Skip to main content

Scatter Brushes

Lesson 4 from: Create Brushes in Adobe Illustrator

Jason Hoppe

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

4. Scatter Brushes

Create Scatter brushes from mild textures to bold artwork. Control the size, scatter and rotation of the artwork that makes up the brush and apply it to stroke and borders.
Next Lesson: Art Brushes

Lesson Info

Scatter Brushes

Next up on the list of brushes are the scatter brushes. Scatter brushes, quite frankly, I think are amazing, because of what you can do with these brushes, so let me show you. One thing of note, when you do go into your brushes dropdown menu, and you create a new brush, you'll notice that the art brush and the scatter brush are grayed out, and the reason why is because you have to have artwork selected in order to create these. So unlike the calligraphic, and the bristle, and the pattern brush, you can start with nothing selected, but the art brush and the scatter brush, you do have to have artwork selected. Starting off with the line that I've created, I'd like to turn this into a scatter brush. Select the line with the selection tool, brushes drop down, select new brush, going to call that a scatter brush, click okay. I'm gonna call this my blue line. I'm not gonna change any of the defaults in here. Simply going to click okay, and show you how this blue line scatter brush works. I'm...

gonna draw a straight line. And with that stroke, I'm going to apply the blue line to it. And as you see here, it creates a very nice fence post, or railroad, or kind of like stitch effect. Very nice, it just simply takes that, and as a scatter brush, it puts it all along the line. Now if you curve that line, which I'm going to do with my curvature tool, you'll see that that brush follows the curve of the line, and this could be kind of interesting to do, instead of having to place each and every vertical stroke equally apart in a fashion that makes it look like it's on a line, creating the scatter brush, and have it actually flow along the line, infinitely easier than placing each and every one of those strokes manually, and getting the space correct. We're gonna double click, and we're gonna call up the scatter brush options. The preview is checked, so we can see what's going on as we adjust our size, spacing, scatter, and rotation. With the size, you can control the overall size of your initial artwork, and how it gets applied to the stroke. So if you've created a very large object, and you'd like to reduce it down in size, keeping the size fixed, simply reduce it down, and you can see the result when it's applied to a path. The spacing can also be increased or decreased. So if we decrease the spacing, that means there's less space in between, and we get more of these objects on the line. We can also control the scatter, which will not only shift it off the line, which it could be a little bit of a, you know, hard to kind of understand thing, because it shifts it above and below the line, but also too, it condenses them too. So I'd like that scatter to, you know, kind of stay along the line there. That would be nice if it did, and not shift up and, up and down from the line. The rotation can also be adjusted, so that everything's gonna rotate in unison. I'm gonna put this fixed back to zero, and we've kind of got the size a little bit smaller in the spacing, a little bit tighter, and with this rotation, I can actually have this so that it rotates along the line. Now you'll notice it keeps it all rotated along the line, but they're all flat, and it's like, okay, why is it doing that? Well, here's the trick on why it does that. Everything is relative to the page. So if I have this relative to the path here, and I set the rotation back to zero, you can see that it will go, and it will apply it so that the, this is going, or it's going to be perpendicular to any particular portion of the line. So if I wanted to create some type of stitch effect on a curved line, having the rotation relative to the path is a really nice feature. Of course, you can adjust the size larger and smaller, or you can adjust the spacing, and you get this nice stitch effect with whatever you create. So I'm gonna click okay. And I'm gonna apply the edits to that stroke, so we can see the results. Now if I were to take a shape, and I were to apply that to a closed shape, click on my basic blue line, you can see that this applies it very nicely to the line, kind of as if it's a sewn effect. Get it close enough and you can actually kind of create this really cool stitched patch effect, which could be quite interesting, but I'm gonna go back and I'm gonna double click in this option here again, and I just wanna show you what it looks like relative to the path, so it looks like stitching all along the path, or relative to the page. And you can see relative to the page, it puts it all vertical, because that's how we created this object to begin with, and therefore all of our size, spacing, scatter, and rotation, actually our rotation here, is going to be relative to the page. This is gonna be relative to the path. So most of the time I use relative to the path, because I'd like it to