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Tips for Drawing with Brushes in Illustrator CS2

Chapter Description

The heart of Illustrator is the ability to define vector paths, usually using the Pen or Pencil tool. The paths can have an infinite variety of fills, stroke properties, and other effects. Among these effects is an amazing variety of brushlike stroke attributes. In this chapter, you'll learn how to draw with brushes; create calligraphic, art, and scatter brushes, and more.

#30 Pressure-Sensitive Drawing with a Tablet

If you are drawing with a tablet, such as a Wacom tablet, you can select drawing tools like the Pencil, Pen, brushes, or shapes tools, and draw freehand using your tablet. By tweaking Pencil tool smoothness settings, you'll probably find the Pencil tool and a tablet the closet thing in Illustrator to simply sketching on a drawing pad.

Calligraphic brushes take on special attributes when you hook up a drawing tablet. When your operating system detects your drawing tablet, Illustrator provides additional pressure and pen stroke options for using your tablet's pen. The most widely supported feature is pressure—the harder you press, the thicker the calligraphic brush stroke.

To define pressure (and other) attributes of a calligraphic brush, double-click on the brush in the Brushes palette. From the Angle, Roundness, or Diameter pop-ups, choose Pressure, or another tablet-based stroke attribute. Depending on the version and drivers you install, the Wacom 6D Art Pen set can support six dimensions of pressure sensitivity: X-axis, Y-axis, Pressure, Tilt, Bearing, and Barrel Rotation ( Figure 30a ).


Figure 30a Choosing from one set of pressure sensitive options for brushespressure sensitive attributes for a Wacom 6D Art Pen.

Once you choose Pressure (or another option) from either of the three pop-ups, you can define how much variation you want to allow. A large variation value for diameter, for example, means strokes applied with more pressure on your tablet are much thicker than strokes applied with slight pressure ( Figure 30b ).


Figure 30b The stroke on the left was drawn with light pressure on a drawing tablet, the stroke on the right with more pressure.

You'll find a special palette of brushes that match the Wacom Intuos3 tablet on the second disk of the Illustrator CS2 install set of disks. To open that palette, choose Window > Brush Libraries > Other Library, and navigate to the second Illustrator CS2 CD (or the folder on your local computer or network to which those files were copied). On the CS2 second CD, navigate to the Goodies folder, and then open the folder Wacom 6D Brushes. Choose the File 6D Art Pen Brushes.

The brushes in this palette support all the features of the Wacom tablet and pen ( Figure 30c ).


Figure 30c Special brushes for the Wacom Intuos3 tablet and 6D Art Pen.