Icon Do This: Creating Your Own Icon Set | Ryan Vatz | Skillshare

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Icon Do This: Creating Your Own Icon Set

teacher avatar Ryan Vatz, Art, Music, and More

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Project Overview


    • 3.

      Idea Phase


    • 4.

      Sketch Phase


    • 5.

      Creating a Template


    • 6.

      Creating Your Icons


    • 7.

      Finish Line


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About This Class

In this class we will have fun learning how to create a cohesive set of icons!


Basic understanding of Illustrator. This class is for everyone from beginners to experts.


Share your final set of icons with the rest of the class, you rock star you! 

Also if you post your project on instagram be sure to tag me @ryanvatz and feel free to follow me!


Music: Never Forget by Peterloo Massacre

Want to learn how I made my cursive type? check out this class by Jake Bartlett!


Class Outline

  • Icon design. Ryan will teach you how to make a beautiful, consistent set of icons in Adobe Illustrator. With his help, you’ll create icons that showcase your personal hobbies and interests with concise, recognizable symbols – great practice for commercial design artists and beginners alike!
  • Creating your own. After Ryan walks you through his creative process, you’ll use his techniques to create your own icon design template and three finished icons. Whether you are a visual data design professional or want to create symbols for personal use, Ryan’s class is a great way to hone your skills and expand your abilities.
  • Idea and sketch phase. Ryan’s starts his web design course with analog materials. Using pencil and paper, you will make a list of hobbies and analyze them for visual promise. Once you have selected a few particularly special interests, you will sketch them into small, concise representations using easy-to-grasp symbols. During this lesson, Ryan will work on his own ideas, demonstrating how he translates his favorite pastimes into easily understandable drawings. You’ll follow along as he talks through his creative process and the ways that he avoids copying already-established company design ideas and other commonly used icons.
  • Setting up a template. You will use Adobe Illustrator to create your icon template using gridlines, geometry, and other digital tools. With Ryan’s guidance, you’ll learn how to keep your template surface clean, symmetrical, and organized – so that your finished product ends up the same way!
  • Designing your icons. Ryan will coach you through every step of his design process, beginning with how he reconceptualizes his initial sketches into their geometric parts. With step-by-step instructions, he’ll show you how to create a pencil and ruler out of basic shapes and lines, and the different tools that you can use to draw, rotate, and add important details to your own icons.
  • Tips and tricks. When you are creating a set of icons, consistency is key. Ryan will introduce you to a few of the ways that he makes sure his symbols relate to one another, and the simple tricks he employs to ensure that they each carry the same visual weight. In his lessons, Ryan will also talk you through the different creative choices he relies on to amplify audience appeal, and will explain crucial keyboard shortcuts that you can use to make your best work pop.
  • Line weight adjustments. You’ll learn how to adjust your line weight to give your icons visual heft and to reduce unnecessary and distracting details. Ryan will also discuss how to make your icons scale correctly, so they always look exactly like you want them to -- no matter how big or small you size them!
  • Sharing your icon with the world. By the end of the class, you’ll have three beautiful icons that represent your personal interests. Ryan will invite you to post your finished project on the class discussion page and his social media channels, giving you an opportunity to show him your work and gain valuable feedback.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Ryan Vatz

Art, Music, and More


Hello all, my name is Ryan. I'm an Illustrator that specializes in combining hand drawn illustrations with vector art.

To see what I'm up to now, follow me on Instagram and Dribbble.

Check out my Creative Market Shop!

