1 2 Previous Next 42 Replies Latest reply on Sep 4, 2013 1:06 PM by Jacob Bugge

# Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

Hi,

Is there any way of creating a rectangular caligraphic brush in Illustrator?

Most calligraphic pens I know have square-tipped nibs, not round.

Thanks,

Ariel

PS Using Illy CS5 on Windows 7 64-bit. Have a CC subscription so could

• ###### 1. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

Can you show a simulation that explains the desired appearance?

• ###### 2. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

Kurt,

... the desired appearance?

The same smallest thickness in orthogonal directions and capable of making sharp corners.

• ###### 3. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

If I understand what you are asking;

Make an oblong the size of the nib you want. Then, from the brushes pallette, select new Brush > New Calligraphic Brush, and set the roundness to 0 (also set the angle, etc.). See below.

--OB

• ###### 4. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

Thanks all for your answers. I'm without Internet right now. Will post

back later.

Ariel

• ###### 5. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

But in fact, what I mean is pretty simple. I think Jacob has described

it correctly. Right now, calligraphic brushes in Illustrator seem to

expect that you want a rounded nib -- hence the "roundness" setting.

I don't want the nib to be round, I want it to be oblong, or rectangular.

Right now, if you set the roundness to 0%, you do get a kind of oblong

brush -- but it has zero width. So if any of your strokes are parallel

to the nib, they have zero width. The nib must have some width to

prevent this. But as soon as you add a width (roundness = 30% say), the

nib becomes round.

So the question is whether there's some way of creating a square/oblong nib.

I can't see the image OldBob posted right now -- perhaps he's answered

the question. I'll check it out later.

Thanks,

Ariel

• ###### 6. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

You can't have it rectangular.

• ###### 7. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

I'd still prefer if you could provide a sample screenshot that shows what you want.

This way thinking about a reasonable workaround may be possible.

• ###### 8. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

I'll try and prepare something.

• ###### 9. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

Correct me if I am wrong, but I belive the OP is trying to achieve a result something like the nibs in the top row.

--OB

• ###### 10. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

OldBob,

If you are wrong, I am wrong.

• ###### 11. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

Have you tried the calligraphic brushes or Spiro in inkscape? Spiro smoothes drawn curves and tapers them from the start or the end of the curve. The image below is done in Spiro --it took about twenty minutes and that includes the learning curve since this was the first drawing where I used the extension.

Spiro is open source (like inkscape) and it's a feature that seems like a natural for Illustrator. All the new features in CS6 (with the exception of the long overdue background darkening) don't add nearly the utility for me that this feature would.

• ###### 12. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

Hi OldBob,

I've finally had a chance to look at your screenshot. The problem with making the roundness 0 is that if your line is parallel to the nib, it essentially disappears, because it's got no thickness (as can be seen in your screenshot in several places).

Thanks,

Ariel

• ###### 13. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

Hi OldBob,

Yup -- that's exactly the sort of nib I'm looking to create with Illy's calligraphic brush feature -- the ones in the top row. Various thicknesses. But I understand from Monika that it's not possible in a straightforward way (i.e. using the calligraphic brush feature).

Ariel

• ###### 14. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

acecombs: very nice. No, I haven't tried Inkscape with spiro. Will take a look. Illustrator also has a feature to change stroke width, though, these days.

Ariel

• ###### 15. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

Please show what you actually want to create with the brush as Kurt already asked in #7.

• ###### 16. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

Hi Ariel,

It actually does more than the stroke width. Spiro smoothes, tapers, and creates an editable curve from a path when you hit return. You can edit the original path and Spiro will adjust and smooth those changes. The same process in Illustrator takes considerably longer and I feel that the results aren't as fluid. If you search youtube for "spiro inkscape" there are some tutorials that show how it works.

if you do try inkscape, you might also check out their calligraphic brushes and see if they offer the control you're looking for.

Ace

PS--if you're on a Mac, inkscape uses x10 emulation which is kind of annoying. Windows in Boot Camp is less quirky if you've got the option.

• ###### 17. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

Well, to simplify: Say I'm creating a logo (see below). I would like to give it a calligraphic feel using an square-nibbed brush rather than rounded.

Ariel

• ###### 18. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

(Each letter in the screenshot is a single bezier curve, stroked.)

• ###### 19. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

Ariel,

There is a, possibly too silly, way you can fake it accurately, at least in some cases.

You may create a pair of orthogonal Calligraphic Brushes with 0% roundness, such as 10pt/135°/fixed along with 10pt/45°/fixed.

Used cunningly, you may obtain the desired appearance by using two such brushes together.

