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Create Sticker-like Music Icons in Adobe Illustrator

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Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

It's time to update the look of your desktop icon set starting with the icons for your music player or MP3s. With this sticker-style icon tutorial, you'll learn how to combine gradient shapes, effects in the Appearance panel, and offset shapes in order to quickly render circles into the start of a great icon set in Adobe Illustrator CC 2014.

1. Set Up the Icon's Shape

Step 1

Create a New Document and use the Ellipse Tool (L) to draw a circle within the Artboard. The size that you choose determines the overall icon size. Select your circle and go to Object > Path > Offset Path in order to create a smaller circle inside the first circle. Offset by -0.2 inches or several pixels (whatever created a nice border between both circles).

Step 2

Select the new circle and choose a dark gray for the fill color. Keep the outer circle white. 

Step 3

Copy (Control-C) and Paste (Control-V) the gray circle for the main sticker shape. In order to make the icon sticker-like, part of the inner circle needs to look like it has begun to peel. Draw a rectangle using the Rectangle Tool (M) and rotate it 45° so that it's angled diagonally in the lower right of the circle. Overlap the two slightly.

Select both shapes and use the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M) to select each shape and the intersecting shape so you're left with three separate parts.

Step 4

Delete the rectangle half. Select and Rotate the bottom right part of the circle so that it's facing inward (and its edge lines up with the circle's edge. Your peeled sticker shape is ready to be rendered.

2. Rendering the Peeling Sticker

Step 1

Choose a color theme for your sticker. In this case, it's a creamy orange. The peeled sticker portion should be lighter than the rest of the sticker. Select and Offset the main sticker shape by a few pixels so there's a slight border around the sticker object. Make sure the border shape is a darker color than the main circle.

Step 2

Apply a Linear Gradient using the Gradient Tool (G) to the peeled sticker shape with a -32.6° so it's parallel to the sticker's edge. In the Gradient panel, add three colors: medium orange a, medium orange b, and dark orange (the same dark orange as the outline from the previous step). Note that the second color seen in the gradient below was the light orange applied in the previous step as well.

Step 3

Apply a Drop Shadow to the peeled sticker shape by going to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow with the following attributes:

  • Mode: Overlay
  • Opacity: 62%
  • X Offset: 0.03 in
  • Y Offset: 0.01 in
  • Blur: 0.07
  • Color: #000000

Step 4

Select the outer white circle and apply a Drop Shadow with the following attributes:

  • Mode: Multiply
  • Opacity: 56%
  • X Offset: 0.12 in
  • Y Offset: 0.1 in
  • Blur: 0.07
  • Color: #282828

Step 5

Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a curved line on either end of the left side of the sticker. Set the fill color to null and the stroke to light orange. In the Stroke panel set the stroke width to 1pt.

3. Making the CD

Step 1

Select the dark gray circle and Offset its path by -0.2 inches, or the same amount you offset the first circle in Section 1, Step 1. In the Appearance panel, set the fill color to light gray (#d0c7be). Add a new fill with a Linear Gradient at an -122.3° angle. Check out the colors added below (the idea is gray with a slight rainbow). Reduce the Opacity to 60%, or so. Apply a Drop Shadow effect to the circle with the following attributes:

  • Mode: Overlay
  • Opacity: 42%
  • X Offset: 0.02 in
  • Y Offset: 0.01 in
  • Blur: 0.06
  • Color: #000000

Step 2

Select the CD shape and Offset the circle by -5-10px, or so. Repeat, select both of the new circles, and hit Minus Front in the Pathfinder panel. Apply the same Linear Gradient from the previous step. Change the Blend Mode to Multiply and Opacity to 73% in the Transparency panel.

Step 3

Copy and Paste the CD shape. Delete extra fill colors and effects in the Appearance panel. Apply a Linear Gradient of alternating gray at 0% Opacity and white at 100% Opacity on a 50.4° angle. Set the Blend Mode to Overlay. Place the circle beneath the orange sticker and above the CD in the Layers panel.

Step 4

In the Appearance panel, add another fill to the dark gray circle of #282828 at 100% to 0% Opacity at a -37° angle.

Step 5

Select the main orange sticker shape and add another fill above the first in the Appearance panel. Apply a Linear Gradient that goes from dark orange (#b9362d) to medium medium orange (#ffbaa4) at a 137.8° angle.

4. Drawing the Music Note

Step 1

The music note is fairly simple. Follow the breakdown below:

  1. Draw an ellipse using the Ellipse Tool to form the note heads. Copy and Paste it for the second ellipse. 
  2. Use the Rectangle Tool to draw a long, narrow rectangle. Copy and Paste it so you have two stems. 
  3. In order to make the beams, Paste the rectangle again, Rotate it 90°, and line it up between the two stems. You'll have to shorten the  beam shape so it fits between the two stems.
  4. Copy and Paste the first beam to create the second. Put the shapes together in order to form the music note.
  5. Group (Control-G) the music note components together and Rotate it to the right 45°, or so.

Step 2

Unite the music note shapes in the Pathfinder panel. Copy and Paste the note, change the fill color to the same light orange from Section 2, Step 5. Change the Blend Mode to Overlay and offset it slightly from the main music note (see below for placement). Group both music notes together.

Step 3

Copy and Paste the main sticker shape. Select the copied shape and the music note group and Make a Clipping Mask (Control-7). Place the clipping mask group beneath the peeled sticker shape in the Layers panel.

Great Job, You're Done!

Export your icon as a transparent GIF or PNG file (and don't forget to size it accordingly). Now that you've finished your music icon, what other desktop and mobile icons can you make? What about color variations? Show us in the comments!

Keen on icon tutorials? Check out these below:

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