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  1. Design & Illustration
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Design

How to Create a Set of Ice Cream Icons in Adobe Illustrator

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

In today’s tutorial we will get to create something really sweet—yes, you guessed it, ice cream! OK, so it’s not real ice cream, but we will be making some cool little icons that will leave your taste buds craving. We will focus on using the Rounded Rectangle Tool to create the shapes, in combination with different Blending Modes and Gradients in order to get that interesting glow effect.

Summer’s here, and I know almost all of you love to sit back and relax once in a while with a big old ice cream in your hand. I won’t lie, I do it almost every day, and that’s why I decided to make a cool little tutorial on the subject.

Enough talking—let’s open Illustrator and start playing with some recipes.

1. Setting Up Our Document

Let’s start simple by creating a New Document (Control-N or File > New) and adjusting some of its properties.

  • Number of Artboards: 1
  • Width: 640 px
  • Height: 600 px
  • Units: Pixels

And from the Advanced tab:

  • Color Mode: RGB
  • Raster Effects: High (300 ppi)
  • Align New Objects to Pixel Grid: checked
setting up a new document

2. Setting Up Our Layers

Once we have created a New Document it’s time to layer it so that we can create a nice, tidy workspace which in the end will let us focus on each section of the illustration one step at a time. So, open up the Layers panel, and create six layers, naming them as follows:

  1. purple
  2. orange
  3. green
  4. chocolate
  5. double
  6. biscuit
setting up the layers

3. Adjusting the Grid

If you’re new to the Grid, you should know that it’s a system of vertical and horizontal lines that allows you to compose and position your artwork carefully. For me its most important function is the accuracy that you get once you have it set up to the lowest values, which allows me to achieve a pixel perfect workflow.

To adjust some of the settings that I’ve talked about, you must go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid. From there, a little popup will appear, where you need to adjust the following:

  • Gridline every: 1 px
  • Subdivisions: 1
adjusting the grid settings

Once you’ve adjusted the above settings, you need to activate the Snap to Grid function by going to View > Snap to Grid.

Quick tip: You should know that the Snap to Grid option will transform into Snap to Pixel every time you enter Pixel Preview Mode, but that’s totally fine since the Grid is set up to the lowest values, making the two functions act the same.

You can read more about the Grid and how it works by going over some of my other tutorials that cover the subject:

Also, if you like moving things around with the help of the keyboard’s directional arrow keys, you might want to change the Keyboard Increment to 1 px to get it as precise as possible. You can do this by going to Edit > Preferences > General > Keyboard Increment.

adjusting the keyboard increment settings

If your version of AI has the value set to pt (points), just go to Units and change the General and Stroke units to Pixels and you’re good to go.

4. Creating the First Icon

Step 1

Position yourself on the purple layer, and using the Rounded Rectangle Tool create a 28 x 90 px shape with a 4 px Corner Radius. Next, color the shape using #B392AC and position it using the following coordinates in the Transform panel:

  • X: 226 px
  • Y: 211 px
positioning the top base shape for the first icon

Step 2

Once you have the first shape in place, select it, and let’s give it a thick outline by going to Object > Path > Offset Path and entering 4 px in the Offset field.

creating the outline of the first icon using the offset path effect

Step 3

You might have noticed that we now have the offset underneath our original shape, but we need to change its color so that the two won’t end up blending into a single shape. Simply select the shape and then change its color to something a little darker #735D78.

changing the color for the first icons outline

Step 4

Next create a smaller 6 x 22 px rectangle with a Corner Radius of 1 px. Color the shape using #F7D1CD and then Horizontal Center Align it to the outline section of the ice cream, making sure to position it underneath.

creating the stick for the first icon

Quick tip: As you can see, the top section of the stick goes underneath the ice cream by about 4 px, which is the exact value of the outline itself. You can achieve this level of precision by switching over to Pixel Preview mode (Alt-Control-Y or View > Pixel Preview), which allows you to see the actual pixels that lie underneath your artwork.

example of using the pixel preview mode for positioning the stick to the first icon

Step 5

Give the stick an outline by using the same Offset Path trick, making sure to change its color to #735D78.

first icon with basic shapes finished

Step 6

Once we have our base shapes, we can start adding some details. Since we last worked on the stick, let’s start from there. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 6 x 4 px shape, which we will color black (#000000). Since this will act as a shadow, we will change its Blending Mode to Multiply and then lower its Opacity to 20%.

