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How to Create a Detailed Depot Building Icon in Adobe Illustrator

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In the following steps you will learn how to create a detailed depot building illustration. For starters you will learn how to create a simple brick pattern using a bunch of simple rectangle. Next, we'll use this little pattern to create a simple symbol. Using this new symbol along with a grey rectangle, the Rounded Corners effect and the 3D Extrude & Bevel effects we'll create the main building shape. Once you got your building shape we'll continue with the coloring and the highlights. We'll take full advantage of the Appearance panel, we'll use a lot of vector shape building techniques, a bunch of new effects plus some basic blending techniques. Finally, you will learn how to create a simple set of art brushes and how to use them.



1. Create a New Document

Hit Command + N to create a new document. Enter 600 in the width box 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 your click OK.

Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). For starters you'll need a grid every 1px. Simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides > Grid, enter 1 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 > Unit > General. All these options will significantly increase your work speed.


2. Create a Brick Pattern

First, we'll create a simple brick pattern. Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 9 by 8px shape and fill it with R=139, G=94, B=60. Continue with the Rectangle Tool (M), create two, 4 by 3px shapes and an 8 by 3px rectangle and place them as shown in the second image.

The Snap to Grid will ease your work. Focus on these new rectangles and set their fill color at R=196, G=154, B=108. Make sure that the Rectangle Tool (M) is still active, create two, 1 by 3px vector shapes place them as shown in the third image and set their fill color at R=215, G=187, B=156. Create another two, 1 by 3px rectangle place them as shown in the fourth image and set their fill color at R=117, G=76, B=41. Now, select all the shapes created so far and Group them (CTRL + G). Make sure that this new group is selected and simply drag it inside your Swatches panel to save it as a pattern. Once you got your pattern you can delete that group from the Layers panel.


3. Create a Brick Pattern Filled Symbol

For the following step you will need a grid every 5px. So, go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 5 in the Gridline every box. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 240 by 140px shape, select the fill and simply add the pattern made in the previous step. Open the Symbols panel (Window > Symbols), make sure that this new rectangle is selected and click on the "New Symbol" button (pointed by the blue arrow in the following image). Enter "bricks" in the Name box and click OK. Now that you got your new symbol, move to the Layers panel and simply remove the existing symbol.


4. Create 3D Your Building

Step 1

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 220 by 190px shape, fill it with R=210, G=210, B=210 and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 30px radius and click OK.

Step 2

Reselect the shape made in the previous step and go to Effect > 3D > Extrude & Bevel. Enter the properties shown in the following image, make sure that your check the "Draw Hidden Faces" box then click on Map Art button. Go to"Surface 3" and "Surface 9" and select your "bricks" symbol from the Symbol drop down menu. In the end things should look like in the following image.

Step 3

Select the shape edited in the previous step and make a Copy in Front (CTRL + C > Control + F). Focus on the Layers panel and simply lock the bottom shape to make sure that you won't accidentally select/move it.

Step 4

Focus on the Layers panel, select the top shape and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Select the resulting group and hit SHIFT + CTRL + G once to get rid of the main group. Now, let's focus on the resulting sub-groups. First, select the five sub-groups highlighted in the second image and simply delete them. Keep focusing on the Layers panel, select the bottom sub-group and Ungroup it (SHIFT + CTRL + G). Select the resulting shape, Send it to Back (SHIFT + CTRL + [ ) and name it "shadow".


5. Add Shading Details to the Sides of the Building

Step 1

Select "shadow", set the fill color at black and focus on the Layers panel. Select the existing fill, lower its Opacity to 5% and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 1px Offset, click OK and return to the Appearance panel. Add a second fill for this shape using the Add New Fill button (pointed by the little, blue arrow). Select this new fill, drag it in the bottom of the Layers panel, make sure that its color is set at black, lower its Opacity to 5% and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 3px Offset, click OK and get back to the Appearance panel. Add a third fill for this shape, select it and drag it in the bottom of the Layers panel. Make sure that its color is set at black, lower the Opacity to 10% and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 3px Offset, click OK and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 4px radius and click OK.

Step 2

Focus on the Layers panel and Ungroup (SHIFT + CTRL + G) the sub-group highlighted in the following image. Fill the resulting shape with the linear gradient shown below and name it "frontWall".

Step 3

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. Reselect "frontWall" and make two Copies in Front (CTRL + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 1px to the left using the left arrow from your keyboard. Reselect both copies, open the Pathfinder panel and click on the Minus Front button. Fill the resulting shape with R=215, G=187, B=156.

Step 4

Reselect "frontWall" and make two new copies in front (CTRL + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 2px to the left using the left arrow from your keyboard. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with R=117, G=76, B=41.

