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Graphic Design: Develop a Set of Christmas Icons

Beginner level Adobe Illustrator Adobe Illustrator

How to Create a New Document

As we do with every new project, start by setting up a New Document (File > New or Control + N) which we will adjust using the following settings:

  • Number of Artboards: 1
  • Width: 800 px
  • Height: 600 px
  • Units: Pixels

And from the Advanced tab:

  • Color Mode: RGB
  • Raster Effects: Screen (72 ppi)

We’re going to be creating the icons using a Pixel Perfect Workflow, so I highly recommend you take a moment and read this in depth tutorial that will get you up to speed in no time.

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Quick tip: some of you might have noticed that the Align New Objects to Pixel Grid option is missing, well that’s because the new software update has improved the way Illustrator handles pixel snapping, making it less of a hassle.

How to Set Up the Layers

With each new project, I like to separate my assets on a couple of different layers, since this way I can streamline my workflow by focusing on one item at a time, which allows me to keep track of each and every shape at all time.

So, open up the layers panel, and let’s create four layers which we will name as follows:

  • Layer 1 > reference grids
  • Layer 2 > present box
  • Layer 3 > snow globe
  • Layer 4 > cookie treat

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The way we’re going to be using these layers within our workflow is pretty easy. We’ll want to lock all except the one that we will be working on, so that we won’t move or misplace some of the shapes by accident. Then, once we’re done with the current icon, we can then lock its layer and move on up to the next one.

How to Create the Reference Grids

As soon as we’ve layered our project file, we can start creating the reference grids, which will help us create our icons by focusing on consistency and size.

Step 1

Grab the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 128x128 px square, which we will color using #F15A24, and then position it to the center of the Artboard using the Align panel’s Horizontal and Vertical Align Center options.

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Step 2

Create another smaller 120x120 px square, which will act as the active drawing area, thus giving us an all-around 4 px padding. Color the shape using white (#FFFFFF) and then group the squares (Control + G) and create two more copies, one on the left and another on the right, distancing them at 40 px from the original.

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Once you’re done creating and positioning the reference grids, you can lock their layer, and then move on up to the next one, where we’ll start working on our first icon.

How to Create the Present Box

Assuming you’ve already moved on up to the second layer (that would be the present box), let’s kick off the project by creating the first icon. That being said, zoom in on its reference grid so that you can have a better view and let’s get started.

Step 1

With the help of the Rectangle Tool (M) create the present box’s main body using an 80x62 px shape, which we will color using #D46244, and then center align to the bottom edge of the underlying active drawing area, leaving a 4 px space gap for its outline.

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Step 2

Give the shape that we’ve just created an outline by creating a copy after it (Control + C > Control + F), which we will adjust by changing its color to #472C2C, and then flipping its Fill with its Stroke (Shift + X), setting the Weight to 8 px.

Once you’re done, select both shapes and group them together using the Control + G keyboard shortcut.

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Step 3

Create the front wrap using a 20x62 px rectangle, which we will color using #2E8F4A, and then center align it to the underlying orange shape using the Align panel’s Horizontal Align Center and Vertical Align Center options, making sure to set the larger shape as your key object by clicking on it.

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Step 4

Give the shape that we’ve just created a nice thick 8 px outline (#472C2C) using the same Stroke method that we applied for the box’s main body, making sure to group the two together afterwards.

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Step 5

Start working on the little golden gift card by creating a 20x24 px rectangle, which we will color using #DBB963, and then position onto the right side of the box’s body, at 6 px from the outline’s side edge, and 14 px from its top one.

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Step 6

Give the card an 8 px thick outline (#472C2C) so that it overlaps that of the green wrap, and then group the two together using the Control + G keyboard shortcut.

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Step 7

Using the Pen Tool (P) draw in the little string holding the card, making sure to set the Stroke’sWeight to 8 px, its color to #472C2C, and its Cap to Round.

Once you’re done, don’t forget to select both the gift card and the string and group them together using the Control + G keyboard shortcut.

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Step 8

Start working on the box’s lid by creating a 96x18 px rectangle, which we will color using #ED6F4C, and then center align to the larger body, positioning it over the upper half of its outline’s edge.

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Step 9

Give the lid an 8 px outline (#472C2C), and then select and group both shapes together (Control-G).

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Step 10

Create the wrap’s main body using a 28x18 px rectangle, which we will color using #329B50 and then center align to the underlying lid.

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Step 11

As we did with all the other shapes, give the wrap a nice thick 8 px outline (#472C2C) using the Stroke method, and then select and group the two together using the Control + G keyboard shortcut.

Once you’re done select both the lid and the wrap and group those as well.

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Step 12

Start working on the ribbon’s left half by creating a 32x32 px circle with an 8 px outline (#472C2C) which we will position on top of the lid, at a distance of 16 px from the active drawing area’s left edge.

