3D Modeling: 10 Illustrator Brush Tips
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 9 min read


  1. Customize brush settings
  2. Experiment with brush intensity
  3. Use brushes for shading and highlights
  4. Layer multiple brush strokes
  5. Create custom brushes
  6. Save and reuse brushes
  7. Combine different brushes
  8. Use brushes for textures
  9. Control brush pressure
  10. Use brushes for fine details

Are you looking for tips on how to use a brush in Illustrator for 3D modeling? Well, you're in the right place. This blog post will share ten practical tips that can help you enhance your 3D modeling skills in Illustrator. Whether you're a beginner who's just getting started or a seasoned pro, these tips can help you make the most out of the Illustrator's brush tool. So, let's dive in and start exploring these tips.

Customize Brush Settings

One of the first things you need to master when learning how to use a brush in Illustrator for 3D modeling is how to customize your brush settings. The brush tool in Illustrator is highly flexible, allowing you to adjust several parameters to suit your needs. Here's a quick rundown on how to do it:

  • Size: You can adjust the size of your brush according to the level of detail you need in your model. A larger brush size can help you cover a larger area, while a smaller brush size is great for adding intricate details.
  • Angle: This allows you to rotate the brush to achieve different effects. Don't be afraid to experiment with different angles to see how they affect your design.
  • Roundness: Changing the roundness of your brush can help you create different shapes and lines. A lower roundness will give you more elongated strokes, while a higher roundness will give you rounder, fuller strokes.
  • Hardness: This determines how sharp or soft the edges of your brush strokes are. A higher hardness results in sharper edges, while a lower hardness results in softer, more blended edges.

In addition to these settings, Illustrator also offers other options such as scatter, spacing, and texture, which can add more depth and realism to your 3D models. So, don't hesitate to play around with these settings until you find what works best for you.

Experiment with Brush Intensity

Next up on your quest to understand how to use brush in Illustrator for 3D modeling is mastering the brush intensity. When it comes to creating stunning 3D models, the intensity or opacity of your brush strokes can make a significant difference. It's all about striking the right balance.

What happens when you increase the brush intensity? It's simple: your strokes become more opaque, resulting in a more pronounced and bold effect. Conversely, reducing the brush intensity results in more transparent strokes, which can be useful for subtle detailing or overlay effects.

Here's something for you to try. Start with a lower intensity and gradually increase it as you add more strokes. Notice the difference? The layers of strokes create a depth that can add a touch of realism to your 3D model. And guess what? This technique is particularly handy when you're working on complex models where you need to differentiate between the background and the foreground elements.

Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all approach here. The right intensity depends heavily on your design and what you're trying to achieve. So, don't be afraid to experiment and find what works best for your project.

Use Brushes for Shading and Highlights

Shading and highlighting are like the salt and pepper of 3D modeling. They can turn a flat, dull design into a lifelike and dynamic 3D model. This is where Illustrator brushes truly shine — pun intended.

When you're using brushes for 3D modeling in Illustrator, you have a world of options for shading and highlighting. You can use a darker brush for shading, which creates a sense of depth and volume. This is similar to how shadows work in the real world. Imagine you're creating a 3D model of an apple — shading can help you give that flat circle a round, apple-like shape.

On the flip side, highlights are all about using lighter brushes to indicate where light hits your model. Going back to our apple example, adding a bright, shiny spot can make it look juicy and delicious. It's all about bringing your 3D models to life.

But there's a trick. When shading and highlighting, think about your light source. Where is it coming from? This will help you decide where to add your shades and highlights. A little attention to these details can make your 3D models more realistic and visually appealing. So, ready to add some depth and dimension to your designs?

Layer Multiple Brush Strokes

Think of Illustrator brushes as your art supplies and the canvas as your 3D modeling space. Just like how a painter doesn't create a masterpiece with just one brush stroke, you shouldn't limit yourself to using only one brush stroke for your 3D model.

Layering multiple brush strokes can add depth and complexity to your 3D models. It's kind of like making a sandwich — the more layers you add, the more flavors you get to enjoy. Using different brush strokes can give your model a richer, more vibrant look.

Here's a tip: start with broader brush strokes and then add finer details with smaller brushes. This way, you're building your 3D model step by step, just like a sculptor. And remember, it's okay to make mistakes. If a brush stroke doesn't look right, you can always undo it or paint over it. That's the beauty of digital art.

So, why not give it a try? Grab your virtual brushes and start layering. Remember, each stroke is a step towards creating your 3D masterpiece.

Create Custom Brushes

Have you ever wished you had a magic wand that could create exactly what you need? With Illustrator, you have something close to it. You can create your own custom brushes. It's like making your own magic wand that can paint your 3D models exactly how you want.

Creating a custom brush in Illustrator is straightforward. In the Brushes panel, simply select the New Brush button, and you're on your way. You can choose from different types of brushes, like scatter, art, or pattern brushes, each with its own unique effect.

Let's say you're working on a 3D model of a tree. Instead of drawing each leaf individually, wouldn't it be easier to have a brush that does that for you? By creating a custom leaf brush, you can add realistic foliage to your tree in no time. It's all about working smarter, not harder.

