The best Illustrator brushes: premium and free

15. Japan ProBrush

Stylus next to examples of the Japan Illustrator brush

[Image: LeoSupply.co]

  • Price: Free for personal use
  • Compatible with: CS3 and above

The penmanship of Japanese calligraphers is known the world over thanks to their deft command of line. And with this batch of nine free brushes, you can channel their craftsmanship in your work. Japan ProBrush is a slimmed down version of a larger package, and contains high quality brushes that emulate ink and watercolour tools. Created by Leonard Posavec, this collection is perfect for designers, illustrators and artists looking to add a touch of the Far East to their work.

16. 57 free multi-coloured paint brushes

Examples of multi-coloured Illustrator brushes

[Image: Vectips]

  • Price: Free for commercial and personal use
  • Compatible with: CS and above

This batch of free Illustrator brushes boasts 57 alternatives that replicate the look and feel of a brush loaded with multiple colours. Created by Grant Friedman for Vectips, this exclusive set of brushes contain a variety of textures that can be used for drawing shapes or applying them to objects. All brushes can be saved for easy access under the User Defined menu. Download them for free today!

17. 8 free Illustrator brushes

8 free Illustrator brushes

[Image: Retro Supply co]

  • Price: Free for commercial and personal use
  • Compatible with: CS4 and above

Quality digital art resource-maker RetroSupply doesn’t normally give away its premium Illustrator brushes. But we’ve found a sample pack containing eight free vector brushes from some of the company’s best-selling Illustrator brush sets – including Von Glitschka’s paintbrush pack Dragstrip, watercolour brush set InkWash, charcoal pencil set VectorSketch, pen and ink pack VectorHero, wax oil crayon pack Wax & Oil, and halftone brush pack Black Magic Halftones.

To get them, just click the link above, scroll down to number one, and sign-up for the newsletter. (You’ll get nine other free font and texture resources as well, with the free Illustrator brushes arriving in your inbox shortly after signing up.)

18. Wax crayon free Illustrator brushes

Wax crayon free Illustrator brushes

[Image: Blog Spoon Graphics]

  • Price: Free for commercial and personal use
  • Compatible with: Not specified

Chris Spooner borrowed some of his daughter's wax crayons to put together this authentic set of crayon brushes for Adobe Illustrator. The pack includes 12 brushes, including solid shades and mixtures of two different crayons. Rather than stretching to fit, these brushes repeat to give a more realistic effect. Use them to add a hand-drawn aesthetic to your projects.

19. Free linocut vector brushes

Free linocut vector brushes

[Image: Spoon Graphics]

  • Price: Free for commercial and personal use
  • Compatible with: Not specified

Get the effect of traditional wood or linocuts, but without the danger of gouging a bit of your hand off, with these free linocut vector brushes. The pack of 25 brushes includes a range of different brush shapes, including tapered strokes, texture fills, split brushes and edge shading. These brushes are especially well suited to drawing on an iPad, as the pressure and tapering effects are built into each brush.

20. Free Victorian vector brushes

Free Victorian vector brushes

[Image: sergeypoluse]

  • Price: Free for commercial and personal use
  • Compatible with: Not specified

Russian artist Segey Poluse is the man behind this pack of free Illustrator brushes. Available to download though his DeviantArt profile, the brushes are ideal for adding some antique flourishes to your digital artwork. There are 11 vector brushes in total, all inspired by the Victorian aesthetic.

21. Teardrop foliage free Illustrator brushes

Teardrop foliage free Illustrator brushes

[Image: Bittbox]

  • Price: Free for commercial and personal use
  • Compatible with: CS3 and CS1

These versatile teardrop foliage free Illustrator brushes can be used in a range of situations, including the stylised foliage the name suggests. The pack includes a number of variations, with different head shapes and stem arrangements, to bring variety to your designs. These brushes are completely free to use, and there are SVG and EPS files available as well as Illustrator ones.

