Illustrator comes preloaded with tons of arrow brushes in many different styles. The arrows are hidden away under the Brush Library menu. Here’s how to find them and use them.

1 In the Brushes panel, click the Brush Libraries Menu button in the bottom-left corner. Choose “Arrows,” then choose “Arrows_Special”; a floating panel of arrows appears.

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2 When you click the arrow style you want to use, that Brush appears in the main Brushes panel.

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3 Select the Paintbrush tool in the Tools panel, then draw a path of any shape. The arrow brushes are designed so the arrow will stretch to the length of the path you’ve drawn when you release the mouse.

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You don’t HAVE to draw arrows with the Paintbrush tool. You can draw a path with any tool – Pen, Pencil, Shape tools and then while the path is still selected, click on the arrow you want in the arrow brush panel.

In the example below, I drew the top path with the Pen tool, and the paths underneath with the Shape tools.

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4 By default, most of the arrows are set to a colour of black. It’s easy to change this though. With an arrow path selected click the Stroke Color pop-up panel in the Control panel and choose a color swatch.

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Create your own arrow brush in Illustrator

So that’s how you can use the existing arrow brushes. What about if you want to make your own? Here’s how to do it.

1 Create a sketchy, long image. Mine is some kind of weird fish.

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2 Select and drag your piece of art into the Brushes panel.

In the dialog box that opens, choose “Art Brush.”

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3 When the Art Brush Options dialog box opens, leave all the options as they are and click OK.

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4 With your new custom art brush selected in the Brushes panel, choose the Paintbrush tool in the Tools panel, then drag to draw arrows. Ta da! Funny fishy arrows.

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Jennifer Farley

Jennifer Farley is an illustrator, designer, author and design teacher based in Ireland. She has been teaching design for over 14 years and helps people learn Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom,Illustrator and graphic design skills to improve their job prospects and their business.

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