Working Man Creative | The 10 best Illustrator brushes
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The 10 best Illustrator brushes

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The 10 best Illustrator brushes



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Brushes don’t sound glamorous. A set of brushes doesn’t have quite the same kerb appeal as, for example, a ‘texture pack’ or a set of templates, but in many ways brushes can offer so much more to the vector designer than pre-built layouts or simple textures. Because of the flexible way in which Adobe Illustrator allows brushes to be used on vector shapes, what might look a simple and plain brush can add an entirely new dimension to a piece of work.

 

Illustrator CC, CC2014 and CC2015 all made progress in the way brushes are rendered and used inside the application so that, with the 2015 release for example, you can now save your brushes to your Creative Cloud library for easy access no matter which machine you’re using at the time. There’s also the handy new Brush CC tool that allows you to define and share artwork in the form of brushes directly from your iOS device. These elements of workflow finessing means it’s perhaps time to look again at brushes in Illustrator, so without further ado here are 10 of the best!

01. Stipple shading brushes

Best free Illustrator brushes - stipple shading
These stipple shading and scatter brushes are a great addition
  • Price: Free (for personal use, check with author for commercial use)
  • Artist/Designer: Chris Spooner

Chris Spooner is well known to many designers on the web for his excellent tutorials and free resources. This selection of 8 stipple shading and scatter brushes will make a lovely and versatile addition to your brush collection, allowing you to create fantastic half-tone style shading on your artwork with ease. Spooner has even provided a mini-tutorial showing how to get started with the brushes for best effect.

02. Floral vector and brush pack

Best free Illustrator brushes - Floral vector and brush pack
A wider selection of florals than that which ships with Illustrator
  • Price: Free for personal and commercial use
  • Artist/Designer: Stock Graphic Designs

This handy set of floral plate-inspired brushes is also available as a set of EPS assets for those times when you simply want to drop in stock art into your project. The quality of the art itself is comparable to the free florals that ship with Illustrator, but there’s a wider selection available here, and the fact that they’re not part of Illustrator’s default arsenal means you’re less likely to get instant recognition of the source.

03. 15 paint brushes

Best free Illustrator brushes - 15 paint brushes
These brushes are based on real paint brushes
  • Price: Free
  • Artist/Designer: Think Design

This set of 15 paintbrush-inspired brushes has been around a while, but the real-media feel they offer means they’re still well worth downloading and installing. This is even more the case given they’re absolutely free of charge! The brushes themselves are each based around a different style of real paint brush, offering a beautiful feeling of paint oozing out under the pressure of the brush. Great for those times when you want something a little less clean and imperfect.

04. Abstract brushes

Best free Illustrator brushes - Abstract brushes
These abstract brushes can be used to create crazy embellishments
  • Price: Free
  • Artist/Designer: alethiologie

Deviantart is always a good place to find free-to-use resources and assets, as this example from alethiologie demonstrates. A handy set of brushes that you can use to create abstract shapes and patterns, including some pretty crazy-looking ornaments.

05. Lino cut brushes

Best free Illustrator brushes - Lino cut brushes
These free Illustrator brushes give a hand-finished look
  • Price: Free (for personal use)
  • Artist/Designer: Mels Brushes

This is another example of digital replicating the natural imperfections of analogue artwork, but for all its irony, these free-for-personal-use brushes have a wonderful quality to them that brings out a lovely hand-finished look in your artwork.

Next page: five more great Illustrator brushes

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