conform to my path, which makes a lot of sense. Now if you'd like to have a little bit more randomness to this, you can choose your drop down menus here, and you can choose random. Then what this allows you to do is it allows you to set two different sets, kind of a minimum and a maximum, of how much randomness you want. So if you want something that's going to be a little bit more fun, and a little bit more active, setting the spacing, and setting the size, and the scatter, and the rotation to random, allows you to give a maximum and a minimum amount, where it will go to 30%, all the way up to in this case 55%. The scatter as well, if I set this, you'll see that it allows me to kind of give this burst effect. And this could be cool. You know, maybe you're doing raindrops, okay, and you'd like this kind of stagger effect. This could work definitely to your advantage. So again, setting your maximum and your minimum amounts here. This is relative to the path, this is relative to the page, and you can see how that works. Pretty interesting. It's a fascinating set of options that you have with a scatter brush. Quite interesting. I just, it always intrigues me when I do something like this, because as I go and I explore, it's amazing that I could start off with one single vertical shape like this, and be able to apply it in a way that goes along the line, or goes along a shape, and it's just simply amazing. It just, it's like wow, this is great. Could you imagine trying to go in and place each and every one of these randomly? It just, it wouldn't work. I mean, it would take forever for you to do that, but here you can draw the shape and apply it. And of course, if you simply double click, and go back in, you can set everything back to your fixed sizes, and that's going to take off the randomness on here as well. And of course, you can return these back to our default settings here. There is no go back to default, unfortunately. So here, when we go in, we have to just simply set those back to where we are, and I think we're gonna tighten up that spacing a bit. There we go, relative to the path, and good to go. Now, another interesting way that you can also resize the look of the scatter brush is not only controlling the size by double clicking on the scatter brush and then changing the size percentage, but you can also go, and you can apply a different stroke weight to the overall path that this brush has been applied to. So two different ways, we can actually control the brush size by double clicking here, and controlling the percentage sliders, but you can also very easily enlarge or reduce the overall brush size, which is going to directly reflect the size of the brush effect on your path, so interesting thing that this does. Now this is just a simple object right here, okay? It's a path that I just applied, so we get this nice stitch effect, or kind of this cool looking, you know, stitch around a path, however you wanna do it, but I'm gonna take a closed shape, and I'm going to have a little bit of fun with this. Again, select my closed shape, drop down menu, create a new brush. This too is gonna be a scatter brush, and I'm gonna click okay. And this is gonna be my cloud. I'm gonna keep all the defaults the same here, and I'm just going to do the cloud. I'm gonna keep it relative to the page and you'll see why, 'cause I want this, these clouds to stay horizontal. I don't want them to rotate and it would look kind of funny. I'm gonna click okay. Now interestingly enough, when you're using the scatter brush, you can apply it to a stroke, a line, a shape, but also use your brush tool, but here's one thing with the brush tool that you don't need to do. You don't need to go and paint a line, and have that apply to it. You can simply take your brush and just click. So it's almost like a stamp, acts like a stamp, you just simply click and you stamp it, and then you just get a single occurrence of that brush. So that's a nice little way to go through and do this, if you don't want to go in and take this shape, and copy paste, copy paste, copy paste. Now remember, you have options for this brush as well. So when I go in and I change the size, and I decide I'm gonna make it random, so what I can do is I can control and make this so I get random sizes, large and small. Spacing as well, I can go random too, and get larger and smaller. Scatter, I can also scatter these. So if I want to create some type of fun weather effect, I can just simply take my brush, and with my brush active, I don't have to draw a line, I'm just gonna simply click and you'll see that it will create different sizes all over, which is kind of fun. Quite interesting. I'm gonna undo all of these, and if I do paint a line like this with my brush, you can see that it will paint all along there, and so I get this, these shapes. Now what happens when I want to go in, and I want to change the color of any one of these applied brushes? So I'm gonna take these shapes, and I'm gonna go up to my stroke panel, and I'm gonna change the color of them. Hm, I selected orange there, well, did it not change to orange? Well let me try this one, I'm gonna select orange too. Well that one didn't change