How To Create Vector Icons Using Adobe Illustrator | Mike Pickett | Skillshare

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How To Create Vector Icons Using Adobe Illustrator

teacher avatar Mike Pickett, Graphic & Web Designer with a passion for Vectors

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

9 Lessons (25m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Project Overview

    • 3. Document Setup & Preferences

    • 4. Icon Construction: The Shape Tool

    • 5. Icon Construction: Aligning The Shapes

    • 6. Icon Construction: Creating The Final Shape

    • 7. Icon Construction: Adding Colour

    • 8. Icon Construction Finishing Touches

    • 9. Recap On Learning

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About This Class

Icons and icon packs or sets are something that most designers are going to have to make at some point in their career. The icons in this image were created using the same techniques taught in the class.


In this class I will walk you step by step through the process I used to create a PokeBall icon using Adobe Illustrator. As you can see from the image above though these same techniques can be applied for created a variety of different icons. We'll cover just a few tools in Adobe Illustrator CC including:

  • shape builder
  • align 
  • live paint bucket 
  • ...and more

This class, although intended for novice users, is great for anyone looking to learn new methods and techniques for creating icons and other graphics in Adobe Illustrator as the skills you'll learn can be applied to may other designs. 

Music: or "Music: Song title -

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Mike Pickett

Graphic & Web Designer with a passion for Vectors


As graphic and web designer with over 20 years experience, I am passionate about everything design related and hope to pass some of my skills on to a new generation of designers.

I designed my first logo at the age of 19 and first website at the age of 20. Now 41 - I work on multiple platforms including Skillshare, YouTube and Creative Market - producing art, tutorials and other forms of media based around the graphic and web design fields.

I hope you find my classes informative and entertaining. Above all else I want you take something from each class and find a way to either incorporate it into your workflow to save time or alter it and make it your own - either way as long as you learned something I have achieved what I set out to accomplish with each class I create - t... See full profile

