Adobe Illustrator – The Custom Brush Tool


Here’s a designer you should give more than a cursory glance. VectorInk is an active Spreadshirt designer who creates her own brushes in a matter of clicks.  Adobe Illustrator allows you to easily adjust your brushes, and we’ve picked a sweet little bunny for you to show what two brushes can do for you. Here’s our tutorial – let’s take the rabbit out of the hat!

VectorInk’s rabbit design was drafted with the brushes the designer created herself.

To get started in Illustrator, open the brush window to you have it on the canvas. Then get rid of all the brushes you don’t need to keep things simple. Now you can draw a line (brush, first image) with the drawing pencil tool. Play around with the hand tool until the pencil stroke shows pointed ends and soft gradients leading to a thicker centre. The idea is to make it look like fluffy fur.

Pull the brush to the brush window while pressing the left mouse button. In doing so, you’ll open the brush select window.

“Later, I only rarely use the brush for contours since it’s important to me to see the contours. I like the seamless and smooth stroke of the brush tool,” says Carolina Matthes aka VectorInk. “Depending on how powerful your computer is, you can draw just as fast as on paper.”

Now you can choose your custom brush (image 2), which will open the ‘Options’ window and choose a fitting name for the brush (e.g. ‘lashes’). If you want to define a color preset, choose ‘Colorization’ and then ‘Tints’. It’s the best choice for consistent lines with an even proportion of length and width, but I often still enjoy tinkering about (image 3).

Repeat these steps to create a second brush – and you’ll be sure to have learned a new skill.

 Hasi-2_en  Hasi-3_en  Hasi-4_en

As a result, you can use the brush in Illustrator to draw as nicely and swiftly as you would with a pen on a page in a notebook.  This is how the brush strokes could look like:

 Hasi-6_en  Hasi-7_en

And here’s how to treat the rabbit’s fur. Choose the base colour first. Then you draw fur lines on the outer lines:

 Hasi-9  Hasi-10

Different colour accentuations breathe life into the animal’s fur:


And this is the final result:


A big THANK YOU goes out to VectorInk for doing this tutorial with us. Do you have experience with creating brushes or other handy Illustrator tips you feel like sharing? We look forward to it!