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How to Create a Nice Emoticons Icon Set

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In the following tutorial you will learn to create an attractive emoticons icon set. Learn an easy to follow workflow for creating each of these little emotional character faces in Adobe Illustrator.

Step 1

Create a 60px by 60px, RGB document. First, turn on the Grid (View > Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Next, you'll need a grid every 1px. Go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid, enter 1 in the Gridline every box and 1 in the Subdivisions box.

You can also open the Info panel (Window > Info) for a live preview with the size and position of your shapes. Do not forget to replace the unit of measurement to pixels from Edit > Preferences > Unit > General. All these options will significantly increase your work speed.


Step 2

Pick the Ellipse Tool(L), create a 40 by 40px shape and fill it with R=255, G=222, B=23.


Step 3

Select the shape created in the previous step and make sure that it's placed in the middle of your artboard. Enable the Rulers (Command + R) and the Guides (View > Guides > Show Guides), then drag a vertical and a horizontal guide as shown in the following image. Disable the Rulers and keep the guides visible. It will help in the following steps, as you add some new shapes.


Step 4

Disable the Snap to Grid, then go to Edit > Preferences > General and enter 0.5 in the Keyboard Increment box. Reselect the yellow circle and make two copies in front (Command + C > Command + F > Command + F). Select the top copy and hit the down arrow once (to move it 0.5px down). Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with white.


Step 5

Re-enable the Snap to Grid. Reselect the yellow circle and go to the Appearance panel. Select the existing fill and click on the Duplicate Selected Item button located in the bottom of the Appearance panel. Obviously, this will create a copy of the selected fill. Select this new fill, lower its Opacity to 75% and fill it with the linear gradient shown in the following image.

Pay attention to the gradient image. The yellow "0" stands for opacity percentage. This means that you need to select the gradient slider and lower its opacity to 0%. Keep focusing on this yellow circle. Reselect it and add a simple stroke. Make it 1pt wide, align it to outside and set its color to R=237, G=147, B=39.


Step 6

Reselect the shape edited in the previous step. Go to the Appearance panel, select the yellow fill and go to Effect Stylize > Inner Glow. Enter the data shown below, click OK, then go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Again, enter the data shown below and click OK. In the end your shape should look like the following image. This will be the face shape that you will use for most of the emoticons.


Step 7

Now, let's add a mood for this face. First, re-enable the Snap to Grid, then select the Rectangle Tool (M). Create two 4 by 8px shapes and a 12 by 8px shape, then place them as shown.

The Snap to Grid and the Guides will ease your work. Fill them all with R=96, G=57, B=19, then go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 2px radius, click OK, then go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the data shown below and click OK.


Step 8

Pick the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 26 by 16px shape and place it as shown. Fill it with the linear gradient shown below, then lower its Opacity to 50%. Now, let's organize the existing shapes.

Go to the Layers panel, select the existing layer and click on the Create New Sublayer button from the bottom of the Layers panel. Select all the shapes created so far and move them inside this new sublayer. Double-click on this sublayer and name it "Not Amused." Now your first emoticon is complete.


Step 9

Select the sublayer created in the previous step and make a copy in front. Focus on this new sublayer, select the mouth shape and go to Effect > Warp > Arc. Enter the data shown below image #1 and click OK.

Name this second sublayer "Sad" and duplicate it. Select the mouth shape from this new sublayer, then go to the Appearance panel and open the existing Warp effect. Drag the Bend slider to -50%, then click OK. Name this third sublayer "Happy."


Step 10

Select the "Happy" sublayer and make a copy in front. Let's focus on this fresh sublayer. First, rename it "Grin," then select the exiting mouth shape and delete it. Pick the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 16 by 7px shape and place it as shown in the first image. Fill it with R=96, G=57, B=19. Then go to Effect > Warp > Arch. Enter the data shown below, click OK, then go to Object > Expand Appearance.

Select the resulting shape and make two copies in front, then disable the Snap to Grid. Select the top copy and hit the down arrow four times, then reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with white.


Step 11

Re-enable the Snap to Grid. Pick the Pen Tool (P), draw three vertical paths and place then as shown in the first image. Add a 1pt stroke for these paths and set its color at R=39, G=170, B=225.

Group them (Command + G). Select the white shape created in the previous step, make a copy and bring it to front (Shift > Command + Right Bracket key). Select this fresh, white shape along with the fresh group and go to the Transparency panel. Open the fly-out menu and click on Make Opacity Mask.


Step 12

Reselect the mouth shape and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the data shown below, click OK, then add a 1pt stroke. Align it to outside and set its color at R=237, G=147, B=39.


