Effective Illustrator Brush Tool Tips for Animation
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


  1. Use brushes to create texture
  2. Take advantage of pressure sensitivity
  3. How to create custom brushes
  4. Use brush tool for shading
  5. How to apply brush strokes to path
  6. Use brushes for line art
  7. How to edit brush strokes
  8. Use brushes for detailed work
  9. How to use brushes for animation
  10. Tips for optimizing brush tool workflow

If you're on a quest to master the art of animation with Adobe Illustrator, you've likely come across the brush tool. It's a versatile, user-friendly tool that can help you bring your ideas to life. But do you know how to use brush in Illustrator for animation to its full potential? This blog will walk you through the ins and outs of brush tool use, from creating texture to customizing brushes, and everything in between. Let's dive in!

Use Brushes to Create Texture

Texture is the secret spice in the recipe of animation. It adds depth and detail to your work, making it more visually appealing. So, how can you use brush in Illustrator to create texture?

First, select the brush tool from the toolbar—it's the icon that looks like a paintbrush. Next, select a brush that suits your needs. Illustrator offers a variety of brushes, each with its own unique feel and look: from calligraphic brushes for a hand-drawn look to scatter brushes for random patterns.

Once you've selected your brush, it's time to start painting. But remember—less is more! Don't just slap on texture everywhere. Think about where it would naturally occur in the real world. Would there be texture on a shiny metal surface? Probably not. But an old wooden table? Absolutely!

One more thing to keep in mind: don't be afraid to experiment. Play around with different brushes and opacity levels. You might be surprised at what you can create!

And there you have it: a crash course on how to use brush in Illustrator for animation to create texture. Next up: how to take advantage of pressure sensitivity. Stay tuned!

Take advantage of pressure sensitivity

Pressure sensitivity is like the secret superpower of the brush tool in Illustrator—it can transform your animation from good to great. But how can you harness this power?

First things first: you'll need a pressure-sensitive tablet. This device can detect how hard you're pressing with the pen, allowing for more dynamic brush strokes. The harder you press, the thicker and darker your line; the lighter you press, the thinner and lighter your line. It's like painting with a real brush!

Now, to set up pressure sensitivity in Illustrator, you'll need to go to the Brushes panel. Click on the brush you want to use and select "Options of Selected Object". Look for 'Size' and change the control from 'Fixed' to 'Pressure'. Voila! Your brush is now pressure-sensitive.

One tip to keep in mind: practice makes perfect. It might take some time to get used to drawing with pressure sensitivity, especially if you're new to using a tablet. Don't get discouraged—keep practicing, and you'll soon see your animation come to life in a whole new way.

So there you have it: a quick guide on how to use brush in Illustrator for animation with pressure sensitivity. It might feel a bit tricky at first, but with a bit of patience and a lot of practice, you'll be a pro in no time!

How to create custom brushes

Ever looked through Illustrator's brush offerings and thought, "None of these quite hit the mark"? Well, you're in luck: Illustrator allows you to create your own brushes. And don't worry—it's easier than you might think!

First, you need to draw the shape that you want to turn into a brush. It could be a simple line, a complex pattern, or anything in between. Just remember that simpler shapes often work best, especially when you're first starting out.

Next, select the shape you've drawn with the Selection Tool. Then, go to the Brushes panel and select "New Brush". A dialog box will pop up. Here, you can choose the type of brush you want to create. For animation, Art Brushes and Scatter Brushes are often the most useful.

After you select a brush type, another dialog box will appear with lots of options. This is where you can customize your brush to your heart's content. You can adjust things like the direction of the brush, the size, the spacing, and more.

Once you're happy with your settings, hit OK. Your new brush will now appear in the Brushes panel, ready for you to use in your animation!

Creating custom brushes can really elevate your animation work in Illustrator. It offers an opportunity to add a unique touch that sets your work apart. So why not give it a try? You might be surprised by what you can create!

Use brush tool for shading

Let's talk about a neat trick that can add depth and dimension to your animations: using the brush tool for shading. Yes, you heard that right! The brush tool isn't just for outlining—it's also a brilliant way to create shadows and highlights.

