How To Create Cool Decorative Borders in Illustrator

How To Create Cool Decorative Borders in Illustrator

Adobe products have tight integration. One of the best and native integration is between Photoshop and Illustrator. Although both programs have vector capabilities and tools, it is wise to do vector based work in Illustrator and to not mess with pixel based work which should be done in Photoshop. In this post, I will explain to you how to create cool decorative vector image borders in Illustrator for use in Adobe Photoshop.

Steps to create decorative borders

There are so many tools and options in Illustrator to create decorative borders. For simplicity sake I will limit this post to simplest and easiest way: using pre-installed brushes.

Step 1 Create new document

The very first step is to create a blank new document in Adobe Illustrator.

Step 2 Draw rectangle

Most of our images and creations are rectangles in terms of shape so you can go with rectangle, square or circle. It's up to you and your needs for the specific project. I will suggest you to remove fill so you have a transparent background for shape.
remove fill


Step 3 Apply brush to create decorative border

In this step, you must display Brushes panel from Window > Brushes.
brushes panel


Click on Brush Libraries Menu icon and select some of the pre-installed libraries like Artistic > Artistic_ChalkCharcoalPencil.
artistic charcoal brush library


Start clicking on brushes and choose one that you like.
choose brush for borders


After choosing a brush that you like you will probably need to Copy (Ctrl/Cmd + C) and Paste in Place (Shift + Ctrl/Cmd + V) existing frame because at one of the corners of the decorative frame you won't have stroke connected. To fix this problem use easiest and simplest way as explained above: copy and paste in place then rotate rectangle for 180 degrees using Rotate Tool (R).
rotate rectangle


At this point, you have a decorative border but do not stop here. Go and experiment by applying different brushes. You can use same brush or to apply 2 (or more) different brushes to create a decorative frame. There are and other libraries do not forget that. Click on Load Previous/Next Brush Library buttons and you will be amazed by a number of brushes which can be used for decorative borders.
load next previous brush library


Here is result using two different Artistic_Watercolor brushes.
artistic watercolor brushes


Step 4 Use decorative border(s) in Photoshop

Simplest way to use created borders in Photoshop is to add artwork to Library in Window > Libraries panel. Select graphic and drag it onto Libraries panel then rename it if you want.
add graphic to libraries panel


It will be immediately available for use from Libraries panel in Photoshop. You can start using vector based artwork (decorative border) with all flexibility that gives you vector object plus powerful tools and Photoshop features like Color Overlay which can be applied as a layer effect.
photoshop libraries and color overlay


Another way is to copy artwork using Edit > Copy in Illustrator and to Edit > Paste it in Photoshop either as Smart Object or shape in case you want to save border as a custom Photoshop shape.
paste in photoshop


Lastly, you can save Illustrator file with border and place it in Photoshop using File > Place Embedded or Place Linked command.


Product used in this tutorial:
Adobe Illustrator CC 2015
Adobe Photoshop CC 2015

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