Retro style always remains trendy as it inspires artists and designers with its subtle palettes and smooth shapes. In this tutorial we’ll be creating a set of retro media icons in Affinity Designer, using basic shapes and modifying them with the help of the Operations panel. We’ll be working with gradient fills, adding a retro touch by using Noise. Let's get started!
By the end of this lesson, you’ll have created three detailed flat media icons and will be able to apply your new skills to create any other set of flat icons in a similar pseudo-dimensional style with gradient fills.
Before we proceed, be sure to check out these references of retro-style objects from Envato Market: retro TV sets and vintage radio. They might help you to brush up on the proper images in your memory. Now that we’re inspired, let’s begin!
1. Prepare Your Document
Start by making a New File of 700 x 400 px size.
Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and make a rectangle of the same size for the background. Fill it with light-beige color using the Colour panel. Find the tiny circle Opacity/Noise switcher at the bottom of the Colour panel. Switch to Noise and set the slider to 30%, making the background grainy.
Use the Arrange function from the control toolbar to Align the rectangle to the Centre of the canvas horizontally and vertically.
2. Create a Retro TV Icon
Take the Rounded Rectangle Tool (M) and make a 110 x 85 px shape. Take the Fill Tool (G) and drag it over the shape to apply a vertical Linear Fill.
You can adjust the colors of the gradient either from the drop-down Fill menu in the control panel on top or by clicking the circle markers of the gradient slider above the object and picking the proper color in the Colour panel.
Fill the shape with brown gradient, making it darker on top. Apply 30% Noise as we did for the background.
Set the Corner radius of the shape to 10% on the control toolbar on top.
Copy the created rectangle and Paste it (Command-C > Command-V). Hold Shift and shrink the new shape, making it proportionally smaller. Change the colors of the gradient to dark and light beige.
Duplicate (Command-C > Command-V) the shape once again and make it smaller. Edit the colors, making the gradient lighter. Remember to apply 30% Noise to every shape we create.
Let’s make the bottom panel of our TV set. Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to make a 104 x 13 px shape. Head to the control toolbar on top and uncheck the Single radius box. This way we can adjust each corner separately. Set the Corner radius of the bottom left and bottom right corners to 40%.
Apply the same dark-brown linear gradient as we have for the base of the TV. You can do this either by picking the colors manually, using the Eyedropper Tool (check out Part 2, Step 1 of this Lighthouse Flat Icon tutorial to find out how to use it), or there is a simpler way. Just copy the TV base shape (Command-C), select the narrow panel shape, and Edit > Paste Style. Adjust the position of the gradient with the Fill Tool (G).
Now let's make the screen of our TV. Use the Rounded Rectangle Tool (M) to make an 85 x 54 px shape. Check the Single radius box and set the Corner radius value to 45%, making the shape almost elliptical. Fill it with Linear gradient of greyish-green retro colors, and remember to apply Noise.
Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to create a narrow stripe of 90 x 2 px size. Fill it with light greyish-green color and set the Blend Mode to Multiply on top of the Layers panel to make the stripe semi-transparent.
Hold Option-Shift and drag the object down, making a copy. Press Command-J several times to add more copies, covering the screen.
Let’s hide the unwanted pieces of the stripes outside the screen. Group (Command-G) the stripes. Head to the Layers panel, and drag and drop the stripes over the screen layer. You will see a short blue stripe like in the image below, indicating that the stripes are placed inside the screen shape, as if inside a container.
Let’s add the channel and volume buttons. Use the Ellipse Tool (M) to make a 14 x 14 px circle and apply a Linear gradient from dark grey to light grey.
Duplicate (Command-C > Command-V) the circle and shrink it to 11 x 11 px. Change the direction of the gradient to the opposite.
Add a narrow 2 x 11 px stripe across the circle and use the Align panel or the Arrange panel in the control toolbar on top to make the shapes fit each other.
Group the elements of the switcher and add a copy on the opposite side of the TV. Rotate it a bit, adding variety to the image.
Add a row of buttons to the front panel, using the Rounded Rectangle Tool (M). Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw two vertical lines across the rectangle. Place the lines inside the rounded rectangle, using the Layers panel, as we did with the screen, thus separating the buttons from each other.
Let’s add the supporting legs to our TV. Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to make an 8 x 8 px square with straight corners. Fill it with vertical Linear gradient from dark grey on top to lighter grey at the bottom.
Head to the control toolbar on top and Convert to Curves. Now we can edit each node of the shape separately. Take the Node Tool (A) and select and move both bottom nodes to the left a bit, making the shape skewed. Move the bottom right node even more to the right.
Attach the leg to the bottom of the TV, Moving it to back (Shift-Command-[).
Duplicate the leg and Flip Horizontal to mirror the shape, using the Transforms panel on top. Attach the second leg to the opposite side of the TV.
Use the Pen Tool (P) to add an antenna to the TV set. Head to the Stroke panel, set the Width to 3 pt and make the tips of the antenna rounded, switching the Cap to Round Cap.
