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Design

How to Make a Vintage Pattern Brush in Illustrator

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

In the following steps, you will learn how to make a brush in Illustrator. For starters, you will learn how to set up a simple grid and how to prepare your document to create Illustrator brushes.

Next, using basic tools and vector shape-building techniques, you will learn how to create the body of a vintage brush. Moving on, you will learn how to create the corners for your vintage brush and how to use saved patterns to create Illustrator brushes. Finally, you will learn how to easily save Illustrator brushes and how to use them to create stylish Illustrator borders.

For more inspiration on how to adjust or improve your Illustrator brushes, you can find plenty of resources at GraphicRiver.

1. How to 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 850 in the width box and 480 in the height box, and then click More Settings. Select RGB for the Color Mode, set the Raster Effects to Screen (72 ppi), and then click Create Document.

Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid) and 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 1 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 can learn more about Illustrator's grid system in this short tutorial from Andrei Stefan: Understanding Adobe Illustrator's Grid System.

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. All these options will significantly increase your work speed. Now that everything is prepared, let's learn how to make a brush in Illustrator.

set up grid

2. How to Create a Heart Shape

Step 1

Pick the Ellipse Tool (L) 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 create a 20 px circle, holding the Shift key while dragging to create a perfect circle. Make sure that this shape stays selected, open the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance), and lower the Opacity to about 30%.

Duplicate this circle (Control-C > Control-F), select the copy, and place it as shown in the second image.

ellipse tool

Step 2

Using the Move Tool (V), select the left circle and rotate it 45 degrees. Using the same tool, select the right circle and do the same thing.

rotate ellipse

Step 3

Disable Snap to Grid (Shift- Control-") and enable the Smart Guides (Control-U). Go to Edit > Preferences > Smart Guides and be sure that the Anchor/ Path Labels box is checked.

Pick the Pen Tool (P) and start a new path from the point highlighted in the first image. Make sure that you're getting the "anchor" smart guide and simply click on it. Go to the left side of the left circle and add the second point, as shown in the second image. Add a third point, as shown in the third image, and then close your path. Fill this triangle with black and lower its Opacity to about 30%.

Keep focusing on your triangle and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the bottom anchor point and place it exactly as shown in the fourth image.

smart guides

Step 4

Select the three shapes made so far, open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder), and click the Unite button. Make sure that the resulting shape stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Increase the Opacity to 100%, remove the fill color, and select the stroke. Set the color to black and click that "Stroke" piece of text to open the Stroke fly-out panel. Set the Weight to 4 px and check that Round Join button.

stroke round join

3. How to Use the Heart Shape for the Vintage Brush

Step 1

Enable the Snap to Grid (Control-"). Pick the Ellipse Tool (L) and create an 8 x 22 px shape. Fill it with black and place it as shown in the first image.

Switch to the Rounded Rectangle Tool, create a 16 x 8 px shape, and place it as shown in the second image. Duplicate this rounded rectangle and place the copy as shown in the third image.

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create four 6 px circles and place them as shown in the fourth image.

circles

Step 2

Select all the shapes made so far and go to Object > Transform > Reflect. Check the Horizontal box and click the Copy button.

Make sure that the resulting shapes remain selected and go to Object > Transform > Move. Enter 0 px in the Horizontal box and 34 px in the Vertical box, and then click the OK button. In the end, things should look like in the third image.

duplicate reflect move

Step 3

Select the two heart shapes and go to Object > Path > Outline Stroke.

outline stroke

4. How to Finish the Body of the Vintage Brush

Step 1

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 12 px circle and place it as shown in the first image. Select this shape and focus on the Appearance panel.

Make sure that there's no fill color and select the stroke. Set the color to black and open the Stroke fly-out panel. Increase the Weight to 4 px and check the Align Stroke to Inside button, and then go to Object > Path > Outline Stroke.

Pick the Rounded Rectangle Tool, create a 4 x 10 px shape, and place it as shown in the third image. Duplicate this shape (Control-C > Control-V), select the copy, and place it as shown in the second image. Select both rounded rectangles and go to Object > Transform > Rotate. Set the Angle to 90 degrees and click the Copy button.

body vintage brush

Step 2

Select the five shapes highlighted in the first image and click the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel.

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 12 x 24 px shape and place it as shown in the third image. Select this new rectangle, along with the black shape that lies below, and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel.

pathfinder minus front

Step 3

Duplicate the shape made in the previous step (Control-C > Control-V). Select the copy, rotate it 180 degrees, and place it as shown in the first image.

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create two 44 x 4 px shapes. Fill both shapes with black and place them as shown in the second image. All the shapes made so far will make up the body of your vintage brush.

body vintage brush

Step 4

Select all the shapes made so far and duplicate them (Control-C > Control-V). Make sure that only the copies are selected and Group them (Control-G). Rotate this group 45 degrees and place it exactly as shown in the following image. This will only help for the following steps when you're going to create the corner of your vintage brush.

illustrator brushes

5. How to Create the Corner of the Vintage Brush

Step 1

Select that half sliced shape and duplicate it (Control-C > Control-V). Place the copy as shown in the first image and then rotate it 180 degrees. Change its color to R=27 G=117 B=188 and then duplicate it. Select the new copy, rotate it 90 degrees, and place it as shown in the third image.

blue shape

Step 2

Select one of the heart shapes along with all the smaller shapes around it (highlighted in the first image) and duplicate them (Control-C > Control-V). Place those copies as shown in the first image and change the fill color to R=27 G=117 B=188.

