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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Vector
Design

Create a Simple Notebook Icon in Adobe Illustrator

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:QuickLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

For starters you will learn how to setup a simple grid and how to create several pixel perfect shapes. Moving on, you will learn how to add subtle highlights using the Pathfinder panel and basic blending techniques. Finally, you will learn how to add shading and a simple background using the Appearance panel and the Stroke panel along with a bunch of simple effects.

1. Create a New Document and Set Up a Grid

Hit Control-N to create a new document. Select Pixels from the Units drop-down menu, enter 600 in the width and height boxes then click on the Advanced button. Select RGB, Screen (72ppi) and make sure that the Align New Objects to Pixel Grid box is unchecked before you click OK

Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). You will need a grid every 5px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides > Grid, enter 5 in the Gridline every box and 1 in the Subdivisions box. You should also open the Info panel (Window > Info) for a live preview with the size and position of your shapes. Do not forget to set the unit of measurement to pixels from Edit > Preferences > Units > General. All these options will significantly increase your work speed.

Notebook Icon

2. Create the Main Page

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and focus on your Toolbar. Remove the color from the stroke then select the fill and set its color at R=255 G=238 B=205. Move to your Artboard and simply create a 115 x 125px rectangle, the Snap to Grid feature should ease your work.

Notebook Icon

Step 2

Using the Direct Selection Tool (A), reselect your rectangle, move to the control panel and enter "5px" in the Corners box. If you happen to use an older version of Illustrator you will have to use the Rounded Corners effect. Make sure that your rectangle is selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 5px Radius, click OK and go to Object > Expand Appearance. In the end your shape should look like in the following image. 

Move to the Layers panel (Window > Layers), open the existing layer, simply double-click on your shape and rename it "page".

Notebook Icon

Step 3

Using the Pen Tool (P), create an 115px, horizontal path and place it as shown in the first image. Once again, the Snap to Grid feature will come in handy. Add a 1pt stroke for this new path and set its color at R=0 G=128 B=200

Make sure that your horizontal path stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance). Simply click on that "Opacity" piece of text to open the Transparency fly-out panel and lower the Opacity to 15%. Next, you need to make sure that your path is perfectly aligned to the pixel grid. Reselect it and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Drag the Move-Vertical slider at -0.5px and click OK. Enable the Pixel Preview (View > Pixel Preview) then have a look at your path with and without the Transform affect to understand exactly how things change.

Notebook Icon

Step 4

Make sure that your horizontal path is still selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter "8" in that Copies box, drag the Move-Vertical slider at 10px and then click OK.

Notebook Icon

Step 5

Using the Pen Tool (P), create an 100px, vertical path and place it as shown in the first image. Add a 1pt stroke for this new path, set its color at R=248 G=164 B=150, lower the Opacity to 80% and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Drag the Move-Horizontal slider at 0.5px and click OK.

Notebook Icon

Step 6

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid) then go to Edit > Preferences > General and make sure that the Keyboard Increment is set at 1px. Make sure that your "page" shape is selected and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 1px up using the up arrow button from your keyboard. 

Reselect both copies made in this step, open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and click the Minus Front button. Select the resulting shape, set the fill color at black (R=0 G=0 B=0) and lower its Opacity to 5%. Make sure that this thin, new path stays selected, open the Graphic Styles panel (Window > Graphic Styles) and simply click on that New Graphci Style button to save a new graphic style.

Notebook Icon

Step 7

Make sure that your "page" shape is selected and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 2px up using that same up arrow button from your keyboard. 

Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Select the resulting shape and simply add your saved graphic style from the Graphic Styles panel.

Notebook Icon

Step 8

Make sure that your "page" shape is selected and make another two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 3px up. 

Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Again, select the resulting shape and add your graphic style from the Graphic Styles panel.

Notebook Icon

3. Create the Top Side of the Icon

Step 1

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Make sure that your "page" shape is selected and make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 115 x 25px shape, set the fill color at R=235 G=175 B=56 and place it as shown in the second image. 

