I am inking a character I drew and scanned and wondered if there is a way to create all the small hairs as part of a stroke?

I sat with my tablet pen and a pressure sensitive brush and drew each, meticulously, took me 30 minutes, where as on paper it took me probably 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Another problem is that when I work on the outer stroke and change the curvature of the line, all my little hand drawn hairs lose connection to the main body and I must reposition them. Takes too long.

So can I create a stroke with hairs built in, or is there another and better workflow to accomplish what I did by hand and took forever to do? enter image description here


You could use a Scatter Brush.

First draw a single "hair".

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Then draw a rectangle around the hair. Realize that the center of the rectangle is going to be the center of the brush path. So, you want the rectangle to be off-center to allow the "hair" to align to the path the brush will sit on. In the image below I've made the rectangle magenta just so you can see it. But when you create your rectangle, you want it to have no fill, no stroke, and be behind all other artwork. So once you draw the rectangle move it to the back.

enter image description here

Then select the "hair" and the rectangle and drag them both to the Brush Panel.

When asked, choose Scatter Brush and click OK. A second dialog window will open. Make certain you set the brush relative to the path. The other options you can tweak a little if you'd like, but you'll adjust these later as well.

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Then add a new stroke to your object and click the brush you just made.

-Placeholder snap006

Typically the brush isn't going to suit the artwork right off, you'll need to adjust it. (I drew my "hair" much, much larger than I would if I really intended to use it.) So just double-click the brush in the Brush Panel and adjust the settings. Be certain to tick the preview option.

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At this point it's all about what you want the image to look like.

When you're done click OK and choose to "apply to strokes" to update the brushes that have been applied in the artwork to these settings.

Then, if you need to remove some "hair" or otherwise alter it, you can use Object > Expand Appearance and Object > Expand to turn the "hair" into individual objects.

Note how some of my "hair" actually crosses the base path and sits inside the figure. This is because my rectangle was (purposefully) not perfectly centered in the scatter brush artwork. Or, in other words, I made certain the hair artwork went past the center point of the rectangle. This causes the art to go past the baseline (spine) the brush is applied to. If you want your hair to site exactly on the base path, you need to ensure the artwork does not cross the center of that rectangle while touching the center.

  • This was very helpful - didn't know how to do that at all! Thanks, @Scott! – acook712 Aug 24 '15 at 15:22

What I do in instances like this is make one hair, use the width tool on one end to make it thinner at the tip, then just alt+drag it to the next location. They look pretty uniform on here so it doesn't look like you'd have much tweaking to do to each hair, but you can simply adjust the anchor points to make them bend the way you want them to as you go. That's about the fastest way you can do it.

If they were all perfectly uniform an even easier way to do it would be to create 2 hairs and use the blend tool on them to fill in the space between them with more hairs. Then you could just copy the outline of the entire head and split the line on each curve then use the "replace spline" feature in the blend options to make the blend flow with the path. Of course you'd want to duplicate the blend you made a few times so you can have more than one to work with. When you're done you can expand it n viola... you have all your little hairs.

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