How to create a photography icon set

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In today’s tutorial we’re going to take a close look behind the process of creating a Photography Themed Icon pack using some of the most basic shapes and tools that Illustrator has to offer. That being said, get yourself a fresh batch of coffee and let’s jump into it.

1. How to Create a New Document

As we do with all of our projects, let’s start by setting up a New Document (File > New or Control-N) which we will adjust as follows:

• 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.

2. How to Set Up the Layers

With each new project, I like to separate my assets using 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 > lens

• layer 3 > camera

• layer 4 > flash

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.

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 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.

Step 2

Create another smaller 120 x 120 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 three more copies, 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 Lens Icon

Kick off the project by creating the first icon, making sure to position yourself onto the second layer, zooming in on the first reference grid.

Step 1

Create the main shape for the lens connector using a 32 x 12 px rectangle, which we will color using #D3C7C2, and then center align to the active drawing area’s bottom edge, positioning it at a distance of 4 px from it.

Step 2

Give the shape an outline using the Stroke method, by creating a copy of it (Control-C) which we will paste in front (Control-F), and then adjust by first changing its color to #3F3330, and then flipping its Fill with its Stroke (Shift-X). Set the resulting shape’s Weight to 8 px, making sure to select and group (Control-G) the two together before moving on to the next step.

Step 3

Finish off the current section, by creating a 12 x 6 px rectangle (#3F3330) which we will center align to the larger fill shape’s bottom edge, selecting and grouping (Control-G) all three shapes together once you’re done.

Step 4

Create a slightly larger 48 x 12 px rectangle (#DB7252), which we will adjust by individually selecting and pushing its bottom anchor points to the inside by a distance of 4 px using the Move tool (right click > Transform > Move > Horizontal > + / - 4 px depending on which side you start with). Once you’re done, position the resulting shape above the previous section.

Step 5

Give the resulting shape an 8 px thick outline (#3F3330, followed by a smaller 24 x 6 px rectangle (#3F3330) which we will center align to its bottom edge, making sure to select and group (Control-G) all three shapes afterwards.

Step 6

Create the lens’s main body, using a 64 x 24 px rectangle (#756F6D) with an 8 px thick outline (#3F3330), which we will group (Control-G) and then center align to the previous section, positioning the two above it.

Step 7

Start adding details to the current section, by creating an 8 x 24 px rectangle (#3F3330) which we will position at a distance of 8 px from the right side of the larger underlying shapes.

Step 8

Finish off the current section by adding the little dummy text lines using two 4 px tall rectangles (#3F3330) distanced at 4 px from one another, which we will group (Control-G) and then position at a distance of 4 px from the larger outline’s left edge. Once you’re done, select and group all its composing shapes together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

Step 9

Create the smaller connector section using a 56 x 12 px rectangle (#56504F) with an 8 px thick outline (#3F3330), which we will group (Control-G) and then position above the previous section.

Step 10

Start working on the zoom ring by creating a 64 x 32 px rectangle (#756F6D) with an 8 px thick outline (#3F3330), which we will group (Control-G) and then center align to the previous section, positioning it above it.

Step 11

Add the vertical detail lines using nine 4 x 32 px rectangles (#3F3330) horizontally stacked at 2 px from one another, which we will group (Control-G) and then center align to the larger underlying shapes.

Step 12

Create an 8 x 8 px circle (#3F3330) and position it to the center of the second vertical detail line, selecting and grouping (Control-G) all of the current section’s shapes together afterwards.

Step 13

Add the upper section of the lens’s body using a 56 x 10 px rectangle (#DB7252) with an 8 px thick outline (#3F3330), which we will group (Control-G) and then center align to the previously created section, positioning them above it.

Step 14

Finish off the lens, by creating the glass using a 40 x 20 px ellipse (#7DB1D1) with an 8 px thick outline (#3F3330), which we will group (Control-G) and then center align to the active drawing area’s top edge, making sure to position them underneath all the other sections (right click > Arrange > Send to Back). Once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) all of the icon’s composing sections together before moving on to the next one.

5. How to Create the Camera Icon

Assuming you’ve managed to finish working on the first icon, lock its layer and then move on up to the next one (that would be the third one), where we will start working on our little camera.

Step 1

Create the camera’s main body using a 96 x 48 px rectangle (#DB7252) with an 8 px thick outline (#3F3330), which we will group (Control-G) and then center align to the active drawing area’s top edge, positioning them at a distance of 18 px from it.

Step 2

Create a smaller 88 x 8 px rectangle (#3F3330) and center align it to the bottom edge of the shapes that we’ve just grouped.

Step 3

Add the focus assist sensor, using a 6 x 6 px circle (#3F3330) which we will position onto the main body’s top-right corner, making sure to leave a 4 px gap around it.

Step 4

Add the grip using a 14 x 28 px rectangle (#756F6D) which we will adjust by setting the Radius of its right corners to 8 px from within the Transform panel’s Rectangle Properties. Give the resulting shape an 8 px thick outline (#3F3330), on top of which we will add a smaller 8 x 12 px rounded rectangle (#3F3330) with a 4 px Corner Radius, selecting and grouping (Control-G) all of the current section’s shapes together, doing the same for the camera’s body afterwards.

Step 5

Create the camera’s upper body using a 96 x 12 px rectangle (#D3C7C2) on top of which we will add a smaller 32 x 6 px one (#D3C7C2), which we will unite into a single larger shape using Pathfinder’s Unite Shape Mode.

Step 6

Give the resulting shape an 8 px thick outline (#3F3330) using the Stroke method, making sure to select and group them together afterwards using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

Step 7

Add the vertical divider line using an 8 x 12 px rectangle (#3F3330) which we will position onto the left side of the camera’s upper section.