Imagine the possibilities if you could create your own brushes for every detail in your 3D models. It's like having a toolbox filled with brushes tailor-made for your projects. The sky's the limit when it comes to custom brushes in Illustrator.

Save and Reuse Brushes

So, you've mastered the art of creating custom brushes in Illustrator—awesome! But wouldn't it be a bummer if you had to recreate your perfect leaf brush every time you needed it? Luckily, Illustrator has a solution for that too. You can save and reuse your brushes.

Saving your brushes is as easy as dragging them into the Brush Libraries panel. That way, they're always there for you, ready to be used whenever you need them. It's like having a personal assistant who remembers all your favorite tools so you don't have to.

Think about it: With your saved brushes, you can create a forest of different trees using your custom leaf brush, or you can add unique textures to your 3D models with just a few clicks. It's about making your work efficient and consistent.

Remember, time saved is time you can spend on other important aspects of your 3D model. So, don't forget to save your brushes—it's a small step that makes a big difference in your workflow.

Combine Different Brushes

Let's talk about combining different brushes. It's like cooking—sometimes you mix different ingredients to create a new, exciting flavor. The same happens in Illustrator when you blend different brushes; it adds a unique taste to your 3D model.

Using a single brush type for your entire project might make your design look flat and monotone. But when you mix brushes, you can add depth and variety to your work. For instance, using a scatter brush with a pattern brush can give your model an interesting texture that a single brush couldn’t achieve.

Brushes are like the spices of your design recipe. Do you want to add a pinch of roughness? Try a charcoal brush. Need a splash of softness? A watercolor brush might do the trick. The key is to experiment and see what combinations work best for your design.

So next time you're wondering how to use brush in Illustrator for 3D modeling, don't be afraid to mix and match. It might just be the secret ingredient your design needs.

Use Brushes for Textures

Have you ever touched a piece of fabric and immediately recognized it as velvet due to its soft, plush texture? Or have you ever looked at a building and appreciated the rough, gritty texture of the bricks? That's the power of texture—it adds depth and realism to an object. So, how can you bring this element into your 3D models?

Applying textures is quite simple with Illustrator brushes. Imagine the brushes as your tools to paint texture onto your 3D model, much like physically painting on a canvas. The right brush can make your model appear smooth like glass, rough like concrete, or anything in between.

For instance, by selecting a chalk brush, you can add a grainy texture, making your model seem rugged. On the other hand, using an airbrush can give your model's surface a glossy finish, providing a sleek and polished look.

Remember, textures bring your 3D model to life. So, next time you're thinking about how to use brush in Illustrator for 3D modeling, consider the textures. They can make a world of difference, turning a simple model into a realistic masterpiece.

Control Brush Pressure

Think of using a brush in Illustrator like using a real brush on a canvas. You wouldn't just slap on the paint without considering the pressure, right? The same principle applies when using brushes in Illustrator for 3D modeling. Controlling the brush pressure can greatly influence the final look of your artwork.

Let's say you're painting a 3D model of a soft, fluffy cloud. To capture its lightness and fluffiness, you would use lighter brush pressure. This results in delicate, feather-like strokes that perfectly mimic the cloud's softness. On the other hand, if you're painting a rough, rocky mountain, you would use firmer brush pressure to create bold, strong strokes that reflect the mountain's ruggedness.

So, how do you control brush pressure in Illustrator? It's all about the settings. By adjusting the 'Pressure' setting in the 'Brush Options' panel, you can control how much 'ink' your brush applies based on how hard you press. It's pretty neat, isn't it?

Remember, controlling brush pressure isn't just about applying the right amount of 'ink'. It's about using pressure to add depth, texture, and realism to your 3D models. So next time you're wondering how to use brush in Illustrator for 3D modeling, don't forget the power of brush pressure!

Use Brushes for Fine Details

Imagine you're creating a 3D model of a furry animal in Illustrator. You've done a great job with the overall shape and color, but something's missing. It's the fine details — the individual fur strands that bring the animal to life. How do you add these details? You use brushes, of course!

When it comes to adding fine details to your 3D models in Illustrator, brushes are your best friends. They can help you create everything from the texture of animal fur to the intricate patterns on a butterfly's wings. It's all about choosing the right brush and knowing how to use it effectively.

Let's take a look at how to use brush in Illustrator for 3D modeling when it comes to fine details. Start by selecting a brush that matches the detail you want to create. For example, if you're painting fur, you might choose a scattered brush. Once you've chosen your brush, adjust its settings to suit your needs. You can change the size, spacing, scatter, and more to get the look you want.

Now, it's time to start painting! Use your brush to carefully add details to your 3D model. Remember, less is more when it comes to details. It's easy to go overboard, so take it slow and steady. And don't forget to zoom in! It's much easier to add fine details when you're working up close.

So, the next time you're adding the finishing touches to your 3D models in Illustrator, remember these tips. With the right brush and a little patience, you can create stunning details that bring your models to life.

If you're looking to expand your skills in 3D modeling and illustration, don't miss the workshop 'Creating 3D Art: How To Build a Room in Blender' by Jonathan K. This workshop will help you learn how to create stunning 3D environments using Blender, a powerful and versatile tool for artists. Dive into the world of 3D art and take your illustrations to new heights!