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Illustrator Brushes for Beginners: How to Use

Brushes in Adobe Illustrator are a great option for anything that repeats linearly and this Illustrator tutorial will show you the basics of how to use brushes for beginners.  Some simple examples of brushes for fashion design essentials are stitching and zippers, but they're great for other fashion design sketches such as studs along a belt, or to emulate ruching and ruffles.

Finding the Brushes

Let's start by opening the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes).  There might be some default brushes in there, but you also may notice some custom brushes.

Using & Editing Brushes

To use brushes, select a path (or draw a new one) and click on the instance of the brush in the Brushes panel.  That brush will then be applied to the path. The size of the brush can be changed by adjusting the size of the stroke.


Transferring Brushes Between Files

If you have some brushes that you want to transfer between files, the quick and dirty method is via copy and paste. Select an instance of the brush that you want and choose Edit > Copy (cmd/ctrl + C).  Navigate to the file where you want to use the brush, and Edit > Paste (cmd/ctrl + V).  Once the brush is pasted anywhere in the document, you will notice that an instance of it has been added to the Brushes panel.  Even if you delete the brush instance from the artboard, it will remain in the Brushes panel within this particular document unless you manually delete it.


Loading Brushes in Files

Instead of copying and pasting, you can also load brushes into your Illustrator file.  Click the flyout icon on the Brushes panel and choose Open Brush Library > Other Library...  You will then browse out the saved brush file on your computer.

This will create a new panel of brushes for you to use which will include all of the brushes that were in the file you loaded.  

Adding Brushes to the Library List

You may notice on the example, 1_FASHION_BRUSHES and 2_EXTRA_STITCHES are loaded at the top of the "Open Brush Library" list.  This makes these brush libraries easy to access at all times from any Illustrator file.  To get your brushes to load on this list, you just need to save them in a certain location on your computer.  Find this location: Applications > Adobe Illustrator CC 2014 (or your current version) > Presets > en_US (or your language) > Brushes and save them there.  Add a number at the front of the file name if you want them to load at the top of the list (since they are listed alphabetically).


Your brushes will then always show up at the top of the Load Brush Library list making them easy and convenient to grab for all of your fashion drawings.