Step 5

Repeat the techniques mentioned in the last two steps, but move the copies to the right instead of left.

Step 6

Focus on the Layers panel, select the sub-group highlighted in the first image and click on the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel. Select the resulting shape and focus on the Appearance panel. Select the fill, lower its Opacity to 75%, change the Blending Mode to Multiply and add the linear gradient shown in the following image. The yellow zero from the gradient image stands for Opacity percentage.

Step 7

Reselect the shape made in the previous step, focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill. Select it, set the color at black, lower its Opacity to 10%, change the Blending Mode to Multiply and go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

Step 8

Have a closer look at the shape edited in the previous step and you'll notice that the edges are a bit pixellated. It's because of the Film Grain effect. It's not a big deal but it's better to fix it. We'll use a simple masking technique. Select the shape edited in the previous step and make a copy in front (CTRL + C > Control + F). Select it and hit the D key from your keyboard to replace the existing color properties with the default ones (white fill and a 1pt, black stroke). Remove that black stroke and open the Transparency panel (Window > Transparency). Now, select your white shape along with the shape edited in the previous step, open the fly-out menu of the Transparency panel and click on Make Opacity Mask. Have a new look at the edges of this masked shape and you'll notice that the pixellated edges are gone.

Step 9

Focus on the Layers panel, select the sub-group highlighted in the first image and click on the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel. Focus on the resulting shape and add the same Appearance properties used for the masked shape. You can easily copy and paste those properties using the target icons. Go to the Layers panel, focus on the right side and you'll notice that every shape comes with a little grey circle. It's called a target icon. Hold Alt, click on the target icon that stands for your masked shape and drag onto the circle that stands for the shape made in the beginning of the step. Select it, focus on the Appearance panel, select the bottom fill and edit the angle used for that linear gradient as shown in the following image.

Step 10

Focus on the shape made in the previous step and mask it like you did in the fifteenth step. Select both masked shapes along with the four, thin vector shapes and Group them (CTRL + G). Move to the Layers panel and name this new group "bricksHighlights".


6. Add a Rim to the Edge of the Roof

Step 1

Focus on the Layers panel, select that last subgroup and Ungroup it (SHIFT + CTRL + G). Select the resulting shape, name it "roofBorder" and make a copy in front (CTRL + C > Control + F). Select it, move it 1px down and make a copy in back (CTRL + C > Control + B). Select this new copy and move it 1px down. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with white and change its Blending Mode to Overlay.

Step 2

Reselect "roofBorder" and make two copies in front (CTRL + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the bottom copy and move it 1px down. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black, lower its Opacity to 25% and change the Blending Mode to Multiply.

Step 3

Reselect "roof" and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -3px Offset and click OK. Select the resulting shape, name it "roof" and make a copy in front (CTRL + C > Control + F). Select this copy along with the "roofBorder" shape and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with the linear gradient shown in the following image.

Step 4

Select the shape made in the previous step and make two copies in front (CTRL + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 1px up. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Ungroup (SHIFT + CTRL + G) the resulting group and fill the resulting shapes with white.

Step 5

Select the bottom shape made in the previous step and simply delete it. Move to the remaining white shape, pick the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-) and remove the two anchor points highlighted in the second image. In the end your white vector shape should look like in the third image. Make sure that it's still selected and chance its Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Step 6

Reselect "roof" and make two copies in front (CTRL + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 6px down. Reselect both copies and click on the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with R=115, G=110, B=99.

Step 7

Reselect the shape made in the previous step and make a copy in front (CTRL + C > Control + F). Select it along with the "roof" shape and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with the linear gradient shown in the third image. Focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill for this shape. Select it, lower the Opacity to 50%, change its Blending Mode to Soft Light and add the linear gradient shown in the final image. Remember that the yellow zero from the gradient image stands for Opacity percentage while the white numbers stand for Location percentage.

Step 8

Reselect the shape made in the twenty-third step and make two copies in front (CTRL + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 1px down. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with R=65, G=62, B=54. Reselect the shape made in the twenty-third step and go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK. Select the shape made in this step along with all the shapes made in the last seven steps and group them (CTRL + G). Move to the Layers panel and name this new group "roof".


7. Add a Door to the Building

Step 1

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 100 by 70px shape, fill it with R=237, G=28, B=36 and place it as shown in the first image. Select this red rectangle and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -1px Offset and click OK. Fill the resulting shape with R=39, G=170, B=225 and go again to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -4px Offset and click OK. Fill the resulting shape with white then duplicate it (CTRL + C > Control + F).