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Step 13

Adjust the circle that we’ve just created, by selecting its right Anchor Point with the help of the Direct Selection Tool (A) and then pushing it towards the bottom by 16 px (right click > Transform > Move > Vertical > 16 px), and then to the right by another 8 px (right click > Transform > Move > Horizontal > 8 px), making sure to adjust its curvature afterwards by playing with its handles.

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Step 14

Create a copy (Control + C > Control + F) of the adjusted ribbon section, and then position it onto the other side of the lid making sure that their inner facing Anchor Points overlap, selecting and grouping (Control + G) them together afterwards.

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Step 15

Create the ribbon’s center piece using a 28x10 px rectangle, which we will color using #DBB963, and then center align it to the lid, positioning it so that it overlaps the outline’s upper half.

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Step 16

Give the shape that we’ve just created an 8 px thick outline (#472C2C), selecting and grouping (Control-G) the two afterwards.

Oh, and since we’re done with the icon, you can select all its composing shapes and group those as well.

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How to Create the Snow Globe

Since we’re done working on our first icon, we can lock its layer and move on up to the next one (that would be the third one). Before we start, don’t forget to zoom in on the second reference grid so that you can have a better view of your shapes.

Step 1

Start working on the globe’s main shape by creating a 92x92 px circle, which we will color using #AFD6E2 and then center align to the underlying active drawing area, at a distance of 4 px from its top edge.

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Step 2

Create the house’s main body using a 36x24 px rectangle, which we color using #D38063 and then center align to the circle that we’ve just created, positioning it at a distance of 26 px from its bottom Anchor Point.

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Step 3

Give the shape that we’ve just created an 8 px thick outline (#472C2C) but don’t group the two just yet, you’ll see why in a few moments.

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Step 4

Add the house’s little door, by creating an 8x10 px rectangle, which we will color using #472C2C and then center aligning it to the bottom section of the visible fill shape.

Once you have the door in place, select both it and the house’s main shapes, and group them using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

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Step 5

Create the roof using a 48x20 px rectangle (#6B4D44) which we will adjust by adding a new Anchor Point to the center of its top edge using the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) and then removing its side anchors using the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-). Once you’re done making the adjustments center align the resulting shape to the house’s body, positioning it over the upper half of its outline.

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Step 6

Give the roof an 8 px outline (#472C2C) making sure to set the Stroke’sCorner to Round Join. Once you’re done, select both shapes and group them together (Control + G).

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Step 7

Start working on the house’s chimney by creating an 8x12 px rectangle, which we will color using #472C2C and then position onto the right side of the roof, right aligning it to the house’s outline.

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Step 8

Add the top section of the chimney by creating a 12x4 px rounded rectangle (#472C2C) with a 2 px Corner Radius, which we will position on top of the previous shape, making sure to center align and then group (Control-G) the two afterwards.

Oh, and since we’re done with the house, you might as well select all its composing sections and group those as well.

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Step 9

Create the snow section partially covering up the house, using a 92x34 px rectangle (#EFE6E6) which we will need to adjust by selecting and pushing its top right Anchor Point to the bottom by 10 px (right click > Transform > Move > Vertical > 10 px) and then adjusting the curvature of the top line. Once you’re done, center align the resulting shape to the bottom of the underlying blue circle.

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Step 10

Give the snow a nice 8 px thick outline (#472C2C) using the Stroke method, and then select and group (Control-G) both shapes together.

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Step 11

As you can probably see, the snow section is currently going outside of the blue circle’s surface, which is something that we will need to adjust by creating a copy (Control + C) of the circle and pasting it in front of the snow (Control-F). With the copy in place, select both it and the underlying snow section and then create a Clipping Mask by right clicking > Make Clipping Mask.

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Step 12

Take a couple of moments, and get a little creative by adding in the little snowflakes using a bunch of 4x4 px circles which we will color using #EFE6E6. Once you’re done make sure to select all the circles and group them using the Control + G keyboard shortcut.

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Step 13

Since we’re pretty much done working on the globe’s inner elements, we can now give it an 8 px outline (#472C2C) and then select and group all its composing sections together using the Control + G keyboard shortcut.

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Step 14

Start working on the globe’s base, by creating a 76x16 px rounded rectangle (#AF644A) with an 8 px Corner Radius, which we will center align to the blue circle, positioning it at a distance of 20 px from the active drawing area’s bottom edge.

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Step 15

Give the shape that we’ve just created the usual 8 px thick outline (#472C2C) and then select and group the two together using the Control + G keyboard shortcut.

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Step 16

Create the bottom section of the base using an 88x16 px rounded rectangle (#C47857) with an 8 px Corner Radius, which we will center align to the previous section, positioning it so that it overlaps the bottom half of its outline.

