Tutorial Illustrator: Creating calligraphic brushes

There are several preset calligraphic brushes in the Brushes panel, but you can easily define your own customized brush by following these steps:

  1. Choose New Brush from the Brushes panel menu. The New Brush dialog opens. In the New Brush dialog, select New Calligraphic Brush and click OK (Figure 1).

    define new brush stroke

    Figure 1: Defining a new calligraphic brush stroke.

  2. In the Calligraphic Brush Options dialog, enter an easy-to-remember name in the Name box.
  3. Type a value in the Angle box to define the angle of the brush. You might start with a 45-degree angle and experiment from there.

    Note: Unless you are working with a drawing tablet, leave the setting in the Variation column pop-up set to Fixed.

  4. Enter a value of less than 100% in the Roundness box. Lower values produce flatter brushes. Choose Random from the Roundness list. Enter a value, in percent, in the Roundness Variation box. Higher values (up to 180%) produce more variation in roundness as you apply or draw the brush effect.
  5. Enter a value (usually in points) in the Diameter box to set the diameter of the brush. Higher values create thicker strokes.
  6. Click OK to save the new calligraphic brush pattern. You can use the Pen or Pencil tools (or draw with shape tools) to create paths with a selected calligraphic brush effect. To do this, simply click on a calligraphic brush stroke in the Brushes panel and draw with the selected tool (Figure 2).

    the Pen tool

    Figure 2: Using the Pen tool to draw with a selected calligraphic brush stroke.

Calligraphic brushes and drawing tablets

Calligraphic brushes take on special attributes when you use a drawing tablet. When your operating system detects your drawing tablet, Illustrator provides additional pressure and pen stroke options for using your tablet’s pen. The most widely supported feature is pressure—the harder you press, the thicker the calligraphic brush stroke.


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