See full profile

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1. Hello: Hi. My name is Ryan, but Slavic. I'm a graphic designer and illustrator in Houston, Texas. In this class, I will show you how to make a consistent icon set in Adobe Illustrator thats classes for everyone from beginners to experts. By the end of the class, you will have your very own set of three icons displaying three of your hobbies. So enroll below and let's have some fun making some icons. 2. Project Overview: Hello, everyone, welcome to class and thank you for enrolling in this class. We'll go through the process that I take when creating icons. The class project is to apply what you learn here today into creating a set of three icons showcasing three of your hobbies. If you're a lucky person who has more than three hobbies, go ahead and create a Zeman E icons. As you wish. Also, if you have another idea for the subject matter of your icons, feel free to use that this class is made to teach you how to create icons. No matter the subject, Let's start with the things that you'll need. You'll need something to write on paper, sketchbook, graph paper, anything that you can jot some ideas down onto. Next, you'll need something to write with pencil pin. Even a crown will dio and finally, we will also need a computer with Adobe Illustrator installed onto it. So gather up those things and let's get started 3. Idea Phase: I think this lesson we're going to simply make a list of hobbies that we have to go ahead and grab something to write on and something to write with. Okay, now that we have that, I'm gonna go ahead and start with the hobbies that I have. So I'm gonna start withdrawing, designing, playing, music, eating, watching TV in riding my bike mainly So I can afford all of that eating and watching TV. So once we have our list down, we're gonna go ahead and analyze it and see which ones we think would make a great icon. So drawing and designing that kind of goes hand in hand, and I have an idea to put those two together, so I'm just gonna combine those and go ahead and call it designing so I can just cross off drawing. Playing music can be fun. So I think I'll leave that one eating and watching TV. I think I can do better. So I'll just go ahead and mark those off, too. In riding my bike. I think that could be a good icon, so I'll leave that one. And now I've narrowed down. So now I'm gonna do designing, playing music and riding my bike. Go ahead and make your list. Narrow it down and I'll see you in the next lesson. 4. Sketch Phase: we have no down our subject matter for icons. Let's go ahead and start making some sketches for these things. So if you remember, mine are designing music in riding my bike. I've gone ahead and scanned in The sketch is that I've made, and I'll show you the process that I went through to creating the icon. Let's start by looking at design. One of the first ideas that came to my mind was a mouse, but I don't think that will translate too well into an icon. There's also a computer monitor, but I've seen that then a lot and then a keyboard, but that seems a little too detailed. So went back to the tools of the trade like a pencil, a ruler, an Exacto knife. I didn't want to use the exact a knife because I didn't want to look like just a big fan of Exacto knives. So I went ahead and just went with the pencil and ruler for music. I've seen the music note many times. We've all seen the iTunes icon, so I decided to stray away from that. The piano could be cool, but I don't really play the piano so it wouldn't really speak to me. I play guitar, so I think the guitar should be what I should make. I went with a silhouette at first, but I don't think that's gonna be cohesive with all the other icons I'm gonna be making. So let's change that to a guitar pick that's still a little too big. That might just look like awkward circle that I messed up on. So let's look at maybe a speaker. But that doesn't really say that I like guitar. Unless you knew that that was an AMP. There's also the electric guitar neck. But I play rock band and you see that icon already. So let's go ahead and just use the acoustic guitar and use that sound hole as a circle going around the head stock of that, I think that'll work out. Now let's look it riding my bike. There's the handlebars that you hold on to. That could be something, but it could also be misinterpreted for maybe a motorcycle or dirt bike or anything like that. You can look at the wheel. That's pretty cool. Um, but it might be a little too detailed for what I'm looking for There's also a gear, and again that might be a little too much detail. So let's look at the silhouette of a bike. There's a road bike which is pretty commonly used for the bike icon that you see on the road already. So let's go ahead and change it and make it my own. Okay? Like a mountain bike. Yeah. Okay. This this silhouette of work, I want to make these all cohesive. So the one way of doing this is I want them to share all the same weight. How I'm going to do this is by using a circle. So I'm gonna go ahead and look at my design icon in my bike. Icon can go ahead and add a circle going around them so that they match that guitar icon because I like the way the circle meets in that guitar icon. So go ahead and complete your sketches and I'll see you in the next lesson. 