Select the circle highlighted in the second image and simply delete it using the Delete key on your keyboard.

duplicate

Step 3

Make sure that all the blue shapes added in the previous step are still selected and go to Object > Transform > Rotate. Set the Angle to -90 degrees and then click the Copy button.

Select the newly made shapes and place them exactly as shown in the third image. Select only the small outer circle and place it as shown in the third image.

rotate

Step 4

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 40 px square, and focus on the Appearance panel. Remove the fill color and select the stroke. Set the color to black and increase the Weight to 4 px.

Place this new shape exactly as shown in the first image and go to Object > Path > Add Anchor Points. Pick the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-) and use simple clicks to remove the corner points. This should turn your rectangle into a diamond, as shown in the third image.

add anchor points

Step 5

Select the three shapes highlighted in the first image and go to Object > Transform > Rotate. Set the Angle to -45 degrees and click the Copy button.

Place the resulting shapes exactly as shown in the third image. Select the diamond shape, add a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F), and bring it to the front (Control-Shift-]). Select this copy along with the heart shape added in this step (highlighted in the fourth image) and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel.

rotate minus front

Step 6

Select the diamond shape and change the stroke color from black to R=27 G=117 B=188.

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create four 6 px shapes, fill them with R=27 G=117 B=188, and place them as shown in the second image.

Duplicate the two half sliced shapes (Control-C > Control-V) and place the copies as shown in the third image. Select these shapes and click the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel. Make sure that the resulting shape is filled with R=27 G=117 B=188.

pathfinder unite

Step 7

Select the six shapes highlighted in the first image and duplicate them (Control-C > Control-V), and then place the copies as shown in the second image.

duplicate move

Step 8

Focus on the diamond shape added in the previous step and pick the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the two anchor points highlighted in the first image, go to the control panel, and enter 5 px in the Corners box.

corner radius

Step 9

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create an 84 x 4 px shape. Fill this rectangle with R=27 G=117 B=188 and place it as shown in the first image.

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 4 x 84 px shape. Fill this new rectangle with the same color and place it as shown in the second image.

rectangles

Step 10

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 12 px circle and place it as shown in the first image. Select this new shape and focus on the Appearance panel.

Make sure that there's no fill color and select the stroke. Set the color to black and open the Stroke fly-out panel. Increase the Weight to 4 px and check the Align Stroke to Inside button, and then go to Object > Path > Outline Stroke.

outline stroke

Step 11

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 4 x 10 px shape. Fill this rectangle with R=27 G=117 B=188 and place it as shown in the first image.

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 10 x 4 px shape. Fill this new rectangle with the same color and place it as shown in the second image.

rectangles

Step 12

Select the two rectangles made in the previous step and click the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel.

Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A) and select the four anchor points highlighted in the third image. Go to the control panel and enter 2 px in the Corners box.

Pick the Ellipse Tool (L) and create a 6 px circle. Fill this shape with R=27 G=117 B=188 and place it as shown in the fifth image.

unite corners

Step 13

Select the two shapes highlighted in the first image and go to Object > Path > Outline Stroke.

outline stroke

6. How to Save and Use the Vintage Brush

Step 1

Select one of the blue shapes and go to Select > Same > Fill Color to quickly select all the shapes with a blue fill. Go to Object > Transform > Rotate, set the Angle to 90 degrees, and click OK.

Change the fill color to black and Group (Control-G) all the selected shapes. Open the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches) and simply drag your newly made group inside the panel to save it as a pattern. Deselect the group and select the pattern from the Swatches panel. Open the fly-out panel from the Swatches panel and go to Swatch Options.... Rename your pattern "Corner" and click OK.

rotate black corner

Step 2

Now, let's save the pattern brush. Open the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes), select all the shapes highlighted in the following image, and click the New Brush button. Check the Pattern Brush box and click OK.

Name your new brush (Vintage Pattern Brush) and select Tints from the Method menu, and then focus on the tile boxes. Open the Outer Corner Tile and Inner Corner Tile and select the Corner pattern from that list. Make sure that the rest of the attributes match the ones from the following image, and then click OK to save the pattern brush inside your list of Illustrator brushes.

how to make a brush in illustrator

Step 3

Now that you've learned how to make a brush in Illustrator, here's how you can use your vintage brush to create neat Illustrator borders.

Create a path and focus on the Appearance panel. Make sure that there's no fill color and select the stroke. Apply your Vintage Pattern Brush from the Brushes panel and set the color to R=27 G=165 B=168. Open the Stroke fly-out panel and increase or decrease the Weight value to adjust the size of the applied brush.

illustrator borders

Congratulations! You're Done!

Here is how your vintage brush should look. I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and that it helped you learn how to make a brush in Illustrator. Don't hesitate to share your final result in the comments section.

Feel free to adjust the final vintage brush and make it your own. You can find some great sources of inspiration at GraphicRiver, with interesting solutions to create Illustrator brushes or Illustrator borders.

vintage brush

Learn More About Illustrator Brushes

If you want to learn more about brushes, check one of the following tutorials:

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