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Icon Design

How To Create An Academy Icon From Simple Shapes

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In this tutorial you will learn how to construct a cool academy icon by putting together simple shapes in Illustrator and then applying layer effects on them in Photoshop. I'm using a German versions of both Illustrator and Photoshop, so some screenshots are in German. You should be able to understand it fine though, as I provide detailed instructions and numerous sample images. Let's get started!

Final Image Preview

Below is the final image we will be working towards. Want access to the full Source files and downloadable copies of every tutorial, including this one? Join Vector Plus for just 9$ a month.

Tutorial Details

  • Program: Illustrator CS3 and Photoshop CS3
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Estimated Completion Time: 60 minutes

Step 1

Open up a new Illustrator document and switch to Outline mode (Command + Y). Begin creating four rectangles of the same size, using the Rectangle Tool (M). These will be the columns of our academy.

Step 2

Now add three more rectangles to each column. These will be the fluting of the column. Make the inner rectangle slightly bigger to give a little perspective.

Step 3

Create rectangles at the top and the bottom of each column. These will be the capital and the base of the column.

Step 4

Create three rectangles below the columns. These will be the stairway of our academy.

Step 5

Create a rectangle above the columns. This is the architrave of the academy.

Step 6

Create three small rectangles on each side of the architrave.

Step 7

Use the Pen Tool to create a triangular shape on top of the architrave. This is the roof.

Step 8

Create a smaller triangular shape within the roof.

Step 9

Place text in the center of the architrave. Choose a font you like, I chose Avenir Heavy.

Step 10

Create a pen icon with the Pen Tool and place it in the middle of our roof. You may want to draw one half, then flip a copy by going to Transform > Reflect > Vertical and hit copy. Then line up the two halves and use the Pathfinder tools to Merge them.

Step 11

Now there are several ways to create a sunburst effect in Illustrator. I usually do it this way: Create a small circle. Give it a dashed stroke with a really big Weight (250pt in this example). Now set the dash to a value that suits you (this determines how many beams your sunburst will have). I set it to 1,3pt. Set the gap value if you want to, I didn't. Make sure to set Align Stroke to Outside.

Step 12

Expand Appearance and place the shape beneath the pen shape.

Step 13

Duplicate the smaller triangular shape. Crop it with the sunburst shape via the Pathfinder.

Step 14

Clean the sunburst shape up a little so that nothing of it is visible inside the pen shape.

Step 15

Create a rectangle behind the columns. This is the background of the academy. Create a rectangle that matches the dimensions of your document. This is the image background.

Step 16

Now we're done with the Illustrator part of this tutorial. We will now export our academy into a PSD file. However, there are certain things to take care of when exporting into PSD.

Illustrator merges all paths in a group into one single layer making it impossible to edit them separately. To avoid that we need to place every path in a group of its own. It is very helpful to then name the groups correctly, it makes it much easier to work with them in Photoshop. After grouping and naming everything correctly your layers window should look something like that shown below.

Step 17

Select all paths and give them a white fill with no stroke, colors will be applied later in Photoshop. Then go to File > Export and export into PSD. Use the following settings.

Step 18

Open the exported file in Photoshop. What you see will be a completely white image. Luckily we have named everything properly so we can begin with applying layer effects. Start by giving the background layer a Color Overlay of 80% gray. Give the academy background layer a Color Overlay of 40% gray and a Gradient Overlay of Multiply, Opacity at 60%, black to white, and linear at 90°.

Step 19

The top step of the stairway has the following layer effects:

  • Inner Shadow: Screen, Opacity at 75%, Distance at 3px, Size at 5px, white
  • Inner Glow: Multiply, Opacity at 25%, Size at 3px, black
  • Color Overlay: Multiply, Opacity at 100%, 80% grey
  • Gradient Overlay: Multiply, Opacity at 50%, linear 90°, white to black
  • Stroke: Size: 1px, Position at Outside, Multiply, Opacity at 25%, black

When applying the Inner Shadow set the light angle to 90° and check Use Global Light. The steps below have the same effects, but slightly lighter Color Overlays (B: 85/B: 90).

Step 20

The column capitals have the following layer effects:

  • Drop Shadow: Multiply, Opacity at 60%, Distance at 2px, Size at 5px, black
  • Inner Shadow: Screen, Opacity at 75%, Distance at 2px, Size at 4px, white
  • Inner Glow: Multiply, Opacity at 25%, Size at 3px, black
  • Color Overlay: Multiply, Opacity at 100%, 98% gray
  • Gradient Overlay: Multiply, Opacity at 40%, reflected 0°, black to white
  • Stroke: Size of 1px, Position of Outside, Multiply, Opacity at 20%, black

The column bases have the same layer effects but no Drop Shadow.

