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  1. Design & Illustration
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Design

How to Create a New Year's Celebration Icon Pack in Adobe Illustrator

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

Since the New Year is right around the corner, I thought it would be nice if we spent some quality time together creating a little celebration-themed icon pack using some of the most basic shapes and tools that Illustrator has to offer.

That being said, grab a batch of 2016's coffee and let's get started!

Oh, and don’t forget you can always expand the pack by heading over to GraphicRiver where you’ll found tons of party-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: fireworks
  • layer 3: champagne
  • layer 4: party hat
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 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 a 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. How to Create the Repeating Background

As you’ve probably already noticed, all three icons use the same background, which is going to be the first thing that we will want to create in order to streamline our workflow. So position yourself onto the second layer, and let’s get started.

Step 1

Using the Pen Tool (P), draw a small 4 px wide line segment (#302222) using an 8 px thick Stroke with a Round Cap, which we will position by aligning it to the bottom-left corner of the underlying active drawing area.

creating and positioning the backgrounds first line segment

Step 2

Create the second line segment using a 96 px wide path, with the same 8 px thick Stroke (#302222), which we will align to the bottom-right corner of the active drawing area, making sure to set its Cap to Round.

Once you’re done, select and group the two together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

creating and positioning the backgrounds second line segment

Step 3

Select the Ellipse Tool (L) and use it to create a 96 x 96 px circle, which we will color using #D8D8D8 and then center align to bottom of the reference grid’s orange surface.

creating and positioning the main shape for the backgrounds circular section

Step 4

Give the shape an outline using the Stroke method, by creating a copy of it (Control-C) which we will paste in front (Control-F) and then adjust by flipping its Fill with its Stroke (Shift-X), setting its Weight to 8 px and its color to #302222.

Once you’re done, group both shapes together (Control-G), making sure to send them to the back of the line segment (right click > Transform > Arrange > Send to Back).

adjusting the positioning of the backgrounds circular section

Step 5

Since we’ll want the background to remain contained within the surface of our active drawing area, we’ll first need to select and group (Control-G) all its composing elements, and then create and position a 120 x 120 px square (highlighted with white) on top of them, which we will use as a Clipping Mask (right click > Make Clipping Mask).

masking the universal background using a rectangular clipping mask

Step 6

Finally, adjust the background’s Transparency by lowering its Opacity to 20%, creating and positioning a copy for each of the remaining icons.

adjusting the universal backgrounds transparency

6. How to Create the Fireworks Icon

With the background in place, we can now start working on our first icon, so make sure you’re on the right layer (that would be the second one) and zoom in on the first reference grid so that we can kick things off.

Step 1

Create the larger firework’s body using a 24 x 40 px rectangle, which we will color using #706464 and then position in the center of the active drawing area, at a distance of 38 px from its left edge and 42 px from its bottom one.

creating and positioning the main shape for the larger fireworks body

Step 2

Select the Pen Tool (P), and draw in the diagonal decorative line segments (#302222) using a 4 px thick Stroke, while holding down the Shift key to get a perfect 45-degree angle. Vertically stack the four lines at -14 px from one another, making sure to group (Control-G) and center align them to the underlying shape afterwards.

adding the diagonal detail lines to the larger fireworks body

Step 3 

Create a copy (Control-C) of the firework’s body (highlighted with orange) and paste it in front (Control-F) and use it to mask the detail lines, by selecting them and then right clicking > Make Clipping Mask.

masking the larger fireworks detail lines using a clipping mask

Step 4

Give the firework’s body an outline, by creating a copy of it (Control-C) which we will paste in front (Control-F) and then adjust by flipping its Fill (Shift-X) with an 8 px thick Stroke (#302222), selecting and grouping (Control-G) all its composing elements together afterwards.

adding the main outline to the larger fireworks body

Step 5

Using an 8 px thick Stroke with the color set to #302222, draw in the firework’s tail, starting from the center of its outline’s bottom section, and going all the way down to the active drawing area’s bottom edge.

adding the larger fireworks tail

Step 6

Create the firework’s head section using a 40 x 22 px rectangle (#EF6135), which we will turn into a triangle by adding a new anchor point to the center of its top edge using the Add Anchor Point Tool (+), and then removing the corner ones with the help of the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-). Once you’re done, horizontally center align the shape to the larger body, positioning it so that it overlaps the upper half of the outline’s thickness.

