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How to Create a Set of Car Icons in Affinity Designer

Difficulty:BeginnerLength:LongLanguages:

In today’s tutorial, we’re going to take a close look at the process of creating a set of car icons in Affinity Designer, using nothing more than some basic geometric shapes that we will adjust here and there.

Also, don't forget you can always expand your vector library by heading over to Envato Elements where you'll find a great selection of car-themed icons.

So, assuming you already have Affinity Designer running in the background, bring it up and let’s get started!

1. How to Set Up a New Project File

As always, we’re going to start by setting up a New Document, by heading over to File > New (or by using the Control-N keyboard shortcut) which we will adjust as follows:

• Type: Web
• Document Units: Pixels
• Create artboard: checked
• Transparent Background: checked
• Page Width: 128 px
• Page Height: 128 px
• DPI: 72

2. How to Set Up the Artboards

Once we’ve created the document, we need to take a couple of moments and structure our project using a couple of Artboards, one for each icon, in order to maintain a clear and steady workflow.

Step 1

To do this, simply select the default Artboard from within the Layers panel, and then create a copy by either right clicking > Duplicate (or by using the Control-J keyboard shortcut), renaming them both afterwards as follows:

• first artboard: front view
• second artboard: side view

Step 2

Since we don’t want the Artboards to overlap, we’ll need to select both of them from within the Layers panel (making sure to start with the bottom one) and then open up the Arrange panel. Here, we’re going to use the Align Horizontally’s Space Horizontally option, making sure to uncheck Auto Distribute and enter a custom value of 64 px.

Quick tip: by default, you can select and move any of the Artboards using the Move Tool (V), but as soon as you position a shape on top of them, they will automatically lock into place.

If you want to make sure that you won’t move them by accident, you can manually lock them from within the Layers panel by using the little Lock/Unlock toggle, but this will also lock all the shapes that are positioned on top of them, which means if you need to select them, you’ll have to do so from within the Layers panel.

3. 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 once 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 to work with.

Step 1

Position yourself on the first Artboard, and using the Rectangle Tool (M) create a 128 x 128 px square, which we will color using #F15A24 and then center align as seen in the reference image.

Step 2

Add a smaller 112 x 112 px square, which we will color using white (#FFFFFF) and then position in the center of the Artboard since it will act as our active drawing area, giving us an all-around 8 px protective padding.

Step 3

Select and group the two squares together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut, making sure to name them using the “reference grid” label and then populate the remaining Artboard using a copy (Control-C > Control-V) of the one that we’ve just finished working on. Take your time, and once you’re done, move on to the next step.

4. How to Create the Front View Icon

As soon as we’ve finished setting up our project file, we can position ourselves on the first Artboard, and then zoom in on its reference grid so that we can have a better view of the shapes that we’re going to be creating.

Step 1

We’re going to start by creating the tires using two 24 x 8 px rectangles, which we will color using #443630 and then center align to the active drawing area’s bottom edge, positioning them at a distance of 4 px from its outer ones.

Step 2

Adjust the shapes that we’ve just created, by individually selecting each and every one of them and then unchecking the Single Radius option found within the top context toolbar. Set its bottom-left (BL) and bottom-right (BR) corners to Rounded, giving them both an absolute value of 4 px afterwards.

Step 3

Create the main shape for the front bumper using a 108 x 16 px rectangle, which we will color using #D3622F and then position on top of the tires, making sure to center align it to the underlying active drawing area.

Step 4

Adjust the shape by cutting out a 52 x 4 px rectangle (highlighted with green) from the center of the previous shape’s bottom edge using the Subtract operation.

Step 5

Continue adjusting the shape, by individually selecting each of the resulting cutout’s top nodes using the Node Tool (A) and then pushing them to the inside by 4 px using the Transform panel, by simply entering +/- 4 px in its X input box, depending on which side you start with.

Step 6

Add the number plate using a 28 x 8 px rectangle (#443630), which we will position in the center of the cutout’s top edge.

Step 7

Create the right-sided cutouts using three #443630 colored rectangles (12 x 4 px for the bottom one, 12 x 2 px for the top one and another 12 x 4 px one for the inner one), which we will position as seen in the reference image.

Step 8

Add the subtle highlights using three 1 px tall rectangles (#FFFFFF) which we will position below the cutouts, making sure to lower their Opacity levels afterwards to 24%. Once you’re done, select and group each cutout with its own highlight using the Control-G keyboard shortcut, doing the same for all three of them afterwards.

