Weaving Flourishes – An Illustrator Tutorial

I’ve had my first request for a tutorial! It never occurred to me that people weren’t aware of how to get elements “weaving” in and out of other elements (like text) in Illustrator. So click through and check out my first tutorial on “Weaving Flourishes”.
1. Pop in some text. I’ve used Fontin Smallcaps in this instance, a wonderful free font by Jos Buivenga.

2. Outline your text.

3. Bring in some flourishes – here’s some I prepared earlier! Ensure all of the strokes and brushes on your flourishes are expanded.
4. Place the flourishes over your outlined text. Try to position them so that they will weave in and out of the letters – take your time with this.

5. Select the flourishes placed over your text and the text and hit Shift+Ctrl+F9 to bring up your Pathfinder palette.

6. Hit the Divide button .

7. Using the Direct Selection tool (keyboard shortcut: A) choose the parts of your text that you want to bring in front of the curls in the flourishes. Once you have selected an object, hit I for the Eyedropper tool and select the colour of the text that you want to sit over the flourish.

8. Continue doing this – use your own judgement in terms of what elements should be behind or in front of others.

9. Using the Direct Selection tool still, select the objects that make up each letter (holding down shift to make multiple selections). To group these objects back into the “letter”, go to your Pathfinder palette again and hit the Merge button .
10. Continue merging all adjacent blocks of the same shape and colour together.

11. Hit Ctrl+0 and marvel at what you’ve done!


  1. Hi Nat, fantastic tutorials I must say and wicked motifs you have there. I’m a newbie to illustrator and under abrupt changes in my course of work, the need now arises for me to learn how to actually create my own.

    I just completed my crash course in CS2 illustrator and am still pretty much in the blur with regards to creating from ground zero, motifs/flourishes.

    How do you start of designing a simple flourish as such? Would be really grateful if you could email me to share further!

    warmest regards,

  2. Hey Nat, thanks for the prompt response. Can’t tell you how elated I am :) I gather you’re from Brisbane? Was there ini May last year visiting a friend.

    Looking forward to it! Have a great week ahead

  3. november91 – sorry for the lateness of my reply, I’ve had a wickedly busy week at work!

    I will do a tute up on how to get some motifs done in illustrator, using a few of the tools already in the program (like the spiral tool). Hopefully I can do this on the weekend!

  4. Wow! This is very cool stuff. Do you do freelance projects? I have a few things I want designed and think you might be just the person!

Comments are closed.