Paintbrush & Blob brush Tool in illustrator

In this Illustrator Lesson, we will learn about, ‘Paintbrush tool and Blog brush tool in Illustrator‘. I am Lalit Adhikari at LTY. Let’s get started.

These brushes were introduced in the CS4 version of Adobe Illustrator. To select these brushes, click the ‘brush’ icon from the toolbar in the left side of the Adobe Illustrator Interface.

Paintbrush Tool

paintbrush tool in illustrator
Paintbrush Tool

First, select the paintbrush tool from the toolbar and then go over to the brushes panel. Click on a calligraphic tip to select it and then start drawing.

The paintbrush takes its color from the stroke color that you’ve set in your color panel. And the paintbrush lays down the path with anchor points as you draw just like your regular pencil tool.

And here’s what the path looks like in outline mode (see picture).

paintbrush strokes in illustrator
Mode of Brush stroke

It’s natural and follows the movement you make with your tablet or mouse. The shortcut for paintbrush is B and to set its options just double click on the paintbrush in the tools panel and the dialogue box will appear.

paintbrush tool options in illustrator
Paintbrush Tool Options

In the dialogue box, these tolerance settings for ‘fidelity’ and ‘smoothness’ makes the paintbrush really versatile.

The line I drew had a ‘fidelity’ setting of ‘3 pixels’ which means it was faithful to my movement on the tablet or mouse within a tolerance of 4 pixels.

And the smoothness is set as 30%, so illustrator was adding some smoothing to the path as I drew it.

Now, if I move the sliders to the absolute lowest settings, the line I draw with the brush tool will most accurately represent my motions on the tablet or mouse.

And that also means that Illustrator will plot out every turn you make as you draw and it will add more anchor points on your path to do this. And you can see all these little anchor points in the outline mode.

You can compare the strokes where there is absolute accuracy on the right side stroke as Illustrator has added smoothness to it and on the left stroke, it has lesser ‘fidelity’ tolerance.

Now, back to the dialogue box option, adjust the two tolerances settings; fidelity and smoothness depending on what you are drawing and how much accuracy you need.

If you are tracing something or drawing anything with detail, your slider should be closer to the left side and the numbers will be lower.

If you want to create smooth swashes or swirls then you need to adjust the number higher with fewer anchor points.

On the lower side of the dialogue box, there are a few checkboxes.

The checkbox ‘Keep Selected’ will keep the last line you drew selected.

This option could be very convenient, for instance, if you are drawing any line to just get the right gesture, then it will become very easy for you to draw and delete the line quickly if you keep the option checked.

So, it would be hitting the delete key and trying again.

Another advantage of using this checkbox is that the selected lines are ready to edit with a smooth tool.

Let’s say you draw a line but you need just a little smoothing then you can hold Alt key on your keyboard to temporarily switch from the paintbrush to the smooth tool then run it over your selected path to push it around and smooth it which is basically removing extra anchor points.

And when you will release the Alt key then you will be back to the paintbrush.

However, the next checkbox the ‘Edit Selected Path’, if you keep it checked, the paintbrush tool becomes drawing and editing tool all rolled into one.

So, you can draw a line and it will remain selected because ‘Keep Selected’ option is checked and then you can add on more strikes to it because ‘Edit Selected Path’ is checked.

Disadvantage: There is a slight disadvantage if you keep both of your options checked.

For example: if you are drawing a curved line like petals of the flower one after another then having both check-boxes checked can be a bit annoying because you will be editing old paths instead of drawing new ones.

So, you have to manage these two checkboxes based on what you are drawing.

‘Edit Selected Path’ option has a tolerance setting. So, from there you can decide how close to the line your paintbrush tool needs to get in order to edit the line.

And after you are done with your brush tool settings click ‘ok’ and it will close the dialogue box.

And your paintbrush tool will behave like you would expect a real drawing tool to behave. The paintbrush tool by default creates the open path.

But if you want to draw a closed path then hold down the Alt key while you are drawing your path and illustrator will close the path for you when you release your pen or mouse.

Related Topics:

Blob Brush Tool

Blob brush tool in illustrator
Blog Brush Tool

You can access the Blob Brush Tool from the toolbar or use the shortcut key Shift + B. It looks similar to the Paintbrush tool but it has a blob and a rectangle attached to it.

The main difference between a blob and a paintbrush tool is blob brush creates both ‘stroke’ and ‘fill’ as we draw anything with it. Which means the stroke of a blob brush is basically a shape.

You can edit the created shape just like any other shape through the Selection Tool and Direct Selection Tool. You can easily add or delete anchor points from the shape.

Like the Paintbrush Tool, there are also various options available in the Blob Brush Tool.  To access those options you can double-click on your canvas while selecting the Blob Brush Tool.

blob brush tool options in illustrator
Blob Brush Tool Options

There are tolerance options like ‘Fidelity’ and ‘Smoothness’ which is the same as the paintbrush tool that I’ve explained above. You can also change the default brush options which have sliders like size, angle, and roundness.

If you are following our Free Illustrator Lessons and Tutorial Guide, then next you should read about, ‘How to use Eraser Tool, Scissors Tool and Knife Tool in illustrator‘.

Related Topics:

Lalit Adhikari
Lalit Adhikari

Lalit Adhikari is the Main Author and Admin at Learn That Yourself. He has work experience of more than 10 years in the field of Multimedia and teaching experience of more than 5 years.

Articles: 275


  1. It will be really helpful for my illustrations. Thanks!

  2. Helpful, especially the control of anchor points in the stroke of brush tool. Thank you.

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