step 3

Duplicate the complete path again, but this time it has to be mirrored (either horizontally or vertically). Connect the two paths and join the overlapping anchor points as you did in Step 2.

Step 4

Duplicate the complete path again to extend your rope even more. Connect and join the anchor points. This curve will be the basic element for the climbing rope.

Step 5

Duplicate the complete path again, but this time the two paths have to overlap 50%. These two paths will be essential for the correct distribution and alignment in Step 6.

Step 6

Paste the basic path several times in-between the two existing ones. Don't worry about the horizontal alignment. The number of curves will affect the look of the climbing rope and more curves will make it look thicker. I used a total of 13 curves in this tutorial.

Step 7

Select All and distribute horizontally centered. It almost looks like a rope now!

Step 8

Convert all the outlines to filled objects (Object > Path > Outline Stroke), create one shape from it (Pathfinder – Add to Shape Area), and release the compound path (Object > Compound Path > Release or press Alt + Shift + Command + 8). You might use the Outline View (Command + Y) to check the result.

Step 9

Remove the outline and everything but 2 rows. Now it's time to connect certain squares to get the typical look of a climbing rope.

Step 10

Use the Outline View (Command + Y) to remove certain parts of the squares.

Step 11

Reconnect the squares as seen below by selecting and joining the equivalent anchor points (Command + J).

Step 12

Duplicate all and move it to the right. Use the Magnetic Guidelines (Command + U) for the perfect distance. To do so the movement has to be performed in two smaller steps. Now it's time to choose the colors of the rope.

Step 13

Extend the rope even more and group everything (Command + G).

Step 14

Duplicate the group and paste it in the background (Command + B) for the new outline. Choose a black outline with rounded corners and convert the outline to a filled object (Object > Path > Outline Stroke).

Step 15

Select all and group it (Command + G). Draw a rectangle and make sure that the left and right side lock at equivalent anchor points of the climbing rope.

Step 16

Select all and create a Clipping Mask (Object > Clipping Mask > Make or press Command + 7). Then use the Pathfinder to remove the hidden parts (Pathfinder > Trim).

Step 17

Select all and create a Pattern Brush (Brushes > New Brush > New Pattern Brush). Use the settings shown below.


Now you can use the Brush Tool (B) or Pen Tool (P) with your created Pattern Brush. Add a drop shadow (Effects > Stylize > Drop Shadow) for a more realistic look. Repeat the tutorial and experiment with the parameters (shape of the 2-point-path, number of paths, colors, outline thickness, etc.) for additional climbing ropes. Have fun creating your own versions!

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