I have a diagram with many colour-coded lines and a key to which colour means what: red line = electricity cable; blue line = gas pipe etc.

This is inaccessible for colour-blind people.

I would like to stroke the lines with different patterns of shapes. There are lots of options for this in Illustrator, see this page, but they are limited to dashes with either square or rounded ends. I have a lot of lines and there isn't going to be enough variation.

I'd like to be able to stroke with say, triangles, diamonds, pentagons etc. Excel can do this with lines on graphs. Is there a way to do this in Illustrator? (CS5)

  • 1
    After much googling, I found [this page][1] which is about making a custom Brush, but it serves the purpose because you can stroke you line with that Brush. Any comments still welcome. [1]: bittbox.com/illustrator/how-to-make-a-custom-illustrator-brush Jan 19, 2013 at 23:51
  • To be specific, the type of brush you're looking for is called a pattern brush. Also, as a side note, never think of colour-blind people as an incapable unknown. Colour blind people have to discriminate colours using what info they have daily, and can use lightness/darkness and sometimes saturation when hue isn't possible. Read up on the most common types of colour blindness, and test with tools like Vischeck and Daltonizer Jan 20, 2013 at 0:57

2 Answers 2


Brushes are exactly how to do what you want. In fact, it's really the only way.

Create a custom brush, then simply apply it to your paths.

This may be helpful when creating pattern brushes.


Have your path selected.

Click Window > Brushes ( new window will open ) > Click Drop Down Menu > Open Brush Library > Choose a Brush Library > Select a Brush From the Window that appears.

This will apply that brush to your selected path.

There are many presets.

This way you don't have to specify a custom brush if you're pressed for time.

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