Step 13

Select the "Grin" sublayer and make a copy in front. Let's focus on this fresh sublayer. First, rename it "Winking," then select the right eye shape and delete it. Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 5 by 3px shape and place it as shown.

Fill it with R=96, G=57, B=19. Then go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 2px radius, click OK, then go to Effect > Warp > Arc. Enter the data shown below, click OK, then go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Again, enter the data shown below then click OK.


Step 14

Select the "Winking" sublayer and make a copy in front. Let's focus on this fresh sublayer. First, rename it "Weeping," then select the eyes and the mouth components and delete them. Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create two 6 by 4px shapes and place them as shown in the following image. Fill them with with R=96, G=57, B=19. Then go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 2px radius, click OK, then go to Effect > Warp > Arc. Enter the data shown below, click OK then go to Object > Expand Appearance.

Select the left eye shape and go to Object > Transform > Rotate. Enter a 45 degrees angle, then click OK. Select the right eye shape and go to Object > Transform > Rotate. Enter a -45 degrees angle, then click OK. Reselect both eye shapes and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the data shown in the final image, then click OK.


Step 15

Keep focusing on the "Weeping" sublayer. Pick the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 16 by 7px shape, and place it as shown. Fill it with R=96, G=57, B=19, and go to Effect > Warp > Arch. Enter the data shown below, click OK, then go to Object > Expand Appearance.

Select the resulting shape, make two copies in front, and disable the Snap to Grid. Select the top copy and hit the up arrow ten times. Reselect both copies and click on the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with white.


Step 16

Re-enable the Snap to Grid. Pick the Pen Tool (P), draw three vertical paths and place then as shown in the first image. Add a 1pt stroke for these paths and set its color at R=39, G=170, B=225. Group them (Command + G). Select the white shape created in the previous step, make a copy and bring it to front (Shift > Command + Right Bracket key). Select this fresh, white shape along with the fresh group and go to the Transparency panel. Open the fly-out menu and click on Make Opacity Mask.


Step 17

Reselect the mouth shape and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the data shown below, click OK, then add a 1pt stroke. Align it to outside and set its color to R=237, G=147, B=39.


Step 18

Pick the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 4 by 4px shape, and fill it with R=39, G=170, B=255. Pick the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift + C) and click on the bottom anchor point. This will make your circle look like in the second image. Pick the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the bottom anchor point, and move it 2px down. Now, focus on the left and right anchor points. Use the same tool to drag the handles 1px down.


Step 19

Select the shape created in the previous step and go to Effect > Warp > Arc. Enter the data shown below, click OK, then go to Object > Expand Appearance. Duplicate the resulting shape. Rotate these two, blue shapes, and place them as shown. Finally, add a 0.5pt stroke for both of these shapes. Align it to inside and set its color to R=28, G=117, B=188.


Step 20

Select the "Happy" sublayer, make a copy, and move it to the top of the Layer panel. Let's focus on this fresh sublayer. First, rename it "Love," then select eye shapes and delete them. Go to the Symbols panel (Window > Symbols), open the fly-out menu, and go to Open Symbol Library > Web Icons. A window with a set of symbols should open.

Select the "Favorite"symbol, drag it onto your artboard, then go to Object > Expand. Focus on the resulting shape. First, pick the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the anchor points highlighted in the second image, and hit the Delete button. Now, the heart should look like the third image.

Next, you need to add a discrete roundness effect for the bottom anchor point. You'll need the Round Any Corner Script. Save it to your hard drive, select the bottom anchor point using the Direct Selection Tool (A), then go to File > Scripts > Other Script. Open the Round Any Corner Script, enter a 7px Radius and click OK. Fill the resulting shape with R=242, G=41, B=17. In the end it should look like the fourth image.


Step 21

Select the shape made in the previous step and duplicate it. Select these two heart shapes, resize them, and place them as shown. Now go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the data shown below, click OK, then add a 0.75pt stroke. Align it to inside and set its color to R=190, G=30, B=45.


Step 22

Select the "Love" sublayer and make a copy in front. Let's focus on this fresh sublayer. First, rename it "Surprise," then select eye and the mouth components and delete them. Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 10 by 5px shape, and place it as shown in the following image. Fill it with R=96, G=57, B=19. Then go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 3px radius, click OK, then go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the data shown below and click OK.


Step 23

Pick the Ellipse Tool (L), create two 8 by 8px shapes, and place them as shown in the first image. Fill them with R=241, G=242, B=242 and add a 1pt stroke. Align it to outside and set its color at R=237, G=147, B=39.