Step 9

Add the left-sided cutouts using a copy (Control-C > Control-V) of the ones that we’ve just finished working on, which we will horizontally reflect (right click > Transform > Flip Horizontal) and then position on the opposite side of the bumper.

Step 10

Add the side detail lines using two groups of three 4 x 2 px rectangles (#443630), vertically stacked 2 px from one another, which we will position on the bumper’s sides, as seen in the reference image.

Step 11

Create the bumper’s upper lip using a 112 x 4 px rectangle (#443630), which we will stack on top of its main body.

Step 12

Finish off the current section by adding the subtle shadow using a 108 x 2 px rectangle (#443630) with a 28% Opacity, which we will position below the shape that we created a few moments ago. Once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) all of the bumper’s composing shapes together before moving on to the next step.

Quick tip: as we go along, I recommend grouping and naming the different sections of the car so that if you need to select and adjust them later on, you can easily do so by opening up the Layers panel and looking at the labels.

Step 13

Start working on the car’s front end by creating a 104 x 24 px rectangle, which we will color using #F27B40 and then position on top of the bumper’s lip.

Step 14

Add the main shape for the front grill using a 96 x 16 px rectangle (#443630), which we will center align to the previously created shape using the Arrange panel’s Align Center and Align Middle options.

Step 15

Create the horizontal detail lines using eight 96 x 1 px rectangles (#665049), vertically stacked 1 px from one another, which we will group (Control-G) and then position onto the previous shape as seen in the reference image. Once you have the shapes in place, select them and the larger underlying shape and group (Control-G) them together as well.

Step 16

Add the front grill covers using two 8 x 8 px squares (#443630) positioned 4 px from one another, which we will first convert to curves using the Convert to Curves button in order to be able to reposition their nodes.

Once you’ve finished converting them to curves, quickly adjust them by individually selecting their outer bottom nodes using the Node Tool (A), and then pushing them to the inside by 2 px using the keyboard’s directional arrow keys, grouping (Control-G) and then positioning them as seen in the reference image.

Step 17

Create the main shape for the larger right-sided headlight using a 12 x 12 px circle, which we will color using #F9DDD2 and then center align to the front grill, positioning it 8 px from the section’s left edge.

Step 18

Add the top highlight using a copy (Control-C > Control-V) of the shape that we’ve just created, which we will adjust by first changing its color to white (#FFFFFF) and then removing its bottom half, as seen in the reference image.

Then add the inner highlight using a smaller 4 x 4 px circle (#FFFFFF), which we will position in the center of the larger underlying one, making sure to select and group all three shapes together afterwards using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

Step 19

Add the smaller light following the same process, using an 8 x 8 px circle (#F9DDD2) for the main shape followed by a 2 x 2 px one (#FFFFFF) for the center highlight. Take your time, and once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) all three shapes together, positioning them 4 px from the larger light’s right edge.

Before you move on to the next step, make sure you select and group the two lights together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

Step 20

Create the left-sided headlights using a copy (Control-C > Control-V) of the ones that we’ve just finished working on, which we will horizontally reflect (right click > Transform > Flip Horizontal) and then position on the opposite side of the grill at a distance of 8 px from its right edge.

Step 21

Add the sidelights using two 2 x 12 px rectangles (#443630), which we will position on the outer edges of the car’s front, as seen in the reference image.

Step 22

Create the hood’s nose using a 16 x 2 px rectangle, which we will color using #F27B40 and then center align to the grill’s top edge.

Step 23

Give the lower section of the grill a subtle highlight using a 96 x 2 px rectangle (#FFFFFF) with a 24% Opacity, doing the same for the car’s front section using a slightly wider 104 x 2 px rectangle (#FFFFFF).

Step 24

Finish off the current section by creating two 4 x 4 px circles (#443630), which we will position on the bumper’s upper lip, as seen in the reference image. Once you’re done, select and group all of its composing shapes together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

Step 25

Create the hood using a 104 x 4 px rectangle (#D3622F), which we will first convert to curves using the Convert to Curves button and then adjust by individually selecting and pushing its top nodes to the inside by 12 px. Once you’re done, position the resulting shape on top of the front section’s main body.

Step 26

Add the little scoop using a 12 x 2 px rectangle (#443630), which we will center align to the hood’s main body. Once you have the shape in place, select and group the two together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

Step 27

Create the main shape for the car’s upper section using an 80 x 32 px rectangle (#F27B40), which we will convert to curves and then adjust by individually selecting and pushing its top nodes to the inside by 4 px, positioning the resulting shape on top of the hood.

