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Creating Paisley Graphic Styles With Scatter Brushes and Recolor Artwork

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Read Time: 9 min

In today's tutorial I'm going to show you how to create a series of Paisley inspired Graphic Styles using Scatter Brushes and the Appearance panel. Once done, I'll show you how to create additional styles simply by using Recolor Artwork. This is a great tutorial for beginners as there is no Pen Tool (P) involved. So let's begin!

Step 1

First we're going to start by creating our Scatter Brushes which we'll incorporate into our styles. They all begin with the Ellipse Tool (L). Click once on the canvas and draw a 10pixel by 10pixel circle with a black fill and a null stroke. Select the shape and click on New Brush in the Brush panel. In the pop up box select Scatter Brush. Name it "Circle Full" and change the Colorization Method to Tints. Click on OK once done.

If you create your brushes with a black fill and the Colorization Method as Tints, whatever your stroke color is when you use your brush, will be the color your brush will be. So below is an example of what the brush can create.

Step 2

We're going to stick with the same shape, this time give it a 1.5pt black Stroke Weight and a null fill. Again we're going to add it as a New Scatter Brush and call it "Circle Outline". Remembering to change the Colorization Method as "Tints". Click on OK once done.

Below is an example of what this Scatter Brush produces.

Step 3

The next Scatter Brush is a slightly be more complex, but it still uses the Ellipse Tool (L). Click once on the canvas and create a 5pixel x 10pixel ellipse with a 0.75pt black Stroke Weight. Then Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste in Front (Ctrl + F). Change the duplicated ellipse to a black fill and null stroke, then use the Free Transform Tool (E) to reduce the scale to about half of what it was, aligning to the bottom of the shape. Then duplicate both ellipses and use Object > Transform > Reflect > Horizontal to mirror the ellipses as shown below.

Go through the usual process of Adding a New Scatter Brush, however this time change the Spacing to 30%. I've named this brush "Loopy Brush" and then change the Colorization Method to "Tints". Click on OK once done.

Below is an example to what the brush produces. As the brush is a slim shape, it requires the 30% Spacing, otherwise there would be unnecessary gaps in between.

Step 4

Now that we have our three Scatter Brushes, it's time to choose your color palette. My palette of choice for most things involves an off magenta shade, so I want something along the lines of this. You're free of course to choose whatever you wish. After you've selected your favorite color from the Color panel, go into the Color Guide tab. In the drop down menu, it will give you examples of color palettes your chosen color will look good with. I've opted for "Compound 2" as I like the magenta/green combo.

Now that you've selected your palette of colors, click on the folder with a plus symbol at the bottom of the Color Guide tab to "Save color group to Swatch panel". It does exactly what it states and adds those middle colors, in a folder, within your Swatch panel for easy access.

Step 5

So we have our Scatter Brushes, our Swatch palette, now to create a basic Paisley teardrop shape. Draw an even circle with the Ellipse Tool (L) by holding on Shift + Alt and dragging outwards. Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to modify the shape as shown below.

Step 6

We're now going to be working within the Appearance panel. Familiarise yourself with the drill down menu options of "New Fill" "New Stroke" and "Duplicate Item". New Fill will add a new will with the last color you've selected. The same applies with the New Stroke option. However the Duplicate Item is different. When you highlight a Stroke or a Fill in the Appearance panel and then select Duplicate Item, it will literally duplicate all elements associated with that Stroke and Fill. So any effects, colors, Stroke options, brushes and Transparency panel settings will be duplicated. This is handy if you want to duplicate the same element but just wish to modify maybe one or two elements. You'll notice this as we go along.

We'll start by giving a purple fill and a 3pt green Stroke. If you click on "Stroke" in the Appearance panel, this will give you access to the Stroke panel options. I've set here the Stroke to be Aligned Inside. Add New Stroke and place it below the fill. Apply the Loopy Brush and set it to 1.5pt Stroke Weight.

As the Loopy Brush is "loopy" on both sides, half of it is hidden behind the purple fill. This is because the stroke is Aligned to the Centre.

Step 7

Add New Fill and give it a magenta fill. Along the bottom of the Appearance panel, click on the "Effects" button or "fx" and go to Path > Offset Path. Put the value in as -15px and click on OK. A positive value will increase the size of the fill beyond the shapes original size, a negative value will decrease it.

Highlight the 3pt Stroke and select Duplicate Item. You can also apply the Offset Path to strokes, so I'm going to do the same here and as I want it aligned with the magenta fill, I've selected the value -15px.