Reselect both circles and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the data shown in the first image and click OK. Again, pick the Ellipse Tool (L) and create two 2 by 2px shapes. Fill them with R=96, G=57, B=19, and place them as shown in the second image.


Step 24

Pick the Pen Tool (P), draw two vertical paths (6px tall) and place them as shown in the following image. Add a 1pt stroke for both of these paths, set the color at R=237, G=147, B=39, and go to the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke).

Click on the Round Cap button, then go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the data shown below, click OK, then select only the left path. Go to Effect > Warp > Arc, enter the data shown below, click OK, then select the right path. Again, go to Effect > Warp > Arc, enter the data shown below, then click OK.


Step 25

Select the "Love" sublayer, make a copy, and move it in the top of the Layers panel. Let's focus on this fresh sublayer. First, rename it "Blushing," then select eye components, and delete them. Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create two 4 by 6px shapes, and place them as shown in the following image. Fill them with R=96, G=57, B=19, then go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 2px radius, click OK, then go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the data shown below and click OK.


Step 26

Pick the Pen Tool (P), draw two horizontal paths (4px long), and place them as shown in the following image. Add a 1pt stroke for both of these paths, set the color at R=96, G=57, B=19, and go to the Stroke panel. Click on the Round Cap button, then go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the data shown below, click OK, then go to Effect > Warp > Arc. Again, enter the data shown below and click OK.


Step 27

Pick the Ellipse Tool (L), create two 5 by 5px shapes, and place them as shown. Fill them with R=237, G=28, B=36, and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 2px radius and click OK.


Step 28

Select the "Blushing" sublayer and make a copy in front. Let's focus on this fresh sublayer. First, rename it "Sick," then delete the eyes and the mouth components. Now, you need to change the color of the entire face.

Go to the Appearance panel and focus on the first fill. Replace the yellow with R=171, G=223, B=35, then open the Inner Glow effect and replace the existing color with the one shown below. Move to the second fill and replace the existing gradient with the one shown. Finally, select the stroke and replace the existing color with R=57, G=181, B=74.


Step 29

Let's continue with the eyes. Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create two 4 by 8px shapes, and place it as shown in the following image. Fill them with R=0, G=104, B=56, then go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 2px radius, click OK, then go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the data shown below and click OK.


Step 30

Pick the Pen Tool (P), draw two vertical paths (6px tall), and place them as shown in the following image. Add a 1pt stroke for both of these paths, set the color at R=0, G=104, B=56, and go to the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke). Click on the Round Cap button, then go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the data shown below, click OK, then select only the left path. Go to Effect > Warp > Arc, enter the data shown below, click OK, then select the right path. Again, go to Effect > Warp > Arc, enter the data shown below and click OK.


Step 31

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 6 by 4px shape, and place it as shown in the following image. Fill it with R=0, G=104, B=56, then go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 2px radius, click OK, then go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the data shown below and click OK.


Step 32

Once again, pick the Pen Tool (P), draw two vertical paths (6px tall) and place them as shown. Add a 1pt stroke for both of these paths, set the color at R=0, G=104, B=56, and go to the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke). Click on the Round Cap button, then go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow.

Enter the data shown below, click OK, then select only the left path. Go to Effect > Warp > Arc, enter the data shown below, click OK. Now select the right path. Again, go to Effect > Warp > Arc, enter the data shown below and click OK.


Step 33

Select the "Sick" sublayer and make a copy in front. Let's focus on this fresh sublayer. First, rename it "Angry," then delete the eyes and the mouth components. Again, you need to change the color of the entire face. Down below you have all the info that you need.


Step 34

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 12 by 4px shape, and place it as shown in the following image. Fill it with R=60, G=36, B=21, then go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 2px radius, click OK, then go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the data shown below and click OK.


Step 35

Let's continue with the eyes. Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create two 4 by 8px shapes, and place it as shown in the following image. Fill them with R=60, G=36, B=21, then go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 2px radius, click OK, then go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the data shown below and click OK.


Step 36

Pick the Pen Tool (P), draw the two paths shown below, and place them as shown in the following image. Add a 1pt stroke for both of these paths, set the color at R=0, G=104, B=56, and go to the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke). Click on the Round Cap button, then go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the data shown below and click OK.


Step 37

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 2 by 5px shape, and fill it with R=0, G=104, B=56. Pick the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the bottom anchor points and go to Object > Path > Average. Check Both and click OK. This will turn your rectangle into a pretty sharp triangle. Select it and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 1px radius, click OK, then make three copies. Rotate them and place them as shown in the final image.


Conclusion

The final emoticons icon set is below.

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