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1. Introduction: I went into the class creating a polka ball with Adobe Illustrator My Name's Mike Vick it for those who don't know me my previous class, I'm a graphic and Web designer with over 20 years experience in the industry. I started out designing small things for friends, family and then started my own company roughly about 10 years ago. So in today's course, I'm gonna walk you through just a few basic tools inside of Adobe Illustrator And using those tools we're gonna create really probably one of the most popular icons that you can find today. Which, of course, is the polka ball. Using just a couple of really simple tools inside of Illustrator, you can create this icon. I'm gonna walk you through the actual process of creating the polka ball. Starting out with this basic skill set is going to allow you to advance a lot quicker into learning advanced techniques in order to making more advanced designs. Now that you go about the class and me, I'm hoping that you're gonna go ahead and click the enroll button and let's get started creating a polka ball 2. Project Overview: So we're gonna break this up into different parts. We're going to start out by building the shape so the basic pope of all use a few different tools For that, I'll talk about each one of those as we go through, we're gonna get into coloring. And really, there's only one color on here that we have to worry about. Then we're going to go to added detail. We'll talk about how to add in just some additional elements to make it look a little more realistic. We're not going for realism. Caring. This is just a basic Adobe illustrator introduction, but there's a few little things that you can do just to make it look a little more lively than your basic flat design. Let's get started by creating a new document inside of Adobe Illustrator 3. Document Setup & Preferences: I've got the Adobe Illustrator start screen open. And from here we can create a new document. There's a couple of different ways we can go about it now. I'm on the presets menu here, and we could just select one of these, but I want to click on the new. But now, if you notice here, you can also click command and on a Mac 90% of the time, these keyboard shortcuts with command are interchangeable with the windows for control. So I'm gonna go ahead and click, and then we're gonna name our document. This is always the first step that I take poker ball icon and knowing that we're getting into something that's a perfect circle, like starting with something that's a perfect square. So I went ahead and put 1000 by 1000 from I heightened with everything else can stay the same here. We're gonna click, OK, and we now have our blank art board to start working to begin building our shape. I like to get command zero on my keyboard just to make sure that everything is squared up. And I know that my art board is in the center of my screen. There's a couple of preferences I want to talk about. One is gonna be under preferences in general. For a Mac, you're gonna go to Illustrator Preferences. General, you should find your preferences menu under the file menu on a Windows machine on General, I want to make sure this scale, stroke and effects is unchecked. We don't want our stroke getting smaller or bigger as we scale up and down. Click. OK, The other thing I want is under the view menu. Click on view at the top, and we're gonna make sure smart guides has turned on. So as long as you see this little check box besides smart guides, you're good to go. You don't see it. Just go ahead and click on smart guides or again command you on the keyboard or control. You will turn those on. Now that we have those, let's talk about a couple of the different tools that we're going to use. We're going to use the shape builder tool. We're also going to use our A line tool, and we're going to use some shape tools. It's really about it. The top menu will use quite a bit because of a pass. It ease and strokes and fills and things like that. The right side menu? Not so much. There's a few tools we're gonna use their, but nothing too drastic. 4. Icon Construction: The Shape Tool: so to get our shape started refers. Gonna want to draw a couple of circles on our heart board to go over and select a circle or the Ellipse tool. If you don't see the Ellipse tool, you can press Al on your keyboard. And if you notice when I hover over this, I get the letter l in brackets. That tells me that that's the keyboard shortcut I can use. If I click and hold on this icon, I think get a fly out menu that has more options for me. So if I wanted the rectangle tool, I can click here or press am on the keyboard now, you'll notice not everything has a keyboard shortcut, which is fine. So you're gonna have to learn your menu system and get to know these. But these air the basics. I'm gonna make sure got a lips and then if you notice when I hover, these are the smart guys and I mentioned at the start. So this gives me my centrepoint, which you want to start with a click, and I'm gonna hold down shift and ultimate keyboard drag of circle of ships and old is going to constrain the proportions of this. So I get the same heightened with There's our basic circle not from here. When I changed the shape on this and I actually I want it right close to this 500 pixels. I like to keep even numbers. So I'm gonna go ahead and click up here at the top. The first thing I wanted to use his little broken changeling. I want to click on that. So again it constrains my proportions when I start typing, change this to 500. And now I've got a 500 pixel circle, 500 pixels high, 500 pixels wide. So the first thing I want to do this stroke, the black stroke on this isn't thick enough. We want something quite a bit thicker now. There's two different ways I could do this. I can grow my top menu. You see, I'm still on the Ellipse because that's what I got high righted and I could change this stroke here. I want to go pretty big. 36 is the other way. I could do it if we put this back down to one. Is in my sidebar again. I want to make sure I've got my shape selected. I'm gonna click on stroke from there. I can change someone quick in here. Seems that 30 pixels. There's our basic shape that we're gonna use now. The poker ball has a little eyeball in the middle here, so we're gonna change this one. I'm gonna take this and give the shape in the middle rather