How Using the Brush Tool Can Help You Create Infographics

Adobe Illustrator’s brush tool can help you create cool effects on your infographics. The quintessential image of the artist is a picture of a painter with a paintbrush. The brush is an old tool, but even in the digital age, it’s not obsolete — but instead of paintbrush and paint, you use a paintbrush and pixels.

The Brush tool (a paintbrush icon) is located nine icons down on the Tools palette. Here are basics of how to use it.

  1. Activate the Brush tool.

  2. Take a swipe on the artboard to the right.

    The tool paints a thick line in black. The default setting is 5pt Round.

In the area above your drawing is a series of options and menus. From left to right, here’s a rundown.

  • Path: This tells you the object type you have selected.

  • Fill: Your path won’t have a fill at this time, which is denoted by a white box crossed with a red line (universal in CS for “no fill”).

  • Stroke Color: Click and hold this menu to open a color picker for the desired color.

  • Line Size: Here is where you can change line width. Click and hold this menu to see line width options. Try a few to see the effect.

    Another way to change path line width is to select the path, and then press the left bracket ([) to decrease the width of your line or the right bracket (]) to increase it.

  • Variable Width Profile: This option is interesting when dealing with the Pen tool but not particularly useful for the Brush tool.

  • Brush Definition: The default setting is 5pt Round. Click and hold this menu to open a list of great brush definitions: for example, 5pt Flat is great for calligraphic lettering, and Charcoal Feather is good for a painterly look.

    To try different brush definitions from this option, duplicate your path several times (selecting the path and press Cmd+D/Ctrl+D) and then choosing different options.

There is a whole library of brush options to play with. On the right side of the workspace, click the fifth icon down to bring up the Brushes Options dialog box. In the upper right of this dialog box, click the little “list” icon to bring up another list of options to use. If you scroll near the bottom of this list, you will find Open Brush libraries, which provides a bevy of brush types.

You can also call up the brush library by clicking the little Library icon on the lower left of the Brush Options dialog box.

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