Step 28

Add the windshield using a smaller 76 x 30 px rectangle (#443630), which we will convert to curves and adjust as we did with the previous shape by individually selecting and pushing its top nodes to the inside by 4 px. Then center align it to the larger section’s bottom edge, making sure to select and group (Control-G) them together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

Step 29

Create the bottom window details using two groups of two 2 x 2 px circles (#443630) positioned 4 px from one another, as seen in the reference image. Once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) all of the current section’s composing shapes before moving on to the next step.

Step 30

Create the side mirrors using a 2 x 12 px rectangle (#443630) for their vertical section followed by an 8 x 8 px square (#443630) for their outer shell, which we will group (Control-G) and then position on the car’s upper section as seen in the reference image, making sure to push them to the back afterwards (right click > Arrange > Move to Back).

Step 31

Start working on the spoiler by creating its main body using a 104 x 4 px rectangle (#D3622F), which we will center align to the window, positioning it 2 px from its bottom edge.

Step 32

Add the top highlights using a 104 x 2 px rectangle (#FFFFFF) with a 24% Opacity, followed by the spoiler’s side sections using two 4 x 2 px rectangles (#D3622F), which we will position below its outer edges. Once you’re done, select and group all four shapes together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut, making sure to position them behind the car’s upper section afterwards (right click > Arrange > Move to Back).

Step 33

Finish off the icon, by adding the little antenna using a 1 x 24 px rectangle (#443630), which we will position as seen in the reference image. Once you’re done, select and group all of the car’s composing shapes together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut, before moving on to the next one.

5. How to Create the Side View Icon

Now that we’ve finished working on the front view of our little car icon, we can move on to the second Artboard, where we will gradually build the side view one.

Step 1

Start by creating the main shape for the windshield using a 40 x 32 px rectangle (#443630), which we will convert to curves and then adjust by selecting and pushing its top-right node to the inside by 38 px. Take your time, and once you’re done, align the resulting shape to the active drawing area’s left edge, positioning it 24 px from its top one.

Step 2

Add the upper section of the metal frame using a 40 x 2 px rectangle (#F27B40), which we will align to the previous shape’s top-left corner and then mask by opening up the Layers panel and simply dragging it over the larger windshield.

Step 3

Create the frame for the side window using a 32 x 32 px square (#F27B40), which we will convert to curves and then adjust by selecting its top-right node using the Node Tool (A) and then immediately removing it by pressing Delete. Once you’re done, align the resulting shape to the windshield’s bottom-left corner, as seen in the reference image.

Step 4

Add the actual window using a 28 x 28 px rectangle (#443630), which we will adjust by removing its top-right node as we did with the previous larger one, making sure to align it to the underlying shape’s bottom-left corner.

Step 5

Create the mirror plate using a 12 x 12 px square (#F27B40), which we will align to the side window’s bottom-right node, making sure to mask it afterwards by simply dragging it over the larger shape within the Layers panel.

Step 6

Add the actual mirror using a 4 x 8 px rectangle (#443630), which we will adjust by first unchecking the Single radius option, and then setting both its top-right (TR) and bottom-right (BR) corners to an absolute value of 2 px, positioning the resulting shape as seen in the reference image.

Step 7

Finish off the current section by adding the circular detail using a 4 x 4 px circle (#443630), which we will position to the center of the windshield’s bottom-right node. Once you’re done, make sure you select and group it and all the other shapes together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut, before moving on to the car’s next section.

Step 8

Create the main shape for the car’s lower body using a 112 x 32 px rectangle (#F27B40), which we will convert to curves and then adjust by adding a few nodes positioning them as seen in the reference image. Take your time, and once you’re done, move on to the next step.

Step 9

Add the subtle highlight using two copies (Control-C > Control-V twice) of the resulting shape, pushing the top one to the bottom by a distance of 4 px, and then cutting it out from the first copy using the Subtract operation. Color the resulting shape using white (#FFFFFF), making sure to lower its Opacity level to 24%.

Step 10

Create the hood scoop using a 24 x 4 px rectangle (#D3622F), which we will position as seen in the reference image, making sure to stack it underneath the car’s main body afterwards (right click > Arrange > Back One a few times).

Step 11

Add the door handle using an 8 x 2 px rectangle (#443630) followed by the little keyhole using a 2 x 2 px circle (#443630), which we will vertically stack 1 px from one another, positioning them below the subtle highlight.

