Tutorial: How to Create Watercolor Brushes in AI

How to Create Watercolor Brushes in AI

If you’re like us, you’ve got art laying all around the studio just begging to be used in unique and wonderful ways.

Today, we’ll show you how to transform that art – specifically our watercolors – into AI brushes. Follow along to create your own and make sure to pick up our brand new Watercolor Illustrator Brush Pack while you’re at it!


Watercolor Vector Brushes for AI

What you’ll need:

  • Adobe Illustrator
  • watercolor, paint brush strokes or the like

And away we go!

Step 1

File > Place your watercolor into Adobe Illustrator

How to Make Watercolor Brushes in Illustrator

Step 2

Next, head to

Object > Live Trace > Tracing Options

How to Make Watercolor Brushes in Illustrator

Step 3

Under these options, choose Color 16 from the drop-down, then “Set Default”

How to Make Watercolor Brushes in Illustrator

Step 4

Ensuring your watercolor is selected, choose “Live Trace” from the top menu.

How to Make Watercolor Brushes in Illustrator

Step 5

Then, “Expand”


Step 6

Click on the white area surrounding your watercolor art.


Step 7

Next, Select > Same Fill and Stroke. Press Delete to delete this white area.


Step 8

Make sure your brushes palette is open.


Step 9

With your art selected, head to the small arrow to the right of the palette. From the drop-down, choose “New Brush.”


Step 10

Choose New Art Brush, OK


Step 11

Make sure the following are selected:

  • Scale Proportionately
  • –> Right Direction Arrow
  • Flip Along
  • Flip Across

Step 12

Repeat this process for all of your art until you’re finished with your pack.

Step 13

Once you’ve completed your pack, shift and select all of the brushes. From the drop-down, choose “Save Brush Library,” saving it where you’d like. (AI will automatically place your file in the Adobe Brush folder for convenience.)


All done! To access your new brushes:

– Go to Window Brush Libraries Other Library and then locate the brush library you want to install.
– On your brush library panel go to the top right menu and check “Persistent,” and your brush library should be accessible every time you open Illustrator.

Congratulations! You’ve created your own vector art brushes. Make sure to share your results with us in the comments section below and purchase our Watercolor Vector Brush Set!


Watercolor Vector Brushes for AI

About the Author, Heather Sakai

Heather Sakai

Heather Sakai is the Arsenal Manager here at Go Media, home of the world's best mockup templates, vectors, textures and other must-have design weaponry. She also serves as the Event Director at Weapons of Mass Creation Fest. Heather is proud to work for the most passionate creative agency in the universe, the best in Cleveland Web Design, custom branding and print.

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