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Illustration: Create an Illustrator’s Essentials

Beginner level Adobe Illustrator Adobe Illustrator

How to Set Up a New Document

As we do with all of our projects, we’ll 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)

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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.

How to Set Up the Layers

Once I have my new document, 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 a total of four layers which we will name as follows:

  • Layer 1 → reference grids
  • Layer 2 → tablet
  • Layer 3 → notebook
  • Layer 4 → sketchbook
2-setting-up-the-layers.png

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 side copies (Control + C → Control + F two times), 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 Tablet Icon

Assuming you’ve positioned yourself onto the next layer (that would be the second one), let’s kick off the project by creating the first icon, which is one of the tools that every illustrator ends up using at some point.

Step 1

Start by creating the device’s main body using an 88x116 px rounded rectangle with a 12 pxCorner Radius, which we will color using #6B6565 and then center align to the first active drawing area.

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Step 2

Give the shape that we’ve just created 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 #3F3939 and then flipping its Fill with its Stroke (Shift + X). Set the resulting shape’s Weight to 4 px, making sure to select and group the two together afterwards using the Control + G keyboard shortcut.

6-adding-the-outline-to-the-graphics-tablet-s-.png

Step 3

Add the drawing surface using a 64x74 px rectangle, which we will center align to the larger body, positioning it at a distance of 10 px from its top edge.

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Step 4

Adjust the shape of the rectangle that we’ve just created by setting the Radius of its top corners to 4 px from within the Transform panel’s Rectangle Properties.

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Step 5

Start working on the drawing area’s active surface delimiters, using a 4x4 px square (#BAB1B1) which we will position at a distance of 6 px from its left edge and 14 px from its top one.

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Step 6

Adjust the shape by removing a smaller 2x2 px square (highlighted with red) from its bottom-right corner using Pathfinder’s Minus Front Shape Mode.

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Step 7

Create the remaining delimiters using three copies of the one that we’ve just finished adjusting, which we will position as seen in the reference image, making sure to reflect each and every one accordingly (right click → Transform → Reflect → Horizontal / Vertical depending on the position of the shape). Once you’re done, select and group both the delimiters and the underlying drawing surface together using the Control + G keyboard shortcut.

11-adding-the-remaining-surface-delimiters-to-.png

Step 8

Add the tablet’s bottom vertical delimiters using two 2x30 px rectangles (#3F3939) which we will position below the drawing screen, aligning them to its outer edges.

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Step 9

Start working on the tablet’s smaller buttons, by creating two groups of two 4x6 px rounded rectangles (#3F3939) with a 1 px Corner Radius horizontally distanced at 4 px from one another, which we will position at a distance of 4 px from the inner sides of the delimiters that we’ve just created in the previous step.

13-adding-the-smaller-buttons-to-the-graphics-.png

Step 10

Create the larger circular button’s outer section using an 18x18 px circle (#4F4949) with a 2 px thick outline (#3F3939), which we will group (Control + G) and then position to the center of the empty space created by the smaller side buttons.

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Step 11

Finish off the button and with it the icon itself, by adding its inner section using a smaller 10x10 px circle (#6B6565) with a 2 px thick outline (#3F3939), which we will group (Control + G) and then center align to the previously created shapes. Take your time, and once you’re done, select and group (Control + G) all of the current button’s composing shapes together, doing the same for the entire icon afterwards.

15-finishing-off-the-graphics-tablet-icon.png

How to Create the Notebook Icon

Assuming you’ve successfully finished working on the first icon, lock its layer and then move on to the next one (that would be the third one), where we will focus on creating the little notebook.

Step 1

Create the device’s lower body using an 88x58 px rounded rectangle (#6B6565) with an 8 pxCorner Radius and a 4 px thick outline (#3F3939), which we will group (Control + G) and then center align to the active drawing area’s bottom edge.

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Step 2

Start working on the little keyboard, by creating its underlying section using a 74x28 px rectangle (#4F4949) with a 2 px thick outline (#3F3939), which we will group (Control + G) and then center align to the larger body, positioning them at a distance of 4 px from its top edge.

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Step 3

Create the first row of buttons using ten 4x4 px squares (#3F3939) horizontally distanced at 2 px from one another, followed by another slightly larger 8x4 px rectangle (#3F3939) onto their right side, which we will group (Control + G) and position at a distance of 2 px from the underlying section’s top edge.

18-adding-the-first-row-of-buttons-to-the-note.png

Step 4

Create the second button row using a copy (Control + C → Control + F) of the one that we’ve just grouped, which we will position below at a distance of 2 px, making sure to vertically reflect them afterwards (right click → Transform → Reflect → Vertical).

19-adding-the-second-row-of-buttons-to-the-not.png

Step 5

Add the third button row using another copy (Control + C → Control + F) of the first one, which we will position below, and then adjust by removing the second button increasing the width of the first one to 10 px.

20-adding-the-third-row-of-buttons-to-the-note.png

Step 6

Create the fourth and final button row using three 4x4 px squares (#3F3939) followed by a wider 32x4 px rectangle (#3F3939), another 4x4 px square (#3F3939) and a 10x4 px rectangle (#3F3939). Horizontally distance all the shapes at 2 px from one another, grouping (Control + G) and then positioning them at a distance of 2 px from the previous row. Take your time, and once you’re done select and group (Control + G) all of the keyboard’s composing shapes together before moving on to the next step.