Step 8

Let's add a decoration between our green lines within this purple area. So add New Stroke. Offset Path at -15px and give it a light green stroke color. Apply the Circle Full Scatter Brush and give it a 1.5pt Stroke Weight. Then drag it below the magenta fill. This is so we're only seeing half of the brush as we did with the Loopy Brush.

Step 9

We're now going to Duplicate Items for the green 3pt Stroke and the magenta fill. Change the fill color to purple and the stroke color to a lighter green. Then click on the "Offset Path" link to change the value for each of the elements to -30px.

Step 10

Highlight the purple fill and Duplicate Item. Change the fill color to a medium green and then go into Effects > Stylize > Scribble and use the below settings to add this fancy scribble effect.

Step 11

Now that we have our first Paisley style, let's go into the Graphic Styles panel and click on New Graphic Style. Double click on the new style in the Graphic Styles panel to rename it. I've called this one Paisley Style 1. You can now draw any shape and apply your new Graphic Style to it as shown below.

Step 12

Once you've created one paisley style, you can always recycle it by changing the colors and settings to make a new one. So while you have your teardrop shape selected, hide all the options. Then you can start at the beginning and modify from the ground up! So first I'm going to change the "Loopy Brush" from the bottom Stroke to the "Circle Full" brush and give it a 2pt Stroke Weight. The fill I'll keep the same. Then I'm just going to change the color of the next stroke to a lighter green.

Step 13

For the next stroke, I'm going to change the brush to Circle Outline and give it a 1pt Stroke Weight. I've then clicked on "Offset Path" to change the value to -10px.

I've then went ahead and changed the Offset Path value for the magenta fill to -17px. I highlighted the 3pt light green Stroke, third item from the bottom and duplicated it. I've dragged it above the magenta fill and then given it an Offset Path also of -17px. So now the circles can be fully visible with a light green stroke either side.

Step 14

For the green stroke above, I've just changed the Offset Path value to -20px. As it's a 3pt Stroke Weight and I want the stroke to be aligned to the light green stroke, I've taken away the 3pt Stroke from the -17px Offset Path to give a -20px Offset Path value.

I've then changed the Offset Path values for the light green stroke and purple fill to -35px.

Step 15

Let's modify the light green 3pt stroke around the purple fill. Go into the Stroke panel options by click on the "Stroke" link and select "Round Cap". Then put a tick in Dashed Line and enter the values of a 2pt dash and a 5pt gap. This will give a nice, dainty dashed line look.

Step 16

I've then changed the top fill to a light green color and changed the Offset Path value to -45px. Then I've changed the Scribble options as shown below.

Step 17

As before, once you've finished your style, add it to the Graphic Styles panel. I've named this one, surprise surprise... "Paisley Style 2".

Step 18

We now have our two Graphic Styles. What if you wanted to change the colors you've used? Wouldn't it be very annoying to change each element individually? Thankfully there is the wonderful option of "Recolor Artwork".

I've duplicated our teardrop shape and applied a Graphic Style to each of the shapes. While they are both selected, look along the top of your UI and you'll see a color wheel icon, "Recolor Artwork". Click on this.

Similar to the Color Guides panel, you can select from the drop down menu another set of colors related to one of the colors in your palette. Below I've tried out "Complementary 2". Click on OK once done.

Step 19

Then if you're happy with those colors, add them to your Graphic Styles panels. I've picked the original names of "Paisley Style 1.1" and "Paisley Style 2.1".

Step 20

Going back into Recolor Artwork and click on the "Edit" button along the top of the dialog box. You'll be presented with a color wheel with several handles. You can move these around to change each color on the fly. However if you want things even simpler, click on the "Link harmony colors" button and by moving on color, you influence them all.

That's exactly what I've done with the below color combination! Of course click on OK once done and you can add your new Graphic Styles as before.

Step 21

There is another quick way to change your colors. In the Recolor Artwork dialog box you have HSB color sliders. If you click on the actual color box, you can alter this color. I've picked a dulled blue.

This then sets the key color at the beginning of the drop down menu (remember similar to Color Guides) and you can change your colors here. I've opted for "Shades" as I wish to keep an overall blue shade to my Graphic Styles.


Getting to know the Appearance panel is addictive and a lot of fun. Even more so when you know how quick and easy it is to change the colors with Recolor Artwork. Have fun creating your Paisley Graphic Styles and don't forget to show us what you've done, we always love seeing what readers have created.

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