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Brushes are a great way to enhance your Adobe Illustrator creative work.

You can go a long way with Illustrator's basic tools, draw wit the pen or curvature tool. Use the width tool to change the profile of your stroke and so on.  But with the right set of brushes – and the flexible way in which Illustrator allows them to be used on vector shapes – you can quickly and easily add texture and character to any piece of work. Brushes are also part of your Appearance and as such you can save Graphics Style using brushes.

In this Adobe spark Presentation I go over how to use Adobe Illustrator brushes as well as drawing with the Blob brush tool







From my earliest memories as a child I can remember playing with Legos. When I was very small it was the large Legos where I built tall towers out of the brightly colored blocks until they fell down. As I got older, the Legos got smaller and I can remember building more complicated structures for my Star Wars action figures to have epic battles of good versus evil.


I’m currently reading the book InsightOut by Tina Seelig and she points out that in the 1970s legos came without instructions for specific objects but were designed for children to be led by their imagination. In fact in 1974, the following letter was shipped in each box of Legos:


To Parents:


The urge to create is equally strong in all children. Boys and girls. It’s imagination that counts. Not skill. You build whatever comes into your head, the way you want it. A bed or a truck. A dolls house or a spaceship. A lot of boys like dolls houses. They’re more human than spaceships. A lot of girls prefer spaceships. They’re more exciting than dolls houses. The most important thing is to put the right material in their hands and let them create whatever appeals to them.


Now Lego offers pre-packaged boxes of specific designs developed by Lego engineers. This is great for kids to learn how to follow instructions and build a fantastic version of the Death Star or a Volkswagen T1 Camper Van, but it also inhibits kids from exploring the possibilities and using their imagination.


Having specific goals and searching for the “right answer” leads to a fixed mindset with limited possibilities. As Tina states in her book, “With a limited imagination, we’re doomed to incremental thinking, doing the same thing as everyone else, with limited variation. I have told my college students for years now, “If you want the same results as everyone else, do what everyone else does, if you want different results you have to do things differently.”


In recent years, I have heard Legos used as an analogy for developing flexible frameworks in software development. Many enterprise companies have the desire to develop innovative products. Often, they have established risk adverse cultures and rigid guidelines. Because of this, companies ultimately wind up with products that have a backlog of client requested features that provide only incremental value to users and the market place.


To truly be innovative, companies should allow teams to throw the Legos in a big bin and have fun coming up with cool stuff. Sure most of the stuff might not work out, but you never know when one of the products might just be the next billion dollar idea.

Imagine you customer is happy about having a special logo made by you and he is eager to use it. He wants the logo just PNG for his website and his documents. Unfortunately he did not mention which sizes the PNGs should have. He actually expects one file that serves every purpose, because he may not know better. So imagine he gets the PNG in 200px x 200px and suddenly he wants to print it on a business card with a layer of gloss on it. You as a trained designer quickly realize, it is not possible


The logo is a mess


As a graphic designer I often had the pleasure to re-design logos, because they were just not right, needed a bit of tuning or the zeitgeist has moved forward. What I often see are logos which aren’t ready, meaning not ready to give away to the customer for use. Not even the vector version was done.

There are white spaces in between vectors, the curves and nodes have a strange sense of symmetry, the vector information is to complicated, less nodes could be better

I have seen logos, ready to be used for print design, where the font was not vectorized. In this situation you always have to ask for the font, if you don’t have it already, because you need to have it installed in order to work on the logo, or even being able to use it on a medium.


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A logo ready to use


I’m going to show you what you can do to make the logo for your customer ready to use.


Asking the right questions


First of all, ask you customer on which media he wants to use the logo?

Print: Paper, t shirt, stamps, business cards and advertisement as big as a house?

In this case you will need to design a logo that is pure vector. You need to scale the logo from the smallest readable size to a size of a house. Also your logo should work in black and white. And I mean not grayscale. Because if you customer wants a stamp, or he wants the logo to be send with fax (old technology still in use), you need to create a logo with pure black and pure white. A stamp maker will take the black space and will carve out the white space. If a stamp color is applied to the stamp it will only be applied to the space which is defined as black in your logo template.


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Create your logo in black and white.


The black and white logo has a more trendy advantage: People love to put brands they like on tshirts and other materials. You can do it with a direct print, sure, but you can also use flex and flock print which needs vector information. A flex and flock print is not really a print. A machine cuts out a piece of flex and flock along the vector line. Imagine you cut a piece of paper on a line you have sketched. This is how it works.


