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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Halloween
Design

How to Create a Halloween Themed Icon Pack in Adobe Illustrator

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

It’s almost that special time of the year when the dead once again rise from their graves and walk among us, giving all living creatures a night to remember. So I thought it would be nice to give you a small treat in the form of a Halloween themed icon tutorial, using some of the most basic tools that Adobe Illustrator has to offer.

So grab a slice of that sweet pumpkin pie, and let’s get started!

Oh, and don’t forget you can always expand the pack by heading over to Envato Market where you'll find tons of Halloween themed icon packs.

1. Set Up a New Document

Since I’m more than sure that you already have Illustrator up and running in the background, bring it up and let’s set up a New Document (File > New or Control-N) using the following settings:

  • Number of Artboards: 1
  • Width: 800 px
  • Height: 600 px
  • Units: Pixels

And from the Advanced tab:

  • Color Mode: RGB
  • Raster Effects: Screen (72ppi)
  • Align New Objects to Pixel Grid: checked
setting up a new document

2. Set Up a Custom Grid 

As you probably already know, Illustrator lets you take advantage of its powerful Grid System by setting it up using the lowest possible values, so that in the end you’ll have full control over your shapes since you can make sure they’re perfectly snapped to the underlying Pixel Grid.

Step 1

The settings that we’re interested in can be found under the Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid submenu, and should be adjusted as follows:

  • Gridline every: 1 px
  • Subdivisions: 1
setting up a custom grid

Quick tip: you can learn more about grids by reading this in-depth piece on how Illustrator’s Grid System Works.

Step 2

Once we’ve set up our custom grid, all we need to do in order to make sure our shapes look crisp is enable the Snap to Grid option found under the View menu, which will transform into Snap to Pixel each time you enter Pixel Preview mode.

Now, since we’re aiming to create the icons using a pixel-perfect workflow, I strongly recommend you go through my how to create pixel-perfect artwork tutorial, which will help you widen your technical skills in no time.

3. Set Up the Layers

With the New Document created, it would be a good idea to layer our project, since this way we can maintain a steady workflow by focusing on one icon at a time.

That being said, bring up the Layers panel, and create a total of four layers, which we will rename as follows:

  • layer 1: reference grids
  • layer 2: grave
  • layer 3: coffin
  • layer 4: guillotine
setting up the layers

4. Create the Reference Grids

The Reference Grids (or Base Grids) are a set of precisely delimited reference surfaces, which allow us to build our icons by focusing on size and consistency.

Usually, the size of the grids determines the size of the actual icons, and they should always be the first decision you make when you start a new project, since you’ll always want to start from the smallest possible size and build on that.

Now, in our case, we’re going to be creating the icon pack using just one size, more exactly 128 x 128 px, which is a fairly large one.

Step 1

Start by locking all but the reference grid layer, and then grab the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 128 x 128 px orange (#F15A24) square, which will help define the overall size of our icons.

creating the main shape for the reference grid

Step 2

Add another smaller 120 x 120 px one (#FFFFFF) which will act as our active drawing area, thus giving us an all-around 4 px padding.

creating the main shape for the active drawing area

Step 3

Group the two squares composing the reference grid using the Control-G keyboard shortcut, and then create two copies at a distance of 40 px from one another, making sure to align them to the center of the Artboard.

Once you’re done, lock the current layer and move on to the next one, where we’ll start working on our first icon.

creating and positioning all three reference grids

5. Create the Grave Icon

First, make sure you’re on the right layer—that would be the second one—and then zoom in on the first reference grid so that you can have a better view of what you’re going to be creating.

Step 1

Start working on the grave’s bottom section by grabbing the Rectangle Tool (M) and using it to create a 90 x 10 px shape (#AFA0A0), which we will position about 2 px from the active drawing area’s lower section, leaving an 8 px space gap on its left side.

positioning the main shape for the graves bottom section

Quick tip: I recommend you use Pixel Preview mode (View > Pixel Preview or Alt-Control-Y) each time you have to deal with precise positioning, since it will be far easier to follow the steps this way.

example of using the pixel preview mode to position the shapes

Step 2

Give the shape that we’ve just created a thick outline, by making a copy of it (Control-C > Control-F) which we will color using #2A2F35, and then adjust it by flipping its Fill with a 4 px thick Stroke (Shift-X).