creating and positioning the main shape for the larger fireworks head section

Step 7

Give the shape that we’ve just positioned an outline by creating a copy of it (Control-C) which we will paste in front (Control-F) and then adjust by flipping its Fill (Shift-X) with an 8 px thick Stroke (#302222), with the Corner set to Round Join. Once you’re done, group (Control-G) the two shapes together, and then do the same for the firework’s composing sections.

adding the outline to the larger fireworks head section

Step 8

Create the main shape for the smaller firework using a 14 x 32 px rectangle, which we will color using #F4C253 and then position on the right side of the larger one, at a distance of 30 px from the active drawing area’s right edge, and 26 px from its bottom one.

creating and positioning the main shape for the smaller fireworks body

Step 9

Add the firework’s upper red section by creating a 14 x 12 px rectangle, which we will color using #EF6135 and then center align to its top edge using the Align panel.

adding the red section to the smaller fireworks body

Step 10

Add the firework’s main outline using a copy (Control-C) of its body which we will paste in front (Control-F) and then adjust by flipping its Fill (Shift-X) with an 8 px thick Stroke (#302222).

adding the main outline to the smaller fireworks body

Step 11

Select the Pen Tool (P) and draw in the horizontal line divider separating the firework’s two sections, using an 8 px thick Stroke with the color set to #302222. Once you’re done, select all its composing shapes and group them together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

adding the horizontal divider line to the body of the smaller firework

Step 12

Draw the firework’s tail, using an 8 px thick Stroke with the color set to #302222, and once you’re done select and group all its composing sections together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

adding the tail to the smaller fireworks body

Step 13

Next, we’re going to get a little bit creative, and start adding the little confetti elements, using a couple of different sized 8 px thick circles (#302222), which we will position around the icon’s main elements.

adding the little circles to the fireworks icons background

Step 14

Finish off the icon by adding the little rectangular shapes (#302222), which we will create using a couple of 6 x 8 px rectangles and some smaller 4 x 4 px squares (#302222), which we will adjust by selecting and pushing their top anchor points to the outside by 4 px for the larger ones and 2 px for the smaller ones.

Once you’re done, group all the confetti elements together (Control-G), doing the same for the icon’s composing sections afterwards.

fireworks icon finished

7. How to Create the Champagne 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 our second icon.

Step 1

Create the bottle’s main shape using a 38 x 100 px rectangle, which we will color using #789E43 and then position on the left side of the active drawing area, at a distance of 4 px from its bottom edge and 26 px from its left one.

creating and positioning the champagne bottles main body

Step 2

Turn on Pixel Preview Mode (Alt-Control-Y) and use the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) to add a pair of two side anchor points at a distance of 24 px from the shape’s top edge.

adding the first pair of side anchor points to the champagne bottles body

Step 3

Add a second pair of anchors to the bottom section of the bottle, at a distance of 30 px from its bottom edge.

Once you’re done, you can turn off Pixel Preview mode by using the Alt-Control-Y keyboard shortcut again.

adding the second pair of side anchor points to the champagne bottles body

Step 4

Adjust the bottle’s shape by individually selecting and pushing each of the top side anchor points to the inside by 12 px using the Move Tool (right click > Transform > Move > Horizontal > +/- 12 px depending on which side you start with).

adjusting the champagne bottles main body by pushing its top-right anchor points to the inside

Step 5

Adjust the curvature transition of the bottle’s neck section, by smoothening out its Anchor Points with the help of the Convert selected anchor points to smooth tool, and then playing with their handles.

adjusting the curvature transition of the champagne bottles neck

Step 6

Finally adjust the bottle’s bottom section, by setting the Radius of its corners to 6 px from within the Live Corner input field.

adjusting the champagne bottles bottom corners

Step 7

Start adding details to the bottle’s neck by creating a 14 x 40 px rectangle, which we will color using #564E4E and then center align to its top edge.

creating and positioning the main shape for the champagne bottles neck wrapping

Step 8

Adjust the shape that we’ve just created by adding a new anchor point to the center of its bottom edge, and then selecting and pushing it to the bottom by 6 px using the Move Tool (right click > Transform > Move > Vertical > 6 px).

