Thanks to this video tutorial from CG Cookie Concept on YouTube I thought it would be helpful to recreate the braid design as a repeating PATTERN BRUSH in Illustrator CS4. Once created, the basic design can be modified and applied to individual strokes via the APPEARANCES PALETTE.
- To make the basic shape draw and clone a square. Draw a circle 4times the size of the squares. Align the circle so that one quarter segment passes through two opposing corners of the square. Select the circle and square and use the INTERSECT TOOL in the PATHFINDER PALETTE.
- Align the remaining square and quarter segment. I usually do this in OUTLINE VIEW (command/control + Y) so I am sure they are perfectly aligned.
- Join the two shapes using the UNITE TOOL in the PATHFINDER PALETTE.
- Rotate the basic shape 45º clockwise. Make a duplicate and use the REFLECT TOOL (O) to flip and rotate the duplicate 45º in the opposite direction, aligning the two as in the example.
- Duplicate the two shapes and align them exactly next to the original two shapes. The light blue rectangle indicates the position of the rectangle mask necessary for creating a seamless repeating pattern. The actual rectangle mask should have no fill and no stroke and be positioned behind the four shapes.
- Select and drag the four objects and rectangle mask into the BRUSH PALETTE (or with them selected, click the “New Brush” icon at the bottom of the palette. Chose the “Pattern Brush” option from the initial dialogue box. In the PATTERN BRUSH OPTIONS dialogue box, give the brush a name and enter “70%” in the Scale field, “0% ” in the Spacing field. Check the “Approximate path” radio button and “Tints and Shades” in the COLORIZATION dropdown menu. These options can be changed once the brush is made by double clicking on the brush thumbnail.
- Duplicate and alter the original shapes and tweak the colors, strokes, and shapes to create a variety of brushes and repeat step #6 for each one.
- Test the brushes by applying them to straight/curved lines. If your brushes look odd, it’s probably because the rectangle mask in step #3 is not aligned properly or the shapes themselves are misaligned.
- Using the APPEARANCES PALETTE, a variety of brushes have been applied to a single circle path. The various diameters are achieved by selecting individual instances of the Stroke, applying a different brush to each Stroke instance and playing with the “Path–>Offset Path” option in the EFFECTS MENU at the top of the screen.