Once you’re done, select and group the two shapes (Control-G) since we will be using them again in the next step.

creating the outline for the graves bottom section using the stroke method

Quick tip: for this tutorial, we’re going to be creating all of the outlines using the Stroke Method, so I recommend you take a couple of minutes and go through my comparison of the two main methods for creating line icons, since it will probably answer all your questions.

Step 3

Create a copy of the shapes that we’ve just grouped (Control-C > Control-F) and position them towards the right side, leaving a 6 px gap between them and the active drawing area. Since it will act as the thicker side section, make sure to give it some depth by changing the color of the fill shape to #917D7D.

adjusting the color of the graves bottom side section

Step 4

Add a slightly narrower 82 x 8 px rectangle (#917D7D) with a 4 px outline (#2A2F35) which we will group (Control-G) and then position above the first shape that we’ve created, making sure that the outlines overlap.

creating the graves second bottom section

Step 5

Create a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the two shapes from the previous step, and position the duplicates towards the right side of the active drawing area, leaving a 10 px gap between them.

Oh, and don’t forget to adjust the side fill shape’s color to something a little bit darker (#726060).

adding the side section to the graves second step

Step 6

Start working on the gravestone by drawing a 64 x 98 px rectangle (#C4B8B8), which we will adjust by setting the Corner Radius of its top Anchor Points to 32 px within the Transform Panel. Give it a 4 px outline (#2A2F35) and then group (Control-G) and center align the two shapes to the bottom section of the grave.

creating and positioning the main shapes for the graves upper section

Step 7

Create the side section of the gravestone by drawing a 44 x 98 px rectangle (#917D7D), which we will adjust by setting the Corner Radius of its top-right Anchor Point to 32 px. Add the 4 px thick outline (#2A2F35) using the Stroke method and then position the two shapes towards the right side of the front section, leaving a 19 px space gap between them and the active drawing area.

creating and positioning the gravestones side section

Step 8

Since at this point we have the main shapes of our icon, we can start adding little details to it.

Start by double clicking on the front section of the gravestone and drawing the cross using a 24 x 8 px shape (#2A2F35) for the horizontal line and an 8 x 42 px one (#2A2F35) for the vertical one. Group the two shapes (Control-G) and then align them to the center of the underlying shape.

creating and positioning the cross onto the gravestone

Step 9

Create the little name plate by drawing a 28 x 14 px rectangle (#917D7D) which we will adjust by removing an 8 x 8 px circle from each of its corners. Give the resulting shape an outline (#2A2F35), two 2 px tall rectangles (#2A2F35), and then position it under the cross, at a distance of 12 px.

creating and positioning the name plate onto the gravestone

Step 10

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create the main shape of the garlic by drawing a 12 x 12 px circle (#EAD3D3) (1) which we will adjust by moving its top Anchor Point towards the outside by 2 px (2). Sharpen the resulting tip by clicking on it using the Anchor Point Tool (3) and then give it a 2 px thick outline (#2A2F35) (4).

Give the object some depth by adding an ellipse with 2 px thick Stroke (#2A2F35) (5) and then finish it off by drawing the little bottom line sections using the Pen Tool (P) (5 and 6).

creating the little garlic

Step 11

Group all the garlic’s shapes together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut, and then position them onto the front section of the gravestone, leaving a 54 px gap towards the top, and a smaller 8 px one towards the right side.

positioning the garlic onto the grave icon

Step 12

Grab the Pen Tool (P) and, using a 2 px thick Stroke (#2A2F35), draw the little rope holding the garlic to the gravestone.

adding the rope line to the garlic

Step 13

Finish off the icon by adding little detail lines using the Pen Tool (P). Set your Stroke’s Weight to 2 px using #2A2F35 for the color with the Cap set to Round, and simply take your time and add line segments of different lengths to the front and side sections of the icon.