21-adding-the-fourth-row-of-buttons-to-the-not.png

Step 7

Create the touchpad using a 28x16 px rounded rectangle (#3F3939) with a 2 px Corner Radius, which we will center align to the space created by the keyboard and the lower body’s bottom edge.

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Step 8

Finish off the notebook’s lower body by adding the top insertion using a 60x4 px rectangle (#3F3939), which we will adjust by setting the Radius of its bottom corners to 2 px from within the Transform panel’s Rectangle Properties. Once you’re done, select and group all of the shapes that we’ve created so far together using the Control + G keyboard shortcut.

23-adding-the-top-insertion-to-the-notebook-s-.png

Step 9

Create the device’s upper body using an 88x58 px rounded rectangle (#EB7A43) with an 8 pxCorner Radius and a 4 px thick outline (#3F3939), which we will group (Control + G) and then position on top of its bottom half.

24-creating-and-positioning-the-main-shapes-fo.png

Step 10

Add the screen’s taller bottom bezel using an 88x8 px rectangle (#3F3939), which we will bottom align to the two shapes that we’ve just grouped.

25-adding-the-taller-bottom-be-132156735451283.png


Step 11

Since we want the bezel to remain constrained to the surface of the notebook’s upper body, we’ll have to mask it using a copy (Control + C) of the orange fill shape, which we will paste in front (Control + F) and then with both shapes selected right click → Make Clipping Mask. Once you’re done, select and group all of the upper body’s composing shapes together using the Control + G keyboard shortcut.

26-masking-the-notebook-s-bot-1322081881777412.png

Step 12

Start working on the little UI, by creating the white artboard using a 56x32 px rectangle (#FFFFFF), which we will center align to the visible section of the orange fill shape.

27-creating-and-positioning-the-main-shape-for.png

Step 13

Create the left button bar using a 26x6 px rectangle (#3F3939), on top of which we will add a group of six 2x2 px squares (#6B6565) vertically stacked at 2 px from one another. Group (Control + G) all the shapes that we’ve just created, and then position them onto the left side of the artboard as seen in the reference image.

28-adding-the-left-button-bar-to-the-notebook-.png

Step 14

Adjust the color of the second button, by selecting it using the Direct Selection Tool (A) and then changing it to #55AD94.

29-changing-the-color-of-the-notebook-s-left-b.png

Step 15

Finish off the icon, by creating the bottom button bar using a copy (Control + C → Control + F) of the one that we’ve just finished adjusting, which we will rotate using a -90º (right click → Transform → Rotate → -90º) and then position onto the bottom edge of the artboard. Take your time, and once you’re done, select and group (Control + G) all its composing sections before moving on to the next one.

30-finishing-off-the-notebook-icon.png

How to Create the Sketchbook Icon

We are now down to our third and last icon, so without wasting anymore time make sure you’re on the right layer (that would be the fourth one) and let’s wrap things up!

Step 1

Start by creating the sketchbook’s left body section using an 8x116 px rectangle (#4F4949) with a 4 px thick outline (#3F3939), which we will group (Control + G) and then center align to the active drawing area, positioning it at a distance of 14 px from its left edge.

31-creating-and-positioning-the-main-shapes-fo.png

Step 2

Add the body’s right section using an 80x116 px rectangle (#6B6565), which we will position as seen in the reference image.

32-creating-and-positioning-the-main-shapes-fo.png

Step 3

Adjust the shape that we’ve just created by setting the Radius of its right corners to 12 px from within the Transform panel’s Rectangle Properties.

33-adjusting-the-shape-of-the-sketchbook-s-rig.png

Step 4

Give the resulting shape a 4 px thick outline using the Stroke method, making sure to select and group the two together afterwards using the Control + G keyboard shortcut.

34-adding-the-outline-to-the-sketchbook-s-righ.png

Step 5

Start working on the little vertical strap, by creating its main body using a 8x116 px rectangle (#55AD94) with a 4 px thick outline (#3F3939), which we will group (Control + G) and then position onto the right side of the sketchbook, at a distance of 12 px from its outer edge.

35-creating-and-positioning-the-main-shapes-fo.png

Step 6

Finish off the strap and with it the project itself, by adding the vertical detail line using a 2x116 px rectangle (#3F3939), which we will center align to the shapes from the previous step. Take your time and once you’re done, select and group all of the strap’s composing shapes, doing the same for the entire icon before hitting that save button.

36-finishing-off-the-sketchbook-icon.png

Great Work!

There you have it fellow illustrator’s, a nice an easy to follow tutorial on how to create your very own essentials icon pack using nothing more than the most basic geometric shapes and tools that Adobe has to offer. As always, I hope you had fun creating them, and most importantly managed to learn something new and useful along the way.

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What do you think of this tutorial?

Discussion

In today’s tutorial we’re going to take a step back and explore the process of recreating some of the essentials tools that us illustrators work with on a daily basis. As we always do, we’re going to be recreating them using the most basic geometric shapes and tools found within our artillery. That being said, grab a cup of that fresh baked coffee and let’s get started!

Tut Details

Beginner level 1h 708 views

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