Friday, 11 May 2012

Create monstrous characters with Illustrator CS5's Bristle Brush

Illustrator and web designer Paddy Donnelly shows us how to use Illustrator CS5's new Bristle Brush feature and a Wacom tablet to create monsters

Creating works of art just became so much easier with the new Bristle Brushes in Illustrator CS5. Using a Wacom tablet, you can easily create realistic flowing hair, pressure and direction sensitive sketches, all in vector format. We're going to use them to create some monsters. Let's get cracking.

1. Unleash your imagination

First of all, get your sketchpad and pencil out and let your imagination run wild to create a rough outline of your monster.


2. Mightier than the sword

Once you've got your rough shape, grab a black pen and go over the sketch, highlighting more of the details. This will make it easier to trace in Illustrator.


3. Open Illustrator

Scan in your little monster sketch and pop him into your bottom layer in a new Illustrator document. Add a new layer, grab the pen tool and start to redraw him. You can use the Live Trace tool, but I prefer to have more control and redraw it from scratch. Draw the two main parts to the monster, the body and the hair.


4. Choose your bases

Once you've drawn the basic shapes of your monster, choose some base colours. We're going to be painting over these shapes in layers, so it's a good idea to choose a darker shade of your desired colour as the background.


5. Stay inside the lines

Now, to keep ourselves within these shapes that we've just drawn, highlight the body shape and click the Draw Inside icon. This will mean that anything we draw will stay within these boundaries.


6. Borders

Four borders will appear in the corners of your shape to indicate which shape will be restricting your painting.


7. Bristle Brushes

Select the brush tool from the toolbar and go up to the Brush Definition menu. Scroll down the list until you find the Bristle Brushes option, then double click it.


8. Bristle menu

The Bristle Brushes Options box will appear. This is where you can select every aspect of your brush such as length, density, opacity, stiffness etc. It takes a lot of experimentation here to get the right brush for your task so take the time to try some out.


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