I’ve been admiring some beautiful illustrations and examining the techniques the artists use to add details to their work. One popular shading method I’ve noticed is particularly prominent in apparel design and illustrations with a retro vibe is the use of stippling, where fine vector textures are added to build up tones and shade in areas of darkness. After seeing how effective this technique is, I created my own set of Illustrator scatter brushes to provide myself and my readers the tools required to create this effect. Download this free pack of 8 stipple shading brushes to easily paint grungy details onto your artwork with Illustrator’s brush tool.

8 Free Stipple Shading Illustrator Brushes

These free stipple shading brushes for Adobe Illustrator are perfect for adding grainy details to your illustrations. This popular shading technique gives your artwork a vintage tattoo or retro style comic book effect by building up tones with tiny vector textures. There’s 8 different scatter brushes available, ranging from light grain to heavy stipples with variances in spacing so you can find the best brush for your project.

How to use the Stipple Shading brushes

Illustrator's draw inside mode

My favourite technique for using these stipple shading brushes is with a Clipping Mask. Use the Pen tool to trace an area of your illustration on a new layer, then activate the Draw Inside mode from the bottom of the toolbar.

Adding texture with Stipple Shading brushes

Grab the brush tool, then select one of the Stipple Shading brushes from the library. Go ahead and paint over your artwork to build up the tones with lots of tiny vector textures.

Troll illustration with stipple shading

You can increase or decrease the size of the stipples by adjusting the stroke weight, which helps control the density and grain size to suit your project.

Download the Free Stipple Shading Brushes 17mb

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  1. Man! Wow, this is awesome. Always wondered where illustrators get these patterns. Thanks so much for sharing these! Plus the draw-inside tip was a killer. I honestly didn’t know about that. Keep it up, Chris. Downloading this now…

  2. Hi Chris,
    I could just not be looking into very much, but I had a quick question. Once I brush inside the shape, how do I expand the result into outlines? The usual expand appearance and expand don’t work… at least not on my computer. Thanks!

    – Logan

  3. Thank you so much for sharing all this! I’m a multimedia arts student and these are a huge help to make my projects stand out. God bless you, man!

  4. You have single-handedly interested me in learning Illustrator, my friend!

    These are so cool! Thank you!


  5. Hi Chris, fab tools!!! …and thank you so much for sharing. One question, they are not valid for the CS6 version, right?

  6. As usual, a very good freebies and technic … Thank you Chris … You’re definitely one of my best sources of ideas …

  7. Thanks, Chris. Can’t wait to give these a go. Truly appreciate the share …

  8. Wow! Love ol’ fashion ‘grain’ – super excited to work with this using your great tips -many thanks!

  9. Just moved away from Photoshop to Illustrator for most web design works, this brushes could not have come at a better time. I am sure i will be using them in many of my works. Thanks for sharing.

    • Chris, what you are doing and sharing is fantastic. I am self taught and your tutorials keep opening new features. Not sure if this is the place but I am struggling to find the righ info on working with path and inside them in the way you do. …..any pionter welcome. I tend to draw scan live paint expand copy areas and fil…but your way gives greater depth/ control. Thanks again


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