If you’re a sporty kind of a person or just looking for a motivation to start, this tutorial is for you! Let’s follow the process together and create a realistic set of icons, which will make you willing to start working out. We’ll be using basic shapes together with various effects and functions of Adobe Illustrator, which will allow us to create three-dimensional fitness gear. We'll be using the 3D effect with Map Art, textures, Blending Modes and more.
In this tutorial we’ll be creating fitness icons, depicting the items which are well-known by both beginners and advanced level athletes. These are a fitball, a dumbbell and weight scales. Let’s make them one by one, starting with the fitball icon.
1. Make a Green Fitball Icon
Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and let’s start by making a base of our fitball from a 170 x 170 px circle of bright green color. Make a copy of the circle (Control-C > Control-F) and keep it invisible (click the eye icon in the Layers panel), because we’ll need it later.
Take the Scissors Tool (C) and click the top and bottom anchor points to split the shape apart. Delete the left half.
Now let’s prepare a texture for the ball. Take the Line Segment Tool (\), hold down Shift and make a horizontal line of about 232 px width.
Hold Alt-Shift and drag the line down, creating a copy and leaving enough free distance between the lines. Keeping the lines selected, go to Object > Blend > Make. And now let’s adjust the blend group. Go to Object > Blend > Blend Options and set the Spacing to Specified Steps with 15 steps value.
You can move the two initial lines inside the blend group in the Layers panel in order to make the spacing between the lines bigger or smaller.
Now go to Object > Blend > Expand in order to turn all the elements of the blend group into separate objects. Drag and drop the group onto the Symbols panel (Window > Symbols), leaving the Symbol Options as default.
Now that we have the texture and base ready, let’s turn our flat shape into a three-dimensional ball! Select the semi-circle that we made earlier and go to Effect > 3D > Revolve.
You will see our semi-circle turns into a nice sphere. Find the Map Art button in the bottom of the window and click it.
Now that we have the Map Art window opened, let’s apply the created texture! Select our lines texture in the Symbol drop-down menu and stretch it all over the map. Tick the Preview checkbox in order to make sure that the texture covers the whole object.
When you’re satisfied with the result, click the OK button to return to the 3D Revolve Options window.
From here, you can rotate the fitball by rotating the cube icon in the Options window, setting your objects at the desired angle. I’ve rotated the ball as shown in the screenshot below, making the concentric circles on top visible to the viewer.
After you’ve selected the desired position of the fitball, click OK and Object > Expand Appearance of the shape to apply the effect. Then find your ball in the Layers panel and delete the sphere, leaving only the stripes texture. You will probably find the sphere parts inside a Clip Group, so just select the whole group and delete it.
Let’s make the base of the fitball visible again (the 170 x 170 px circle, which we made in the very first step). If you don’t have a copy of the circle left, no problem—just create a new 170 x 170 px circle and Align it to the stripes.
Select the stripes and apply a three-colored radial gradient from light green to dark green and to light green again, positioning it as shown in the screenshot below.
Duplicate the stripes on top (Control-C > Control-F) and fill the copy with radial gradient from green to black, switching the Blending Mode to Screen, so that the black color becomes transparent, leaving only the bright highlight spot.
It is actually hard to see any difference in colors in this step, because the base of the fitball is too bright. Let’s adjust it a bit.
Select the circle base and fill it with radial gradient from light green to darker green, placing the center of the gradient closer to the top of the fitball.
Duplicate the circle base (Control-C > Control-F) and fill the copy with three-colored radial gradient from white to green and to white again, switching to Multiply mode. This will darken the central part of the ball, giving it more contrast and dimension.
Let’s make another copy of the circle base (Control-C > Control-F) and add a nice glowing overtone at the edge of it. Fill the copy with a radial gradient from black to green, moving the black slider almost all the way to the right, as shown in the picture below. Switch the Blending Mode to Screen.
Let’s make the ball more glossy and vivid. Draw a smaller circle on top of the ball and fill with radial gradient from bright green to black, switching to Screen mode. Now it looks like a bright highlight.
