Unlimited is here! Plus Membership just got even better Join Now
Scatter Brushes in Illustrator
  • By Design Bundles
  • 06 Dec 2018
  • 10 Mins
  • Beginner
  • Illustrator Tutorials

Scatter Brushes in Illustrator

Discover how to make a scatter brush in Adobe Illustrator to create unique brushes.

There are several types of brushes that you can make in Illustrator. In today’s tutorial, you will learn how to create and use scatter brushes. Scatter brushes are made up of vector shapes. This type of brush scatters vector shapes across a path.

Scatter Brushes in Illustrator

To follow along with this tutorial, you will need some vector shapes to create the scatter brush. We’ll be using star vectors, but some great shape ideas are music note vectors, heart vectors, and feather vectors.

Step 1 - Import/Place Your Vectors

In your new document, go to File > Place. Locate and select the vector shape you would like to use for your scatter brush. Then click Place.

Click on File and then Place in Illustrator

You can single-click on the artboard or click + drag on the artboard to place your vector shape. It can be placed anywhere and in any size, as we’ll edit it in the next step.

Shows to click and drag to place your vector shape

Repeat Step 1 for your other vector shapes if needed.

Step 2 - Make the Brush Design and Create a New Brush

You can use one or multiple vector shapes to create a scatter brush. You can also change the colors of the vector shapes, vary the sizes, and arrange them how you’d like. Select your vector brush design and open the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes). Click the New Brush icon at the bottom of the panel.

Select your vector brush design and click on the New Brush icon in the Brushes panel

In the New Brush dialog, choose Scatter Brush and click OK.

Scatter Brush is selected in the New Brush dialog with an arrow pointing to OK

For now, just give your brush a Name and click OK. You can delete the vector shapes now if you want.

The Name option is highlighted with an arrow pointing to OK

Your new scatter brush should now be in the Brushes panel near the top in one of the squares.

The newly created brush is highlighted in the Brushes panel in Illustrator

Step 3 - Draw a Line to Test Your New Scatter Brush

To test your new scatter brush, draw a line on the artboard with the Pen Tool (P), Curvature Tool (Shift + ~), Line Segment Tool (\), or Brush Tool (B). Then with the line selected, click on your new brush in the Brushes panel. Your scatter brush will be applied to the line as the Stroke. Make sure the Fill is set to None.

A line is drawn on the canvas with the Line Segment Tool and the new scatter brush is applied to it

Step 4 - Edit Scatter Brush Options

Double-click on your new scatter brush’s thumbnail in the Brushes panel. Doing so will open the Scatter Brush Options dialog again. In the Scatter Brush Options dialog, enable the Preview to see the option changes in real-time.

We went with the following options for our scatter brush:

  • Size: Random (60% and 100%)
  • Spacing: Fixed (100%)
  • Scatter: Random (-10% and 20%)
  • Rotation: Random (-180° and 180°)
  • Rotation relative to: Path
  • Method: Tints

You can play around with the settings and see what you like, as your brush will be different from ours. When adjusting the sliders, the left sliders correspond to the minimum setting, and the right sliders correspond to the maximum setting for each option. You can click the lightbulb icon for more information on Colorization.

Click OK when you’re happy with the results.

Double-click on the scatter brush to open the Scatter Brush Options dialog to edit the options

When prompted, select Apply to Strokes.

Arrow pointing to Apply to Strokes

Step 5 - Add and Edit Text

We want to show how you can apply your scatter brush to text. We'll be using the bold sans serif font, Cedric.

Delete the line you created earlier. Then select the Type Tool (T), click on the artboard, and type your text. You can edit the font and text options in the Character panel (Window > Type > Character). To change the color of the text, change its Fill.

Note: we have a guide on using fonts in Illustrator if needed.

Shows how to add text using the Type Tool and how to edit the text

Create Outlines of the Text

With the text selected, right-click and choose Create Outlines.

Shows to select the text object, right-click and choose Create Outlines

Center Align Text to the Artboard

With the text still selected, center the text to the artboard using the Horizontal and Vertical Align Center options in the Control panel at the top. If the options are hidden, click on Align first.

Shows how to align the text to the center of the artboard in Illustrator

Step 6 - Apply the New Scatter Brush to the Stroke

Select the text and choose your newly created scatter brush as the Stroke. Change the Weight of the Stroke if needed. This will change the overall size of the brush without changing the actual scatter brush options.

The Stroke Weight is being decreased and increased to change the size of the applied scatter brush

Remember, you can always double-click on your scatter brush to modify the settings if you need to. Just don’t forget to select Apply to Strokes when asked.

If you don’t like the placement of the shapes and some of your scatter brush options are set to Random, you can click on the scatter brush in the Brush panel again to change up how it looks.

The scatter brush is applied multiple times to change the results of the applied scatter brush look

Step 7 - Fine Tune Your Design By Expanding Appearance

When you’re happy with your design, select the objects that have the scatter brush applied as the Stroke, and go to Object > Expand Appearance.

Shows to select the object and click on Object and Expand Appearance in Illustrator

This will turn each shape in the Stroke into its own object. You can see in the following image that each shape has an outline as it is now its own object.

Shows what the design looks like after Expand Appearance has been applied

You can Ungroup (Shift + Ctrl/Cmd + G) and edit each shape individually to fine-tune your design. In the following image, we applied a gradient to the stars, which could not have been done before applying Expand Appearance.

Shows the design after some fine-tuning has been done to the individual shapes

You can create some unique and fun designs using scatter brushes and multiple layers. We hope this tutorial got you comfortable with creating and using scatter brushes in Illustrator!

6 Related Illustrator Tutorials

Today we will learn how to create a basic set of stipple brushes in Illustrator. Stippling is the process of adding small dots to create a texture or shading. These brushes are great for adding depth to vector art designs. The technique can also be used to create other types ...

For this tutorial you will need some watercolor textures that have a transparent background. I have used some from this Watercolor Texture Pack by Sinziana Romanescu.1 – Open or create an Illustrator document, then choose and place the textures you wish to use. Go to File > Place or click Shift + ...

1 - In Illustrator, create a “New Document”.2 - Select the “Rectangle Tool” (M), draw a rectangle covering your whole document and fill it with Black.3 - Lock your “Background” Layer by clicking on the left side of its thumbnail to bring out the small “Padlock” icon. Create a “New Layer” ...

1 - In Illustrator, create a “New Document”.2 - Select the “Ellipse Tool” (L) and to draw a circle with a 5mm circumference approximately.3 - With the “Direct Selection Tool” (A) click on the Top “Anchor Point” and hit the “Up” key until you are satisfied with its position. If you ...

Affinity Designer has a vast array of tools for creating and editing designs. One of these tools is the brush tool. Brushes are available for purchase in both vector format and raster format. They both work in a similar way however there are a fewdifferences.Locating the Brush ToolAfter opening ...

In Affinity Photo you can create your own custom brushes, including adding an image. In this tutorial we will take you through the different brush types available. Custom brushes can be used to watermark images, add textures or decorative elements and more. So let’s get started as we create ...

illustrator vector brush scatter brush

You may also like

Help Center
ol image