Step 21

The columns itself have the same layer effects as the column capitals but no Drop Shadow, no Inner Shadow and no Color Overlay. The size of the Inner Glow is 5 px.

Step 22

For the fluting we have to give each of the three rectangles slightly different layer effects. The center one gets the following:

  • Outer Glow: Screen, Opacity at 100%, Size at 5px, white
  • Inner Glow: Multiply, Opacity at 10%, Size at 5px, black
  • Color Overlay: Multiply, Opacity at 100%, Color: H=0;, S=1%, and B=94%
  • Gradient Overlay: Multiply, Opacity at 10%, reflected 0°, black to white
  • Stroke: Size at 1px, Position: Inside, Multiply, Opacity at 35%, black

The left one has the same effects except for these changes:

  • Gradient Overlay: Multiply, Opacity at 10%, linear 0°, black to white
  • Stroke: Size: 1px, Position of Inside, Multiply, Opacity at 25%, black

And the right one has the same effects as the left one except of course for the Gradient Overlay which is:

  • Gradient Overlay: Multiply, Opacity at 10%, linear 0°, white to black

Step 23

Now for the architrave. It gets the following layer effects:

  • Drop Shadow: Multiply, Opacity at 35%, Distance at 5px, Size at 5px, black
  • Inner Shadow: Screen, Opacity at 75%, Distance at 5px, Size of 3px, white
  • Inner Glow: Multiply, Opacity at 25%, Size of 2px, black
  • Gradient Overlay: Multiply, Opacity at 20%, linear 90°, black to white
  • Stroke: Size of 1px, Position: Outside, Multiply, Opacity at 50%, black

Step 24

The horizontal stripes at the left and at the right get the following layer effects:

  • Drop Shadow: Screen, Opacity at 75%, Distance of 2px, Size of 2px, white
  • Inner Shadow: Multiply, Opacity at 50%, Distance of 3px, Size of 2px, black
  • Color Overlay: Multiply, Opacity at 100%, 80% gray

The text gets the same layer effects with the following changes:

  • Inner Glow: Screen, Opacity at 75%, Size of 2px, white
  • Color Overlay: Multiply, Opacity at 100%, 40% gray

Set the text anti-alias to smooth, default for Illustrator imports is crisp.

Step 25

The roof gets the same effects as the architrave but no Drop Shadow. The inner part of the roof gets the following effects:

  • Drop Shadow: Screen, Opacity at 75%, Distance of 5px, Size of 5px, white
  • Inner Shadow: Multiply, Opacity at 50%, Distance of 5px, Size of 10px, black
  • Inner Glow: Screen, Opacity at 75%, Size of 2px, white
  • Color Overlay: Multiply, Opacity at 100%, 70% gray
  • Gradient Overlay: Multiply, Opacity at 80%, linear 90°,white to black

Step 26

The pen shape gets the following layer effects:

  • Drop Shadow: Multiply, Opacity at 50%, Distance of 2px, Size of 2px, black
  • Inner Shadow: Screen, Opacity at 50% Distance of 2px, Size of 2px, white
  • Inner Glow: Screen, Opacity at 50%, Size of 5px, white
  • Color Overlay: Multiply, Opacity at 100%, Color: H=0°, S=1%, and B=100%
  • Gradient Overlay: Multiply, Opacity at 10%, linear 90°, black to white
  • Stroke: Size of 1px, Position set to Outside, Multiply, Opacity at 50%, black

Wow, that was quite a lot of layer effects. Vector Plus members can review all the styles located in the PSD source file. Of course it isn't necessary to stick to these values. Play around and find out what you like the best. Now that we are through with the layer effects, let's do the rest.

Step 27

Create an opacity mask for the sunburst shape. In the opacity mask, select the Gradient tool (G) and draw a radial white-to-black gradient from the center of the sunburst towards its ends. Then set the layer's Opacity to 60%.

Step 28

For the shadows on the columns I use this simple method: Control-click on the column layer thumbnail and press Select Pixels. This creates a selection of the layers content. Then with the Elliptical Marquee subtract a portion of the selection so you get something like that shown below.

Step 29

Go to Select > Modify > Contract and contract your selection by 1 px. Create a new layer, name it "Column 1 shadow" and fill the selection with black.

Create an opacity mask for this layer. In the opacity mask, select the Gradient Tool and draw a linear white to black gradient from the bottom-right corner to the upper-left part of your shadow. Set the Opacity of the layer to 40% and you should have a shadow like that shown below.

Step 30

Repeat with the other three columns. I decided to make the shadows bigger to the right.

Step 31

Use the same technique to add highlights to the staircase: Select Pixels of one of the steps, subtract a portion, contract by 1, create a new layer, fill with white, add opacity mask, draw a gradient and then set the layer's Opacity to 40%.

Final Image

Add highlights to the other two steps, to the roof and to the pen shape and you're done!

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