I have a custom art brush in Illustrator that I've made from a group of shapes. I want the brush to completely overlap itself when paths cross.

This is what I'm using to make the brush:

enter image description here

After creating the brush, this is how the overlapping works by default:

enter image description here

This is the outcome I want:

enter image description here

I understand why this happens. By default brushes respect the layer order, so the top layer is always on top and the bottom layer is always on the bottom etc.

I can manually cut out the overlaps (like I've done above), but ideally I could have this work automatically. One work around for the exact shape I've used in the example would be to split the shapes before making the brush and make sure the area I want on top is above the rest in the layer order, but I'm going to be using this with different paths that overlap in different places so that won't work.

Is there any other way I can achieve this without manually cutting out the overlaps?

2 Answers 2


One can slice the graphic along its length and then make each subsequent section topmost. This allows the sections to overlap. For a shape like this maybe 4 sections is enough but if you want more self overlaps then do 10. same effect can be achieved with a pattern brush that is also comprised of sections:

Sliced brush

Image 1: Brush sliced up.

You may want to expand and merge after the brush, if you aim for SVG or digital pdf. As the slicing may under some circumstances cause rendering artefacts on some rendering engines.

enter image description here

Image 2: brush on loop.


If you are using Illustrator CC you can now use raster images when creating brushes. (I'm actually still using CS6 so this isn't an option for me)

This means you can rasterize the whole image, create the art brush exactly as in the question and the overlapping will work as desired.

As the brush will be a raster image and stretched, it is a good idea to rasterize at the highest reasonable size/resolution so you don't end up with any pixelation. You also need to remember to rasterize it with a transparent background for the overlapping to work nicely.

  • Why not just divide and rearange colors so that black is topmost
    – joojaa
    Jan 17, 2016 at 20:57
  • That doesn't solve the problem. If you look at the one I've done manually, the yellow overlaps the black and the black overlaps the yellow. Essentially the whole image needs to overlap itself regardless of layers. I don't think it's possible without rasterizing.
    – Cai
    Jan 17, 2016 at 21:06
  • It does, you divide the entire shape in 10 or so slices (or less if you expect less overlap positions) along the shape and rearange so that each segment is on top of eachother.
    – joojaa
    Jan 17, 2016 at 21:47
  • That would work! I even mentioned dividing the shapes in the question but only thought of dividing in a specific place not multiple times... I feel a bit stupid now!
    – Cai
    Jan 17, 2016 at 22:08
  • 1
    Done, sometimes even the thing just in front of you is unattainable. Dont take it personally, i have no pressures ar need for it is so its easier for me to get the answer. See this youtube
    – joojaa
    Jan 18, 2016 at 9:53

Your Answer

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

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