to orange. Baffling. Why don't they change? Because there's this interesting little caveat here when you're dealing with a scatter brush, and I'm gonna go back in and edit this scatter brush, and the colorization here, we have to choose the method in which we recolor. The default is, it doesn't allow any recoloring, or you can simply just color the tints, or you can color the tints and shades, or you can create an entire hue shift. Okay, so what does the, what do these actually mean? What's the, you know, ins and outs of each and every one of these? Well, clicking in a light bulb here is going to give you a little tip, and it's gonna describe what it does. Obviously, if you go and choose no recoloration, whatever you change your stroke color to, which is what I was doing here, and trying to change it to orange, nothing happens. Now if I set it to tints, and I go and I choose a color from here, whatever tint this is, whatever tint value, if I change the color it'll just change the tint to that value. Here I can do tints and shades, and you can see that they're showing you an entire piece of artwork. Okay, so this is not just a representation. This could actually be a piece of artwork that's got multiple colors. So you don't have to create a brush with a single color like we did. You can simply create a brush with a larger object, so multiple shapes, multiple colors. So with a tint selection, you're just going to be able to go and apply a single color, and it's gonna keep the tints. Here you can apply the tints and the shades to get a little bit more dramatic effect, and the hue shift will allow you to go in and use the eyedropper tool, and click on the areas, and change the hue completely. So I'm going to choose the method of a hue shift, and I'm gonna click okay. I'm gonna apply that to my strokes. Now you can see, it changes to whatever color I choose. So if I'd like this to be green, I need to select my clouds here, 'cause I didn't go in, and I didn't change my blue line to my hues, my hue shift. I'm gonna go in and see, I can just change those right there. Okay. Beautiful. And again, if I'd like to change my blue line here, it's as simple as double clicking, going and changing the colorization method to the hue shift, and click okay, and apply that to my strokes, and now I can easily change that color to anything that I want in my stroke panel. So that's how you recolor brushes here when you're using the scatter brush. It's not particularly intuitive, but it can be really interesting when you want to go, and you want to apply something very, very, very quickly. Now you can create something a lot more complex with the scatter brush, and it doesn't need to be something very, you know, simple like this. It can actually be quite complex, and the complexity of it could be something, you know, where you create kind of an interesting object, and then you use this scatter brush to go in and paint with it. If you wanted to create more complex artwork, say like this flower with multiple colors, I can select my artwork, create a new scatter brush, go into the brushes panel, new brush, scatter brush, click okay. And here's my blue flower. And I'm gonna click okay. And now when I take this, and I take my path, and I apply my blue flower to it, this is what I get. Quick resize. I can just go in and I can change the point size of my overall line, or I could double click and change the options on my flower here to drastically reduce the overall size of my flower here. But a quick little resize from my stroke panel allows me to go in and resize them here as well. So this could be a lot of fun to have this repetitive shape here as a complex shape. One key thing, you can't use a gradient in your artwork to create a brush. So everything has to be solid color, whether it be a fill or a stroke, doesn't matter, you just can't use a gradient. So that's something to keep in mind when you go through, and you use a scatter brush. Scatter brushes are one of those ones that have infinite possibilities, just amazing ideas that you can create with a scatter brush. They're fun, you apply them to a line or a shape, and then you have so many options to choose from to be able to work with all these different options, size, spacing, scatter, and rotation. And this could be just absolutely amazing. I'm just gonna do one last hue shift here, and I can apply that to my strokes. And now I can apply all different hues and tints to this overall, and you can see when I do that, it actually will keep the variations in from my original one where I have kind of my medium and my dark blue, and you can see that when I apply a new color to it, it will keep those saturation values in line, even though I apply a new color to it. And that's scatter brushes. They most certainly are fun, and limitless in what you can do, and what you can create.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Illustrator Brushes

Ratings and Reviews

Angie redpolkadot

Illustrator is my favorite Adobe product, and I have been using it for a while, but I still learned so much watching this webinar. And Jason's teaching style is pleasant to listen to, and his enthusiasm is infectious.


Student Work