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Design

How to Make a Tentacle Art Brush in Adobe Illustrator

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:LongLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Always wanted to create an art brush, but never knew exactly how to do it?

Well, if you love unique creative brushes and text effects and you want to learn how to make a brush in Illustrator, then this tutorial is perfect for you. You will go through the entire process, from drawing the shape to saving it correctly and then applying the brush to obtain a fun text design. By the end of this tutorial, you will have the knowledge to create other Adobe Illustrator brushes and use them in future projects.

Expand your brush library by going to GraphicRiver, where you'll find an amazing selection of brushes in various styles, shapes, and themes. Also, check out the text effects section, where you'll find plenty of resources and inspiration for your next projects.

Let's start the fun!

1. How to Create a New Document 

Launch Illustrator and go to File > New to open a blank document. Type a name for your file, set the dimensions, and then select Pixels as Units and RGB as Color Mode.

Next, go to Edit > Preferences > General and set the Keyboard Increment to 1 px and while there, go to Units to make sure they are set as in the following image. I usually work with these settings, and they will help you throughout the drawing process. 

how to open a new Illustrator document

2. How to Create the Basic Tentacle Shape

Step 1

Grab the Rectangle Tool (M) and draw a 672 x 88 px rectangle on your artboard. Keep this shape selected and go to the Transform panel. Enter a Corner Radius of 42 px in the top left and bottom left corners in order to obtain the rounded corners.

how to create a rounded rectangle

Step 2

Use the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) to add an extra point in the middle right side of the rectangle. A guideline can make this easier for you (1). Now, switch to the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-) and delete the two corner points on the right side (2) to obtain the sharp end (3).

With the help of the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C), click on the sharp end and drag the short handles to make the tip of the tentacle slightly smoother (4).

how to create a simple tentacle shape

Step 3

We are going to add details and shading to the tentacle. Use the Pen Tool (P) or the Line Segment Tool (\) to draw a straight line from the top left side to the tip. Give it a 1 pt Stroke with any color; then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Roughen and apply the settings shown. This will create a random zig-zag path that should not go over the top edge of the tentacle shape.

how to create a zig zag path on the tentacle brush

Step 4

While the path stays selected, choose Expand Appearance from the Object menu in order to expand the Roughen effect applied (1). Now, grab the Pen Tool (P) and close the path between the two end points to obtain a new shape (2).

Next, select the tentacle shape and then Copy and Paste in Front (Control-F) to make a copy of it. Keep this copy selected, along with the newly obtained zig-zag shape, and press Intersect in the Pathfinder panel (3).

how to create a shading shape on the tentacle brush

Step 5

Repeat the previous two steps and apply the same settings to create a similar shape in the bottom part of the tentacle.

These are the three main shapes that make up the brush: the top and bottom shading shapes and the tentacle shape. We will continue with the coloring and other details.

how to create two shading shapes on the tentacle brush

3. How to Create the Front View of the Tentacle Brush

Step 1

First, color the tentacle shape with red and the two shading shapes with a darker shade of red as shown. Zoom as much as needed and draw a small shape on the tip with the Pen Tool (P). Color it with dark red just like the shading shapes.

how to color the tentacle Illustrator brush

Step 2

We will continue with the suckers on the tentacle.

Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to draw a small 24 x 24 px circle on your artboard and color it with pink (1). Keep this circle selected, and press Add New Fill at the bottom of the Appearance panel in order to add a second fill attribute above the first. Change the color to a lighter shade of pink; then go to Effect > Path > Offset Path and apply an Offset of -6 px. This will create the appearance of a smaller circle in the center (2).

With the circle still selected, apply a 2 pt Stroke using a darker shade of pink. Go to Effect > Path > Offset Path and apply an Offset of -6 px again to make a stroke of the same size for the inner circle (3).

how to create a tentacle sucker shape

Step 3

With the circle still selected, press Add New Fill to add a third fill attribute at the bottom of the Appearance panel. Use the color indicated and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Type 1.5 px in the Move Vertical field and you will obtain a shadow at the bottom of the sucker.

how to create shadow for the tentacle sucker

Step 4

With the circle still selected, press Add New Fill again to add a fourth fill attribute at the bottom of the Appearance panel. Use a darker color; then go to Effect > Warp > Inflate and apply a 10% Bend. Next, go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform and type 4 px in the Move Vertical field. Hit OK and you will obtain a darker shadow at the bottom of the sucker.

how to create a darker shadow for the tentacle sucker

Step 5

Let's get back to the tentacle. Move the sucker to the bottom left side and, before you scale it down, make sure that Scale Corners and Scale Strokes & Effects are selected in the Transform panel. Now, go to Object > Transform > Scale and type 20% in the Scale Uniform field. Hit Copy and you will get a tiny copy of the sucker that you need to move to the opposite side of the tentacle (1).