adjusting the shape of the champagne bottles neck wrapping

Step 9

Create the cork using a 14 x 12 px rectangle, which we will color using #EFAF30 and then center align to the neck’s top edge.

adding the cork to the champagne bottles neck

Step 10

Add the neck wrapping’s main outline, using a copy (Control-C) of the grey shape which we will paste in front (Control-F) and then adjust by flipping its Fill (Shift-X) with an 8 px thick Stroke (#302222), making sure to set its Corner to Round Join.

adding the outline to the champagne bottles neck wrapping

Step 11

Add a small 4 x 10 px decorative ellipse (#302222), which we will center align to the neck’s wrapping, at a distance of 8 px from the bottle’s cork.

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

adding the decorative ellipse to the champagne bottles neck

Step 12

Create the bottle’s main label using a 38 x 20 px rectangle, which we will color using #F4C253 and then center align to the underlying green shape, at a distance of 12 px from its bottom edge.

creating and positioning the main shape for the champagne bottles front facing label

Step 13

Adjust the shape that we’ve just created by adding a new anchor point to the center of its top edge, and two side ones at a distance of 6 px from its outer margins.

Then, select the center anchor and push it to the outside by 6 px using the Move Tool (right click > Transform > Move > Vertical > - 6 px).

adjusting the shape of the champagne bottles front facing label

Step 14

Adjust the label’s curvature, by smoothening the three new anchor points using the Convert selected anchor points to smooth tool, and then playing with their handles.

adjusting the curvature of the champagne bottles front facing label

Step 15

Give the label a nice 8 px thick outline (#302222) using the Stroke method, making sure to set its Corner to Round Join.

adding the main outline to the champagne bottles front facing label

Step 16

Draw in the little dummy-text line using two 4 px thick Stroke lines with the color set to #302222, which we will position 2 px from one another, grouping (Control-G) and center aligning them to the larger underlying shape afterwards.

Once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) all of the label’s composing shapes as well.

adding the little dummy-text lines to the champagne bottles front facing label

Step 17

Select and group (Control-G) the champagne bottle’s neck wrapping and its front-facing label, and then create a copy (Control-C) of its main shape and paste it in front (Control-F) so that we can use it as a Clipping Mask (right click > Make Clipping Mask).

masking the champagne bottles front facing label and neck wrapping

Step 18

Finish off the bottle by adding its main outline using an 8 px thick Stroke with the color set to #302222, and the little horizontal divider line (color: #302222, Cap: Round Cap) separating the cork from its neck, and then select and group all its composing elements together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

adding the main outline to the champagne bottles body

Step 19

Create the champagne flute’s main body, using a 16 x 30 px rectangle (#F4C253) which we will adjust by setting the Radius of its bottom corners to 8 px from within the Transform panel’s Rectangle Properties.

Position the resulting shape onto the right side of the bottle, at a distance of 26 px from the active drawing area’s right edge, and 28 px from its bottom one.

creating and positioning the main shape for the champagne flutes body

Step 20

Create a smaller 16 x 10 px rectangle, which we will color using #F2DFC2 and then center align to the top edge of the flute’s body.

adding the lighter section to the champagne flutes main body

Step 21

Add the flute’s main outline, using a copy (Control-C) of its body which we will paste in front (Control-F) and then adjust by flipping its Fill (Shift-X) with an 8 px thick Stroke (#302222).

adding the champagne flutes main outline

Step 22

Select the Pen Tool (P) and draw in the horizontal divider line separating the flute’s darker and lighter sections, using an 8 px thick Stroke with the color set to #302222. 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 champagne flutes main body

Step 23

Draw in the flute’s stem using the same 8 px thick Stroke (#302222) value, starting from the center of its outline and positioning the ending anchor point at a distance of 4 px from the underlying active drawing area’s bottom edge.

adding the champagne flutes leg

Step 24

Draw the base using a 12 px wide line segment, with an 8 px thick Stroke (#302222) which we will center align to the previously created shape, making sure to set its Cap to Round.

creating and positioning the main shape for the champagne flutes foot

Step 25

Using the Pen Tool (P), adjust the bottom curvature of the flute’s stem by drawing a new shape which we will color using #302222. Once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) all of the stem's composing shapes together, doing the same for the entire flute afterwards.

