How to Use the Vector Brushes in Adobe Animate CC

When Adobe released Animate CC one of the new features, we briefly mentioned was the Vector Brushes which add a whole new dimension to your graphic and motion design workflow.  

In the previous version of the application, brushes were essentially paint brushes. What they did was to, essentially, lay down, colored pixels, which could be put in motion with a bit of extra work on your part. This is now a thing of the past and, in many respects, Adobe has turbocharged your workflow. The multiple steps have been reduced to a couple of mouse clicks.

How to Use the New Vector Brushes in Adobe Animate CC

The final Animate project showing the shape tween animation layer.

Tom Green

The other aspect of brushes that we always found a bit frustrating was the brush selection was somewhat limiting. You got the brushes contained in the application or those you manually created in the application. This has all changed with the release of Animate CC and the inclusion of your CreativeCloud Library in the application. In fact, the Brushes feature of Adobe Capture allows you to turn photos captured on your smartphone or sketches drawn on a tablet into a brush which can be instantly used inside Animate CC.

Let’s take a look at how this works.

How to Select a Brush Preset in Adobe Animate CC

The Brush Library panel is open.

Tom Green

In this example created by one of the top digital animators, Chis Georgenes, we used the pencil tool to create a small clump of grass in the foreground. Obviously, a series of lines just isn’t a natural representation of grass.

To add a bit of a more natural look to the grass, we selected the lines and clicked the Brush Library button–it looks like a coffee cup with paintbrushes sticking out of it–in the Properties Panel. This opened the Brush Library panel.

From there ​we selected Artistic>Ink> Calligraphy2 and, by double-clicking the brush, it was instantly applied to the selection. If you click on one of the stokes you will notice it is a vector object. This means you can edit each object to get just the look you wish to obtain.

How to Use the New Animate CC Vector Paint Brush Tool

The shapes are drawn using the Paint Brush Tool and a new width is shown in the width pop down.

Tom Green

The really neat aspect of the new Paint Brush tool – the brush with the line in the Tools panel – is that it paints vectors. You can draw a shape, in this case, a new clump of grass, and the stroke is composed of a series of vector points.

This leaves a whole lot of flexibility in your hands. For example, in the Fill and Stroke panel, we used the slider to increase the stroke width to about 20 pixels.

By keeping the previous brush style, this width increase changed the grass to bush leaves. As well we opened the width pop down in the panel and chose a slightly different treatment of the stroke width to give the leaves a “wavier” look.

How to Use the Art Brush Options Panel in Animate CC

The Art Brush Options panel is shown.

Tom Green

Another great feature of using the Paint Brush tool is the ability to look at your work and decide it could be changed. This is accomplished by selecting the object containing a stroke and clicking the Pencil in the Style area. This opens the Art Brush Options panel.

This panel is fairly easy to understand. You are presented with the current brush and the shape is contained between two red guides. The first two options are self-explanatory. Select either one and the style will scale along the vector or stretch along the length of the vector stroke.

The third option–Stretch between guides–is where you can really change up the “look”. If you place the cursor over a guide it changes to a “Splitter Cursor”. If you drag the guide along the preview you can see it change shape along its width. If you pay attention to the numbers under the selection, they will change as you drag a guide. Once you are finished, click Add and your changes will be applied.

How to Apply Creative Cloud Shared Library Brushes in Animate CC

The Brush area of the Creative Cloud library panel is shown.

Tom Green

As we pointed out a couple of months ago Adobe Capture CC became the home for a number of single-use mobile apps including the now defunct Adobe Brush CC. The great thing about the Brush section of Capture CC is that brushes can be created from photos. Just don’t get too excited about this. When it comes to Animate CC, not all brushes are created equal. They can be vector brushes aimed at Illustrator CC or bitmap brushes aimed at Photoshop CC. When it comes to Animate CC, only Illustrator brushes can be used.

If you select an object in Animate CC and open your Creative Cloud library you need to find your Brushes. When you do, you will notice only the Illustrator/Vector brushes that can be used in Animate CC are lit up. If you roll over one of the “dimmed” brushes, you will be informed the brush can’t be used. To apply a brush – in this case, we selected the Vector Brush in my Library – you can see it was instantly applied to the selection.

How to Animate a Shape Created by an Animate CC Vector Brush

The Shape Tween layer is shown.

Tom Green

Putting the brushed object in motion is actually quite simple. You just have to understand there are two types of motion in Animate CC: Objects and Shapes. In this example, the grass will wave in the wind. To accomplish this all we really need to do is to change the shape of the object.

The first step in this process is to add a keyframe where the animation is to end … in this case frame 30. To create the keyframe, right-click the frame and select Insert Keyframe from the Context menu.

The next step is to right-click between the two keyframes and select Create Shape Tween from the pop-down menu. The span will turn green.

Switch to the Subselection tool and click on the shape in Frame 30. Select a point or a path and move it to a new location to create a shape change. To preview the animation, press the Return/Enter key.