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How to Create a Set of Heart Icons in Adobe Illustrator With the Mesh Tool

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Follow this tutorial and learn how to create a set of cute heart icons: a "Love you" banner heart, a broken, a post-it note and a devil heart. The heart is made with the help of the Mesh Tool (U) in Adobe Illustrator and it's rather easy to create as well. You will also discover other techniques so let's begin!


1. Create a Heart Base Shape

Step 1

First open a New web document. Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw a 223 x 223px circle. Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select only the top anchor point then go to Object > Transform > Move. Choose to move this point minus 85px vertically then hit OK.

Step 2

Now, you need to distort the top part of this shape. Select with the Direct Selection Tool (A) the top point to reveal the handles and move them as shown below (1). Hold down the ALT Key on your keyboard while dragging the first handle so you can move them separately. Next, select only the bottom anchor point with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and go to Object > Transform > Move. Choose to move this point minus 23px vertically and hit OK (2).

Step 3

Having the bottom point selected, press the Convert selected anchor points to corner option (1) then go to File > Scripts > Round Any Corner. Run this script and select a 10 Radius (2). Select the top point in the middle using the Direct Selection Tool (A) and run the script again. This time select a 2 Radius (3).

If you haven't installed the Round Any Corner script yet, go here and follow the instructions to install it.


2. Use the Mesh Tool to Add Color & Depth to Your Heart

Step 1

Before you continue, you need to make a copy of the heart because you will need it later. Therefore, Copy (CTRL + C) and Paste it in Back (CTRL + B) and hide it for the moment so that it won't bother you.

Take the Mesh Tool (U) and click on the bottom anchor point in the middle to generate the first vertical mesh line. You can use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to move the handles as shown (1). Next, click with the Mesh Tool (U) in the spot indicated exactly on the heart path. As a result you will get the second mesh line. Continue with the third line and the right side of the heart is ready (2).

Step 2

As you did earlier, click in the spots indicated with the Mesh Tool (U) to generate the two mesh lines on the left side of the heart (1). Next, we will create the horizontal mesh lines. Take the Mesh Tool (U) and click exactly on the first vertical mesh line, in the upper part. This will generate the first horizontal line. Click on the second spot indicated to create the next line (2). If your lines are not quite as you want them, you can always move some of the points or move the handles with the Direct Selection Tool (A) to adjust the curves.

Step 3

Continue with the next three mesh lines as shown and you are done. You can also see below the final result but before you get there, you have to go through all the colors.

Step 4

Now, take the Direct Selection Tool (A) and select each point individually and change its fill color from pink to the one indicated. This thing may seem boring but you have to color this heart, right? In the following images I took each vertical line separately and I've shown next to each point the color used.

These are the next two lines:

And here are the last:

It wasn't that bad, right? At this point our pretty heart is ready and we will use it to create the broken heart, the banner, the post-it note and the devil heart icons.


3. Add a Golden Banner

Step 1

The first icon is the "Love you" banner heart. First make a copy of the heart then go to Brushes panel, open the Brush Libraries Menu and navigate to Decorative > Decorative_Banners and Seals. Find "Banner 3" and drag it into your working area. From the Object menu, choose Ungroup as many times as needed until you have all the shapes that make up the banner separately. Scale the banner and move it over the heart. Keep the main shape of the banner in front and send all the others in back. (Object > Arrange > Send in back).

Step 2

Color the banner using the gradients shown below. For the two shapes on the left side of the banner use the same gradients just set the angle to 180 degrees.

Step 3

Copy (CTRL + C) and Paste in Front (CTRL + F) the main shape of the banner and move it a little down using the Arrow Keys on your keyboard (the black path). Copy (CTRL + C) and Paste in Front (CTRL + F) the black path and move it below also (the pink path). Now, select both shapes and click Subtract from shape area > Expand from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting stripe with a linear gradient called "Neutral 11", which can be found in the Swatch Libraries Menu under Gradients > Neutrals. Set the Blending Mode to Color Burn and reduce the Opacity to 60%. Duplicate this stripe and move it to the bottom.