Now let's make a flat long shadow for our icon. Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to make a 95 x 95 px square. Fill it with vertical gradient from light beige on top to white at the bottom. Switch the Blend Mode to Multiply in the Layers panel, thus making the shape semi-transparent.
Rotate the shape 45 degrees.
Move the shadow to Back (Shift-Command-[) and attach it to the TV. Convert to Curves and use the Node Tool (A) to combine the nodes with the parts of the TV, as marked in the screenshot below.
Great job! Our first icon is finished. Let’s move to the next one.
3. Design a Retro Radio Icon
Let’s start making the base of our radio from a rounded rectangle of 108 x 80 px size. Set the Corner radius to 25% and fill the shape with Linear gradient from darker red in the bottom to pale red on top, adding a retro touch.
Convert to Curves and use the Node Tool (A) to select both top left nodes of the shape and move them 4 px to the right by pressing the Right Arrow key four times. Repeat the same for the opposite side, making the top part of the radio narrower.
Grab the top edge of the shape with the Node Tool (A) and drag it up, making the edge slightly arched.
And let’s fix the nodes, making the line smooth. Select them with the Node Tool (A) and Convert to Smart from the control toolbar on top.
Let’s add a dynamic and some buttons to our radio. Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to make a semi-transparent shape in Multiply Mode and place a group of narrow stripes on top of it, as we did with the screen of the TV icon. Group the elements and place them inside of the radio shape, using the Layers panel.
Copy the buttons from the TV panel, resize and recolor them into silver metal colors to make them fit the appearance of the radio.
Let’s add a big round switcher to our radio. Use the Ellipse Tool (M) to make a 43 x 43 px circle with Linear fill from grey to white, giving it a metal look.
Duplicate the circle and make the top copy a bit smaller, filling it with vertical gradient of dark-red tints.
Add another smaller copy on top and apply a beige-yellow linear fill. Finally, add one more small circle and invert the direction of the yellowish gradient.
Use the Pen Tool (P) to add a vertical 3 pt stripe across the switcher and rotate it 45 degrees. Finish up by placing a small circle on top of the construction.
Now we’ll add a handle to our radio. Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to make a 99 x 45 px shape with 3 pt Stroke and no Fill. You can apply a Linear gradient to the Stroke as well, making the handle look metal.
Uncheck the Single radius box in the control toolbar on top and make the top left and right corners 25% rounded.
Move the handle to Back (Shift-Command-[), placing it beneath the radio.
Add a red rounded rectangle for the grip, placing it on top of the metal handle.
Add a rounded rectangle for the button and a 3 pt Stroke for the metal antenna, placing both objects beneath the radio (Shift-Command-[).
Finish up with the radio icon by adding a long, flat, semi-transparent shadow.
And there we have it! Let’s move on to our last icon.
4. Make a Newspaper Icon
Start making a newspaper from an 85 x 85 px rectangle. Fill it with a gentle greyish-green Linear gradient and make the bottom right corner 10% rounded.
Let’s make our newspaper folded by placing another paper sheet in front. Create a 93 x 45 px rectangle and make its top left corner 15% rounded.
Create another rectangle of 36 x 45 px size, making the shapes overlap. Make the top left corner 15% rounded. Fill it with Linear gradient from dark greyish-blue to lighter grey.
Select the created piece together with the largest rectangle in the back and use the Align panel on top to align the new shape to the right edge of the newspaper sheet.
Duplicate (Command-C > Command-V) the dark shape and keep the copy invisible by removing the tick in the Layers panel.
Select the dark shape and the smaller paper sheet it and apply Subtract from the Operations panel in the control toolbar on top to cut out the shape.
Duplicate the biggest newspaper sheet and reveal the copy of the dark shape in the Layers panel.
Select the paper sheet copy and the dark shape and apply the Intersect Operation to cut the dark shape.
Duplicate the dark shape once again and move the copy to the right. I’ve filled it with red color just to make it visible in the image below. Select both copies and apply the Subtract Operation to cut the shapes.
Take the Corner Tool (C) and make the top right corner of the shape rounded as well, forming a fold in the paper, so that the dark shape depicts the shadowed back side of our newspaper.
Let’s add a large header to our newspaper. Use the Artistic Text Tool (T) and type the word NEWS using a bold font, such as Bevan free font. Fill the letters with dark greyish-blue color and add 30% Noise.
Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to add a narrow stripe beneath the header, filling it with the same dark color as the header and adding Noise. Continue adding narrow stripes to create stylized silhouettes of the text lines.
Add a group of stripes to the front part of the newspaper as well, making its color a bit lighter.
Create a flat long shadow and attach it to the newspaper, finishing our last icon.
Breaking News! Our Set of Retro Media Icons Is Finished!
Great job! You’ve learned how to work with simple shapes and modify them, using the Arrange and Align panels, the Operations panel, and various tools and functions of Affinity Designer, as well as working with Gradients Fills and Strokes. I hope you’ve enjoyed following this tutorial and discovered some new tips and tricks that will inspire you to make more vintage and retro-style elements in this program.
Have fun and stay tuned for more!