Select this new rectangle along with the copy made in the beginning of the step and click the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. In the end your orange shape should look like in the fourth image. 

Move to the Layers panel, simply double-click on the shape made in this step and rename it "top".

Notebook Icon

Step 2

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Make sure that your "top" shape is selected and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). 

Select the top copy and move it 1px down using the down arrow button from your keyboard. Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. 

Select the resulting shape, set the fill color at white (R=255 G=255 B=255), lower its Opacity to 50% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Notebook Icon

Step 3

Make sure that your "top" shape is selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Select the stroke and set the color at white, lower its Opacity to 30% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light

Keep focusing on the Appearance panel and simply click on that "Stroke" piece of text to open the Stroke fly-out panel. Set the Weight at 1px and check the Align Stroke to Inside button. In the end things should look like in the following image.

Notebook Icon

Step 4

Reselect your "top" shape, make sure that the entire path is selected (simply click on the "Path" piece of text from the top of the Appearance panel) and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the left window (in the following image), click OK and go again to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the middle window, click OK and go one more time to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the right window and click OK.

Notebook Icon

Step 5

Reselect your "top" shape, make sure that the entire path is selected and add the three Drop Shadow effects (Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow) shown in the following image.

Notebook Icon

4. Create the Background

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and simply click on your artboard to open the Rectangle window. Enter 610 in the Width and Height boxes then click OK. Fill the newly created shape with R=0 G=167 B=157 then send it to back (Shift-Control-[ ). 

Next, you need to center this square, so open the Align panel (Window > Align). Set the aligning to Artboard (open the fly out menu and go to Show Options if you can't see the Align To section as shown in the following image) then simply click the Horizontal Align Center and Vertical Align Center buttons. 

In the end your square should cover the entire artboard as shown in the following image. Move to the Layers and rename this new shape "background".

Notebook Icon

Step 2

Reselect your "background" shape, focus on the Appearance panel and second fill using the Add New Fill button (pointed by the blue circle in the following image). Make sure that this new fill stays selected, open the Gradient panel (Window > Gradient) and simply click on the gradient thumbnail to add the default black to white linear gradient. 

Keep focusing on your Gradient panel, select Radial from the Type drop-down menu then move to the gradient colors. Select the right slider and set the color at R=38 G=34 B=98 then select the left slider, set the color at R=0 G=167 B=157 and lower its Opacity to 0%. Grab the Gradient Tool (G), move to your Artboard and stretch that radial gradient as shown in the following image.

Notebook Icon

5. Add Subtle Shading

Step 1

Make sure that your "page" shape is selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Select the existing stroke, set its color at black and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light. Open the Stroke fly-out panel for this stroke, make sure that the Weight is set at 1px and check the Align Stroke to Inside button. 

Keep focusing on the Appearance panel and add a second stroke for your shape using the Add New Stroke button (pointed by the blue circle in the following image). Select this new stroke, lower its Opacity to 20%, change the Blending Mode to Soft Light and check the Align Stroke to Outside button from the Stroke fly-out panel.

Notebook Icon

Step 2

Make sure that your "page" shape is selected, focus on the Appearance panel, select the existing fill and add the two Drop Shadow effects (Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow) shown in the following image.

Notebook Icon

Step 3

Make sure that your "page" shape is selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill using that same Add New Fill button. Select this new fill, drag it in the bottom of the Appearance panel and set the color at black. 

Make sure that it stays selected, lower its Opacity to 10%, change the Blending Mode to Soft Light and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -1px Offset, click OK and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Drag the Move-Vertical slider at 4px and click OK.

Notebook Icon

Step 4

Make sure that your "page" shape is selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a third fill using that same Add New Fill button. Select this new fill, drag it in the bottom of the Appearance panel and set the color at black. 

Make sure that it stays selected, change the Blending Mode to Soft Light and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -3px Offset, click OK and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Drag the Move-Vertical slider at 6px, click OK and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 10px Radius and click OK.

Notebook Icon

Congratulations! You're Done!

Here is how it should look. I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and can apply these techniques in your future projects.

Notebook Icon
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