How to Use Stippling Brushes in Illustrator

by Dustin Lee January 09, 2018

How to Use Stippling Brushes in Illustrator

Using stippling brushes in Illustrator is a great way to add texture, shading, and interest to your illustration work.

In this tutorial, I'll show you three useful ways you can use stippling techniques in your digital drawings.

Don't have stippling brushes for Adobe Illustrator? We've got a great stippling pack for Illustrator right here.

1. Layer your stippling brushes

The quickest way to use stipping brushes is to just select your stippling brush and use your Pen Tool or Brush Tool to create shading. 

But with just a few seconds of extra work, you can make your work more dynamic and interesting by layering the same or different stipple brushes. 

Check out below how I use two different stippling brushes to layer my work. 

Layering stippling brushes in Adobe Illustrator

This is a simple technique but worth experimenting with. You'd be surprised how many different unique touches you can give your illustrations.

2. Give clean vector work a retro stipple effect

Want to quickly add some tasty texture and some retro nostalgia to your illustration?

Try using a stippling brush on the edge of your outer lines to create an oh-so-delicious transition between the dark and light areas of your work.

Here's a mushroom cloud I created the other day with the brushes. Notice how the stippling (mixed with some of our Photoshop texture brushes) creates the look of a cheaply printed stippling effect.

Retro printed stippling effect

I could have used the pressure sensitive features to add a little more finesse to the edges of stippling areas. But this is part of a daily drawing challenge I'm doing so I was using the brushes as quickly as possible.

3. Add subtle complimentary stipple textures

Obviously, not every illustration is the perfect candidate for a stippling effect. But you can use the brushes however you want. They don't have to be used for stippling. You could also use them to add subtle dot textures to your work. 

Here's a quick example of how I used it to add a little bit of texture to this wicked heart.

Stipple texture in Adobe Illustrator

So how do you use stippling brushes in Illustrator?

The answer is simple. Use stipple brushes however you want. You can use them for traditional stippling techniques or get experimental.

We used them on the Drunk Sailor Stipple Brush Pack with a Sailor Jerry inspired tattoo theme.

I've used them to add cheap ink effects to the edges of areas (like in my mushroom cloud illustration).

Treat the resources you get from RetroSupply or anywhere else as your own unique tools in your lab. You can use them any way that helps you bring your style to your work. Break the rules!

Dustin Lee
Dustin Lee


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Tutorials

Creating a Retro Wine Poster with Black Magic Halftones
Creating a Retro Wine Poster with Black Magic Halftones

by Lori Rudolph April 01, 2020

Inspiration comes in many forms and from many places. Sometimes it seems to come through osmosis for me. What I mean is that I am often inspired by retro themed design without really trying to be. I’ve seen so much of it over the years, that it’s just kind of “rubbed off”.

View full article →

How to Illustrate a Modern Plant Composition with a Nostalgic Flare in Procreate
How to Illustrate a Modern Plant Composition with a Nostalgic Flare in Procreate

by Guest Author March 30, 2020

In this tutorial, we’re going to learn how to create a modern nature composition in Procreate that has a vintage vibe.

View full article →

How to Use the Perspective Grid Tool for Logo Design
How to Use the Perspective Grid Tool for Logo Design

by Guest Author March 26, 2020

Emir Ayouni (AKA Growcase and one-third of Forefathers) was one of my first design heroes. I remember this Inappropriate Factory logo he did (see above) just blew my mind. 

So when we did the Responsive Branding Training with Emir Ayouni I was thrilled when he shared how he created factories, warehouses, and other building in Adobe Illustrator. 

View full article →