Apr 10 2010

christopher dresser, “studies in design” border brushes for illustrator

Now available: 28 custom border pattern brushes for Illustrator: from Christopher Dresser, Studies in Design — $11.00 USD Purchase Now

Included are the 28 linear border patterns from Studies in Design by Christopter Dresser (1834-1904). The plates were hand traced in Adobe Illustrator CS3 (as opposed to using Live Trace) and converted to pattern brushes that can be used with Illustrator CS and above (and possibly 8.0 and above). The colors are close to the original, though the plates were faded, thus colors are probably somewhat muted, compared to the original.

These designs are representative of the Aesthetic through the early Art Deco styles. Botanical and fantastical animal forms dominate this collection–many are detailed and highly decorative.

These brushes are customizable so experiment with different border combinations and colorways.

For more information concerning installation and use, please see the online version of the “read-me” file.


Feb 10 2010

illustrator techniques: defining a custom pattern brush, take-2

It came to my attention that I breezed by an important point in the tutorial on creating a custom pattern brush or frieze. The online Illustrator manual apparently doesn’t have a good overview of complex pattern brushes either. It’s important because it’s a potential pitfall when it comes to creating the single instance of the border design. So, here is a better method (and a more complete explanation) that works with a wider variety of drawing methods.

Start by drawing at least 3 replications of the design that you want to have repeated in the brush pattern. Note: make sure all objects are on the same layer.

Draw a box with no fill and no border and position it so that it defines exactly one instance of the pattern design:

This box should be the last object drawn or, if not, should be arranged in front (Object > Arrange > Bring to Front).

Select all of the pattern elements and the box (Select > All).

Create a clipping mask defined by the box (Object > Clipping Mask > Make)

This will result in one instance of the pattern design:

Next, make sure the mask contents are editable (Object > Clipping Mask > Edit Contents). The entire pattern will be selected, though those objects outside the mask will appear outlined:

In most cases you will need to Expand Appearance to divide strokes and fills into separate, editable objects (Object > Expand…) If this menu selection is not available it may mean that you already have discrete objects, though drawings consisting of both fills and strokes will require expansion.

This will bring up the Expand dialogue box. Choose both Fill and Stroke.

Note that the strokes now appear to be filled objects.

The next few steps are important and failure to do them is usually the reason for an error when it comes time to create the pattern brush. Check to see if anything needs to be Ungrouped (Object > Ungroup). If not, the menu option will be greyed-out and it is safe to continue. Otherwise, choose Ungroup and repeat, if necessary, until the option is greyed-out.

Then make sure the only the mask is editable (Object > Clipping Mask > Edit Mask).

After this, it is again important to click inside the masked instance of the design to select it, as opposed to the mask itself. Simply click once in the center of your design.

Next Divide the paths (Effect > Pathfinder > Divide):

Now, create a new pattern brush in the Brush panel (A) and, in the New Brush dialogue box, specify New Pattern Brush (B).

If all goes well, you should next see the Pattern Brush Options dialogue box. If you get an error message, the most likely cause is the contents of the mask were not expanded fully or they were not fully ungrouped. Undo repeatedly until you get back to before the mask was defined and try again. Depending on the intricacy of the design and the way it was constructed, you may need to choose (Object > ) Expand Appearance, instead if Expand… or it could be as simple as ensuring that you have clicked on the contents of the mask after making it editable.

Once you have successfully gotten to the Pattern Brush Options dialogue box, give the brush a name and the pattern instance should appear in the small preview pane indicating a “side tile” (as opposed to a corner).

Test the brush by drawing a line and applying the pattern brush to it:

The design should appear seamless, with no gaps or mismatches. Otherwise, go back and redraw the box to define the mask.


Jan 13 2010

illustrator techniques: use custom brushes to create a custom border or frieze

The technique of making a custom border in Illustrator is similar to specifying a pattern. View the example starting motif and the finished border.

Start with a linear pattern that you wish to repeat seamlessly. I found this albatross motif which I (hand) traced in Illustrator.

And generated at least one instance of a seamless repeat by copying and pasting and filling in the missing segment.

First, make sure all of the elements of the motif are grouped together: Select > All and then Object > Group

This will also place all of the objects on the same layer.

Make sure the rulers are visible: View > Show Rulers

Find the edges of the repeat and drag guide lines from the vertical ruler to align with each of the edges. Try to be precise so there are no gaps or overlaps in the repeated design.

Make sure the guides are locked: View > Guides > Lock Guides. Make sure there is a check mark next to Lock Guides. Click to toggle the lock on or off.

With the Rectangle Tool (1), draw a box with no fill and no border (2) that completely encompasses the area to be repeated.

Select All again and choose Crop (1) from the Pathfinder panel (2).

This should result in a single instance of the repeat.

Note: If the original design includes complex appearances or blends, you may have to expand the appearances (Object > Expand Appearance) or expand strokes and fills (Object > Expand…) before cropping.

Select All again and open the Brushes panel (1). Make a new brush (2) and select New Pattern Brush (3):

Frm the Pattern Brush Options dialogue box, name the brush (1) and click on the Side Tile indicator (2) and click OK:

To test the repeat, use the Pen Tool (1) to draw a straight line (2):

Select the line. From the Brushes Panel (1), choose the new custom brush (2):

To change the size of the border, first select Object > Transform > Scale…

From the Scale dialogue box, make sure Scale Stroke & Effects is checked:

With the line segment selected and holding down the Shift ket, pull the upper corner handles out: