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Design

How to Create a Love-Themed Icon Pack in Adobe Illustrator

This post is part of a series called Love Week.
How to Create a Heart-Shaped Tree in Adobe Illustrator
How to Create a Simple Wedding Confetti Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Since Valentine’s Day isn’t all that far away, I thought it would be nice to give you a head start this year and teach you how to create a nice little love-themed icon pack that you could use in any personal projects that involve your loved ones. As always, we’re going to be using some of the basic tools that you probably already work with on a daily basis, so that you can follow each and every step.

So without wasting any more time, grab a cup of that rose tea, and let’s get started.

Oh, and before I forget, you can always expand the project by checking out GraphicRiver where you can find tons of love-themed icons.

1. How to Set Up a New Document

Since I’m 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)
  • Preview Mode: Default
setting up a new document

Quick tip: some of you might have noticed that the Align New Objects to Pixel Grid option is missing. That's because I’m running the new CC 2017 version of the software, where great changes have been made to the way Illustrator handles the way shapes snap to the underlying Pixel Grid.

2. How to Set Up a Custom Grid

Since we’re going to be creating the icons using a pixel-perfect workflow, we’ll want to set up a nice little Grid so that we can have full control over our shapes—that is if we’re running the older version of the software.

Step 1

Go to the Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid submenu, and adjust the following settings:

  • 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, if you’re new to the whole “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. How to Set Up the Layers

With the New Document created, it would be a good idea to structure our project using a couple of layers, 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: heart balloons
  • layer 3: proposal ring
  • layer 4: cake
setting up the layers

4. How to 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 on 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 the reference grids onto the artboard

5. How to Create the Heart Balloons

Let’s kick off the project by creating our first icon of the bunch, which as you can see is a mixture of three heart-shaped balloons meant to uplift the heart of your loved one. That being said, 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 we can get started.

Step 1

Start working on the larger balloon by creating a 48 x 48 px circle, which we will color using #ED664C and then align to the underlying active drawing area’s top-left corner, at a distance of 4 px from its top edge and 14 px from its left one.

creating and positioning the main shape for the balloon icons larger heart

Step 2

Create another 48 x 48 px circle, which we will color using the same value (#ED664C), and then position on the right side of the underlying active drawing area, maintaining the same distances (4 px from the top, 14 px from the right).

creating and positioning the right section of the balloon icons larger heart

Step 3

Create the main shape for the lower section, using another 48 x 48 px circle (#ED664C) which we will center align to the underlying active drawing area, positioning it at a distance of 36 px from its bottom edge.

creating and positioning the lower section of the balloon icons larger heart

Step 4

Select all the circles, and then unite them into a single larger shape using Pathfinder’s Unite Shape Mode.

uniting the three circles to create the balloon icons larger heart

Step 5

Clean up the resulting shape by removing the four middle anchor points that were created once you united the circles, by simply left clicking on them with the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-).

adjusting the main shape of the balloon icons larger heart

Step 6

Adjust the new shape by first turning on Pixel Preview mode (Alt-Control-Y), and then selecting its left anchor point’s bottom handle and dragging it to the bottom until you have a distance of 22 px between its end point and origin.

adjusting the shape of the balloon icons larger heart

Step 7

Do the same thing for the heart’s bottom anchor point by selecting its left handle and dragging it to the outside until you have a distance of 16 px between its end point and origin.

Once you’re done, you can exit Pixel Preview mode using the Alt-Control-Y keyboard shortcut.

adjusting the bottom shape of the balloon icons larger heart

Step 8

Once we’ve finished making the adjustments to the left half of the heart, we will need to carry them out on its right side as well. We will do so by first cutting it in half, and then selecting and removing its right anchor points and pressing Control-J immediately afterwards to close the resulting path.

cutting the larger adjusted heart into half

Step 9

Create a copy of the resulting shape (Control-C > Control-F) which we will vertically reflect (right click > Transform > Reflect > Vertical) and then position on the right side of the original, making sure to select and unite the two afterwards using Pathfinder’s Unite Shape Mode.

uniting the larger hearts halves into a single larger shape

Step 10

Give the resulting shape an outline using the Stroke method. Create a copy of it (Control-C) which we will paste in front (Control-F) and then adjust by setting its color to #252730. Then flip its Fill with its Stroke (Shift-X), making sure to set its Weight to 8 px and its Corner to Round Join.