adding a subtle shadow to the first icons stick

Step 7

Next, add the two diagonal lines by creating two 6 x 4 px rectangles (#735D78) which we will position 4 px from one another. We will then need to adjust the shapes by first selecting their right anchor points with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and then moving them up by 2 px, either by using the upward pointing arrow key or by right clicking > Transform > Move and entering -2 px into the Vertical input field. Finally group the two (Control-G) and position them right next to the shadow that we created one step ago.

adding details to the first icons stick

Step 8

Moving up, we can start adding a bunch of highlights to the ice cream. Let’s start with the outer one, by first creating a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the inner section (the lighter one) and then adding a smaller 24 x 86 px rectangle with a 2 px Corner Radius on top of it (illustrated with light red).

With both of the objects selected, go to the Pathfinder panel and use the Minus Front option. This will create a cutout in the larger shape, which we can then use as the actual highlight.

creating the cut out for the all-round highlight for the first icon

Step 9

Change the resulting shape’s color to white (#FFFFFF), its Blending Mode to Soft Light and its Opacity level to 40%.

adjusting the blending mode for the all-round highlight of the first icon

Step 10

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create two white (#FFFFFF) rectangles, one smaller (20 x 4 px) and one taller (20 x 10 px), and position them on the top section of the icon.

Then, Horizontal Center Align them to the purple shape underneath, so that you have a gap of 14 px between the outline and the bottom rectangle, and another 4 px one between the two white shapes.

adding the diagonal highlights to the first icon

Step 11

Adjust the two highlights by selecting their right anchor points using the Direct Selection Tool (A) and then moving them upwards by 20 px (right click > Transform > Move and enter -20 px into the Vertical input field).

adjusting the diagonal highlights for the first icon

Step 12

Since the highlights need to be somewhat transparent, we will have to adjust ours by changing their Blending Modes to Soft Light and their Opacity to 60%.

adjusting the blending modes for the diagonal highlights of the first icon

Step 13

Now I’m going to show you a little trick (in case you didn’t know it already). If you apply a Blending Mode to an object, and then group it to another one, you can apply a new Blending Mode on the group itself. Neat right?

So let’s select the two highlights, group them (Control-C > Control-F) and then from the Transparency panel select Overlay, leaving the Opacity as it is.

The effect is immediately visible, as it gives the icon a more vibrant feel, making it pop.

applying a second blending mode to the diagonal highlights of the first icon

Step 14

Next, we will start adding the final details to our first ice cream icon by adding the little colored sprinkles. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), draw a bunch of shapes and rotate them at a 45° angle.

Start decorating using the color values underneath to differentiate them from one another.

  • Dark purple: #735D78
  • Light pink: #F7D1CD
  • Pale orange: #F49AA1

At this point you might have noticed that the sprinkles go over the highlights, which is something we don’t want. To fix this, simply select the diagonal and outer highlights, and right click > Arrange > Bring to Front.

adding the sprinkles to the first icon

Step 15

Once you’re done adding the sprinkles, it’s time to create the little star-shaped highlights. First create a 12 x 12 px circle using the Ellipse Tool (L). Then, using the Direct Selection Tool (A), select its top and left side anchor points, and remove them by pressing Delete.

Once you’ve removed the anchors, position the remaining segment towards the top and create a duplicate of it (Control-C > Control-F), reflecting it vertically (right click > Transform > Reflect > Vertical). Separate the two segments by adding a 4 x 4 px circle between them, making sure that the segments are aligned to its middle anchors. Then create a copy of the circle and side segments, and reflect them horizontally, adding two more circles between the duplicates and the original shapes.

Select the segments, and unite all their anchor points (select the anchors > Control-J) so that you end up with a closed shape. Then simply select both it and the little circles and use Pathfinder’s Unite function.

creating the star shaped highlights

Step 16

Create two more smaller star-shaped highlights and position them next to one another. With all three selected, go to the Transparency panel and change their Blending Modes to Overlay while lowering their Opacity levels to 80%.

