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Design

How to Create a Map Icon Using Adobe Photoshop

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:LongLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

You don't have to use 3D software just to create a simple three-dimensional icon. Photoshop can do that too using some simple tricks with gradient color, highlight, and shadow. Here, we are going to use these tricks to draw a map icon. Let's get started!

1. Drawing a Map

Step 1

To draw the paper, start by simply drawing its points using the Pen Tool.

Drawing paper using Pen tool

You need to click the first point to close the shape and create a perfect paper shape. Make sure to keep the paper shape matching its perspective.

Drawing paper using Pen tool

Step 2

Open Google Maps and then capture one of its maps. Place it on top of the canvas.

Map from Google Maps

Step 3

We folded the paper three times, and we want to place a piece of the map on each paper segment. So duplicate the map three times by hitting Control-J three times. Hit Control-T to perform a transformation.

Transforming map

Step 4

Hold Control and then drag each corner independently until we have the map matching the paper perspective.

Match the perspective
Match the paper perspective

Step 5

Hide the map. Control-click the paper to make a new selection marquee based on the paper's shape.

Select map segment

Step 6

Activate the Lasso Tool. Hold Alt to subtract the previous selection. Click a few times to remove the second and third segments of the paper from selection.

Select map segments

Make sure the map layer is revealed.

Select map segments

Step 7

Add a Layer mask into the layer by clicking on the Add layer mask icon.

Add layer mask

Step 8

Keep repeating the steps—that is transforming the map, selecting a segment of the paper, and then adding the layer mask—to the next paper segment.

Adding map segments

Step 9

When you have the paper covered with map, select the map layer and click Control-Alt-G to convert it into a Clipping Mask. Do this to each map layer. Every pixel you paint inside these maps will be contained inside the paper.

Adding map into the paper

Step 10

We are now going to add a border to the paper. Remember that we put the paper in perspective. The basic principle is the closer the stroke, the bigger it is for us. Control-click the paper layer to make a new selection based on its shape. Activate the Lasso Tool and then set its mode to Subtract from the Option Bar. Click inside the selection.

Adding map border

Step 11

Make a new layer and then fill the selection with white.

Adding map border

Step 12

Make a new layer and convert it to a Clipping Mask. Activate the Brush Tool with low Opacity, 5%. Paint black on the paper's edge.

Add shadow on map

Step 13

Control-click the paper shape to make a new selection based on its shape. Click Edit > Stroke. Set its Color to Black with Size 1 px and Location: Inside.

Add shadow on map
Add shadow on map

Step 14

Reduce the stroke layer Opacity to 10%.

Add shadow on map

Step 15

Control-click the first part of the map paper. Make a new layer on top and then paint black on its right side. Reduce its layer Opacity to 30% and set its Blending Mode to Overlay.

Add highlight and shadow to map paper segment

Step 16

Repeat this process on the next part of the paper.

Add highlight and shadow to map paper segmen
Add highlight and shadow to map paper segmen

2. Map Shadow

Step 1

Using the Lasso Tool, make a new polygonal selection behind the paper. Fill it with a linear gradient from black to transparent black.

Make new selection for shadow

Step 2

Soften it by applying a Gaussian Blur filter. This is going to be used as the paper's shadow on the floor.

Paint shadow

Step 3

Reduce its layer Opacity to 10% to keep the shadow subtle.

Reduce Opacity

Step 4

Make another polygonal selection behind the last part of the paper. Fill the selection with black.

Add another shadow

Step 5

Soften it using a Gaussian Blur filter.

Soften the shadow

Step 6

Add a layer mask into the layer. Set the foreground color to black. Paint the unneeded part of the shadow using the Brush Tool to hide it.

Add layer mask to shadow

Step 7

Let's keep adding another shadow to make it appear more realistic. Create a new selection using the Lasso Tool and paint black inside it.

Adding another shadow

Step 8

Remove the selection using the shortcut Control-D and then apply Gaussian Blur (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur) to soften the shadow.

Adding another shadow

Step 9

Reduce the shadow's Opacity to 30% to keep it subtle.

Adding another shadow

Step 10

We still need to add more shadow behind the paper. Add a new layer above the shadow and then paint it black using a low Opacity Brush Tool.

Adding another shadow

Step 11

As you can see below, some of the shadow is leaking outside the paper. It's easy to fix this.