Step 2

Select the top, white rectangle along with the red rectangle made in the previous step and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Select the other white rectangle made in the previous step along with the blue rectangle and do the same thing. In the end your blue and red compound paths should look like in the third step.

Step 3

Select the "frontWall" shape and make a copy in front (CTRL + C > Control + F). Select this copy along with the blue compound path and click on the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with the linear gradient shown in the following image.

Step 4

Select "frontWall" and make a new copy in front (CTRL + C > Control + F). Select it along with the red compound path and click on the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with the linear gradient shown in the following image and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the left window, click OK and go again to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the middle window, click OK and go once again to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the right window and click OK.

Step 5

Reselect the shape made in the previous step and make a copy in front (CTRL + C > Control + F). Select it, focus on the Appearance panel, remove the existing Drop Shadow effects then add the two effects shown in the first image. Select this shape along with the other two shapes made in the last four steps and Group them (CTRL + G). Move to the Layers panel and name this new group "entranceFrame".

Step 6

For the following step you will need a grid every 1px. So, go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 1 in the Gridline every box. Focus on the top side of the group made in the previous step. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 90 by 10px shape, fill it with the linear gradient shown below and place it as shown in the first image. Focus on the top side of this new rectangle and grab the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the left anchor point and drag it 1px to the right then select the right anchor point and drag it 1px to the left. In the end your vector shape should look like a trapezoid. Move to the Layers panel, name it "fold", make two copies in front (CTRL + C > Control + F > Control + F) and disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Select the top copy and move it 1px down and to the right. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black and lower its Opacity to 3%.

Step 7

Reselect "fold" and make two copies in front (CTRL + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 2px down and to the right. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black and lower its Opacity to 2%.

Step 8

Reselect "fold" and make two copies in front (CTRL + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 5px down and to the right. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black and lower its Opacity to 1%.

Step 9

Reselect "fold" and make two copies in front (CTRL + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 1px to the left. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black and lower its Opacity to 3%.

Step 10

Reselect "fold" and make two copies in front (CTRL + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 2px to the left. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black and lower its Opacity to 3%.

Step 11

Reselect "fold" and make two copies in front (CTRL + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 1px down. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with R=225, G=225, B=225.

Step 12

Reselect "fold" and make a copy in front (CTRL + C > Control + F). Select it, move it 2px up then duplicate it (CTRL + C > Control + F). Select this new copy and move it 1px up. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with white.

Step 13

Reselect "fold" and make a copy in front (CTRL + C > Control + F). Select this new copy along with the white shape made in the previous step and click on the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Select the resulting shape along with "fold" and all the shapes made in the last seven steps and Group them (CTRL + G). Move to the Layers panel and name this new group "fold".

Step 14

Focus on the Layers panel, select the group made in the previous step, drag it below the "entranceFrame" group and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

Step 15

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). For the following step you will need a grid every 5px. So, go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 5 in the Gridline every box. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 90 by 65px shape, fill it with white and place it as shown in the first image. Select the "frontWall" shape and make a copy in front (CTRL + C > Control + F). Select this new copy along with the white rectangle and click on the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with the linear gradient shown in the following image and drag it below the "entranceFrame" group (in the Layers panel).

Step 16

Reselect the "entranceFrame" and "fold" groups along with the shape made in the previous step and and Group them (CTRL + G). Select this new group, name it "entrance" and go to Effect > Warp > Shell Upper. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.


8. Add the "Vector Depot" Sign

Step 1

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 30px circle, fill it with white and place it as shown in the following image. Make sure that this shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel, select the fill and lower its Opacity to 20%.

Step 2

Reselect the shape made in the previous step, focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill. Select it, set the color at white, lower its Opacity to 20% and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the bottom window, click OK and return to the Appearance panel. Add a third fill for this shape, select it, set the color at white, lower its Opacity to 20% and go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the top window and click OK.

Step 3

Reselect the shape edited in the previous step, make sure that no fill or stroke is selected (in the Appearance panel) and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

Step 4

Using the Type Tool (T), add your little piece of text and place it as shown in the following image. Set its color at R=39, G=170, B=225 and use the Lobster font with the size set at 25pt.

Step 5

Select the text added in the previous step and go to Effect > 3D > Extrude & Bevel. Enter the properties shown in the following image, click OK and go to Object > Expand Appearance.

Step 6

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid) and focus on the group resulted from the previous step. Grab the Direct Selection Tool (A), select all those letter shapes, click on the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel then go to Object > Compound Path > Make (CTRL + 8). Select this new compound path, set its fill color at R=25, G=101, B=161 then focus on the Layers panel and make it invisible. Keep focusing on the Layers panel, select the rest of the shape that make up your piece of text, turn them into a simple Compound Path (CTRL + 8) and fill it with R=15, G=60, B=97.