adjusting the bottom curvature of the champagne flutes leg

Step 26

Finish off the icon by adding the little confetti elements as we did for the first one, selecting and grouping (Control-G) all its composing sections together afterwards.

champagne icon finished

8. How to Create the Party Hat 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 hat’s main body using a 54 x 84 px rectangle, which we will color using #EF6135 and then position onto the left side of the underlying active drawing area, at a distance of 14 px from its left edge and 20 px from its bottom one.

creating and positioning the main shape for the party hats body

Step 2

Turn the rectangle into a triangle by adding a new anchor point to the center of its top edge using the Add Anchor Point Tool (+), and then removing its side ones using the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-).

adjusting the shape of the party hats main body

Step 3

Create the hat’s center decorative section using a 54 x 28 px rectangle, which we will color using #F2DFC2 and then center align to the triangle, at a distance of 14 px from its bottom edge.

creating and positioning the main shape for the party hats decorative section

Step 4

Adjust the rectangle by selecting its right side anchor points and then pushing them to the top by 16 px using the Move Tool (right click > Transform > Move > Vertical > -16 px).

adjusting the shape of the party hats decorative section

Step 5

Give the resulting shape an 8 px thick outline (#302222), grouping (Control-G) and then masking the two using a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the hat’s main shape (right click > Make Clipping Mask).

masking the party hats decorative section

Step 6

Give the hat its main outline, using an 8 px thick Stroke (#302222) with the Corner set to Round Join, and then select and group (Control-G) all its composing shapes together.

adding the outline to the party hats main body

Step 7

Add the hat’s string using a 42 x 32 px ellipse with an 8 px thick Stroke (#302222), which we will center align to the larger triangle, positioning it next to the active drawing area’s bottom edge, making sure to send it to the back of the hat (right click > Arrange > Send Backward).

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

adding the string section to the party hats main body

Step 8

Create the party horn’s main body using a 16 x 42 px rectangle, which we will color using #F4C253 and then position onto the right side of the hat, at a distance of 22 px from the active drawing area’s right edge and 4 px from its bottom one.

creating and positioning the main shape for the party horns body

Step 9

Adjust the shape that we’ve just created by adding a pair of side anchor points at a distance of 16 px from its bottom edge, and then individually selecting and pushing its bottom ones to the inside by 2 px using the Move Tool (right click > Transform > Move > Horizontal > +/- 2 px depending on which side you start with).

adjusting the shape of the party horns main body

Step 10

Create the horn’s darker upper section, using a 16 x 26 px rectangle, which we will color using #C1411F and then center align to the top edge of its main body.

adding the darker section to the party horns main body

Step 11

Using the Pen Tool (P), draw the two 4 px thick diagonal Stroke lines (#302222), vertically stacking them -6 px from one another, grouping (Control-G) and then center aligning them to the underlying darker section.

adding the two diagonal detail lines to the party horns body

Step 12

Create the horn’s main outline using an 8 px thick Stroke (#302222), and then draw the small horizontal divider line separating its two sections.

adding the outline and horizontal divider line to the party horns main body

Step 13

Finish off this section of the horn by adding the little 4 x 4 px insertion (#302222) to the bottom edge of the yellow shape, selecting and grouping (Control-G) all its composing shapes together afterwards.

adding the little rectangular insertion to the bottom section of the party horns body

Step 14

Create the horn’s rolled section using a 32 x 12 px rounded rectangle with a 2 px Corner Radius, which we will color using #EF6135 and then center align to its body, positioning it over the upper half of the outline’s top edge.

creating and positioning the main shape for the party horns rolled section

Step 15

Give the shape that we’ve just created an outline using an 8 px thick Stroke (#302222), and then group the two (Control-G), selecting and doing the same for the horn’s composing elements.

adding the outline to the party horns rolled section

Step 16

Finish off the icon by adding the little confetti elements, and then once you’re done select and group all of its composing sections together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

party hat icon finished

It’s a Wrap!

It might have taken us a while, but we’re finally finished. I hope that you’ve managed to keep up with each and every step, and most importantly learned a new trick or two along the way.

That being said, I wish you all a Happy New Year, and I guess I’ll see you next year.

finished project preview
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