than creating another circle. I'm just gonna use this one that I've already got My our board. Click on that. I'm gonna go command. See, just now copied this shape, Have a copy of it on my clipboard and command F f is paced in front. So that way I know it's on top. We were looking at this in layers. It would be on top of that last circle that I have now that I've got this. If I go to my right or left anchor points on the circle, I can just click and drag down, and that's gonna constrain my proportions for so again, it's gonna keep it the same height. Same whip proportionately go right about I see it there. That looks like a decent size. Now again, I'm a little bit stickiest. First sizes goes, I've got this one of 500. I'm going to take this one toe 1 50 just like human helpers. And then we just need that little dot right in the center. So again, I'm gonna take this one, man, see, command f, and I paste it in front. Now, I'm gonna change this up. So rather than me working with a stroke, I want to work with a filled circle. To do that, I get over to my color menu. Or I could go down here into the bottom left corner. And this little swap Carol is gonna click on that. You see, Now I've actually got a filled circle. So it's doing a film now. I don't want a white stroke on this. I just want to get rid of the stroke altogether. So again, there's a few different ways I could do it. I could do it. Three different spots on my screen right now, one is down here in this left corner. One is up here on the right in my color menu, and the other is right here on my ellipse options. And that's the one I'm gonna use. I'm gonna click the drop down for the stroke. I'm gonna click the very first option, which is none. That's gotten rid of my stroke now. So now all I have is just a film. So then again, I can grab my writer left circle, Drag that down good again, even. Let's go 60. You see it coming together now our last piece, and we want something that's a little bit smaller than this center point to be the line that goes across. So I know the heightened with on this circle is 60 pixels. So let's say I don't know, Let's go 45. That's what we're gonna do for a height. So I need my rectangle tool Now again, I can go over here and click on it and select rectangle also could have just press the M on my keyboard. I wanted to start kind of inside of here and go across to this one. Let me show you if I select my circle and I get my wits again, remember, we're starting with 500 with on this and I want less than 60. I want a rectangle that's 545 6 So if I click anywhere on my art board. I'm gonna get this rectangle dialogue box. And this works for the circle is well, it works for any of your shapes. There's a lot of your tools. You'll find that if you click on the our board, you'll get options. So I'm gonna go here. I'm taking 545 pixels. Okay, now, again, this has got the stroke. I don't want to stroke. I just want to fill. Let me give you a little tip here, and it's something that I should have shown you before, but I'll do it now if I know the shape that I'm making is gonna be a fill. I could make the changes first. Then when I make my shape right, so 545 again, it's automatically there. 5. Icon Construction: Aligning The Shapes: So now we just want a line this. Okay, so I'm gonna click in my rectangle, and I'm also gonna click on my circle. These were two separate change. We pulled this up out of the way a little bit. So these are two separate shapes. But I know I want this down here so I could use my spark guides. And if you see, we've got there is my center point. So that was easy enough. Just drag it down and we're done, but I want to make sure everything is aligned. Let me drag this back up. I'm just gonna drag out and highlight all of my shapes. Now, what's happening right now? You look up here at the top of the line toe art boards. If I hover over this and these are all of my align tools highlight everything again. And because I know this big circle is the shape that I want. Now that I have everything highlighted, I'm gonna click on it. You see how that dark line it was produced show you on this little ones? Everybody watched this lose second circle. Click on this. You know, I got darker. That is now my key objects. Everything that on the lining now is to this Chiaki. So if I distribute horizontally, everything's lined up to this center point of this circle. Then if I go vertical, it's now all center and that's all of them. Let's take these two circles in the center here. Just shift Will take those two over there. Click off T this one right here. Now, this could actually I mean, if we wanted to do, like, a three d kind of thing, this would this work. But I want them all center because we're looking at it straight on you. So again, I highlighted all of them. Click on this one. Center center. Everything is perfectly aligned. We've got our basic shape built. We're gonna go ahead and move on to learning how to use the shape builder, tool 6. Icon Construction: Creating The Final Shape: This was our basic shape. We were lines we have are three circles. That's when you really not see very well, because it's all been covered up by this. But we're gonna fix that in a minute. First thing I want to do I don't want strokes actually, to be working with shapes. So we've already got our rectangle in our circle here, which shapes. So I need to convert these two circles two shapes. I'm going to highlight everything. So again, just drag out a selection box around the whole icon. We're gonna go objects, scroll down to path and then select opined stroke. Okay, so now that that's been outlined, waken start actually building our shape. One of the first things I know we need to do is get rid of these two little blocks right in here. Now, over on the left hand side, we're gonna hover over or find a shape builder tool. You can also click on shift. Plus, that's gonna give us our shape builder. From here, you could see as I'm hovering over this graying out different sections, this is going to allow me to build this into one cohesive shape. So the first thing I'm gonna do is get rid of these to get rid of something, hold down the old key on my keyboard and click hold down. Click. Have got rid of both of those. Now we'll start combining a few things. Combine. All I need to do is just click drag across, and that's now combined that into one shape. Same thing for these, and I can actually work my way all the way around this shape. It's a point where we have one solid shape. Last time I was gonna do with that little line, highlight everything again. Got my shape, builder tool drag across these three across these three, this white and there we have our basic shape all done, ready for color. 