I've recently made the shift from my old FreeHand 11 to Illustrator 2020. I'm trying to duplicate a process I used to do in FH in order to create a bumpy outline for a forest area on a map.

In FreeHand, this is what I would do:

  1. Draw 2 circles and blend them.
  2. Draw a closed path surrounding the forest area.
  3. Select the path and the blend and "attach blend to path".
  4. This results in evenly-spaced circles on the path.
  5. Modify the number of steps in the blend until there is a slight overlap between each circle.
  6. Apply an Ungroup command.
  7. With the objects still selected, Combine>Union (same as Shape Builder in AI)
  8. Delete the "hole" in the middle, and bob's your uncle.

How do we do this in AI? I've found how to attach the blended circles to the path, but unlike FreeHand, the ungroup function doesn't work at this stage.

Or is there a simpler, leaner way to create this bumpy outline? After all, the method is more than 20 years old. Suggestions? Thanks!

The end result needs to look like this: enter image description here


2 Answers 2


Simple half-circle Pattern Brush.

enter image description here

Then if you want the actual path, Object > Expand Appearance. This will leave all the individual semi-circles. If you want a single path, select them and choose Object > Path > Join.

enter image description here

This is quick and dirty using AI CS6. However, it shows the methodology and procedure, which is the same for pretty much any version of AI since AI8.

The benefit to the brush is that, once created, it can be applied to any shape at any point, there's no need to constantly recreate blends and expand things if you have multiple shapes or a shape changes.


You can do this. Ungrouping however does not release the blend. Instead you should use Object → Blend → Expand to release the object.

I however feel like you would probably be better off using a pattern or scatter brush instead. Firstof scatter brush does exactly what you describe but with 3 less steps. And it allows you to have more lively edges. A patternbrush on the otherhand allows your object to stay live without ever needing to do the expansion step at all. The underlying path would still be there for you to manipulate eliminating 6 out of your 8 steps.

PS: even with your methodlogy 1 of the steps is unneccesery the poathfinder can eliminate the inner shape too.

  • Yes! The pattern brush is what I was looking for. Instead of using overlapping circles, I do 2 half circles ("bumps") that join each other exactly, then make a pattern brush out of that. No blends, ungrouping, etc. Easy peasy. Thanks!!
    – CSyrett
    Jul 8, 2020 at 20:45
  • 1
    @CSyrett consider accepting one of the answers you got.
    – joojaa
    Jul 9, 2020 at 6:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.