Finally, the finishing touch! Let’s add an ambient overtone at the edge of the ball, making it look more true to life. Make another copy of the basic circle and fill it with dark radial gradient from black to dark blue, switching to Screen mode, this way creating a subtle glowing effect.
2. Make a Chrome Dumbbell
Now we’re moving to our second piece of fitness gear—a dumbbell—and we’ll start by making its weight plates.
Use the Rounded Rectangle Tool to make a 10 x 70 px shape. Let’s fill it with a complex linear gradient, varying the shades of grey in order to create a realistic chrome-looking surface.
Let’s add a couple more shapes to make the plate more three-dimensional and thick. Make a copy and Paste it in Back (Control-C > Control-B). Scale it up to 12 x 70 px, set the Blending Mode to Screen and lower the Opacity to 65% in the Transparency panel to make the shape light and semi-transparent.
Make another copy beneath the previous one (Control-C > Control-B) and increase its size to 13.5 x 70 px. Apply exactly the same appearance as we have for the main shape—the chrome linear gradient in Normal Blending Mode, 100% Opacity (you can pick it up with the Eyedropper Tool (I)).
Let’s add the last copy at the bottom, extending it to 15 x 70 px size. This time fill it with a three-colored linear gradient of dark-grey shades, making the shape darker than the top elements.
Now that we have all pieces of the weight plate ready, go on and Group (Control-G) them.
Hold Alt-Shift and drag the plate to the right, creating a copy right next to the first group. Press Control-D to repeat the action, creating another copy. Great, now we have three plates.
Vary the size of the copies, making each new plate taller than the other.
Let’s form a handle of our dumbbell from a 120 x 10 px rounded rectangle. Fill it with a complex linear gradient with contrasting shades of grey, giving it a smooth chrome look. Place the gradient vertically, as shown in the screenshot below.
Let’s add a pair of 35 x 25 px rounded rectangles for the rubber holders. Fill them with dark-grey linear gradient and Send to Back (Shift-Command-[), partially hiding them behind the plates.
Select the plates and double-click the Reflect Tool (O) to open the options window. Flip the elements over the Vertical Axis and click Copy to add the plates to the opposite side.
Add a final detail to our dumbbell: a grip in the middle of the handle. Make a light-grey rectangle, aligning it to the center of the handle, and switch it to Multiply mode.
Great! The dumbbell is done. Now we can move on to our last icon.
3. Make the Bathroom Scales With a Large Dial
Let’s start shaping the scales from an 80 x 85 px rectangle, filled with radial gradient from light grey on top to darker grey at the bottom.
Let’s make the bottom of the shape narrower. Take the Direct Selection Tool (A) and select the bottom left anchor point. Hit Enter to open the Move options window and set the Horizontal value to 5 px (the Vertical value should be set to 0 px).
Repeat the same for the bottom right anchor point, but this time set the Horizontal value to -5 px, moving the point to the left.
Use the Live Corners feature to make the corners a bit rounded (use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to pull the circle markers) or use Effect > Stylize > Round Corners for the same purpose.
Now let’s add the mechanical dial to our scales. Make a 20 x 20 px circle at the top of the rectangle and fill it with radial gradient from white in the center to grey at the edges.
Let’s add a balance pointer to the dial. Make a small blue circle in the center of the dial face and use the Polygon Tool to make a narrow red triangle. Use the Live Corners feature to make the triangle smoother, and shrink it down to 3 x 13 px.
Bring the triangle to Front (Shift-Control-]) placing it on top of the dial.
Take the Line Segment Tool (\) (or the Pen Tool (P)) and make a short black stroke on top for the gradation line of the scales. Add another line in the bottom, group (Control-G) them both and Align Horizontally to the base of the dial.
Double-click the Rotate Tool (R) and set the Angle value to 90 degrees. Click Copy to create two more lines.
Duplicate the first pair of lines (the vertical ones) and make the copies thinner by lowering the Stroke Weight in the control panel on top (or in the Stroke panel).