Step 12

Create the sidelight using an 8 x 2 px rectangle, which we will color using #443630 and then position as seen in the reference image.

Step 13

Add the main shape for the fender using a 52 x 52 px circle (#D3622F), which we will adjust by removing its bottom half, positioning the resulting shape 18 px from the active drawing area’s right edge and 20 px from its bottom one.

Step 14

Create the front bumper’s lip using a 44 x 4 px rectangle (#443630), which we will align to the larger body’s bottom-right node.

Step 15

Add the side lip using a 68 x 2 px rectangle, which we will color using #443630 and then position as seen in the reference image.

Step 16

Create the smaller detail using a 2 x 2 px circle (#443630), which we will position on the side lip’s top edge, at a distance of 2 px from the fender.

Step 17

Add the bottom shape for the lower body using a 110 x 12 px rectangle, which we will color using #D3622F and then position below the side lip.

Step 18

Give the shape that we’ve just created a subtle shadow using a 110 x 2 px rectangle (#443630) with a 28% Opacity, which we will center align to its top edge.

Step 19

Add the little rectangular details using an 8 x 2 px rectangle (#443630) for the left insertion, followed by three 8 x 2 px ones (#443630) vertically stacked 2 px from one another for the bumper. Take your time, and once you’re done, select and group the bumper details together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut, before moving on to the next step.

Step 20

Create the lower section of the front bumper using a 42 x 4 px rectangle (#D3622F), followed by the side skirt using a 68 x 4 px one (#443630), which we will position below the car as seen in the reference image.

Step 21

Add the subtle shadows to the bumper’s detail lines using three 6 x 2 px rectangles (#443630) with a 28% Opacity, which we will position between its main shapes as seen in the reference image, making sure to select and group them afterwards using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

Step 22

Create the underneath details using a 24 x 2 px rectangle (#443630) for the left one, which we will convert to curves, and then adjust by selecting and pushing its bottom-left node to the inside by 2 px

Add the right detail using a 24 x 4 px rectangle (#443630), which we will adjust by adding a new node to the center of its right edge by simply clicking on it using the Node Tool (A), and then selecting and pushing its bottom-right one to the inside by 8 px.

Step 23

Add the cutout for the wheel using a 44 x 44 px circle (#443630), which we will adjust by removing its bottom half, and then extend to the bottom using a 44 x 12 px rectangle (#443630), making sure to unite the two shapes into a single larger one using the Add operation. Once you’re done, position the resulting shape on the fender, as seen in the reference image.

Step 24

Create the main shape for the tire using a 40 x 40 px circle (#443630), which we will center align to the larger cutout, positioning it 2 px from its top node.

Step 25

Start working on the rim by creating its main body using a 32 x 32 px circle (#F9DDD2) which we will center align to the larger tire. With the shape in place, create a subtle highlight using a copy (Control-C > Control-V) which we will adjust by removing its bottom half, making sure to set its color to #FFFFFF. Add the darker section using a 28 x 28 px circle (#443630), followed by the inner lighter one using a smaller 16 x 16 px one (#F9DDD2).

Step 26

Add the spokes using four 22 px tall 4 pt thick Stroke lines (#F9DDD2), which we will adjust by rotating some of them by 45º as seen in the reference image. Once you’re done, group (Control-G) and then mask the resulting shapes using a 20 x 20 px circle, making sure to remove its Fill color in order to make it see-through.

Step 27

Finish off the rim by adding the inner darker section using an 8 x 8 px circle (#CCAEA8), followed by the bolt using a smaller 4 x 4 px one (#443630), which we will center align to the wheel’s main body. Once you’re done, select and group all of the rim’s composing shapes together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

Step 28

Add the side skirt’s upper detail using a 4 x 4 px square (#443630), which we will convert to curves and then adjust by selecting its top-left node using the Node Tool (A), and then immediately removing it by pressing Delete. Once you’re done, you can select and group (Control-G) all of the wheel’s composing shapes together as we did with the rim.

Step 29

Finish off the icon, and with it the project itself, by adding the little antenna (which we’ve pushed towards the front for this view) using a 1 x 56 px rectangle (#443630), which we will position at a distance of 4 px from the mirror, making sure to position it behind the car’s upper body (right click > Arrange > Back One a few times).

Great Work!

As always, I hope you had fun working on the project but most importantly managed to learn something new and useful in the process.

That being said, if you have any questions, feel free to post them within the comments section and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

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