So how do you use the brush tool for shading in Illustrator? It's pretty simple:

First, select the brush tool from the toolbar or by pressing B on your keyboard. Then, choose a brush from the Brushes panel. For shading, a soft brush often works best. You can adjust the opacity and color to perfect your shadow or highlight.

Now comes the fun part: actually applying the shading. Click and drag the brush across the area you want to shade. The key here is subtlety. Layer your strokes, gradually building up the shadow or highlight. It's much easier to add more shading than to take away, trust me!

Shading with the brush tool might feel a bit strange at first, especially if you're used to shading with the Gradient Tool. But once you get the hang of it, you'll find it's a powerful way to add a touch of realism to your animations.

Remember, practice makes perfect. So don't be disheartened if your first few attempts don't turn out exactly as you'd like. Keep at it, and before you know it, you'll be a shading pro!

How to apply brush strokes to path

So you've mastered shading with the brush tool, cool! Now, let's tackle another useful trick: applying brush strokes to a path. This technique can be a game-changer when you're animating in Illustrator, adding a unique style to your work.

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to use brush in Illustrator for animation by applying strokes to a path:

  1. Select the Pen tool or the Curvature tool to draw a path.
  2. Once your path is drawn, select the Brush tool. Pick a brush style that fits your animation's aesthetic from the Brushes panel.
  3. With your path selected, click on your chosen brush in the Brushes panel. Voila! Your brush stroke is applied to the path.

But what if you want to change the brush stroke? No problem! You can change the brush stroke at any time by selecting a different brush from the Brushes panel with the path selected. Illustrator will automatically update the stroke.

Applying brush strokes to a path is a great way to add character to your animations. Whether you're creating slick, clean lines or a more hand-drawn look, the brush tool has got you covered. And the best part? It's so simple to do!

So go ahead, give it a go! I'm sure you'll be amazed at the difference a brush stroke can make to your animations.

Use brushes for line art

Next up on our list of how to use brush in Illustrator for animation is line art. Line art is a big part of animation, and the Illustrator brush tool can be your best friend in this area.

Line art typically focuses on outlines and does not include shading or color. So, how can the brush tool be of help here? Well, the brush tool can help you create smooth, flowing lines that are perfect for your animated characters and scenes.

Let's break down the steps:

  1. Select the Brush tool from the toolbar, then choose a brush style from the Brushes panel that fits your needs. For line art, you might want a brush with a consistent width, but feel free to experiment!
  2. Draw your line art as you would with a pencil or pen. The Brush tool allows you to create fluid lines, perfect for animated characters or detailed scenes.
  3. If you aren't happy with a line, don't worry—you can always undo it (Ctrl+Z/Cmd+Z) or use the Eraser tool to make adjustments.

Line art with the brush tool offers a world of possibilities for your animations. It's like having a digital pen that never runs out of ink, with all the control you need for precise, detailed work.

Remember, practice makes perfect. The more you use the brush tool for line art, the more comfortable you'll become, and your animations will show the difference. So, what are you waiting for? Get drawing!

How to edit brush strokes

So, you've mastered how to use the brush in Illustrator for animation, and you've created some fantastic line art. But what if you want to tweak your brush strokes after they're already on the canvas? Can you do that? Yes, you absolutely can!

Editing brush strokes in Illustrator is pretty straightforward. Here's a step-by-step guide:

  1. Select the brush stroke you want to edit. You can do this by using the Selection Tool (the black arrow) in the toolbar.
  2. Go to the Brushes panel, and you'll see a variety of options for modifying your selected brush stroke. You can change its size, color, and even the brush definition itself.
  3. If you want to change the shape of your brush stroke, use the Direct Selection Tool (the white arrow) to adjust the anchor points along the path of your brush stroke.

Editing brush strokes gives you the flexibility to continuously improve your animation without having to start from scratch. It’s akin to being able to erase and redraw in traditional art, but with the added advantage of precision and control that digital tools provide.