7. Icon Construction: Adding Colour: Okay, so we have our shapes built. Let's start talking about color. What I want to do is fill in just this top semi circle. I don't want the bottom one filled. It can stay white. We're gonna use the live paint bucket tool for this. There's a couple of things to know. What the life paint bucket tool first, where it is. So if I hover over the shape builder, tool, click and hold and there's my life. So we notice I could also press K on the keyboard and it's gonna give me that. Now what I've got here. If you see there's three little icons above my crosshairs. White Little block, we have a black bloc way having no filled one. Those are the colors that I'm able to use to fill certain shapes like Click on this. You'll notice first thing click to make a life. Peter do that, and I now have a live paint group that I can work with. If you notice a zai hope for over each one of those, they change color. Get that red border. That's what I'm currently paid. Hover over this. You get nothing because this isn't part of the live paint selection. But if I click right now, I'm gonna fill with white. I don't want to fill with white. I could use my arrow keys. You see, I swap what this does. Is it swaps out between colors on my palette. So I look at my color palettes. He's the different options, not This is just clicking between the left and right arrow keys. The other option I have is I can go up to select a color that I would like to make my own just color And I'm gonna click down here in my red You get a nice dark red I don't want something too dark. So let's just slide k for my black CM like a into this zero. This is a pretty good color. You see. Now is the only color that I've got Click we now have are red filled 8. Icon Construction Finishing Touches: Okay, so now that I have my basic shape down, we've got a color done. Let's move on to adding a little bit of details of this. We're not gonna get to in depth that I'm not gonna get into radiance or anything. We're just gonna add a bit of a shadow and the highlight to the one side. So I want my shadow to kind of run across this corner. I'm gonna add a highlight over here, too. Simple methods to do this for Use our ship builder tool and a few circles My circle. My lips tool click of the centre 500. 500. Look, OK, that all centered up my line tools again. The centre circle is a key object Click and I can release everything. Change the color of this before I do anything else. You wanna really late click on that one C command f I've got another shape in front. I'm just gonna shift this a little bit to go up. If I hold down my shift key and hit the up arrow, it's gonna shift If I 10 pixels each time, I'm gonna go 20 pixels. This is the shape that I want just this little sort of crescent moon down here to get rid of the rest of this shift. Click on Grab my shave builder. Click on this outer one. Quick, this one. See, I just got this little bit of a shape here, and that's exactly what I want. But now it's kind of weird, right, because it's not actually inside of shape so we could play with layers and and everything else. But I think what I would rather deal. It's just click here. Click here and I want to use my shape over here. There all I have now. Last thing I want to do. You see here taking the color. What's highlight? Both of those again. Always drop our opacity. Now it's down to 40%. That's good. Dark. That's just a bit of a shadow on there and again. I mean, you could change these since we're gonna knock you pass it down. We could change those to a black office down even further. Say, like 25%. That might be a little better. So play with this. You guys kind of see what you like. I mean, it's a small enough piece that I don't think it really matters, but it's just enough that it can make a difference. I think we should add maybe a little bit in here as well. Let's do another quick one for this circle out center. It would be enough. I'm gonna a little bit. Got it. So then, shipbuilder drop. That's looking right. So one last thing we're gonna add is just a bit of a highlight over here. There's a couple of different methods you could do. I'm gonna do kind of a long a piece like that. It's white. I wanted to be on the same angle. Is this That's good. I will do just a circle. Really Small one for this. I'm gonna have to zoom in Dragon. That's good. You could leave it. Um, you see a lot of stuff that's vector where they just leave it right like this. I don't mind that I'm actually going to do a different method. I'm just gonna I drop her this red. I'm gonna change the color, but it's a little bit brighter. I think that looks good in our last piece. I'm just gonna grab another circle, line it up on the bottom I use my tools to drag this building fault Here. You notice here, I gotta shape underneath, Change its color black, Not your past on this 5% fine. If there's tools that you maybe didn't understand here, by all means posting the comments and I'll help you out as much as I can. Most of this is pretty basic stuff, so we are just getting started. It should be pretty simple to do. I know some of those last steps might be a little bit confusing, but let's see what you guys can put together. 9. Recap On Learning: So I hope you guys enjoyed that. I hope you got some understanding the various tools and things that you can do with Shape Builder, the live tool, just some of the more basic stuff inside of Adobe Illustrator. It's not a difficult tool to get into. It's getting your mind wrapped around how the tools work and being able to look at things in the world and look at designs and icons and stuff like that. Go OK, I could use a circle to Phillips Tool for that. I use the shape builder to take that piece of it. This is the color, and this is how I get a highlight. I really hope that you guys picked up some skill from this glow in practice. Looking forward to seeing what you guys can upload again, create your own, poke a ball, see what you can do. Teoh amaze and inspire the other students that are in this class. I'm sure you guys do a great job, and I can't wait to see what you come up with.