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  1. Design & Illustration
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Draw a Compass Icon With a Long Shadow in Adobe Photoshop

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial, you will learn how to design a nice simple compass icon in Adobe Photoshop, using tools such as the Pen Tool, Rounded Rectangle Tool, and Rectangle Tool. You will also learn how to combine basic shapes to create a more complex shape. Finally, you'll see how to add a long shadow to the icon. Let's get started.

Tutorial Assets

You will need the following free assets to follow this tutorial.

1. Preparing the Canvas

Step 1

Make a new file in Photoshop (File > New). Set its size to 500 pixels × 500 pixels.

New File

Step 2

Click the Add Adjustment Layer icon in the lower part of the Layers panel. Select Solid Color.

Add Adjustment Layer Solid Color

Step 3

Select light red (#db687b) for the color.

Selecting color

Step 4

Double-click the Solid Color layer and then activate Pattern Overlay. Use the free pixel pattern from PSDfreemium. Set its mode to Multiply with low Opacity, 20%.

Pattern Overlay

Step 5

Change its layer name to background. I suggest renaming each layer to help you recognize the layer's function.

Renaming layer

2. Designing the Base

Step 1

First, we want to build the icon's base. Set the foreground color to #3ab2cb. Activate the Rounded Rectangle Tool, and set its Radius to 30 px. Shift-click and drag to draw a rounded rectangle.

Draw a rounded rectangle shape

Step 2

Double-click the shape and activate Gradient Overlay. Select white to black gradient. Reduce Opacity with Blend Mode Overlay.

Gradient Overlay
Result after Gradient Overlay added

Step 3

Make a new layer and place it above the icon base. Control-click the base layer to make a new selection based on its shape. Right-click and select Stroke. In the Stroke dialog box, select a darker blue color (#1d6b80) with Width 2 px.

Add Stroke
Result after adding stroke

Step 4

Add a layer mask to the stroke layer, and fill it with black. Paint its lower half with white to reveal the stroke.

Hide some of the stroke line

Step 5

Repeat the previous shape, and add another stroke line on a new layer. This time, use a lighter blue color with Width 1 px.

Apply lighter colored stroke

Step 6

Add a layer mask and then fill it with black to hide the stroke. Paint the upper part to reveal some of the stroke line. The combination of light stroke on top and dark stroke on the bottom will add a 3D effect to the base.

Hide some of the light colored stroke

3. Drawing the Shape

Step 1

Draw a circular shape and then add a smaller circular shape inside it with path mode Subtract Front Shape. We should now have a ring shape. For its color, set it to white (#e4ffff).

Sutract Front Shape

Step 2

Add a triangle path on the upper part of the ring shape. Set its mode to Combine Shapes.

Add triangle path

Step 3

Add another triangle on its lower part.

Add another triangle
Combine Shapes

Step 4

Duplicate the two triangles. Rotate them 90°.

Duplicate and rotate the triangles

We now have a triangle pointing in four directions.

Four directions

Step 5

Repeat the process. This time add smaller triangles. Rotate them 45°.

Add smaller triangle
The result after triangles added

Step 6

Double-click the layer shape and then add Gradient Overlay and Drop Shadow. See the following screenshot for its settings.

Gradient Overlay
Drop Shadow

Step 7

Add a smaller ring shape on top of the previous shape. Set its color to #eaeded.

Add small ring shape
Small ring shape on top of the icon shape

Step 8

Add a half triangle shape covering half of the point in the compass shape.

Add half triangle

Continue adding another half triangle covering the other points. This shape will create the illusion that the compass shape is extruded, not flat.

Add another half triangles

Step 9

Double-click the shape and choose Gradient Overlay.

Gradient Overlay

For the gradient, set its Style to Linear with color transition from gray (#d7d7d7) to white (#ffffff).

Color in the gradient
The result

Step 10

Add a new layer, and make sure it is placed above all the other layers. Control-click the previous shape we just made. We will have a new selection based on its shape. Right-click and select Stroke. Set Width to 1 px, Location: Inside, with color #eeefef.

Add thin Stroke

This will give you a thin stroke line along the shape.

Add thin stroke line

Step 11

Add a layer mask to the layer shape and fill it with black. Paint some parts of the stroke line with white to reveal them.

Reveal some of the stroke

Step 12

Let's make the shape appear realistic by adding shadow underneath it. Add a new layer and place it under the compass shape. Control-click the compass shape layer to make a new selection based on its shape. Click Edit > Fill. Set Content to Black and then click OK to fill the selection with black.

Fill black behind the shape

Step 13

Remove the selection using Control-D. Click Filter > Blur > Motion Blur. Set its Angle to -45°.

Add Motion Blur

Step 14

Soften the shadow using a Gaussian Blur filter. Click Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.

Soften shadow using Gaussian Blur

Step 15

For now, this is not the shadow we want. To fix this, add a layer mask to the layer and then paint the unneeded shadow on the upper left side of the shadow. We only need shadow on the right side of the shape. See the image below for reference. Make sure you also reduce its layer Opacity to make the shadow subtle.

Reduce Opacity
The result

Step 16

Let's add an arrow on the center of the compass shape. Start by adding a rectangle and then apply a transformation (Control-T). First, rotate it 45°. Second, squeeze its corner until we have an arrow shape. Third, rotate it again.

Draw a rectangle rotate it
Squeeze the shape rotate it

Step 17

Double-click the arrow shape and then apply Inner Glow, Gradient Overlay, and Drop Shadow with the following settings.

Add Layer Styles
Inner Glow
Gradient Overlay
Drop Shadow

Step 18

We want the arrow color to be half white and half red. To do this, simply duplicate the shape (Control-J) and then remove its Layer Styles. Set it to Clipping Mask. Click its bottom point with the Pen Tool to delete it.

Fill half the arrow with red

Step 19

Add a small circle on the center of the arrow. Double-click it and then apply Inner GlowGradient Overlay, and Drop Shadow.

Add small circle on center of the arrow
Inner Glow
Gradient Overlay
Drop Shadow

4. Add Shadow

Step 1

Add a new layer and place it between the compass shape and its arrow. Draw a polygonal selection as seen below using the Polygonal Tool and then fill it with black. Reduce the layer's Opacity to 20%Control-click the icon base and add a layer mask. Now, the shadow can only be seen on the icon's base.

Add long shadow

Step 2

To enhance the illusion that the compass shape is extruded, we want to add more shadow on it. Make a new layer between the compass shape and its arrow. Paint black on the arrow shadow that touches the compass shape.

Add stronger shadow

Step 3

Add another layer and then another subtle shadow behind the arrow. Activate the Brush Tool with 0% Hardness and set its Opacity to 5%. Paint shadow behind the arrow.

Add subtle shadow

Step 4

Add a new layer. This time add highlight to the icon. Paint white on the icon's corner. Reduce its layer Opacity.

Add highlight

Repeat this step, painting highlight on other parts of the icon until it doesn't appear too flat.

Add another highlights

Step 5

Now, let's add shadow to the icon's base. Make a new layer underneath the base layer. Control-click the base layer, and fill the selection with black.

Adding shadow

Step 6

Hit Control-D to remove the selection. Soften the shadow by applying Gaussian Blur.

Soften shadow using Gaussian Blur

Step 7

You can duplicate the shadow by clicking Control-J if you are not satisfied with the result and want darker shadow. If you find it too dark, you can tone it down by reducing its Opacity.

Before and after adding more shadow

Final Result

And this is our final result. I hope you enjoy the tutorial and now understand the technique of creating a flat icon with a long shadow.

The final result
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