5. Creating a Template: way finished our sketches, and now we're ready to move on to the computer. Today, we're gonna be using Adobe Illustrator to create our template for our icons. So we're gonna go to file new and created new documents Now, the temple, it's gonna be one inch by one inch. Icons are pretty small right now, so we need to make sure that they can register at a small size. So one inch by one, it should be a great size for this template. Some go ahead and label this template and push. Okay. All right. So here is are blank canvas for our template. So one thing about a template is you know, you need to be pretty precise with things, So let's go ahead and put rulers on here will show our real rulers by going to view rulers and show rulers. Okay, Now that we have a rulers up, let's start laying it out. So let's make some vertical grids going every quarter of an inch on the page so we'll do it at 1/4 of an inch. Half an inch and 3/4 of an inch. Ah, there. Okay, so now let's do the same going horizontally. Ah, Quarter of an inch and half image and 3/4 of an inch. Okay. Now, with these guides, we can go ahead and start marking our template. We're gonna do this with the pin tool. So by pushing p that automatically calls the pin tool up so and put an anchor point there. Hold shift. The next point here, if you notice the pin told tries to continue on to the next point. He's this way. To get rid of that is to just push me again, and that will be done. So well, just hold shift again. What? Shift again? And we're making her little grit. All right, so now I pushed the to get back to my selection tool, so I'm gonna select my guides good and get rid of those. It's because I don't like him extending past my document space. So I'm gonna select my strokes that I've made, and I'm gonna go ahead and give him a color. I like blue. You could go with any color you want, but I'm gonna go through, and I'm gonna make it pretty light because I don't want these to be two noticeable. I want to be able to still work on top of them, so I'm also gonna make him thinner. I'm gonna make it 0.25 on the stroke. All right, Now we have our grid, and that's nice, but we need a little bit more guidance. So I'm gonna go over here to the rounded rectangles tool, and I'm gonna go ahead and just make this the whole border. Now we know that no icon Congar Oh, past this thes curbs. And this is the preference for me. So if you do want your icon to be just straight edge, just use the edge. That's completely fine. I'm gonna put some more guides in here with the ellipses tool. So I'm gonna start the center. I'm the hold option so that the circle comes from the center and I'm an old shift so that the circle stays a circle. Not noble came and told that to the edge. No, great to more. So I'm gonna have this one cut through those lines. That little intersection right there that looks about right. And I'm going to do another one. But I want the distance between these circles all be equal. So way I'm gonna do this. You could use your ruler. But I'm not that great at math. So the quickest way for me to do this, this is just create a rectangle tool. That's this with holding it down and just dragging it across. So now I can make a circle from the center here. And now I know that this distance is the same as this distance. Okay, so now we have these. I'm gonna just add two more lines and I have them cut right through the middle, just in case I want anything at a 45 degree angle, I will know that they cut through at a 45 degree angle. Okay, It looks like this line right here. Looks like I didn't exactly hit it on half an edge, So I'm gonna go ahead and move that over. And consequently, that means that this circle should be moved over a little bit and circle, So Okay. All right. And so there we have our template. But if you notice whenever I try Teoh, grab anything, everything moves. So what's the point of a template if you're just messing it up all the time? Right. So there's two ways of doing this one is selecting everything going to object, selecting lock and then selection. This will lock everything that has been previously selected to where now you cannot grab it , which is great for a template. You can also do this by locking the layer that you're on. I just like to go on extra measure and do both, just in case this accidentally gets unlocked and I move it around. You know, this is already locked within the layer. So I'm gonna go ahead and label this layer template and lock it. I'm gonna throw up another layer here that we can have a our work later. So now I'll be making our tip our all of our icons in our artwork layer. Okay, so there you have it way. Have a template. So now let's begin making icons 6. Creating Your Icons: all right. Now that we have our template, let's go and start making some icons. Now, in this document, I've gone ahead and scanned in my sketches from before. This is just basically, so I can look at him and make sure that I'm on the right track. I'm gonna start with this design icon right here. If the pencil the ruler in the circle going around it, the circle is gonna really help out to keep all these icons consistent, each icon utilizing that outside circle. Okay, so that's use our template. Now, let's go ahead and make this pencil. So I'm gonna go ahead and grab the rectangle tool and let's make it about yea wide. It's good and change the color of the stroke. Just that we can see it looking good. All right, Look good. So let's make the tip of the pencil hold shift to make a 45 degree angle, and we'll make that rough edge on top, too. All right, if you notice this bottom, part of the rectangle cuts through at an awkward angle. So let's get rid of that. We can do that by grabbing our direct selection tool, selecting the line and deleting it. All right. Now it's gone. Let's go ahead and work on the eraser. First we have that metal piece. So go ahead and throw that on there. Not be about that big. And then we'll click L to get our lips. He's tool and make our racer, and we're making about that big. Looks good. So grab her drag select tool by pushing a selecting this anchor and a leading. Alright, awesome. Put