Step 7

Focus on the Layers panel and turn on the visibility for the first compound path made in the previous step. Select it and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -1px Offset and click OK. Select the resulting shape, make a copy in front (CTRL + C > Control + F), select it and move it 1px up. Reselect both shapes made in this step and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Select the resulting group of shapes, turn it into a Compound Path (CTRL + 8) and fill it with R=15, G=60, B=97.

Step 8

Reselect the three compound paths that make up your text and Group them (CTRL + G). Select this new group and add the four Drop Shadow effects shown in the following image.



9. Add the Company Sign to the Side of the Building

Step 1

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). For the following step you will need a grid every 1px. So, go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 1 in the Gridline every box. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 5 by 8px shape, fill it with the linear gradient shown below, place it as shown in the following image and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 1px radius and click OK. Make sure that this tiny rectangle stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Select the fill and go to Effect > Warp > Arc Upper. Enter the properties shown in the following image, click OK and return to the Appearance panel. Deselect the fill then add the three Drop Shadow effects shown in the following image.

Step 2

Focus on the shape made in the previous step. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 20px square, fill it with R=212, G=207, B=198, place it as shown in the following image and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 3px radius and click OK. Make sure that this new shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill. Select it, add the linear gradient shown in the following image and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown below, click OK and return to the Appearance panel. Add a 1pt stroke for this shape, align it to inside and set the color at R=110, G=107, B=99.

Step 3

Get your simple logo image, make it 12px wide and add the discrete Drop Shadow effect shown in the following image.


10. Add Plants Along the Bottom of Your Building

Step 1

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 3 by 1px shape and fill it with R=57, G=181, B=74. Focus on this little shape, grab the Convert Anchor Point Tool (SHIFT + C) and simply click on the right anchor point. In the end your shape should look like in the second image. Select it, open the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes) and simply click on the New Brush button. Check the Art Brush button and click OK. Enter the properties shown in the following image, make sure that you check the "Stretch to Fit Stroke Length" button and click OK. In the end your new art brush should show up in the Brushes panel. Return to the Layers panel and simply remove that little, green shape.

Step 2

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a new 3 by 1px shape and fill it with R=0, G=148, B=68. Switch to the Convert Anchor Point Tool (SHIFT + C) and simply click on the right anchor point. Focus on the resulting shape and turn it into an art brush like you did in the previous step. Once you get your new art brush don't forget to remove that little, green shape from the Layers panel.

Step 3

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a new 3 by 1px shape and fill it with R=0, G=104, B=56. Switch to the Convert Anchor Point Tool (SHIFT + C) and simply click on the right anchor point. Turn the resulting shape into an art brush then remove that green shape from the Layers panel.

Step 4

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Focus on the Toolbar and double click on the Brush Tool (B). Set the Fidelity at 4 and the Smoothness at 5 then click OK. Move to the top bar and set the stroke weight at 1pt. We're about to use the art brushes made in the previous step and setting the stroke weight at 1pt will make your paths pretty thin. Pick the Brush Tool (B), select the "Art Brush 1" and add some simple paths as shown in the first image. Make sure that you always start from the bottom. Continue with the Brush Tool (B), select "Art Brush 2" and add some new paths as shown in the second image. Finally, select "Art Brush 3" and add several new paths as shown in the third image. Once you're done select all these green paths and Group them (CTRL + G).

Step 5

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a several 3px and 2px circles. Set their fill color at R=237, G=28, B=36 or at R=255, G=222, B=23 and spread them as shown in the first image. Select all these little circles and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Pucker & Bloat. Set the slider at 50% and click OK.


11. Add a Subtle Shadow and Background

Step 1

For the following step you will need a grid every 5px. So, go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 5 in the Gridline every box. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 250 by 20px shape, fill it with the linear gradient shown below and place it as shown in the first image. Focus on the bottom side of this new rectangle and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the left anchor point and move 20px to the right then select the right anchor point and move it 20px to the left. Send the resulting shape to back (SHIFT + CTRL + [ ), lower its Opacity to 30% and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 5px radius and click OK.

Step 2

Finally, let's add a simple background. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a shape the size of your Artboard, fill it with R=240, G=240, B=245 and Send it to Back (SHIFT + CTRL + [ ). Focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill for this new shape. Select it, add the radial gradient shown in the following image, lower its Opacity to 75% and change the Blending Mode to Color Burn.


Great Job, You're Now Finished!

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

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