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Create outlines for print effects and an outline for cutting purposes


If you customer wishes to have a print with print effects, you need to create an outline vector graphic from the logo. If you customer wants to create a sticker from the logo, you may need an outline that has some space from the image to the edge of the sticker.


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Make sure your logo is correct

I know customers don’t pay much, or at least don’t want to. But you can make them clear that your work will be quality work. So take your time and work on the curves until they fit together and no white space sticks out. Make sure that the curves have the right form and no node is too much.


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A set of Logos

Depending on what you have agreed on in your contract you can create a set of the following files of the logo:

PDF with vector information of all logos, color, black/white, inverted-black/white, absolutely vectorized. No font included here.

AI file, can contain the “open data” just in case somebody wants to check the font again.

SVG for web purposes, no font included here. Some fonts exclude the free use if font-implementation on the web.

PNG, please ask the customer what sizes he needs. If he doesn’t know. Create three in different sizes and let him know that you are available for export-services.

Create ready to use files for prints, stamps, stickers according to the customer’s wishes.

I also like to create the files with and without spaces which I usually define in a corporate design.

What does the Twitter logo have in common with the Parthenon and Da Vinci’s Last Supper? They are all designed using the Golden Ratio. Also the Golden Ratio is found in almost every aspect of nature.


The Golden Ratio can help you create natural looking compositions that are pleasing to the eye. In this blog I want to show you a simple way to create a flexible Golden Ratio grid you can use to improve your designs.


What is the Golden Ratio?

Trying to put it short and simple, the Golden Ratio is a special number approximately equal to 1,618. It is found when dividing a line into two parts so that the longer part (a) divided by the smaller part (b) is equal to the whole length (a+b) divided by the longer part (a).

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a+b is to a

as a is to b.


You can find the same proportion in the Fibonacci sequence. In the Fibonacci sequence each number is the sum of the previous two numbers.

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The numbers of this sequence are: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987, ... etc.

The ratio of two numbers becomes increasingly closer to the Golden Ratio (1,618..) when the numbers get higher. For instance 21:13=1,615. Comes pretty close to the golden number. 144:89=1,617 and comes even closer.


Create a Golden Ratio grid

We will use the Fibonacci sequence to make the Golden Ratio grid in a Golden Rectangle. The grid is very flexible, you can apply the proportions in different ways. You can use it to organize the main content and the sidebar in a website or the column layout in a brochure design, for instance.


The grid is made in Photoshop, but you can apply the same procedure in Illustrator or InDesign


  • In Photoshop, make a new document (File > New).
  • Use two Fibonacci numbers for the Width and Height: Width 987 px and Height 610 px. This is a Golden Rectangle.
  • Set the Ruler Units to pixels in Preferences > Units & Rulers.
  • Now from the vertical ruler, drag a vertical guide to 610 px. Zoom in to see the exact number in the ruler!

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Here you see the result after making the guide and giving the two parts a different color.

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Why 610 px? Well, look at the Fibonacci sequence. The canvas width is 987 px. The previous number is 610 and the number before that is 377. This means the yellow part is 610 px and the turquoise part is 377 px. 610 + 377 = 987.


You have now divided the canvas according to the golden ratio!


No need to stop here! You can make a new division with the smaller number in the Fibonacci sequence: drag a horizontal ruler to 377 px.

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And so on. You can make any composition you want, using the Fibonacci numbers.

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Use the grid in other Document sizes

You can apply the grid in other designs with different sizes. Let’s say you want to use the Photoshop grid in a new document called ‘New Design’.


  • First, in the grid document, make a new layer (Layer > New).
  • With the Brush tool, draw a line over the guides.

Making the other layers invisible, it looks something like this:

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Now you can copy, paste and resize the grid.

  • Make sure ‘New Design’ is opened in Photoshop.
  • Go back to the grid document.
  • In the Layer panel, duplicate the layer with the lines. A new window pops up.

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  • In Document, choose the 'New Design' file.


Now go the 'New Design' file and you’ll see the grid appears in a new layer. You can adjust the size of the grid by dragging the corner handles. Press Shift as you drag a corner handle to scale proportionately.

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I hope you enjoy using the Golden Ratio in your designs as much as I do!