Step 4

The same method applies here. Copy (CTRL + C) and Paste in Front (CTRL + F) the left end of the banner and move it a little down and to the right using the Arrow Keys on your keyboard (the black path). Next, Copy (CTRL + C) and Paste in Front (CTRL + F) the black path and move it also. Select them both and click Subtract from shape area > Expand from the pathfinder Panel. This time, you will get a compound path but go to Object > Compound Path and choose Release. Delete the smaller shape that you don't need. Fill the stripe obtained with the gradient shown, set it to Color Burn and reduce the Opacity to 60%. Do the same things to obtain the second stripe. Use the same settings for the other two stripes on the right side just change the angle of the gradient to 180 degrees.


4. Add Text to the Banner & Refine

Step 1

Next, use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a path following the curves of the stripe as shown below. Take the Type on a Path Tool, click on this path and type "Love you" using "Monotype Corsiva", size of 33 pt. Increase the Set the tracking for the selected characters value if necessary. Select brown as the fill color and also a 2 pt Stroke Weight to make the text thicker.

Step 2

Having the text selected, from the Object menu choose Expand twice. Once to transform the text into shapes and the second time to expand the stroke applied. Copy (CTRL + C) and Paste in Back (CTRL + B) the group of letters and move it slightly up and to the left with the help of the Arrow Keys. Change the fill color to yellow and set the Blending Mode to Overlay.

Step 3

Let's add some shadows and we are done with the first icon. Take the Pen Tool (P) and draw a path following the top edge of the banner as shown. Give it a 2 pt black Stroke Weight then go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply a 2px Radius. Do the same thing in the lower part of the banner.


5. Create a Crack in a Broken Heart

Step 1

The next icon is the broken heart. You will need another copy of the heart and the heart-path that I've told you to keep earlier on. Now, use the Pen Tool (P) to draw the two zig-zag paths as shown below. The two end points must overlap and the blue path must start from the top center point of the heart (1). After you are done, draw a small curved path between the two starting points like the green path (2).

Step 2

Now, Lock the heart and focus on the three paths but before you continue make some copies because you will need them again. Take the Direct Selection Tool (A) and drag a selection over the two end points of the blue and yellow paths and press CTRL + J the shortcut for Join. Choose Corner and hit OK. Repeat the same thing for the other two pairs of end points then fill the shape obtained with the radial gradient shown.

Step 3

First, bring to front the heart-path (1). Take the Direct Selection Tool (A) and modify the path at the top by moving the anchor points and the handles. You must follow the curve of the crack-shape obtained at the previous step, more precisely what was the small green path at the top (2). After you are done, remove the black stroke. Select this shape and also the heart and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (CTRL + 7)(3).

Step 4

From the copies that I've said to make at step 17, bring to front only the blue zig-zag path and the small green path (1). Next, take the Pen Tool (P) and draw another zig-zag path starting from the green path as the pink one from below (2). Use the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) to add an extra point on the blue path exactly where the pink path ends. Now, select only the end point of the blue path with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and hit the Delete Key (3) and before you continue, make a copy of this path. Lock the heart and the crack-shape then join the three pairs of end points by dragging a selection over them with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and pressing CTRL + J to open the Join window. Choose Corner each time (4). Fill the resulting shape with the radial gradient shown (5).

Step 5

Now, bring to front the copy of the yellow path made. Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select only the top point and delete it (1). Take the Pen Tool (P) and draw a zig-zag path like the green one from below and make sure that the first and the last points of the two paths are overlapping (2). Before you continue, make a copy of the yellow path. Join the two pairs of end points as you did before (3) then fill the shape obtained with the gradient shown at the previous step (4).

Step 6

Bring to front the copies of the blue and yellow paths made then take the Scissors Tool (C) and click on the indicated points to cut them into segments. If you release the path just reselect it and continue to cut (1). You will get all these segments but keep only the ones that you see in the image 2. The color is not important at this moment. Stroke all remaining segments with and Art brush called Tapered Stroke that you can find in the Brush Libraries Menu under Artistic > Artistic_Ink. Set the Stroke Weight to 0.1 pt (3). Once you are done, choose Expand Appearance from the Object menu. Fill the resulting shapes with a radial gradient from white to black and change the Blending Mode to Screen (4).