Now, keeping the thin copies selected, open the Rotate options window again and set the Angle value to 360/60. Adobe Illustrator will calculate the needed degree for you, so just click OK and keep pressing Control-D to get as many copies as you need.
Now that the dial is almost complete, let’s duplicate the circle dial base and Bring it all the way to Front (Shift-Control-]). Use the Pencil Tool (N) to draw a wavy line across the circle and Divide the shapes in the Pathfinder. Delete the lower half. Fill the upper half with linear gradient from light grey to black and switch to Multiply mode. Make it a bit smaller, forming a glossy highlight.
You can darken the dial edges a bit more, making it more three-dimensional.
Now let’s move to the scales and shape them out. Select the rectangle that we’ve made and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Set the Offset value to -3 px, creating a smaller shape on top of the base.
Fill the created shape with linear gradient from light blue to darker blue.
Duplicate the circle base of the dial and make the copy larger, expanding the circle around the dial. Create a thin stripe with the Rectangle Tool (M), placing it right in the center of the blue shape.
Finally, select both the big circle and the stripe and Unite them in the Pathfinder, merging them into a single lollipop-shaped silhouette.
And let’s cut it out. Select the lollipop shape and the blue shape and use the Minus Front function of Pathfinder to cut the blue shape into two equal pieces. Press Control-8 to turn the pieces into one Compound Path. Use the Live Corners feature to make the shape rounded and smooth.
Let’s make the surface of the scales a bit more textured. Duplicate the blue shape and head to the Swatches panel. In the Swatch Libraries Menu, go to Patterns > Basic Graphics > Basic Graphics_Patterns and find a lined pattern USGS 8 Sewage Disposal.
Double-click the selected pattern in the Swatches panel and now you can edit it! Fill the strokes with bright blue color and double-click anywhere outside the Tile square to exit the Isolation mode. Set the Blending Mode to Multiply and play with the Opacity value in order to make the pattern fit and look true-to-life.
Let’s add some more details to make the scales three-dimensional and glossy!
Select the blue shape and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Apply a 0.5 px Offset, creating a thin outline around the blue shape, and fill it with darker gradient, so that it looks like a rim.
Make another Offset Path, but this time set the Offset value to -2 px, creating a smaller shape inside. Fill it with dark linear gradient from dark blue to black. Switch to Screen mode, turning the shape into a glossy highlight.
Make three stripes, using the Rectangle Tool (M), and turn them into a Compound Path by pressing Control-8. Fill the stripes with linear gradient from dark blue to black, and switch to Screen mode.
Rotate the stripes 45 degrees and place them over the weight scales, making a highlight on the glossy surface. Use the Minus Front function of the Pathfinder to cut the highlight, making it fit the blue shape.
Finally, let’s make the silver base of our weight scales realistic as well. Copy the base and Paste in Back twice (Control-C > Control-B > Control-B), making the lower copy larger and darker. Select two copies and go to Object > Blend > Make. If the blended shape is not smooth enough, go to Object > Blend > Blend Options and set the Spacing to Smooth Color.
Select the third shape (which is on top) and fill it with linear gradient from white to black, switching to Screen mode in order to make the shape vivid and bright.
Now that our icons are finished, we can add a light background to make them pop out. And we can also put a gentle shadow beneath each icon by making an oval and filling it with squashed radial gradient from light-pink to white. Switch the shadow to Multiply mode in order to make it semi-transparent.
You’ve Got It! The Realistic Fitness Icons Are Finished!
Awesome job! We’ve managed to make a set of fitness icons, making them glossy and detailed by using various effects of Adobe Illustrator, such as the 3D effect, and applying simple textures. I bet this was tricky and fun! I hope you’ve found some new tips and tricks that inspire you and can be useful in your future work.
You can try using these techniques while creating a new set of icons on a different topic or go ahead and expand the existing setup to nine icons or even more. If you want to see what other icons can be made, check out the full Fitness Icons Set, which is available in both AI and EPS formats, including raster PNG versions of each icon.
Have fun and keep doing cool designs!