some lead in the pencil so we'll get our lips. He's tool, hold, shift and options that it's a perfect circle and make her about that big right now. Want this circle to end right where these lines intersect it. The way I'm going to do this is by pushing the plus sign on the keyboard. We're going up to your pencil up to your pin tool. Sorry. And grabbing the ad anchor point tool. Now, whenever this circle meets up with this line at this intersect, I'm gonna go ahead and add an anchor point right there. Right there. Awesome. We have our drugs, electoral pushing a and a leading these other anchors. We don't need them anymore. All right, so now we have led. I had some more details with, you know, maybe this line kind of there right there, and we'll throw in another one right there for good measure. A bit more detail. Okay, now let's center it, and I'm gonna make it the size of this middle circle. So hold shift. There we go. Now it's a size the middle circle. Great. I think this can actually be a new guide. Will make sure that all the icons fit within the middle circle and then we'll put the outside circle around it. Okay, Let's go ahead and add the ruler. We know we wanted to be the same with the pencil, so we'll just grab this rectangle here by holding option and pulling it over. Go ahead and rotate it by holding the ship, and we'll center it and follow that new rule that we just made about it being up to the middle circle. Grab your drag. Select tool, pushing a grab that anchor whole chip and grab the other anchor. Then hold shift until it meets their to the pencil. Awesome. I want to make some marks in the ruler, and I know that I want to. I want them to be evenly spaced. Let's go ahead and grab your rectangle tool by pushing in and go and copy that square and will push control de or command E to duplicate that square. And you can do that multiple times. But I only need three sold need do it once, select all of them culture and bringing all the way to the pencil. Great. Now we know that whenever I make these lines, they'll be evenly spaced to go of your pin tool. Go ahead and add those lines. There you go. There's half of our ruler, not make the other half. We're gonna simply just reflect it. So we're gonna select everything. Push. Oh, for your reflection tool. Go to the center at that point there. Hold option and shift. And there it is. We have our ruler. Okay, Now I like the way that it was an ex whenever I drew it out. So it's good. Make that happen. Select. Everything holds if there we go. There it is as an ex. Now we can go ahead and put that outside circle in. So we push l to get her lips. He's tool. Hold option shift and bring it all the way to that outside ring. Awesome. Okay, so I want this pin with pencil to look like it's made this circle. So I want to make a nice, smooth curve going to this pencil. The way I'm gonna do this is when I first put a pencil thin mark right there. I'm going to grab my lips is tool make a circle right around here and I'm gonna try to make this the tangent of these two lines. And this is why I went with a thin line to begin with. Said I can see easier that these air tangents okay, noticing they're pretty close. And if I had more time, I would really look at these and really keep adjusting. But for the sake of this class, we'll go ahead and leave them where they are. So it's put the push the plus sign to get our at anchor point, and we'll add make a point there and warning about there, and then we'll get our drug select tool in the late these other anchor points. We don't need them anymore, and we can go ahead, delete this line and just have this line. Go meet up there now We need to select their outside circle. Get are direct. Select Tool. An ad maker point right out there. That should work. We'll add another one right there. Great. And now we have our icon. But did you see? It's pretty Finn. So let's beef up the line of that. Go and go toe five. That's a little way too big. Let's back it down. Three is pretty good, like three. And for my personal preference, I like to go in and put the rounded caps in the round of joints on them all Right now, I like the way the three looks on the S outside line and on the ruler, but with the detail in the pencil, it gets kind of lost. So let's go ahead. Delete that clicthat really clean this up. Right? Awesome. So there we have our icon. But as you see, whenever we have these strokes and we expand it the stroke say the same. So it becomes too thin, or it just clogs it self up. So the way we're gonna get around this by going to option path, an outline stroke. Now with this, it scales just the way we want it to. So we could make it a smallest we want. And as large as we want. So now that we have that, we're gonna go ahead and use the Pathfinder tool where you can also find it under window Pathfinder. We're gonna have pushed this new night button. Now we have our icon completely together. We cant remove anything. That's great. So there's one icon. Go ahead and make your set and I'll see you in the next lesson. 7. Finish Line: All right. So we've crossed the finish line, and now you're ready to rule the world. Maybe I reached a little too far for that one. At least now you know how to make a consistent set of icons that the world could enjoy. That's something I want to go ahead. And thank you again for taking this class. I hope that you enjoyed it as much as I did. If you have any questions, feel free to go ahead and ask them in the comments section below. I'll be happy to answer them for you also. If you're into the whole social media stuff, go ahead and post your project on Instagram intact. Me at Ryan bots. Feel free to follow me. I'm uploading things daily. Okay, Skill share. I'll see you next time.