Once you’re done, select both shapes and group them using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

adding the outline to the balloon icons larger heart

Step 11

Create the balloon’s tied section using a 20 x 12 px rectangle, which we will color using #C15846 and then center align to the underlying active drawing area, at a distance of 24 px from its bottom edge.

creating and positioning the main shape for the larger hearts bottom tied section

Step 12

Adjust the rectangle that we’ve just created by individually selecting and pushing its top anchor points to the inside by 4 px (right click > Transform > Move > Horizontal > + / - 4 px depending on which side you start with).

adjusting the shape of the larger hearts tied section

Step 13

Give the resulting shape an 8 px thick outline (#252730) using the Stroke method, making sure to set its Corner to Round Join. Once you’re done, don’t forget to select and group the two shapes together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

adding the outline to the larger hearts tied section

Step 14

Select the Pen Tool (P) and then draw in the piece of string holding the balloon, using an 8 px thick Stroke with the color set to #252730

Start from the center of the tied section’s outline, and go all the way to the active drawing area’s bottom edge, selecting and grouping (Control-G) all of the shapes that we have so far afterwards.

drawing in the little string line to the bottom section of the larger balloon icon

Step 15

Grab a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the heart that we’ve just finished working on, and use it to create one of the smaller ones, by scaling it down using a 50% value increment (right click > Transform > Scale > Uniform > 50%). 

Adjust the resulting shape’s outline by setting the Weight of its Stroke to 8 px, and then align it to the left side of the underlying active drawing area, positioning it at a distance of 24 px from its bottom edge.

creating and positioning the main shapes for the smaller left-sided heart balloon

Step 16

Set the color of the heart’s fill shape to a darker red (#C15846), and then draw in the little string section using a 16 px tall 8 px thick Stroke (#252730), grouping (Control-G) and positioning them underneath the larger heart afterwards (right click > Arrange > Send to Back).

finishing off the left-sided heart balloon

Step 17

Create the right-sided heart balloon, using a copy of the left one (Control-C > Control-F) which we will align to the opposite side of the active drawing area, positioning it at a distance of 4 px from its bottom edge.

Once you’re done, don’t forget to select and group all of the icon’s composing sections together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

finishing off the heart balloons icon

6. How to Create the Proposal Ring Icon

Assuming you’ve already moved on up to the next layer (that would be the third one), zoom in on the second reference grid and let’s start working on the little proposal ring.

Step 1

Create the diamond’s main shape using a 32 x 12 px rectangle, which we will color using #52B9D1 and then center align to the underlying active drawing area, positioning it at a distance of 4 px from its top edge.

creating and positioning the main shape for the proposal rings diamond

Step 2

Adjust the shape that we’ve just created by individually selecting and pushing its top anchor points to the inside by 6 px with the help of the Move tool (right click > Transform > Move > + / - 6 px depending on which side you start with).

adjusting the top section of the proposal rings diamond

Step 3

Using the Add Anchor Point Tool (+), add a new anchor to the center of the shape’s bottom edge, and then push it down by a distance of 14 px using the Move tool (right click > Transform > Move > Vertical > 14 px).

adjusting the bottom section of the proposal rings diamond

Step 4

Give the resulting shape an outline using an 8 px thick Stroke (#252730) with the Corner set to Round Join.

adding the outline to the proposal rings diamond

Step 5

Using an 8 px thick Stroke (#252730) draw in the diamond’s horizontal divider line connecting its middle anchor points, selecting and grouping (Control-G) all three shapes together afterwards.

adding the horizontal divider line to the proposal rings diamond

Step 6

Start working on the actual ring by creating an 86 x 86 px circle, which we will color using #EAA74E and then center align to the underlying active drawing area, at a distance of 4 px from its bottom edge.

creating and positioning the main shape for the proposal rings body

Step 7

Create a smaller 54 x 54 px circle (highlighted with orange), which we will center align to the previous one and then cut out using Pathfinder’s Minus Front Shape Mode.

cutting out the smaller section from the proposal rings body

Step 8

Finish off the icon by giving the resulting shape an 8 px thick outline (#252730), selecting and grouping (Control-G) the two together, and doing the same for all its composing sections afterwards.

adding the outline to the proposal rings body

7. How to Create the Cake Icon

We are now down to our third and last icon, so assuming you’ve already positioned yourself onto the last layer, zoom in on its reference grid and let’s finish this.

