In this tutorial, I am going to show you how to create a cool looking braid brush in Adobe Illustrator. This tutorial involves making of braid pattern, breaking it into a seamless tile in order to use it as brush and some basic understanding of the Illustrator’s pattern brush tiles so, let’s get started.
First of all, we have to turn on Grids and Snap settings, so, go to View menu and turn on Grids (Ctrl + “) and Snap to Grid (Shift + Ctrl + “). You can also turn on Point Snap if you want. It comes quite handy to snap anchor points together.
Select Pen tool (P) from the toolbar and create a shape as shown in the image.
Now, Right click anywhere on the artboard with the object selected and select Transform > Reflect… from the pop up menu. Reflect the object by 45 degrees and click on Copy button to create a copy of the object.
Select the new object and align it to the original one as shown in the image. Now, Select both the objects and group (Ctrl + G) them together.
Duplicate the group by Alt + dragging it. Align both the groups as shown in the image. Don’t worry, grid snapping will help you aligning objects correctly. Now, select all of them and group them together.
Select the pattern and rotate it 45 degrees. Now, go to Object > Expand… to expand the fill and stroke of the path.
We will create side tiles of our brush from this pattern by breaking it into a seamless object. In order to divide our pattern, we need a cutter/divider object, so, let’s create an area over the pattern using Pen tool (P). You can use Outline mode to make sure that the divider object is on the correct point.
Now, Select both the objects (cutter and the braid pattern) and open Pathfinder panel (Shift + Ctrl + F9) and use Divide pathfinder to divide the object. After dividing the object, ungroup all the contents and delete all the extra objects and group the main tile.
Rotate the object 90 degrees and drag it into the Brush panel (F5). After dragging the object into the Brush panel, New Brush dialog will appear. Choose New Pattern Brush from the dialog and click OK to bring up the Pattern Brush Options dialog. Under Pattern Brush Options dialog, turn on the Flip Across option. It will flip our tile vertically.
Note: Flipping the pattern brush is not necessary in every case.
Now, create a line using Line tool (\) and apply our pattern brush to the line that we just created. It works fine with lines and paths.
Create a rounded rectangle and a normal rectangle and apply the pattern brush to both the objects. As you can see that our braid brush is looking quite good with the rounded rectangle but in the normal rectangle there is something wrong at the corners. The reason is, the tile we are using is a side tile so it works well on the sides but if it detects corners then it automatically skips the corners and continues from the other side of the object. So, in order to use the brush with cornered objects, we have to create corner tiles of our pattern brush.
Well, for the corners we have to draw the tile manually as there is no other way to generate corner tiles with the help of the existing braid brush. Draw the shape on the corners as shown in the image. Drawing the corner tiles for such complex pattern brushes is really a big pain and won’t be perfect at the first attempt, so take your time while creating the corner tiles. Expand (Object > Expand…) the corner tiles when you are done.
Now, Select the corner tile and drag it into the Swatches panel to save it as a pattern swatch. Name your pattern, braid_brush_corner_tile or anything you want (optional).
In Brush panel (F5), double click on the braid brush to bring up the Pattern Brush Options dialog. Under Pattern Brush Options dialog, click on Outer Corner Tile box and choose the braid_brush_corner_tile pattern for it.
Now, our brush can also work for cornered objects without any problem.
You can modify the shape of the braid pattern in order to add some cool variations to the pattern brush.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Use comments section to share your suggestions and problems or just shoot me an email. Good luck.