When using the brush tool, what's the best way to 'fill' and sketch style image in adobe illustrator?

A simple example would be a triangle that is sketched with the brush tool trying to create a more stylised look then just using a shape e.g so slightly jagged edges. In an instance where this sketch doesn't form a complete shape how would you go about filling in this path? I've thought of a couple of approaches but not sure if they're correct. I'm trying to create some sketches but the overall goal is they can't be fully transparent, even if they are just black and white but I also don't want a fully filled in background.

  1. Use the background colour of the image to create a join that does fill the path.

  2. Create a rough shape path using the pen tool under the sketch a filling this the desired colour.

what's the usual workflow for this?

The other issue is that this is being imported from Adobe Draw, so the path, is a set of different brush strokes to being with. Here's a contrived example of a stick man face. The idea being the face is a flesh color, the eye and different color and then the square box would represent the document where the background should be plain. I know in reality a stick figure could be drawn using shapes, but the real image is a trace of a sketch where the style has the incomplete lines.

enter image description here thanks

  • Fills really have to be applied to closed shapes. I'm afraid a screenshot or two to help explain may help, especially if the goal is to have a triangle with an open edge, but a filled center.
    – Scott
    Commented Jul 16, 2017 at 16:26
  • @Metis I've updated
    – TommyBs
    Commented Jul 16, 2017 at 18:48
  • Best is not defined.
    – joojaa
    Commented Jul 16, 2017 at 19:13

1 Answer 1


In general, you need to define 2 shapes. One for the unclosed stroke and one for the fill. The outer box will remain transparent unless you place something there.

This presents the problem of defining the fill area where the stroke is not present. You traditionally never want to apply any fill to an unclosed path in Illustrator. While this may look okay in Illustrator, open paths with fills can present problems for other applications or upon output. So, if there's a fill... the path must be closed.

Using two separate paths, you can create the overall shape with a fill:

enter image description here

That area where the stroke breaks can be handled in any number of ways. However, it will almost always be visibly present regardless of what you do. In some instances, that's fine. It depends upon the overall style.

It may be a better solution to plan ahead and anticipate the fill therefore altering the stroke to appear just as loose and "hand drawn" but also ensuring it touches itself at some point. This will go a long way to hiding any gaps the fill must cover.

enter image description here

Same general "mood" of a sketch, still 2 separate paths overlapped to provide the open path "feel", but working around the fill aspect.

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