Step 1

Create the little golden tray using a 112 x 12 px rectangle, which we will color using #EAA74E and then center align to the underlying active drawing area, at a distance of 4 px from its bottom edge.

creating and positioning the main shape for the cakes golden tray

Step 2

Adjust the shape that we’ve just created, by individually selecting and pushing its bottom anchor points to the inside by a distance of 4 px using the Move tool (right click > Transform > Move > Horizontal > + / - 4 px depending on which side you start with).

adjusting the golden trays main shape

Step 3

Give the resulting shape an 8 px thick outline (#252730) with a Round Join, and then select and group both shapes together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

adding the outline to the cakes golden tray

Step 4

Create the cake’s bottom section using an 84 x 28 px rectangle, which we will color using #AD584D, and then center align to the golden tray’s fill shape, at a distance of 0 px.

creating and positioning the main shape for the cakes bottom section

Step 5

Adjust the shape that we’ve just created by selecting its top corners using the Direct Selection Tool (A) and then setting their Radius to 8 px from within the Transform panel.

adjusting the top corners of the cakes bottom section

Step 6

Add the white chocolate section, using a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the brown one, which we will adjust by setting its color to #E2BFA1, and then selecting its bottom anchor points and pushing them to the top by 16 px (right click > Transform > Move > Vertical > - 16 px).

adjusting the height of the cakes bottom chocolate section

Step 7

Give the cake’s bottom section an outline using an 8 px thick Stroke which we will color using #252730.

adding the outline to the cakes bottom section

Step 8

Finish off this section of the cake by drawing in the horizontal divider line separating the white chocolate section from the brown body, using the same 8 px thick Stroke (#252730).

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

adding the horizontal divider line to the cakes bottom section

Step 9

Start working on the cake’s center section by creating a 60 x 24 px rectangle (#AD584D), which we will adjust by setting the Radius of its top corners to 8 px. Center align the resulting shape to the cake’s base, vertically stacking them at a distance of 0 px.

creating and positioning the main shape for the cakes center section

Step 10

Add the white chocolate section by creating a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the shape from the previous step, which we will color using #E2BFA1 and then adjust by selecting and pushing its bottom anchor points to the top by a distance of 12 px (right click > Transform > Move > Vertical > -12 px).

adjusting the height of the cakes center chocolate section

Step 11

Finish off this section of the cake by adding the 8 px thick Stroke (#252730) followed by the horizontal divider line. Once you’re done, don’t forget to select and group (Control-G) all its composing shapes together.

adding the outline and horizontal divider line to the cakes center section

Step 12

Create the cake’s upper section using a 36 x 20 px rectangle (#AD584D), which we will adjust by setting the Radius of its top corners to 8 px, positioning the resulting shape on top of the previously created one.

creating and positioning the main shape for the cakes upper section

Step 13

Add a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the shape that we’ve just created, and then start adjusting it by first changing its color to #E2BFA1, and then selecting and pushing its bottom anchor points to the top by a distance of 10 px (right click > Transform > Move > Vertical > -10 px).

adjusting the height of the cakes upper chocolate section

Step 14

As we did with all of the cake’s sections, take your time and add the main outline and the little horizontal divider line using an 8 px thick Stroke (#252730), grouping (Control-G) all four shapes together afterwards.

adding the outline to the cakes upper section

Step 15

Start working on the little heart by creating a 16 x 16 px circle (#ED664C) which we will position at a distance of 4 px from the active drawing area’s top edge, and 45 px from its left one.

creating and positioning the main shape for the cakes left heart section

Step 16

Create the heart’s right section using another 16 x 16 px circle (#ED664C), which we will position on the other side of the active drawing area, at a distance of 45 px from its right edge.

creating and positioning the main shape for the cake icons right heart section

Step 17

Add the heart’s bottom section using another 16 x 16 px circle, which we will color using #ED664C and then center align to the underlying active drawing area, vertically stacking it to the cake’s upper section.

creating and positioning the main shape for the cake icons bottom heart section

Step 18

Select and unite all three circles together using Pathfinder’s Unite Shape Mode, and then adjust the final shape until it looks like a heart by removing the extra anchor points and playing with its handles.

adjusting the shape of the cake icons heart

Step 19

Finish off the icon by giving the heart an 8 px thick outline (#252730), selecting and grouping (Control-G) both the two shapes together, and doing the same for the entire icon’s composing shapes afterwards.

adding the outline to the cake icons heart decoration

Awesome Work, You're Done!

There you have it: a nice little icon pack to spice things up, whether it’s meant for that special someone or a future project. As always, I hope you had fun recreating these little pieces, and most importantly learned something new and interesting along the way.

finished project preview
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