I'm drawing a ton of birds (many different species) all from the same angle and am struggling with drawing the wings over and over. Bird wings generally have 3 rows of feathers that all look a little different.

enter image description here

What I want to do is make a brush, so I can keep drawing similar wings with different lengths. So far I've tried doing a pattern brush using this shape: enter image description here

Here was the result: enter image description here

Is there a way for me to make this brush in a way that shows the feathers changing angle and size like the rows of feathers in pictures?

  • You are much metter off copying each feeather, then translate, scale and rotate it into place
    – joojaa
    Feb 15, 2020 at 5:55

3 Answers 3


You could use a Scatter Brush in Illustrator rather than a pattern brush.

Simply draw one shape... however you want no gradients or effects though, simple fills and strokes. And choose Scatter Brush after dragging the art to the Brush Panel. From there, it's a matter of adjusting the brush options.

Be certain to set the Rotation Relative To: to path rather than the default "page".

CS6 screenshots, but it's basically the same

enter image description here

This allows you to simply alter the the rotation amount to better suit any particular piece.

enter image description here

And... if you set the Colorization Method in the Brush Options, you can alter the coloring merely by changing the stroke color of the base path.

enter image description here


Not asked, but as well you can try blending. It has a plus: You can get a series of shapes which evolve from the beginning to the end. Or they can as well have the same form, they only scale and rotate.

enter image description here

Controlling the spacing isn't possible, blending distributes the intermediate versions quite uniformly between the start and stop shapes.

You can edit the start and stop shapes and the spine for better final pattern. It gets fixed if you apply Object > Blend > Expand which makes the result a group of independent shapes.


Blending makes bizarre results if the start and stop shapes have different amount of nodes, their node distributions are radically different or the curves have opposite directions.

You can get predictable results only for outlines, it's useless to blend complex shapes such as feathers with a vector fill patterns.

My example shapes have 4 nodes, they are made by randomly distorting ellipses with the direct selection tool.

About brushes: You can apply Width tool to make size variations. You can use art brushes where all parts are already with fills.


One more way to do it:

Draw a feather and drag it to the Brushes Panel.

Click Art Brush.

Now you can draw your feathers to any angle and length you want.

Simple example

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