22. Stipple shading free Illustrator brushes

Stipple shading free Illustrator brushes

[Image: Spoon Graphics]

  • Price: Free for commercial and personal use
  • Compatible with: Not specified

Designer Chris Spooner – aka Spoongraphics – crafted this free pack of eight stipple shading brushes to help you easily paint grungy details onto your artwork with Illustrator’s brush tool.

Stippling is a traditional technique that uses lots of dots at different densities to build up tones and shade, and is particularly effective for creating a retro effect in your illustrations.

23. Free halftone vector brushes

Free halftone vector brushes

[Image: Rob Brink]

  • Price: Free for commercial and personal use
  • Compatible with: Not specified

This sample selection of free halftone Illustrator brushes are part of a larger pack of halftone vector brushes. Created by UI/UX designer Rob Brink, they’re perfect for adding old-school texture to your illustrations, without spending a penny.

24. Rodeo: free Illustrator brushes

Rodeo: free Illustrator brushes

[Image: Ray Dombroski]

  • Price: Free for commercial and personal use
  • Compatible with: CC and above

Yee-hah! Rope can be really fiddly to draw, so if you need some in your imagery the go for this easy option instead. Rodeo is a free hand-drawn rope brush for Adobe Illustrator CC. You can apply it to any path, as well as change the rope width and colour.

25. Smoke vector brushes

Smoke vector brushes

[Image: r2010]

  • Price: Free for commercial and personal use
  • Compatible with: Illustrator 9 – CS4

This set of smoke-like vector brushes is perfect for adding a bit of atmosphere to any illustration, whether it's for backgrounds or things that smoke, steam or mist. Play around with the opacity and blend modes in Illustrator to get some really nice effects. The author also appreciates comments, emoticons or a link back to your work as a thank you.

26. Free swoosh Illustrator brushes

Free swoosh Illustrator brushes

  • Price: Free for commercial and personal use
  • Compatible with: CC (but vector source file included for earlier versions)

This pack of free swoosh Illustrator brushes is ideal for making your own custom curls and swirls. Play around with them to see how they could work in your designs – the above image shows the brushes as applied to a simple spiral path.

27. Floral vector and brush pack

Best free Illustrator brushes - Floral vector and brush pack

A wider selection of florals than that which ships with Illustrator [Image: Stock Graphic Designs]

  • Price: Free for commercial and personal use
  • Compatible with: Not specified

This handy set of floral plate-inspired free Illustrator brushes is also available as a set of EPS assets for those times when you simply want to drop in stock art into your project. The quality of the art itself is comparable to the free florals that ship with Illustrator, but there's a wider selection available here, and the fact that they're not part of Illustrator's default arsenal means you're less likely to get instant recognition of the source.

28. Free abstract vector brushes

Best free Illustrator brushes - Abstract brushes

[Image: alethiologie]

  • Price: Free for commercial and personal use
  • Compatible with: Not specified

DeviantArt is always a good place to find free-to-use resources and assets, as this example from alethiologie demonstrates. This handy set of free abstract Illustrator brushes lets you create shapes and patterns, including some pretty crazy-looking ornaments.

29. Free dry paint brush strokes brushes 

Free Illustrator brushes: dry paint

[Image: Vecteezy]

  • Price: Free for commercial and personal use (with attribution)
  • Compatible with: Not specified

Add a dry brush stroke effect to your designs with this free pack from Duesseldorf-based designer Scorp1. According to Scorp1, the paint streak vector brushes were created using a dry brush with acrylic colour, with the marks scanned in, vectorised with Streamline and corrected manually where needed.

30. Marker pen strokes

Marker pen strokes

[Image: FudgeGraphics]

  • Price: Free for commercial and personal use
  • Compatible with: CS and above

Create realistic marker pen effects in your digital designs with this bumper pack of 64 free Illustrator brushes. It includes a range of stroke types and scribbles, which you can mix up to create different effects. This vector brush pack comes from FudgeGraphics, and it's free to use in both commercial and personal projects.

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