6. Mend a Broken Heart with Vector Stitches

Step 1

Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw the stitches then stroke them with Tapered Stroke. Set the Stroke Weight to 0.2 pt then choose Expand Appearance from the Object menu. Fill the resulting shapes with the gradient shown.

Step 2

We are almost done with this icon. Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to draw a small circle at each end of the stitches. Fill the circles with the gradient shown then group and send them behind the stitches.

Here are the two icons made so far:


7. Create a Post-It for a Heart

Step 1

The next icon is the Post-it note heart. First, draw a post-it shape with the Pen Tool (P) and fill it with the gradient shown. Type "Miss You!" using a font called "Dicks Handwriting". Select a black fill and also a 0.5pt black Stroke Weight to make it thicker then expand the text and arrange it above the post-it as you want.

Step 2

Move the note on top of the heart. Select the post-it shape and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow and apply this effect using the settings from below.


8. Add Sticky Tape to the Post-It Note

Step 1

Take the Rectangle Tool (M), click on your artboard to open the Rectangle window and enter the dimensions shown. Use the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) to add many points on the sides of the rectangle then take the Direct Selection Tool (A) and move these points randomly to create the distorted edges. Fill the tape-shape with yellow.

Step 2

Duplicate the tape and arrange them over the post-it note. Having both tape-shapes selected, go to the Appearance panel and from the fly-out menu choose Add New Fill. You will get a second fill above the first. Use the gradient shown then set the Blending Mode to Darken. Reduce the Opacity for the yellow fill to 40%.


9. Add a Vector Kiss to the Post-It Note

Step 1

Let's continue with the vector kiss. I always try to use my stuff instead of wasting some time to search images on the web and reading licenses. Therefore, put on some red lipstick (or any other strong color) or on a "victim" who happens to be next to you and kiss a sheet of white paper. Make a photo with your phone or camera then save it into your computer. Drag the image into the Illustrator file then go to Object > Live Trace > Tracing Options. Change the settings as shown then hit Trace. From the Object menu choose Expand and you now have a vector kiss.

Step 2

Arrange the kiss over the post-it note and this icon is ready.


10. Create Devil Horns to Add to a Heart

Step 1

The last icon and the easiest is the devil heart. Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a horn-shape and send it behind the heart. Go to Object > Transform > Reflect, check Vertical and hit Copy. Move the second horn on the right side and fill them both with dark brown.

Step 2

Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to draw a small 60 x 4px rectangle then rotate it and put it over the horn. Multiply it and cover the entire horn with stripes. Group all the stripes then Copy (CTRL + C) and Paste in Front (CTRL + F) the horn-shape. Now, select the group of stripes and the copy of the horn and click Intersect shape areas > Expand from the Pathfinder Panel. Fill the resulting compound path with the gradient shown. Repeat this step for the second horn or just reflect it.

Step 3

Draw using the Ellipse Tool (L) two oval shapes at the bottom of the horns and give them a black fill. Go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply a 1.3px Radius. Set the Blending Mode to Multiply and reduce the Opacity to 30%.


11. Add a Devils Tail to Your Design

Step 1

Only the tail is missing. Take the Pen Tool (P) and draw the two wavy paths. Select the end points with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and join them as you did before. Fill the resulting shape with dark brown.

Step 2

For the tip of the tail, first draw a shape like in the image below (1). We need to cut it in half therefore draw a path that goes right through the middle of the shape (2). Next, select the tip and this path and select Divide from the Pathfinder panel then Ungroup from the Object menu. Fill the two halves with the linear gradients shown (3).


12. Add a Tattoo to Your Heart

A tattoo would look nice. Go to the Symbols Panel, open the Symbol Libraries Menu and in the Retro category find Flying Sunburst. Drag the symbol into your working area and press the Break Link to Symbol button at the bottom of the Symbols panel. Scale it and put it over the heart. Set the Blending Mode to Multiply and reduce the Opacity to 80%. At this point the devil heart icon is ready.


13. Try Your Icons in Different Sizes

Here are the four icons made. You can create different sizes if you want just make sure that you expand each effect applied and each brush stroke. This is very important.


Awesome, Now You're Finished!

This is the entire set of heart icons. Of course, you can create other types of hearts following this work flow but all depends on your imagination. I would love to see your creations.

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