I was recently working on some new pattern brushes and needed the shapes to overlap. It’s a simple task really, but there are no settings to make it happen and I realized that not everybody is familiar with how Illustrator makes brushes, so I decided to write this quick tip on how to overlap a pattern brush in Illustrator.

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Before we begin, the brushes shown in this tutorial can be purchased from Creative Market by clicking the image below:

Icing | Frosting Brushes

Step 1: Start by creating the object you want to use as your pattern. In my example I drew out a bit of “icing” that I want to turn into a pattern brush.

How to overlap a pattern brush

Step 2: Select your object and drag it over to the brush panel (F5 if you don’t already have it open). You will get a pop-up. Select pattern brush.

How to overlap a pattern brush

Step 3: Notice there is a box for “spacing”. You would think that you could put in a negative number or something along those lines and would be able to make them overlap, but it doesn’t work that way. In my example, I change the colorization method to “tints and shades” and click OK.

How to overlap a pattern brush

Step 4: Draw out a straight line and apply the pattern brush to it. You can see the shape lines up, but it doesn’t overlap.

How to overlap a pattern brush

Step 5: From the brush panel, click and drag the brush you just created back on to the artboard.

How to overlap a pattern brush

Step 6: Double click on your brush object to isolate it. You can see that when you created the brush, Illustrator applied an unfilled, unstroked box around your object. This is how Illustrator decides where the pattern block starts and ends.

How to overlap a pattern brush

Step 7: To make the pattern overlap, all you need to do is adjust this box. In my example, I am going to take the right side of the box and adjust it so that the box is smaller than my object. The part that is outside of the box on the right is where the overlap will occur.

How to overlap a pattern brush

Step 8: Double click anywhere on the art board to exit isolation mode. Hold down Alt and drag your object back onto the same brush. You will get the pattern brush pop-up window again. Hit OK.

How to overlap a pattern brush

Step 9: If you still have the brush applied to a line, you will get a pop-up asking what you want to do with the brush in use, click “Apply to strokes”. You can see that the pattern now overlaps on itself!

How to overlap a pattern brush

Step 10: Since we are talking about adjusting the defaults, I should also note that you would need to do the same thing when you are creating the corners of the pattern brush. Here is what happens when I draw out a rectangle and apply my brush as it is. There are no corners defined, so the line breaks.

How to overlap a pattern brush

Step 11: Here is what happens when I use the same shape and define it as the corner block.
How to overlap a pattern brush
FYI: to define an object as the corner, you simply hold down Alt, click on the object and drag it to the left most block in the brushes panel.
How to overlap a pattern brush
Step 12: To create the corner, I take my original shape (without the bounding box), make two copies and rotate them to manually make the corner.

How to overlap a pattern brush

Step 13: When you are happy with your corner, select the whole thing and Alt drag it over to the left block in the brush panel. You will get the same pop-up, click “apply to strokes”.

How to overlap a pattern brush

Step 14: Now you can see that the new corner looks awful! This is again, because of the bounding box.

How to overlap a pattern brush

Step 15: Click and drag the brush on to the art board again. This time you will have two sections, the corner and the main lines of the brush. Double click so that you can select the brushes. Go ahead and delete the single main part of the brush so you only have the corner.

How to overlap a pattern brush

Step 16: Double click until you can get to the bounding box for the corner. You want to adjust the box so that you are framing out just the corner. This will be trial and error until you get the hang of it, but you are basically just framing the portion of your object that is the corner.

How to overlap a pattern brush
Step 17: Alt + click and drag it back to the corner block and apply it to your object to see how it looks.

How to overlap a pattern brush

Once you are happy with it, save the brush and you are done!

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