The width should be √2 (1.414) times the side length of the square tip (a 10pt brush roughly corresponds to a 7pt square tip). With this, at up 45° (either way) from the direction of the brush you will have the right thickness, and at more than 45° you can switch to the other brush.

To switch brushes in the right way, you need to cut the path somewhere at 45° from the brush direction in question (for 135°/45° brushes that would be at 0°/90°), and you need to create an overlap to cover the missing widths where one brush takes over fron the other.

In some cases there is no need to switch brushes (if you keep within the 45° from the brush direction), in other cases it may be tricky to get the overlap in the right way.

The following steps could be used for a rounded rectangle:

0) Create the Calligraphic Brushes;

1) Create the rounded rectangle and apply one of the brushes;

3) Cut the path at the horizontal and vertical midpoints;

4) Change the brush for the relevant quarters;

5) For each set of horizontal segments, Direct Select one segment and with the relevant Reference Point ticked in the Transform palette add a suitable amount to the W or H value (you can do it from both sides or just from one side) to get the right overlap.

You can see the steps here for a pair of 10pt brushes applied to a 200 x 100 pt rounded rectangle with a corner raidus of 20pt:

• ###### 20. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

Silly question, but, why not define a square Art Brush?

--OB

• ###### 21. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

Then connect the gaps, correct the paths as needed.

For connecting I would recommend the plug-in SubScribe. It's free.

• ###### 22. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

Sorry, perhaps when I said square that was misleading. I mean oblong -- a rectangle turned say 30 degrees.

The point about that is that it maintains a certain thickness at all points. For instance, in Monika's sketch where the lines overlap there is no thickness.

@Jacob: I'll have to study what you wrote to see if works, but from the screenshots it looks like it's not really what would happen if you took a rectangle, turned it 30 degrees, and then drew a square.

I'll try and see if I can put something together in Photoshop.

Ariel

• ###### 23. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

Here's what I mean. Rought around the edges, because it's hand-drawn with a Microsoft's Basic Optical Mouse version 1.0A.

The brush I used is shown in the middle of the C.

Ariel

• ###### 24. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

Note that because the brush has a certain thickness, there is always that minimum thickness at all points of every curve, unlike the examples earlier in this thread, where at a certain angle, the line thickness is reduced to zero because we've set the roundness to zero.

Ariel

• ###### 25. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

Among other things this is an editable calligraphic brush. Perhaps not what you want.

• ###### 26. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

Is that a regular caligraphic brush with roundness 0?

• ###### 27. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

Ariel,

Post #19 was about a faking square brush (identical side lengths of the tip), which is a simpler case than a rectangular one, and at 0°/90°. Faking a rectangle/square one turned 30° requires other brush directions.

If you can tell us the two tip side lengths, a set can be set up for it, with widths and angles.

• ###### 28. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

Yes, it's a regular calligraphic brush nested with another brush. Roundness does not matter.

• ###### 29. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

Ariel,

Now I have realized a far easier solution than described in post #19, at least for certain closed paths: a pair of strokes, each with a 0% roundness Calligraphic Brush set at the right angle and width depending on the direction and side lengths of the rectangular tip, both having the same width, possibly supplemented by a third stroke with an Art Brush having the (smallest) side length of the tip.

If you can give me the two side lengths, I can work on a more specific solution, with angles and width(s).

The general description is as follows:

0) Create the Calligraphic Brushes;

1) Create the path and in the Appearance palette flyout tick Add New Stroke (twice);

2) Still in the Appearance palette, select each of the strokes and apply one of the brushes to it.

I believe the ultimate challenge is to have both:

A) The right thickness variation along the path, and

B) The right ends, normally rectangular, unless the very end is at an angle identical to the specific angle of the tip.

Here are a few paths with the two 10pt Calligraphic Brushes and a 7pt Art Brush, corresponding to a square tip set at 0°/90°:

• ###### 30. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

@ Kurt: Well, it's close. What is the "another brush"?

• ###### 31. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

Hi Jacob,

If I've understood your suggestion (it's a clever idea), you mean to create 2 caligraphic brushes: the first, say, 5 points wide, angle 30 deg., 0 roundness; the second say 2 points wide, angle -60 deg (so they're perpendicular), roundness 0 also.

Then create an appearance based on those two styles.

Well, it doesn't quite work for me. Where the brushes intersect, I get this "ribbed" effect (see below). Perhaps I've misunderstood something. The second ellipse shows how the two brushes are interacting more clearly.

• ###### 32. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

Ariel,

The addition in post #29 of an Art Brush with the smallest side length is an important improvement inconnexion with changing curvature.