Step 8

Create the flash using a 16 x 6 px rectangle (#3F3330) which we will position to the center of the upper body’s right section. Once you’re done, select and group all of the current section’s shapes together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

Step 9

Add the two buttons using a 16 x 10 px rectangle (#3F3330) followed by another smaller 8 x 8 px one (#3F3330) at a distance of 2 px from it, which we will group (Control-G) and then position at a distance of 16 px from the upper body’s left edge.

Step 10

Start working on the lens, by creating a 48 x 48 px circle (#AFA7A5) with an 8 px thick outline (#3F3330), which we will group (Control-G) and then center align to the camera’s main body, moving them slightly to the top by a distance of 4 px (right click > Transform > Move > Vertical > -4 px).

Step 11

Create the lens’s inner section using a smaller 24 x 24 px circle (#756F6D) with an 8 px thick outline (#3F3330), which we will group (Control-G) and then center align to the previously created shapes.

Step 12

Add another smaller 12 x 12 px circle (#3F3330) to the center of the lens, selecting and group all its composing shapes together afterwards.

Step 13

Create the lens release button using a 12 x 12 px circle (#3F3330), which we will position onto its lower-right side. Once you’re done, select and group all of the current section’s composing shapes together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

Step 14

Add the strap rings using two 12 x 8 px rectangles (#3F3330), which we will position onto the sides of the camera’s main body, making sure to select and group all of the shapes that we have so far using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

Step 15

Create the left section of the strap using a 20 x 96 px rectangle with a 4 px thick Stroke (#3F3330), which we will adjust by setting the Radius of its bottom corners to 10 px from within the Transform panel’s Rectangle Properties. Position the resulting shape onto the left side of the camera, making sure to send it to the back of all the other shapes (right click > Arrange > Send to Back).

Step 16

Finish off the camera and with it the icon itself by adding the right section of the strap using a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the one that we already have, which we will then position onto the opposite side of the larger body. Once you’re done, select and group all of the icon’s composing sections together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

6. How to Create the Flash Icon

We are now down to our third and last icon, so assuming you’ve already positioned yourself onto the active reference grid, zoom in on it and let’s wrap things up.

Step 1

Create the flash’s connector, using a 24 x 12 px rectangle (#D3C7C2) with an 8 px thick outline (#3F3330) to the bottom of which we will align a smaller 8 x 6 px rectangle (#3F3330). Group (Control-G) all three shapes together, and then center align them to the bottom edge of the underlying active drawing area.

Step 2

Create the bottom section of the flash using a 40 x 16 px rectangle (#56504F) with an 8 px thick outline (#3F3330), which we will group (Control-G) and then position above the smaller connector.

Step 3

Add some details to the current section by creating and positioning a 24 x 6 px rectangle (#3F3330) to the center of its top edge, followed by a smaller 16 x 8 px (#3F3330) one to its bottom edge. Once you’re done, select and group all its composing shapes together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

Step 4

Create the flash’s main body using a 64 x 44 px rectangle (#756F6D) with an 8 px thick outline (#3F3330), which we will group (Control-G) and then position above the previous section, so that the two outlines end up overlapping.

Step 5

Start working on the infrared sensor, by creating a 32 x 44 px ellipse (#DB7252) with an 8 px thick outline (#3F3330), which we will group (Control-G) and then center align to the larger rectangle’s top edge, so that only the lower half of its body ends up overlapping it.

Step 6

Mask the shapes that we’ve just created using a copy (Control-C) of the rectangle from underneath as a Clipping Mask, by pasting it in front (Control-F). Once you have the copy, select both it and the ellipses and then right click > Make Clipping Mask.

Step 7

Add the device’s little screws using two 4 x 4 px circles (#3F3330), which we will position onto its bottom corners, leaving a 2 px gap around them.

Step 8

Create the little dummy text lines using a 12 x 4 px rectangle (#3F3330) followed by another smaller 8 x 4 px one (#3F3330), which we will distance at 4 px from one another, grouping (Control-G) and then center aligning them at a distance of 4 px from the larger section’s outline.

Step 9

Add the two side buttons using an 8 x 12 px rectangle (#3F3330) followed by another smaller 8 x 8 px one (#3F3330) vertically stacking them at 2 px from one another. Once you have both shapes, group (Control-G) and then position them on the right side of the larger body, doing the same for the entire section afterwards.

Step 10

Start working on the upper section of the flash, by creating an 80 x 40 px rounded rectangle (#756F6D) with an 8 px Corner Radius and an 8 px thick outline (#3F3330), which we will group (Control-G) and then position on top of the previous section.

Step 11

Create the front plate covering the led, using a 56 x 16 px rectangle (#D3C7C2) with an 8 px thick outline (#3F3330), which we will group (Control-G) and then center align to the larger underlying shapes.

Step 12

Add a 28 x 4 px rectangle (#3F3330) to the center of the smaller section, followed by two 6 x 4 px ones (#3F3330) which we will position onto each sides, making sure to select and group (Control-G) them to one another and the larger plate afterwards.

Step 13

Finish off the flash, and with it the icon itself by adding an 8 x 16 px rectangle to each of its upper section’s sides, selecting and grouping (Control-G) all its composing shapes together afterwards.

It’s a Wrap!

There you have it guys, a simple step-by-step approach on how to create your very own photography inspired icon pack. I hope you had fun recreating these little devices, and most importantly managed to learn something new and exciting along the way.

Now you can show the world what you have learned.

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Best answer
3 months ago

bro this was one of the best lectures but if you want to go to the top level i recommend to start recording video tutorials.it is going be lit man

Best answer
2 months ago

Great tutorial...I love it

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