How to create a green energy themed pack

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In today’s tutorial we’re going to tackle a real problem: green energy! A good place to start is by creating a little icon pack using some of the most basic shapes and tools that Illustrator has to offer. So, assuming you’ve already brought your coffee mug, get that first sip in and get started!


1. How to Create a New Document

As we do with every new project, start by setting up a New Document (File > New or Ctrl+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 (http://www.freepik.com/blog/how-to-create-pixel-perfect-icons/) that will get you up to speed in no time.

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.

2. How to Set Up the Layers

With each new project, I like to separate my elements into a few different layers, as 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 times.

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

• layer 1 > reference grids

• layer 2 > light bulb

• layer 3 > plant

• layer 4 > plug

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'll 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.

3. 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 128 x 128 px square, which we'll color using #F15A24, and then position it to the center of the Artboard using the Align panel’s Horizontal and Vertical Align Center options.

Step 2

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

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.

4. How to Create the Light Bulb

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

Step 1

Create the icon’s background, using an 88 x 88 px circle, which we will color using #d9f4e5, and then center align to the underlying active drawing area.

Step 2

Start working on the actual bulb, by creating a 68 x 68 px circle, which we'll color using white (#FFFFFF) and then center align to the drawing area’s top edge, at a distance of 4 px.

Step 3

Using the Rectangle Tool (M) create a 28 x 8 px shape, which we will color using white (#FFFFFF) and then center align to the circle that we’ve just created positioning it underneath at a distance of 2 px.

Step 4

Adjust the circle, by selecting its bottom Anchor Point using the Direct Selection Tool (A) and then removing its bottom half by pressing Delete.

Step 5

Open up the rectangle’s path, by adding a new Anchor Point to the center of its top edge by left clicking on it using the Add Anchor Point Tool (+), and then removing it by selecting it with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and pressing Delete.

Step 6

Unite the two paths that we’ve just opened up into a single larger closed one, by selecting both shapes and then pressing Ctrl+J twice.

Step 7

Adjust the resulting shape by first turning on the Pixel Preview mode (Alt+Ctrl+Y) and then individually selecting and converting the selected anchors to smooth. Then individually select the center anchors’ handles and reposition their end points as seen in the reference image.

Step 8

Give the resulting shape an outline using the Stroke method, by creating a copy of it (Ctrl+C > Ctrl+F) and then adjusting it by changing its color to #45c980, and then flipping its Fill with its Stroke (Shift+X) making sure to set its Weight to 8 px from within the Stroke panel. Once you’re done, select both the fill shape (the white one) and its outline and group them together using the Ctrl+G keyboard shortcut.

Step 9

Start working on the bulb’s inner leaves, by creating the petiole using a 36 px tall 8 px thick Stroke line (#45c980) which we will center align to the bulb’s base.

Step 10

Create the left leaf, using a 16 x 16 px rectangle (#FFFFFF) which we'll adjust by setting the Radius of its top-right and bottom-left corners to 8 px from within the Transform panel’s Rectangle Properties. Give the resulting shape an 8 px thick outline (#45c980) with the Corner set to Round Join to make it feel more organic, and then group the two (Ctrl+G) positioning them on top of the petiole.

Step 11

Create the second leaf, using a copy of the one that we’ve just made (Ctrl+C > Ctrl+F), which we'll position onto the right side of the stalk or the petiole, making sure to vertically reflect it afterwards (right click > Transform > Reflect > Vertical).

Once you’re done, select and group both the leaves and the petiole together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

Step 12

Start working on the light bulb’s base by creating its upper section using a 36 x 20 px rectangle which we will color using white (#FFFFFF) and then center align to the bottom section of the bulb.

Step 13

Give the shape that we’ve just created an 8 px thick outline (#45c980) using the Stroke method, followed by a 36 px wide 8 px thick (#45c980) horizontal detail line, which we will align to the center of the underlying shape (the white one).

Step 14

Add another 20 px tall 4 px thick (#45c980) vertical one, which we will position onto the cap’s right side, at a distance of 4 px from the thicker outlines. Once you’re done, select and group all of the section’s composing shapes together using the Ctrl+G keyboard shortcut.

Step 15

Create the cap’s bottom section using a 20 x 14 px rectangle which we'll color using white (#FFFFFF) center aligning it underneath the previously created section.

Step 16

Finish off the icon by giving the shape that we’ve just created an 8 px thick outline (#45c980) and a shadow using a 20 x 8 px rectangle (#45c980) which we'll center align to the top edge of the white shape.

Once you’re done, don’t forget to select and group all of the current section’s shapes together using the Ctrl+G keyboard shortcut, doing the same for the entire icon afterward.

5. How to Create the Plant

Assuming you’ve already locked the previous layer, move on up to the next one (that would be the third one) and zoom in on the second reference grid so that we can start working on our second icon.

Step 1

As we did with the first icon, start by creating the circular background using an 88 x 88 px circle, which we'll color using #d9f4e5, and then center align to the underlying active drawing area.

Step 2

Create the plant’s “head” using a 28 x 28 px circle, which we'll color using white (#FFFFFF) and then center align to the underlying active drawing area, at a distance of 4 px from its top edge.

Step 3

As we did with all our shapes, give the circle that we’ve just created an 8 px thick outline (#45c980) using the Stroke method.