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Step 17

Give the shape an 8 px outline (#472C2C) and then select both it and its outline, and group (Control + G) them together.

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Step 18

Create the little golden plate using a 28x12 px rectangle which we will color using #DBB963, and then position to the center of the globe’s base.

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Step 19

Give the plate an 8 px outline (#472C2C) with the Stroke’sCorner set to Round Join, and then select and group both shapes together using the Control + G keyboard shortcut.

Once you’re done, do the same for the base, and then rest of the icon’s composing sections.

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How to Create the Cookie Treat

We are now to our third and last icon, so assuming you’ve already moved on up to the last layer, zoom in on its reference grid and let’s get started.

Step 1

Start by creating the cookie’s main body using a 48x48 px circle, which we will color using #AF644A, and then position to the right corner of the active drawing area, at a distance of 4 px from its top edge, and 24 px from its right one.

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Step 2

Give the shape that we’ve just created an 8 px thick outline, setting the color of its Stroke to #472C2C.

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Step 3

It’s time to get a little creative again and create the little chocolate chips using a couple of varying sized circles which we will color using #472C2C, and then group using the Control + G keyboard shortcut.

Once you’re done, don’t forget to select and group all of the cookie’s composing shapes as well.

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Step 4

Create the main cup’s main shape using an 80x80 px rectangle (#ED6F4C), which we will adjust by setting the Radius of its top corners to 6 px, and its bottom ones to 28 px from within the Transform panel. Once you’re done, center align the resulting shape to the cookie, positioning it at a distance of 4 px from the active drawing area’s bottom edge.

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Step 5

Using the Ellipse Tool (L) create a 36x24 px shape, which we will color using #EFE6E6, and then slightly adjust its bottom right curvature. Position the resulting shape onto the cup’s top section, so that only its bottom half ends up overlapping it.

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Step 6

Give the shape an 8 px thick outline (#472C2C) and then select and group both shapes together using the Control + G keyboard shortcut.

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Step 7

Create the right half of the collar using a copy (Control + C > Control + F) of the one that we already have, which we will position onto the opposite side, making sure to flip it vertically by right clicking > Transform > Reflect > Vertical.

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Step 8

Group both halves of the collar together using the Control + G keyboard shortcut, and then mask them using a larger copy of the cup’s body (both shapes selected > right click > Make Clipping Mask).

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Step 9

Give the cup an 8 px outline (#472C2C), and then select all its current composing shapes and group (Control-G) them together.

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Step 10

Using the Ellipse Tool (L) create two 8x8 px circles (#472C2C) which we will stack vertically at a distance of 4 px from one another, grouping (Control + G) them afterwards. Then simply center align them to the cup’s body, just under its collar.

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Step 11

Using the Pen Tool (P) draw in the little belt using an 8 px thick Stroke with the color set to #472C2C.

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Step 12

Create the buckle, but this time we’ll start with the outline which we will create using a 36x32 px rounded rectangle (#472C2C) with an 8 px Corner Radius which we will center align to the belt.

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Step 13

Create the actual buckle using a 20x16 px rectangle, which we will color using #E5D6D3, and then center align to the outline from the previous step.

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Step 14

Finish off the buckle by adding a 12x8 px rectangle (#472C2C) to the center of the previous one, selecting and grouping (Control + G) all its other shapes afterwards.

Once you’re done, do the same for the cup’s composing sections as well.

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Step 15

Create the handle’s main shape using a 36x48 px rectangle (#D46244) which we will adjust by setting the Radius of its left corners to 18 px. Position the resulting shape onto the left side of the cup at a distance of 8 px from the active drawing area’s left edge.

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Step 16

Adjust the shape that we’ve just created by cutting out a smaller white (#FFFFFF) 12x24 px rectangle (with a the Radius of its left corners set to 6 px) using Pathfinder’sMinus Front Shape Mode.

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Step 17

Give the resulting shape an 8 px outline (#472C2C) and then group (Control + G) and send the two to the back of the cup (right click > Transform > Arrange > Send to Back).

Once you’re done, select and group (Control + G) all the cup’s composing shapes together, doing the same for the entire icon afterwards.

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That’s It!

There you have it guys, a nice an straight forward presentation of the process that you can use to create your very own icons, and even adapt to create some new ones as well.

I hope you had as much fun as I did writing this tutorial, and on that note I’ll leave you by wishing you a Happy Christmas in the company of all your loved ones.

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Discussion

Christmas is almost here, which means that it’s that time of the year again when we all get festive and share little gifts with one another. Being it so, I’ve decided to give you a little treat by creating this in-depth tutorial on how to create your very own Christmas themed icon pack, using some of Illustrator’s most basic shapes and tools. So without wasting anymore time, let’s get started!

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