Remember, animation is an iterative process. Don't be afraid to play around and make changes until you're satisfied with the result. After all, your art is a reflection of you, so it should be just the way you want it!

Use brushes for detailed work

Now that you have a good grasp of how to use the brush in Illustrator for animation, let's dive into an area where brushes really shine: detailed work. When you're creating an animation, you often need to add intricate elements that make your art pop off the screen. And brushes in Illustrator are perfect for that.

Here's how you can use brushes for detailed work:

  1. Start by selecting a brush that matches the detail you want to create. Illustrator offers a wide range of brushes, each with a unique texture and style. For example, a chalk brush would be perfect for creating a rustic textured edge, while a calligraphy brush could be used for elegant curves and lines.
  2. Once you've selected your brush, adjust its size to match the scale of detail you're working on. Remember, the smaller your brush size, the more delicate your details will be.
  3. Use the brush tool to draw your details. Take your time and don't rush; detailed work is all about precision and patience.

One tip: if you need to create a highly complex detail, consider creating a custom brush (more on that in a later section). This way, you can design a brush that's tailor-made for your specific needs.

So, are you ready to get into the nitty-gritty of your animation? With the power of brushes in Illustrator, you can create animations that are rich in detail and full of life. Happy detailing!

How to use brushes for animation

Are you ready to take your animation to the next level? Using brushes in Illustrator for animation can be your game-changer. With the right approach, you can add depth, texture, and dynamism to your animations. So, how do you do it? Let's find out:

  1. Start by sketching your animation frames. Using a simple brush, like the round brush, sketch out the basic movement and shapes of your animation. This will serve as your roadmap, guiding you through the animation process.
  2. Once you have your sketches, it's time to add some life to them. Select a brush that matches the style and vibe of your animation. For instance, if you're working on a whimsical fairy tale scene, a watercolor brush could add a dreamy touch. Use this brush to outline and fill in your sketches.
  3. Next, add some depth to your animation by using brushes for shading. Choose a darker shade of your base color and a brush with low opacity. Then, paint on areas where shadows would naturally fall. This will give your animation a sense of three-dimensionality.
  4. Finally, don't forget about the small details. Use a smaller brush to add intricate details to your animation, like the sparkle in a character's eyes or the texture on a tree bark.

Remember, animation is all about bringing your art to life. And with brushes in Illustrator, you can do just that. So go ahead, grab your brush, and start animating!

Tips for optimizing brush tool workflow

Working efficiently with the brush tool can significantly boost your productivity and creativity. But how can you optimize your brush tool workflow in Illustrator for animation? Here are some actionable tips:

  1. Organize your brushes: Illustrator allows you to create and save custom brushes. Make sure to organize these brushes in named libraries so you can easily find and use them when needed. This can save you a lot of time hunting for the right brush!
  2. Learn the shortcuts: There are numerous keyboard shortcuts that can help speed up your workflow. For instance, you can quickly select the brush tool by pressing the 'B' key. Spend some time learning and practicing these shortcuts to increase your efficiency.
  3. Use the Brush Panel: The Brush Panel in Illustrator offers a wealth of options to modify your brushes. You can change the size, shape, and even the behavior of your brush. Familiarize yourself with these options so you can quickly adjust your brushes to suit your needs.
  4. Remember to save: This might seem obvious, but it's easy to get lost in the creative process and forget to save your work regularly. Make sure to save your Illustrator file periodically to avoid losing any progress.
  5. Practice makes perfect: The more you use the brush tool, the better you'll get at it. Don't be afraid to experiment and push the boundaries of what you can create with brushes in Illustrator.

With these tips in mind, you're well on your way to mastering the brush tool in Illustrator for animation. Remember, the key is to remain patient and persistent. Happy animating!

If you enjoyed learning about Illustrator brush tool tips for animation and want to expand your skills further, check out the workshop 'Animating with Procreate and Photoshop' by Nyanza. This workshop will help you explore different animation techniques using both Procreate and Photoshop, enhancing your animation skills and boosting your creativity.