Step 4

Start working on the little electric symbol, by creating a 5 x 10 px rectangle (#45c980) (1) which we'll adjust by first selecting its top-left Anchor Point using the Direct Selection Tool (A) and then removing it by pressing Delete, immediately closing the path afterwards using the Ctrl+J keyboard shortcut (2). Create a copy of the resulting shape (Ctrl+C > Ctrl+F) and then reflect it both horizontally and vertically (right-click > Transform > Reflect > Horizontal then Vertical), positioning it towards the lower-right side of the original so that their intersection creates a 2 px wide 4 px tall rectangle (3). Once you’re done, simply group (Ctrl+G) the two shapes together, and then center align them to the white circle (4) doing the same for all its shapes.

Step 5

Create the plant’s stem using an 88 px tall 8 px thick vertical Stroke line (#45c980), which we'll center align to the shapes that we’ve just grouped.

Step 6

Start working on the left leaf by creating a 34 x 34 px square (#FFFFFF) which we'll adjust by setting the Radius of its top-right and bottom-left corners to 16 px from within the Transform panel’s Rectangle Properties. Once you’re done, position the resulting shape onto the left half of the stem’s width, at a distance of 8 px from the top circle.

Step 7

Give the leaf an 8 px thick outline (#45c980) using the Stroke method, and then draw an 8 px thick diagonal detail line (#45c980) with a Round Cap starting from the center of the stem, and going a little over the center of the leaf. Once you’re done, select all three shapes and group them together using the Ctrl+G keyboard shortcut.

Step 8

Finish off the icon, by creating the second leaf using a copy (Ctrl+C > Ctrl+F) of the one that we’ve just finished working on, which we'll position onto the right half of the stem, at a distance of 24 px from the top circle, making sure to vertically reflect it (right-click > Transform > Reflect > Vertical).

Once you’re done, you can select and group all of the icon’s composing sections together using the Ctrl+G keyboard shortcut.

6. How to Create the Plug

We're now down to our third and last icon, so assuming you’ve locked the previous layer and moved on up to the last one, zoom in on the reference grid and let’s wrap things up.

Step 1

As we did with all the other icons, start by creating the circular background using an 88 x 88 px circle, which we will color using #d9f4e5, and then center align to the underlying active drawing area.

Step 2

Start working on the left pin, by creating a 10 x 26 px rectangle which we will color using white (#FFFFFF) and then position at a distance of 4 px from the active drawing area’s top edge, and 44 px from its left one.

Step 3

Give the shape that we’ve just created an 8 px thick outline (#45c980), and then draw a 10 px wide 4 px thick horizontal detail line (#45c980) using the Pen Tool (P) positioning it at a distance of 4 px from the larger outline’s top edge.

As always, once you’re done select and group all three shapes together using the Ctrl+G keyboard shortcut.

Step 4

Create the plug’s second pin, using a copy (Ctrl+C > Ctrl+F) of the one that we’ve just finished working on which we'll position onto the right side of the active drawing area, at a distance of 12 px from the original, selecting and grouping (Ctrl+G) both pins together afterward.

Step 5

Start working on the plug’s upper section by creating a 56 x 12 px rectangle (#FFFFFF) with an 8 px thick outline (#45c980) which we will group (Ctrl+G) and then position underneath the two pin’s that we’ve just finished working on.

Step 6

Create the plug’s center section using a 40 x 32 px rectangle which we will color using white (#FFFFFF) and then center align to the bottom edge of the previously created shapes.

Step 7

Give the shape that we’ve just created an 8 px thick outline (#45c980) using the Stroke method, followed by a 40 px wide 4 px thick horizontal detail line (#45c980) which we'll center align to the underlying white shape, positioning it at a distance of 4 px from its bottom edge.

Step 8

Add the subtle shadow by creating a 40 x 8 px rectangle, which we will color using #45c980 and then center align to the top edge of the underlying white rectangle.

Step 9

Finish off this section by grabbing a copy (Ctrl+C) of the electric symbol from the second icon, and pasting it back onto the current layer (Ctrl+F). Once you have the copy, adjust it by first rotating it at a 90º angle (right-click > Transform > Rotate > 90) and then flipping it vertically (right-click > Transform > Reflect > Vertical) positioning the resulting shape to the center of the current section’s empty white space.

Then, simply select all the composing shapes and group them together using the Ctrl+G keyboard shortcut.

Step 10

Create the plug’s bottom section using a 20 x 14 px rectangle, which we will color using white (#FFFFFF) and then position underneath the previous shapes.

Step 11

Give the shape that we’ve just created an 8 px thick outline (#45c980) followed by a 20 x 8 px shadow (#45c980), selecting and grouping all three shapes together afterward using the Ctrl+G keyboard shortcut.

Step 12

Finish off the icon, by adding the little cord which we will create using a 32 px tall 8 px thick Stroke line (#45c980) which we will center align to the bottom edge of the previously created outline.

Once you’re done, don’t forget to select all of the icon’s composing sections and group (Ctrl+G) them so that if you move it, you won’t end up leaving shapes behind.

It’s a Wrap!

There you have it guys, another quick little tutorial on how to keep the Earth digitally green. I hope you had as much fun as I did creating these little icons, and as always learned something new and useful along the way.

Now you can show the world what you have learned.

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