The two Calligraphic Brushes should have identical widths, and their angles and width depend on both the two side lengths of the tip and the direction of the long sides relative to horizontal/vertical.

That is why I ask for the side lengths.

Also, I presume 30° means that the long sides of the tip are 30° counterclockwise from vertical (11 of the clock). Or which direction?

In your image in post #31, the ribbed effect is caused by the differences in widths which should be identical. The angles correspond to a square tip at 30°/-60°.

• ###### 33. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

The other brush is a scatter brush.

• ###### 34. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

Hi Jacob,

Example: Let's say my nib is rectangular. Width 5pt, height 2pt. I hold it in my "hand" at an angle of 30 deg (7:05 on the clock; the open clock hands represent the long side of the nib).

I guess it looks kind of like this: /, just thicker (2pt wide, as mentioned).

So now, how do you propose to emulate a nib like that in Illy?

Ariel

• ###### 35. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

Ariel,

You are far from losing it.

I believe I have the full and improved solution now, (specific angles and widths for the size and direction you have given):

1 normal Stroke Weight equalling the smallest nib width (2pt),

1 Calligraphic Brush set at the direction angle+arctan(smaller/greater width) (60°+ arctan(2/5) = 60°+21.8° = 81.8°), and with 0%roundness, and with √(smaller width^2+greater width^2) = √(2^2+5^2) = √29^2 = 5.385pt diameter,

1 Calligraphic Brush set at the direction angle+arctan(smaller/greater width) (60°- arctan(2/5) = 60°-21.8° = 38.2°), and with 0%roundness, and with √(smaller width^2+greater width^2) = √(2^2+5^2) = √29^2 = 5.385pt diameter,

With these, for closed paths without corner Anchor Points (Smart Guides are your friends, and checking with the Direct Selection Tool may be convenient/necessary):

1) Create the normal Stroke path (2pt Stroke Weight) with Round Cap/Join;

2) Add New Stroke and set the Stroke weight to 1pt, then Add new Stroke again;

3) Apply the two Calligraphic brushes to the two strokes.

See the first paths in the image below.

And with these, for open paths/paths with corner Anchor Pojnts, a bit more work (and a change from stroked to filled paths):

1) Create the normal Stroke path (2pt Stroke Weight);

2) Copy in front and change the Stroke Weight to 1pt, then create a new copy;

3) Apply the two Calligraphic brushes to the two copy paths;

Now you have the shape of the path with a point from one of the Calligraphic Brushes sticking out at the ends and forming a funny shape to be filled out, see the first set of open paths below:

4) Lock the original normal Stroke path (2pt path);

5) Select the two copy paths and Object>Expand Appearance;

6) Pathfinder>Divide, then Pathfinder>Merge;

7) At each end/corner, straighten out the concave parts by applying the Convert Anchor Point Tool to the outermost convex corner Anchor Point (if applicable/needed) and the Delete Anchor Point Tool to the concave corner Anchor Points on either side and use the Direct selection Tool to drag in the relevant Handles of the remaining convex corner Anchor Points (if applicable/needed);

8) Delete any redundant Anchor Points created by the Pathfinder operations in other parts of the object, if applicable/needed.

See the bottommost sets of paths below for the final appearance. As you can see, they have the right  angular ends/corners with straight segments. If you wish a more lively apearance at ends/corners, you may leave (or create) a certain concave curvature of (some of) these segments.

The brushes are shown at double size for enhanced visibility of details, and then a few close(r)ups.

• ###### 36. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

At the risk of making an utter fool of myself and proving I have no clue what you really want, I will make one more suggestion. See below:

--OB

• ###### 37. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

You could also get that "live" by targeting the layer and applying a stroke to it. I guess that's what Kurt meant in #28

• ###### 38. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

It's a knockout group.

• ###### 39. Re: Non-round (square) calligraphic brush?

@Jacob,

Thank you for that detailed solution. It does seem to work. I did not attempt to follow the trigonometry you were using (it's been a long time since I closed that schoolbook!). So I can't offer any refinement to the system, except to say that the for close curves it's not really necessary, since Illustrator's default calligraphic brush with some roundness works fine -- since the shape is closed with no angles I think, if I'm not mistaken, there's no difference in appearance between that and a square-nibbed brush.

But the disadvantage of the system is the relative complexity. It does not make it easy to try various widths and angles.

Still, certainly ingenious.

@OldBob: I tried that and it seems to give a pretty close approximation, actually. Thanks.

@Kurt: Looks good, but I can't follow the German.

Thanks to all.

Ariel

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