Once you’ve done that, group them together (Control-G), and position them onto the icon at about 18 px from the top section of the main outline, leaving a gap of just 2 px between them and the right side of the outline.

positioning the star shaped highlights onto the first icon

Step 17

Finish off the icon by adding a nice gradient on top of it. First select the two outlines (the one for the ice cream and stick) and create a copy of each (Control-C > Control-F). Then with the duplicates selected, unite them into a single shape, and apply a Linear Gradient with the following properties:

  • Left color: #00FF00
  • Right color: #D4145A
  • Angle: -90
gradient settings for the first icon

Step 18

Since the gradient is way too hard, we need to adjust its Blending Mode by setting it on Lighten while lowering the Opacity to 50%. This will give us a nice, smooth glow effect.

Lastly, don’t forget to select all the elements of the icon and group them together (Control-G) so they won’t get lost or misaligned if you happen to move the icon itself.

first icon finished

5. Creating the Second Icon

Step 1

Move on up to the orange layer and use the Rectangle Tool (M) to create a 52 x 90 px shape, coloring it using #F49AA1 (1).

Since we need both the top and bottom sections to be round, we will use the Round Corners effect to do just that. Using the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the bottom anchor points and apply a 6 px roundness to them by going to Effect > Stylize > Round Corners and entering the value in the Radius input field (2). Then select the top anchor points and repeat the same process, but this time give them a roundness of 26 px (3).

creating the base shape for the second icon

Step 2

Once you have the base top shape created, it’s time to add an outline to it using an offset path of 4 px, making sure to change the resulting object’s color to #C96975.

adding an outline to the second icon

Step 3

Add a little stick by creating a 12 x 28 px rectangle with a 6 px Corner Radius. Color the object using #F7D1CD and then create a 4 px outline (#C96975) using the Offset Path trick, making sure to send both the fill and outline to the back of the ice cream (right click > Arrange > Send to Back). Make sure the stick is properly positioned in the center of the icon, bottom aligning it with the previously created ice cream stick.

adding the little ice cream stick to the second icon

Step 4

Add some details to the ice cream stick by creating a 12 x 4 px shadow (#000000, Blending Mode set to Multiply, Opacity lowered to 20%) and some small 1 x 4 px rounded rectangles with a Corner Radius of 0.5 px. Color the little line pieces using #C96975 and then scatter them around the inside of the ice cream stick, making sure that the shadow goes over them. Also you might want to select all the elements forming the stick and group them together (Control-G) so they don’t get lost.

adding details to the second icon stick

Step 5

Move on up to the higher section of the icon and give the ice cream an all-round highlight by repeating the same cut out process and then setting the resulting shape’s Blending Mode to Soft Light while lowering its Opacity level to 30%.

adjusting the blend settings for the all-round highlight of the second icon

Step 6

Add the diagonal highlights by creating two white (#FFFFFF) rectangles, one 44 x 10 px and another 44 x 4 px one, which we will then position towards the center of the icon (1). Using the Move function, select their right anchor points with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and move them vertically by -44 px (2).

Change the Blending Modes of the objects to Soft Light and lower their Opacity levels to 50% (3). Since the shapes need to stay inside the ice cream, leaving a small gap of about 2 px on each side, we will need to mask the rectangles by creating a 44 x 82 px shape that has similar rounded corners to the larger pink shape underneath.

Then with both the larger shape and the rectangles selected, right click > Make Clipping Mask (4). Once you’ve done that, the highlights should be ready to go (5).

adding the diagonal highlights to the second icon

Step 7

Once we’ve added the diagonal highlights, we can start working on the little indentations on the ice cream’s surface. First grab the Rounded Rectangle Tool and create a 6 x 62 px shape (#C96975) with a Corner Radius of 3 px (1).

Using the Direct Selection Tool (A), select and remove the bottom anchor point, and then press Control-J to give the shape a flat end (2).

Next add a 2 x 58 px rectangle with a 1 px Corner Radius on top, and create a cutout using Pathfinder’s Minus Front option (3 and 4). Once you’ve created the cutout, add two 2 x 2 px circles to the bottom legs and unite them with the arch like shape (5).