Adding another shadow

Step 12

Just activate the Eraser Tool and then delete those unneeded pixels.

Adding another shadow

Step 13

Reduce the layer shadow's Opacity to 20%.

Adding another shadow

2. Drawing a Map Icon

Step 1

Start by drawing a circle shape. Activate the Elliptical Shape Tool. For its color, I select pink (#d27eee). Feel free to choose any other color you like. Shift-click-drag to create a new circular shape.

Basic map icon shape

Step 2

Duplicate the circular shape by selecting it using the Path Selection Tool, and then hit Control-CControl-V. Hit Control-T to perform a transformation and then drag its corner inward to make it smaller.

Basic map icon shape

Step 3

To get a doughnut shape, make sure you set its path mode to Subtract Front Shape.

Basic map icon shape

Step 4

Activate the Direct Selection Tool. This tool allows you to select the shape point individually. Select the lowest point and then move it down vertically by hitting the Down Arrow key a few times. You may also find a warning from Photoshop informing you that you will turn the shape into a regular shape. If you do, just confirm it.

Basic map icon shape

Step 5

Activate the Convert Point Tool and then click the point.

Basic map icon shape
Basic map icon shape

Step 6

So far, this is the icon we have.

Basic map icon shape

Step 7

Double-click the shape layer and then apply the layer style Inner Shadow and Gradient Overlay with the following settings.

Layer Style settings
Layer Style settings

Step 8

Duplicate the shape by clicking Control-J. Hit Control-T and then pull its top handle downward to make it shorter.

Create three dimensional icon

Step 9

Double-click the shape on the rear part of the icon. Apply this setting to its Gradient Overlay and deactivate its Inner Shadow.

Gradient Overlay setting

Step 10

This is the result we have. The inner side of the icon is now darker. We still need to manually fix its shadow and highlight to make it appear more realistic.

Create three dimensional icon

Step 11

Control-click the rear side shape to make a new selection based on its shape. Click Edit > Stroke. Set its Width to 1 px and select #faedff for its color. I chose a bright pink color because the icon color is pink. You may want to choose a different color depending on your icon.

Add highlight for three dimensional icon

Step 12

Click Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur with a small radius to soften the stroke line. Now, we have a very soft stroke line on the shape's edge. This will become the shape's highlight.

Soften highlight
Softer highlight

Step 13

Add another stroke line to the icon's front face. Control-click the shape and then apply the Stroke command.

Add highlight to the icon

Step 14

Soften the stroke line by applying a Gaussian Blur filter.

Add highlight to the icon

Step 15

Add a layer mask to the layer. Hit D then Control-Delete to fill the layer mask with black. The thin highlight line will be hidden. Activate the Brush Tool and then paint white to reveal some of the highlight line.

Add highlight to the icon

Step 16

Use the Lasso Tool to manually make a selection on the lower part of the icon.

Add highlight to the icon

Step 17

Make a new layer. Fill the selection with black and then apply Gaussian Blur.

Add shadow

Step 18

Reduce its Opacity to 20%.

Reduce layer Opacity

Step 19

Make a new layer and then paint black on the lower part of the icon and some parts of its edges.

Add shadow

Step 20

Reduce its layer Opacity.

Add shadow

4. Creating the Icon's Shadow on the Map

Step 1

Let's start drawing the icon's shadow. We will perform lots of manual drawing here. Activate the Brush Tool and then paint black right on the place where the tip of the icon touches the map.

Add shadow

Step 2

Control-click the front face of the icon. Right-click and then select Transform Selection.

Transforming selection

Step 3

Hold Control and then drag the transformation handle until the selection lies on the map. Make sure it matches the map's perspective.

Transforming selection

Step 4

Make a new layer and then fill it with #652b78. Soften this shadow by adding a Gaussian Blur filter.

Draw shadow

Step 5

Add a layer mask to the shadow and then fill it with black. Paint with white to reveal some of the shadow.

Add layer mask

5. Background

Step 1

Make a new layer for the background. Fill it with a subtle gradient from gray to a darker gray.

Add simple gray background

Step 2

Add a Solid Color adjustment layer with a blue color and then reduce its Opacity.

Add color

Conclusion

I hope you learned some new techniques from this tutorial. As you can see here, drawing a three-dimensional object from a simple shape in Photoshop is quite easy. Just make sure you add proper lighting, with subtle highlights and shadows.

Final product map icon created in Adobe Photoshop
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