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Design

Quick Tip: How to Create a Pencil Pattern Brush in Adobe Illustrator

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:QuickLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In the following steps you will learn how to create a pencil pattern brush in Adobe Illustrator. For starters you will learn how to set up a simple grid and how to create the main shapes using basic tools and shapes. Next, you will learn how to save two simple patterns and how to create your own pattern brush. Finally, you will learn how to create a simple text effect with this brush.

1. Create a New Document and Set Up a Grid

Hit Control-N to create a new document. Select Pixels from the Units drop-down menu, enter 600 in the width box and 400 in the height box, and then click on the Advanced button. Select RGB, Screen (72ppi), and make sure that the Align New Objects to Pixel Grid box is unchecked before you click OK.

Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). You will need a grid every 5 px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides > Grid, and enter 5 in the Gridline every box and 1 in the Subdivisions box. Try not to get discouraged by all that grid—it will make your work easier, and keep in mind that you can easily enable or disable it using the Control-" keyboard shortcut.

You should also open the Info panel (Window > Info) for a live preview with the size and position of your shapes. Don't forget to set the unit of measurement to pixels from Edit > Preferences > Units > General. All these options will significantly increase your work speed.

setup grid

2. Create the Main Shapes

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and focus on your Toolbar. Remove the color from the stroke, and then select the fill and set its color to black (R=0 G=0 B=0). Move to your artboard and simply create a 15 x 35 px rectangle. The grid and the Snap to Grid feature should ease your work.

black rectangle

Step 2

Return to your Toolbar and replace the existing fill color with a simple white (R=255 G=255 B=255). Make sure that the Rectangle Tool (M) is still active, create a 5 x 25 px shape and place it as shown in the following image.

white rectangle

Step 3

Return to your Toolbar and replace the existing fill color with a simple black. Make sure that the Rectangle Tool (M) is still active, create a 5 x 25 px shape and place it as shown in the following image.

black rectangle

Step 4

Using that same Rectangle Tool (M), create four 5 px squares, make sure that the fill color is set to black and then place them exactly as shown in the following image. Once again, the grid and the Snap to Grid feature will come in handy.

black squares

Step 5

Using that same Rectangle Tool (M), create three 5 px squares. Make sure that the fill color is set to white and then place them exactly as shown in the following image.

white squares

Step 6

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 30 x 35 px shape, place it exactly as shown in the following image, make sure that it stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance).

Set the fill color to white and then select the existing stroke. Make it black and then click that "Stroke" piece of text to open the Stroke fly-out panel. Increase the Weight to 5 px and then check the Align Stroke to Inside button.

tip shape

Step 7

Make sure that the rectangle made in the previous step stays selected, focus on its left side and pick the Add Anchor Point Tool (+). Click to two anchor points as shown in the first image.

Move to the right side of this same rectangle and grab the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the top anchor point and drag it 15 px down and then select the bottom anchor point and drag it 15 px up. In the end your shape should look like in the second image.

tip shape

Step 8

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 5 x 15 px shape, place it as shown in the following image, set the fill color to black, and make sure that there's no color set for the stroke.

tip shape rectangle

3. Create Your Pattern Brush

Step 1

Select the three rectangles highlighted in the following image and simply drag them inside the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches) to save them as a simple pattern. Double click on this new pattern, rename it "startTile" and then make sure that you hit the Cancel button.

start tile pattern

Step 2

Select the two shapes highlighted in the following image and turn them into a second pattern. Double click on this new pattern, rename it "endTile" and make sure that you hit the Cancel button.

end tipe pattern

Step 3

Select your seven squares (highlighted in the following image), open the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes) and click that New Brush button. Check the Pattern Brush box and then click the OK button to open the Pattern Brush Options window.

Name it "Pencil Brush", drag the Scale slider to 40%, select Tints from that Method drop-down menu and then move to the Tile boxes. Open the Start Tile drop-down window and add the "startTile" pattern from that list, and then open the End Tile drop-down window and add the "endTile" pattern. Finally, click OK and you should find your new pattern brush inside the Brushes panel.

pencil pattern brush

4. Create a Simple Text Effect Using Your Pattern Brush

Step 1

Disable the Grid (Control-') and the Snap to Grid (Shift-Control-'). Pick the Type Tool (T), click on your artboard, and add your grey piece of text. Make sure that it stays selected and open the Character panel.

Use the Mistral font and set the size at 170 pt. Move to the Layers panel and simply lock this piece of text to make sure that you won't accidentally select/move it.

text

Step 2

Pick the Brush Tool (B), select your "Pencil Brush" from the Brushes panel and draw the first letter. Try to use the text that lies in the back as a rough reference. Make sure that this new path stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel, select the stroke and simply replace the existing color with R=28 G=117 B=188.

first path

Step 3

Using the same tool and brush draw the rest of the paths roughly as shown in the following image. For your red paths use this color: R=239 G=65 B=54. Once you're done, move to the Layers panel and get rid of that locked piece of text.

text effect

Step 4

Select all the paths that make up your text and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the attributes shown in the following image, click the OK button and you're done.

drop shadow

Congratulations! You're Done!

Here is how it should look. I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and can apply these techniques in your future projects.

finished pencil text effect
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