Keep both suckers selected and go to Object > Blend > Blend Options. Choose 30 Specified Steps, hit OK, and then go back to Object > Blend > Make (Alt-Control-B) (2). Illustrator will automatically create the in-between suckers. Easy, right?

how to blend the sucker shapes on the tentacle brush

Step 6

Keep the resulting blend-group selected and go to Object > Blend > Expand in order to get the individual suckers (1). Select each one of them and rearrange them a little to ensure a more realistic result for the final Illustrator brush.

Use the technique explained to create the second row of suckers at the top of the tentacle, and this will complete the front view of the brush (2).

how to create all suckers on the tentacle brush

Step 7

Making a brush in Illustrator and saving it correctly can be easy, especially for art brushes. There is no need to expand the appearance in this case, so simply select all the shapes and drag everything to the Brushes panel to save it as a New Art Brush. In the Art Brush Options window, all you have to do is type “Tentacle Art Brush 1” as the name and leave the rest of the settings as they are. Hit OK.

how to save the first tentacle Illustrator brush

4. How to Create the Side View of the Tentacle Brush

Step 1

Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to draw a 33 x 17 px ellipse on your artboard and color it pink. Press Add New Fill in the Appearance panel to add a second fill attribute above the first, as you did for the other sucker. Use a lighter shade of pink; then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform and apply the settings shown to create the appearance of a smaller ellipse in the middle.

how to create the side view of the sucker shape

Step 2

With the ellipse still selected, apply a 3 pt Stroke using a darker shade of pink, and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Apply the same settings as before so the stroke and the inner circle have the same size and position.

how to add details on the tentacle sucker shape

Step 3

Next, use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a curved path on each side, and after that, send them under the ellipse in the Layers panel. Give them a 4 pt Stroke using the color indicated and Width Profile 5 in the Stroke panel (1).

Draw another curved path under the ellipse. Give it a 2 pt Stroke using the color indicated and Width Profile 1 (2).

how to create details for the tentacle sucker

Step 4

Go back to the tentacle made earlier and select only the main shape along with the bottom shading shape. Make copies of them so you can create the second tentacle brush.

Group (Control-G) all the paths that make up the sucker and move it to the middle left side of the tentacle. Before you scale it down, make sure that Scale Corners and Scale Strokes & Effects are selected in the Transform panel. Now, go to Object > Transform > Scale and type 30% in the Scale Uniform field. Hit Copy and you will get a tiny copy of the sucker. Move it to the opposite side of the tentacle (1).

Select both suckers and go to Object > Blend > Blend Options. Choose 18 Specified Steps, hit OK, and then go back to Object > Blend > Make (Alt-Control-B). Illustrator will automatically create the in-between suckers for you (2).

how to blend the side sucker shapes on the tentacle

Step 5

Select the resulting blend group and go to Object > Blend > Expand in order to get the individual suckers (1). Rearrange them a little to ensure a more realistic result for the final Illustrator brush (2).

Select the entire row of suckers and then Copy and Paste in Back (Control-B) to make a copy of it. Move it upwards to get the second row of suckers at the top of the tentacle (3). To complete the side view of the brush, make six smaller copies of the sucker and arrange them at the tip, but without the dark stroked paths on the sides of the ellipse (4).

how to create all side suckers on the tentacle

Step 6

It's time to save the second Illustrator brush. Select all the shapes and drag everything to the Brushes panel to save it as a New Art Brush. In the Art Brush Options window, all you have to do is type “Tentacle Art Brush 2” as the name and leave the rest of the settings as they are. Hit OK.

how to save the second tentacle Illustrator brush

5. How to Create the Tentacles Text Effect

Step 1

You have successfully created and saved the two Adobe Illustrator brushes, so now you will learn how to apply them and create a unique text effect.

We are going to start creating the shape of the letters, so grab the Pen Tool (P) and draw two paths that make up the letter “P”. The word we are designing is “PULPO”, meaning octopus in Spanish.

Stroke one of the paths with the Tentacles Art Brush 1 and the other with the Tentacles Art Brush 2 by selecting them from the Brushes panel. Set the Stroke Weight to 0.35 pt and use the same value for all the paths to ensure a consistent look for the text design.

how to apply the tentacles Art Brush

Step 2

Continue to create the rest of the letters. You can be creative and put your own twist on it. Use the two brushes to stroke these paths and decide for which path you want a front view or a side view. Make extra adjustments until you are happy with the placement of each path.

how to create the tentacles text design

Step 3

In the next steps, we will create the appearance of tentacles twisting with each other with the help of Opacity masks.

