Lloyd Bosworth : archaeologist | human | beard

Drawing a Hachure in Adobe Illustrator

Hachures – I love ‘em! They are beautiful to look at and transform any map into a work of art. Unfortunately, I do most of my map making using GIS, where their non-numerical nature doesn’t allow for the analysis of slope, height, etc. However, I also do a lot of map redrawing, which often gives me the chance to lay down some serious hachures.

Adobe Illustrator doesn’t have any preset brushes or effects that would make drawing hachures an easy task. Creating a single hachure is no big deal, but copying, pasting, resizing and aligning each one? Are you serious? No, the easiest way is to create a custom brush that will apply your hachure design to all selected lines.  So far I’ve made several hachure brushes and the two examples below are the ones I use most; a simple one and one with a fattened base.

How to use the custom hachure brushes

  1. Download the brush library from here
  2. Open Adobe Illustrator
  3. Open the Brushes window (F5 or Window > Brushes)
  4. Click the ‘Brush Libraries Menu’ icon at the bottom of the Brushes window
  5. Select ‘Other Library…’
  6. Browse to the location where you saved the brushes, select the file and click open

Draw your lines ‘upslope’, that is, from the point to the base. Once you have drawn all your lines, select them and click on your choice of hachure brush from the brushes window. You may find that you need to adjust the line thickness to get these looking right for your drawing, but with a little tweaking they can be very effective.

Hachure up, baby!

Two types of hachure drawn in Adobe Illustrator.

Two types of hachure drawn in Adobe Illustrator.

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    • Lloyd

      January 19, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Reply

      Er… Thanks… I think… Um…

  • Rosie Duncan

    February 22, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Reply


    Thank you this is SO useful as I am just pulling together a handout to teach Forensic Archaeologists how to draw maps using Illustrator from their field sketches. Do you teach the students? The downside is I only have a 2 hour workshop plus a drop in support session, but hope they can grasp the basics.
    I have been teaching Geography students for 9 years but they get 10 hours!

  • jenny britnell

    April 24, 2018 at 7:31 pm | Reply

    Hi Lloyd –

    I just found your custom hachure brushes post from years ago – what version of CS is it in please? It looks to be really useful

    I only have CS3 and won’t load up the brushes (I think I am dong it right)

    I get the ‘some data loss may occur’ message – and when I continue I get a PDF warning box ‘the document contains PDF objects that have been reinterpreted’ and another message – ‘To preserve appearance, some text has been outlined’ – all ends in empty hachure brush box.

    Any help much appreciated

    Jenny Britnell

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