Once you’re done, select all the icon's composing shapes and group them (Control-G) so that they won’t get separated by accident.

grave icon finished

6. Create the Coffin Icon

Assuming you’ve already locked the previous layer and moved on up to the next one, zoom in on the second reference grid and let’s start working on our little coffin icon.

Step 1

Create the front section of the icon by drawing a 72 x 72 px square (#F2A85F) followed by another 72 x 44 px rectangle (#F2A85F) just above it. Unite the two into a single shape using Pathfinder’s Unite Shape Mode, and then position the resulting shape 12 px from the left side of the active drawing area.

creating and positioning the main shape for the coffins front section

Step 2

Adjust the new shape by individually selecting each of its corners using the Direct Selection Tool (A), and horizontally pushing them towards the inside by 18 px using the Move Tool (right click > Transform > Move > and enter +18 or -18 depending on which side the Anchor resides on).

adjusting the corners of the coffins front section

Step 3

Add a 4 px thick outline (#2A2F35) to the adjusted shape using the Stroke method, and then select and group both of them (Control-G).

adding the outline to the coffins front section

Step 4

Create the coffin’s side section by grabbing a copy (Control-C) of its front section, which we will paste underneath it (Control-B), positioning it towards the right side, 10 px from the active drawing area’s edge, changing the color of the fill shape to #C67F40.

adding the side section to the coffin icon

Step 5

Grab the Ellipse Tool (L) and create the front hole by drawing a 20 x 20 px circle which we will color using #C67F40. Give the shape a 4 px outline (#2A2F35) and then group and position the two 16 px from the top edge of the active drawing area.

creating and positioning the main shapes for the coffins front facing hole

Step 6

Add depth to the front facing hole, by creating a copy of it (Control-C > Control-F) which we will move towards the right side by 8 px, masking it using the circle from underneath (select the shapes > right click > Make Clipping Mask), and then adjusting it by changing the color of the fill shape to #965C30.

Oh, and since we want the hole’s composing shapes to stick together, don’t forget to select and group them using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

adding depth to the coffins front facing hole

Step 7

Grab the Pen Tool (P) and draw a 4 px thick horizontal line segment (#2A2F35) over the coffin’s side section to add the required amount of depth to it.

adding the horizontal line segment to the coffins side section

Step 8

With the line in place, add four 4 x 4 px bolts (#2A2F35), two above and two under it, leaving a 2 px space gap between them.

adding the little bolts to the coffins side section

Step 9

Create the little spider by drawing a 6 x 8 px ellipse (#2A2F35) for the body and a smaller 4 x 4 px circle (#2A2F35) for the head, which will slightly overlap it. Then, using the Pen Tool (P), draw the legs using a 2 px thick Stroke with the color set to #2A2F35.

creating the little spider

Step 10

Group (Control-G) and then position the little spider onto the coffin’s front section, about 16 px from the hole, drawing the little web line using a 2 px thick Stroke (#2A2F35).

positioning the little spider onto the coffin

Step 11

Finish off the icon by adding the little detail line segments, as we did with the grave, with the help of the Pen Tool (P). Use the same 2 px thick Stroke (#2A2F35) with a Round Cap.

Once you’re done, select all of the icon’s composing shapes and group them together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

coffin icon finished

7. Create the Guillotine Icon

We are now down to the third and last icon from the pack, so make sure you’re on the right layer, and zoom in on its reference grid so that we can get started.

