Deke’s Techniques: Creating the parts of a looping braid for an Illustrator Pattern brush

Published by | Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

In this week’s Deke’s Techniques series, Deke McClelland shows you how to create an intertwined-rope pattern, then he shows you how you can use the perfectly aligned rope pattern with the Adobe Illustrator Pattern brush feature. Unlike a similar circular-stroke pattern Deke created a few episodes back in “Creating a currency-style emblem in Illustrator,” this approach creates a pattern that can successfully navigate 90-degree corners.

The entire pattern begins with a simple, unassuming line segment:
A simple line segment

The wave pattern is created by applying the Zig Zag effect, setting the absolute size to 4 points and the number of ridges per segment to 1.

A curved line with the Zig Zag dialog box in Adobe Illustrator

 

Next, Deke creates the second strand of the twist by using a Transform effect that reflects the now wavy segment over the y-axis:

Intertwined lines and the Transform Effect dialog box in Adobe Illustrator

 

Deke completes the straight portion of the pattern by copying one link of the twist and attaching it to the end. He then duplicates those same two segments and rotates them to begin building the corner component of the pattern.

Two intertwined lines with the Rotate dialog box in Adobe Illustrator

To make the looping design in the corner, Deke starts with a carefully measured Arc segment:

Arc Segment Tool Options dialog box

After rotating the arc into place, Deke lines the segment up and attaches it to the existing pattern using the Join tool. In the Join dialog box, you can tell Illustrator to create a smooth point at the join site.

The Join dialog box in Illustrator

The link shape is then duplicated, truncated, and rotated to become the basis for the next part of the corner loop. Again these end points are joined to the existing path:

The join dialog box with the link shape rotated

 

To create the very outer turn of the corner, Deke uses a modified ellipse. By measuring the distance he wants to cover ahead of time, Deke can tell Illustrator precisely the dimensions he needs for the ellipse:

An ellipse added in Illustrator

 

Once the ellipse is clipped in half, maneuvered into place, and joined up, the corner loop design is complete:

The finished loop in Adobe Illustrator

Deke also uses a similar measure, draw, cut, and rotate procedure to make the end segment. The result: three perfectly aligned components ready to serve inside the Illustrator Pattern brush feature. (I temporarily changed their stroke colors so you can see where each begins and ends.)

The final result with the three components ready for the Illustrator pattern brush

To see how these pieces are put to work, Deke has a member-exclusive movie this week called Assembling a seamless pattern brush, in which he shows you how to set your pattern pieces up for use in a Pattern brush.

Deke will be back next week with another free technique.

Interested in more?
• The entire Deke’s Techniques weekly series on lynda.com
• All Illustrator courses on lynda.com
• All courses by Deke McClelland on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:
• Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Fundamentals
• Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals
• Illustrator Insider Training: Drawing without the Pen Tool

 

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