Focus on the first letter, select only one of the tentacle stroked paths, and then Copy and Paste in Place (Shift-Control-V) to make a copy of it. Go to Object > Expand Appearance followed by Object > Expand. This will expand all the stroke attributes involved in the making of the brush. Next, press Unite in the Pathfinder panel and you will obtain a single shape.

Repeat the same process for the other path and obtain the second compound path that we need (1).

While the newly obtained shapes stay selected, grab the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M) and click on one of the intersecting areas to split the shapes. For this letter, we want to mask the top tentacle, so keep only those three resulting shapes and delete the rest. Color them white and black, and put black where you want to mask that area and make it invisible (2).

how to create the opacity mask shapes

Step 4

Group (Control-G) the black and white shapes and keep them selected along with the stroked tentacle path underneath; then go to the Transparency panel and choose Make Opacity Mask from the drop-down menu.

The areas filled with white remain visible and nothing is changed, while the area/areas filled with black become invisible, creating the appearance of the tentacle going under the other one. You can see the before and after in the image below.

how to mask and twist the tentacles

Step 5

Apply the technique explained above for the other tentacles, where needed, to create the same design.

how to create the twisted tentacles design

Step 6

Shadows usually make text effects look more convincing and stand out, so let's add some. Grab the Pen Tool (P) and draw a path as shown below, in the area where the tentacles are overlapping. Give it a 2 pt Stroke using black and Width Profile 1 in the Stroke panel. Next, go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply a Radius of 2 px to make the shadow smoother. Send this path between the two tentacles in the Layers panel (1). 

Draw more paths in other overlapping areas and apply the same settings (2).

how to create the shadows between the tentacles

Step 7

Repeat the previous step and create shadows for the rest of the letters. Use the same settings for each path.

how to create shadows between all tentacle letters

6. How to Create the Shadow Behind the Tentacles Text Effect

Step 1

Select one of the tentacle stroked paths and go to Object > Expand Appearance followed by Object > Expand. Next, press Unite in the Pathfinder panel to get a single shape (1).

Repeat this process for the other tentacle paths to get all the shapes that we need (2). Once done, press Unite in the Pathfinder panel followed by Object > Compound Path > Make (Control-8) to merge all of them into a new compound path (3).

how to create a tentacles text compound path

Step 2

Send the newly obtained shape behind the text design in the Layers panel. Next, go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow and apply this effect to obtain the shadow. Go back to Effect > Stylize and apply the Outer Glow effect to obtain a subtle white glow around the text effect.

how to create the shadow under the tentacles text effect

Here are the settings for the Drop Shadow and Outer Glow effects:

settings for Drop Shadow and Outer Glow effects

7. How to Create the Water Droplets

Step 1

Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw the shape of a droplet on your artboard. Color it blue (1). Copy and Paste in Front (Control-F) this shape and change the fill color to green for visual reasons only. Copy and Paste in Front (Control-F) the green shape again and move it a little to the left by pressing the Left Arrow key on your keyboard twice. While the green and orange shapes stay selected, press Minus Front in the Pathfinder panel (2).

Color the resulting shape with the same blue, but set the Blending Mode to Multiply and reduce the Opacity to 28%. This will be the shading on the right side of the droplet (3).

To add a highlight, draw a curved path on the left side of the droplet using the Pen Tool (P). Give it a 2 pt Stroke using white and Width Profile 5 in the Stroke panel. Reduce the Opacity to 68% (4).

how to create a simple water droplet

Step 2

Group (Control-G) all the paths that make up the droplet and make copies of them. Scale them up or down and arrange more droplets around the tentacles as splashes.

Following the same technique, you can create droplets of different shapes for a more realistic look. Arrange as many water droplets as you want until you are happy with your text design.

how to arrange water droplets around the tentacles text effect

Congratulations! You're Done

Here is the final image of the tentacles text effect. I hope this tutorial was fun for you and that you learned some new techniques today. Now you have the knowledge to make other creative Adobe Illustrator brushes and text effects in your projects.

Don't forget to share your recreation of this tentacles text effect with us. We would love to see it. 

final image of tentacle Illustrator brushes and tentacles text effect

Expand Your Text-Effect Designing Skills!

Keep drawing and learning with these recommended tutorials:

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