Step 1

Start working on the bottom section of the icon, by creating an 80 x 8 px rectangle which we will color using #989E98, give a 4 px outline (#2A2F35), and then group (Control-G). Position the two towards the bottom edge of the active drawing area, leaving a 14 px space gap to their left side.

creating and positioning the front section of the guillotines lower body

Step 2

Create the side section by grabbing a copy (Control-C) of the shapes that we’ve just created and pasting it to the back (Control-B), changing the color of the fill shape to (#636566). Align the copy towards the right side of the active drawing area, leaving the same 14 px space gap.

adding the side section to the lower body of the guillotine

Step 3

Create the top section of the guillotine by drawing an 80 x 12 px rectangle (#989E98) with a 4 px outline (#2A2F35) which we will group (Control-G) and then use to create a copy (Control-C > Control-B) that we will align to the side section of the lower body, changing the color of the fill shape to #636566.

creating and positioning the top section of the guillotines body

Step 4

Grab the Rectangle Tool (M) and draw a 6 x 96 px shape which we will color using #989E98, and then give it a 4 px thick outline (#2A2F35) using the Stroke method. Group (Control-G) and position both shapes between the top and bottom sections of the guillotine, at a distance of 20 px from the left edge of the active drawing area.

creating and positioning the front section of the guillotines left leg

Step 5

Give the leg that we’ve just created some depth by grabbing a copy of it (Control-C > Control-B) which we will align to its right side, changing the color of the fill shape to #3C4549 and then adding a 4 px thick line segment (#2A2F35) on top, making sure to select and group (Control-G) them afterwards.

adding depth to the guillotines left leg

Step 6

Add the second leg using a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the one that we’ve just created and positioning it towards the right at a distance of 18 px from the edge of the active drawing area.

adding the right leg to the guillotines body

Step 7

Start working on the section that would normally hold the head of the victim, otherwise known as the lunette, by creating a 56 x 28 px rectangle which we will color using #636566. Adjust the shape by removing a 16 x 16 px circle from its center, and then add a 4 px thick outline (#2A2F35), centering it in the lower section of the legs.

creating and positioning the main shapes for the guillotines lunette

Step 8

Add some depth to the lunette’s hole by creating an 18 x 20 px rectangle (#3C4549) (1) and adding a 16 x 16 px circle which we will use to create a cutout from its right side (2). Once you’ve made the adjustments, give the resulting shape a 4 px outline (#2A2F35) (3) and then position both of them underneath the lunette (right click > Arrange > Send to Back).

adding depth to the guillotines lunette

Step 9

Grab the Pen Tool (P) and draw two line segments connecting the hole to the sides of the lunette using a 4 px thick Stroke (#2A2F35). Once you’re done, select all of the lunette’s composing shapes and group them using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

adding the horizontal line segments to the guillotines lunette

Step 10

Create the blade by drawing a 52 x 22 px rectangle (#C4B8B8) which we will adjust by selecting and then pushing its bottom-right anchor point towards the top by 8 px (right click > Transform > Move > Vertical > -8).

Give the resulting shape a 4 px outline (#3C4549) and then group (Control-G) and position them both in the upper section of the guillotine.

creating and positioning the guillotines blade

Step 11

Add the little rope (#2A2F35) acting as the release handle by drawing it using either the Rectangle Tool (M) or the Pen Tool (P). Then group (Control-G) and position its composing shapes towards the right side of the blade.

adding the rope handle to the guillotine icon

Step 12

Next, create the little rat by using an 8 x 4 px rounded rectangle (#2A2F35) with a 1 px Corner Radius for the body, which we will adjust by setting the Radius of its top-left corner to 2 px. Add the head using a 4 x 4 px circle (#2A2F35), which we will adjust by selecting its right Anchor Point using the Direct Selection Tool (A) and pushing it towards the right by 2 px.

Add the little ear using a 2 x 2 px circle (#2A2F35) and then draw the tail using the Pen Tool (P), grouping all of its shapes together (Control-G).

creating and positioning the rat onto the guillotine icon

Step 13

Take your time and add the dripping blood using #DD5228 as your fill color, giving the shapes a 2 px thick outline (#2A2F35).

adding the dripping blood to the guillotine icon

Step 14

Finish off the icon by adding the little detail lines as we did with all the other icons, using a 2 px thick Stroke (#2A2F35) with a Round Cap.

Then, once you’re done, select all of the icon’s composing shapes and group them using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

guillotine icon finished

The End

There you have it: a clean and straightforward tutorial on how to create an awesome looking Halloween themed icon pack. I hope you’ve managed to follow each and every step and most importantly learned a new trick along the way.

finished project
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