Create another 2 x 58 px shape identical to the previous one (6), and then cut out a 2 x 2 px circle from its bottom section (7 and 8). Add a small shadow towards the top inner section of the indentation, and then select all the elements and group them together using Control-G.

creating the little fosses for the second icon

Step 8

Position the indentation over the ice cream icon, and then create three duplicates, spacing them out towards the right side at about 4 px from one another.

positioning the fosses onto the second icon

Step 9

Once we’ve added the indentations, we can now grab a copy (Control-C) of the star-shaped highlights from the previous icon and paste (Control-F) them onto the one we are currently working on.

adding the star shaped highlights to the second icon

Step 10

Finish off the icon by adding a linear gradient with the following properties:

  • Left color: #00FF00
  • Right color: #D4145A
  • Angle: -90
  • Blending Mode: Color Burn
  • Opacity: 20%
second icon finished

6. Creating the Third Icon

Step 1

As always, make sure you’re on the right layer (the green one in this case) and create a copy of the first icon and paste it over here, so that you have a gap of 40 px between the duplicate and the second icon.

creating the third icon using the first one

Step 2

Ungroup all the elements of the icon (right click > Ungroup) and then remove the gradient by selecting and then pressing Delete (1). While we’re deleting things, you can also get rid of the little sprinkles (2) and the diagonal lines from our little stick (3).

Now let’s shake things up a little by changing the colors. Select both the larger outline and the stick outline, and color them using #386150. Use #58B09C for the ice cream’s filling and #CAF7E2 for the stick's filling. At this point (4) our little icon should be looking more like something sweet from another planet, which is exactly what we want.

adjusting the color scheme of the third icon

Step 3

Start adding details such as the diagonal stripes (#CAF7E2) (2), the little sprinkled dots (#CAF7E2) (3), and the two 12 x 4 px diagonal lines (#386150) for the stick (4).

Depending on how you’ve grouped the composing elements of the icon, you will need to bring the highlights to the front of everything else by selecting and then right clicking > Arrange > Bring to Front.

Once you have everything positioned, don’t forget to regroup the elements by using Control-G.

adding details to the third icon

Step 4

Finish off the icon by adding a smooth linear gradient with the following settings:

  • Left color: #00FFFF
  • Right color: #D4145A
  • Angle: -90
  • Blending Mode: Lighten
  • Opacity: 60%
third icon finished

7. Creating the Fourth Icon

Step 1

Move on upwards to the chocolate layer, and using the Rounded Rectangle Tool create a 28 x 18 px shape with a 2 px Corner Radius. Color it using #A07F7F and then position it about 40 px below the first icon.

positioning the first element of the fourth icon

Step 2

With the newly created shape selected, go to Object > Path > Offset Path and give it an outline of 4 px so that we keep things balanced. Change the outline’s color to #785F5F and then create an inner all-around highlight (#FFFFFF) as we did with all our previous icons, with the Blending Mode set to Soft Light and the Opacity to 40%.

Once you have both fill, outline and highlight, group the elements together using Control-G.

creating the first ice cream segment for the fourth icon

Step 3

Create a duplicate of the section of the icon that we just created by dragging towards the bottom while holding down Alt (to create the duplicate) and Shift (to drag in a straight line). 

Since each segment will have an outline, you should try to overlay them so that you won’t end up with a huge gap between the fills. I recommend you turn on Pixel Preview Mode (Alt-Control-Y) so you can be as precise as possible.

Once you’ve created the first copy, press Control-D (duplicate) twice to create the rest of the segments.

creating the remaining segments for the fourth icon

Step 4

Adjust the second and fourth segment colors to something a little bit lighter by using #BA9494.

adjusting the color scheme for the fourth icon

Step 5

Start working on the icon’s stick by creating a 6 x 28 px rectangle with a Corner Radius of 1 px. Color it using #F7D1CD and then position it underneath the last segment so that it overlaps the bottom section of the outline. Then, with the stick selected, give it an Offset Path of 4 px, changing the resulting shape’s color to #785F5F.

adding the little ice cream stick to the fourth icon

Step 6

Add a subtle 6 x 4 px shadow (#000000, Multiply, 20%) to the stick and then select all of its elements and group them together using Control-G.

fourth icon with basic shapes finished

Step 7

Since at this point we’ve laid out our basic shapes, we can start working on adding details. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a bunch of different sized shapes, color them using #785F5F and then rotate them at a 45-degree angle by pressing R (for rotate) and then dragging with the mouse towards the top.

Group the little decorative pieces together (Control-G) and position one set onto the first ice cream segment (2) and another on the third one (3).

