Follow this quick tip and create your own collection of Neon Brushes in Adobe Illustrator. You will create Art Brushes and also Scatter Brushes, different colors and sizes that you can use in your projects. You'll continue to see how you can save a set of brushes for use in the future and examples of some great quick effects you can create with your brushes.
1. Start Your New Project
First, create a New document by going to File > New. Type a name and select the dimensions then hit OK. Next, use the Rectangle Tool (M) to draw a black rectangle into your artboard because these neon brushes work best on a dark background.
2. Create Your First Neon Art Brush
Grab the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw an 83 x 30px ellipse and give it a black fill. With the ellipse selected, go to Object > Transform > Scale and type 50% in the Uniform section then hit Copy. Change the fill color of the resulting smaller ellipse from black to blue then move it a little to the left. Now, scale the blue path to obtain the tiny white ellipse but this time select a value of 20%. Move this ellipse to the left also and make sure the three shapes are aligned horizontally.
Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to draw other three ellipses with the dimensions below. Align them horizontally then move the blue and white ellipses a little to the left. Use the same colors.
Select the three shapes that make up the "head" of the brush and go to Object > Blend > Blend Options. Choose 50 Specified Steps and hit OK then go back to Object > Blend > Make. Repeat the same thing for the three ellipses that make up the "tail" of the brush.
Now, let's compose our brush. Arrange the "tail" over the "head" of the brush as shown in the image and make sure they are aligned horizontally. Set the two blend-groups to Blending Mode Screen and at this point your brush should look like below.
3. Try Different Colors and Sizes
Multiply the blue brush created and all you have to do is to change the fill color of the two blue ellipses to red, pink, yellow, green or whatever you desire, although it should be a bright color to create a neon effect.
For other sizes you need large or flat ellipses for the "head" of the brush. The tail always remains the same. Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to draw three new ellipses having the dimensions shown. Align them horizontally then move the orange and white shapes a little to the left as before. Blend the ellipses that make up the "head" and the "tail" as you did earlier then compose the brush. Don't forget to set the Blending Mode to Screen. The same thing goes for the thinner brush (pink). For the ultra thin brush (yellow) just duplicate one of the tails and select a new color.
4. Create a Multipurpose Art Brush
To simplify things you can create only one brush of each size. Duplicate the blue brush and change the fill color of the two ellipses from blue to gray (50% black). The same thing goes for the large size (a copy of the orange brush from the previous step) and for the thin brush (a copy of the yellow brush from the previous step).
5. Create Neon Scatter Brushes
Draw three circles having the dimensions shown with the Ellipse Tool (L) then align them horizontally and vertically. Blend these circles and this time select 80 Specified Steps in order to make it look extra smooth. Set the resulting blend-group to Blending Mode Screen. Multiply it and create other colors of brushes by changing the fill color of the middle circle.
6. Save the Neon Brushes
Select the blue brush made at the beginning then drag it into the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes) and choose New Art Brush. Type an appropriate name then hit OK.
Next save the three multipurpose brushes and give them a proper name. In this case, change the Colorization Method from None to Tints and Shades then hit OK.
Let's continue with the Scatter brushes. Drag the multipurpose one (gray) into the Brushes panel and choose New Scatter Brush this time. Type a name then change the Colorization Method to Tints and Shades. Leave the other settings as they are because you can change them later where needed. When you save the colored Scatter brushes leave the Colorization Method to None (default).
At this stage you should have your entire collection of neon brushes into the Brushes panel. To permanently save your collection into Illustrator's library, open the Brush Library menu by clicking on the icon at the bottom of the panel and choose Save Brushes. In the window that opens, type a name then hit Save. Now you can access your brushes anytime you want and use them in any project by going to Brush Library > User Defined > Neon Brushes.
7. Use the Neon Brushes
Here are a few simple examples how to use all these brushes. Take the Pen Tool (P) and draw some paths then stroke them with the blue neon Art Brush created at the beginning. The stroke color is not important. You can select different weight values depending on what you want.
Use the Spiral Tool to draw a spiral and this time, stroke it with one of the multipurpose Art brushes. If you select a red stroke color for the path, your brush will be neon red. By simply changing the stroke color your brush will change also and this is because you've set the Colorization Method to Tints and Shades.
Grab the Line Segment Tool (\) and draw many lines of different lengths as in the image below. Choose orange as the stroke color then use the multipurpose Art brush, large size to stroke them all. Select different Stroke Weight values for these paths, between 0.25 pt and 0.75 pt. Next, to enhance the neon look draw ellipses over a few of the lines and fill them with the radial gradient shown. Set the Blending Mode for these ellipses to Screen.
For the last example start drawing a wavy path using the Pen Tool (P). Select orange as the stroke color then use again the large size of the multipurpose Art Brush. Add another stroke by pressing the Duplicate selected item icon at the bottom of the Appearance panel. Change the existing Art brush with the multipurpose Scatter brush and keep the same stroke color. Double click on this new stroke in the Appearance panel to open the Stroke Options Window and change the values as shown. Set the Blending Mode to Screen but only for this second Stroke attribute. The other examples you can see in the final image are made using same techniques.
Great Work, Now You're Finished!
Now that you have your collection of Neon Art and Scatter brushes, you can use them in many ways into your projects. You can create and save as many as you want or you can stick to the multipurpose ones. I would love to see how you have used them.