Once you’ve done that you can add the diagonal highlights (4) and select both them and the all-around ones and bring them in front of the sprinkles.

adding details to the fourth icon

Step 8

Grab a copy of the star-shaped highlights from the first icon and position them towards the top section of our current one.

adding the star shaped highlight to the fourth icon

Step 9

Finish off the icon by adding a warm linear gradient with the following attributes:

  • Left color: #FFFF00
  • Right color: #C1272D
  • Angle: -90
  • Blending Mode: Hard Light
  • Opacity: 20%
fourth icon finished

8. Creating the Fifth Icon

Step 1

Position yourself onto the double layer, and using the Rectangle Tool (M) create a 26 x 90 px shape which we will color using #9CD6F2.

Using the Direct Selection Tool (A), select its bottom anchor points and apply a Round Corner effect of 4 px (2). Then do the same for the top anchors, giving them a higher value of 13 px (3) to get that all round feel to it.

adjusting the fill shape for the fifth icon

Step 2

Once you’ve adjusted the shape, give it a 4 px outline (#6B94A8) and then align the two to the right side of the previously created icon, leaving a gap of 40 px between them.

positioning the fifth icon

Step 3

Add the little stick underneath the ice cream by creating a 6 x 22 px rounded rectangle with a 3 px Corner Radius. Color the shape using #D9F0F9 (1), and then give it an outline of 4 px (#6B94A8) (2).

Position the stick underneath the icon so that the fill section overlaps the bottom outline of the ice cream.

positioning the ice cream stick for the fifth icon

Step 4

Add little details to the stick such as the dot-like sprinkles (#6B94A8), and the 6 x 4 px subtle shadow that we applied to all the other icons.

adding details to the fifth icons stick

Step 5

Since this icon is a double-stick ice cream, we can now use the elements that we have created until this point and use them to create the second section.

To do that, simply select all the elements, and then drag to the right while holding down Alt (to duplicate) and Shift (to drag in a straight line). Make sure that you have Pixel Preview turned on (Control-Alt-Y) so that you can make sure the main outlines of the two overlap.

example of using pixel preview to correctly overlap the elements of the fifth icon

Step 6

Since we want the fill sections of the two ice cream segments to be glued together, we will have to send both the outlines and the sticks to the back by selecting them and then right click > Arrange > Send to Back.

correctly adjusting the position of the two sections of the fifth icon

Step 7

Start adding all the little details such as the all-around highlights, the diagonal ones and finally the star-shaped ones.

adding the star shaped highlight to the fifth icon

Step 8

Finally add a nice-looking linear gradient using the following values:

  • Left color: #00FF00
  • Right color: #D4145A
  • Angle: -90
  • Blending Mode: Multiply
  • Opacity: 10%
fifth icon finished

9. Creating the Sixth and Last Icon

Step 1

Move on to the last layer, the biscuit one, and using the Rounded Rectangle Tool create a 52 x 112 px shape with a Corner Radius of 4 px.

Color the object using #F4D5BD and then apply an Offset Path effect of 4 px to give it an outline (#806347).

Once you have both elements created, position them towards the right side of the previously created icon, leaving a 28 px gap between them.

positioning the basic shapes for the sixth icon

Step 2

Add the all-round highlight now, since we will have a bunch of elements that will end up overlapping this part of the icon. Use white (#FFFFFF) for the color, and set the Blending Mode to Soft Light while keeping the Opacity level at about 60%.

adding the all-round highlight to the sixth icon

Step 3

Grab the Rounded Rectangle Tool and create a smaller 52 x 56 px object with a 4 px Corner Radius which we will color using #C4976E.

Then, select the shape and apply an Offset Path effect of 4 px to it, and color the resulting outline using #806347.

Horizontal Center Align the two to the larger outline that we created a few moments ago, making sure to position them towards its bottom.

creating the bottom section for the sixth icon

Step 4

Start working your way through the details by creating a bunch of 4 x 4 px circles (#806347) (2), then adding the all-round highlight (3), then the diagonal one (4), the star-shaped one (5), and finally a subtle shadow (6).

adding details to the sixth icon

Step 5

As you've probably got used to by now, we will finish off the icon by adding a sweet linear gradient on top of it. To get it right, use the following values:

  • Left color: #C7B299
  • Right color: #C1272D
  • Angle: -90
  • Blending Mode: Hard Light
  • Opacity: 20%
sixth icon finished

That's It!

I hope you enjoyed this delicious treat and learned something new along the way.

Feel free to leave your versions in the forum section, since I always look forward to seeing what you come up with. Thanks for your attention, and have a good one!

all icons finished
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