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# How to Create a Set of Superhero Emoji in Adobe Illustrator

Difficulty:BeginnerLength:LongLanguages:

Today we’re going to put our superhero capes on and hop into our secret cave, where we’re going to observe and analyze each and every detail in order to bring five of the most iconic crime fighters to life in a vector format. We’re going to do all of this by relying on some basic geometric shapes combined with the power of some simple-to-use tools in Adobe Illustrator.

Before we start, don't forget that you can expand your project by heading over to GraphicRiver where you'll find a great selection of superhero-themed vectors.

That being said, grab a cup of that crime-fighting juice and let’s get started!

## 1. How to Set Up a New Project File

Assuming 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: 1000 px
• Height: 600 px
• Units: Pixels

• Color Mode: RGB
• Raster Effects: Screen (72ppi)
• Preview Mode: Default

## 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.

### Step 1

Go to the Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid submenu, and adjust the following settings:

• Gridline every: 1 px
• Subdivisions: 1

### 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 and Snap to Pixel option found under the View menu, which will transform into Snap to Pixel each time you enter the Pixel Preview mode (if you’re using an older version of the software).

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

Once we’ve set up our document, it would be a good idea to structure our project using a few 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 six layers, which we will rename as follows:

• layer 1: reference grids
• layer 2: batman
• layer 3: jubilee
• layer 4: baby groot
• layer 5: wonder woman
• layer 6: luke cage

## 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 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.

### Step 1

Start by locking all but the “reference grids” 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.

### Step 2

Add a smaller 120 x 120 px one (#FFFFFF) which we will position on top of the previous shape, since it will act as our active drawing area, thus giving us an all-around 4 px padding to work with.

### Step 3

Select and group the two squares together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut, center aligning them to the underlying Artboard afterwards. Create the remaining grids using four copies (Control-C > Control-F) at a horizontal distance of 40 px from each other, locking the current layer before moving on to the next section.

## 5. How to Create the Batman Emoji

Assuming you’ve successfully managed to create the little reference grids, move on to the next layer (that would be the second one), and let’s kick off the project by creating the dark knight.

### Step 1

Start by creating the character’s head using a 120 x 120 px circle, which we will color using #FFDA66, and then center align to the first active drawing area.

### Step 2

Create a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the circle, which we will adjust by first changing its color to #2B3249, and then cutting out a smaller 104 x 104 px one (highlighted with red) from its center using Pathfinder’s Minus Front Shape Mode.

### Step 3

Start working on the mask’s upper section by creating a 120 x 64 px rectangle (#2B3249), which we will center align to the active drawing area’s top edge as seen in the reference image.

### Step 4

Adjust the shape that we’ve just created by first turning on Pixel Preview mode (Alt-Control-Y) and then adding two new anchor points at a distance of 14 px from the center of the rectangle’s bottom edge using the Add Anchor Point Tool (+).

### Step 5

Select the two anchor points that we’ve just created using the Direct Selection Tool (A), and then push them to the bottom by a distance of 12 px using the Move Tool (right click > Transform > Move > Vertical > 12 px).

### Step 6

Add a second pair of anchor points at a distance of just 2 px from the resulting shape’s bottom edge, selecting and pushing them to the bottom by a distance of 8 px (right click > Transform > Move > Vertical > 8 px). Once you’re done, turn off Pixel Preview mode (Alt-Control-Y) and then move on to the next step.

### Step 7

Create the subtle shadow cast by the mask, using two copies (Control-C > Control-F twice) of the shape that we’ve just finished adjusting, making sure to push the one from underneath to the bottom by a distance of 8 px (right click > Transform > Move > Vertical > 8 px). Use Pathfinder’s Minus Front Shape Mode to cut out the upper copy from the bottom one, as seen in the reference image.

### Step 8

Color the resulting shape using #E89A54, and then make sure you position it behind the mask’s circular cutout by right clicking > Arrange > Send to Back. Once you’re done, select and group all three shapes together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

### Step 9

Mask the shapes that we’ve just grouped using a copy (Control-C) of the underlying yellow circle, which we will paste in front (Control-F) and then use as a Clipping Mask (right click > Make Clipping Mask).

### Step 10

Start working on Batman’s left pointed ear, by creating a 40 x 120 px ellipse (#2B3249), which we will adjust by selecting its bottom anchor points using the Direct Selection Tool (A) and then removing it by pressing Delete. Then, remove the shape’s right half, positioning the resulting ear onto the active drawing area’s top-left corner, as seen in the reference image.

### Step 11

Create the right ear using a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the one we’ve just finished working on, which we will horizontally reflect (right click > Transform > Reflect > Horizontal) and then position onto the opposite side of the active drawing area.

### Step 12

Take a couple of moments and draw the eyes with the help of the Pen Tool (P), using white (#FFFFFF) as your main Fill color. Position the resulting shapes as seen in the reference image, selecting and grouping (Control-G) them together before moving on to the next step.

### Step 13

Create the mouth using a 12 x 8 px rounded rectangle (#2B3249) with a 4 px Corner Radius, which we will position at a distance of 40 px from the active drawing area’s right edge and 26 px from its bottom one.

### Step 14

Finish off the emoji by adding the rough beard using a couple of 2 x 2 px circles (#2B3249) spaced both horizontally and vertically 2 px from one another. Take your time, and once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) each side of the beard, doing the same for the entire icon afterwards.

## 6. How to Create the Jubilee Emoji

Assuming you’ve finished working on the first superhero, lock its layer and then move on up to the next one (that would be the third one), where we’ll start working on the pyrotechnic energy-blasting superhero.

### Step 1

Create the character’s head using a 120 x 120 px circle, which we will color using #FFDA66 and then center align to our second active drawing area.

### Step 2

Create the upper section of the hair using a 120 x 48 px rectangle (#2B3249), which we will center align to the active drawing area’s top edge.

### Step 3

Adjust the shape that we’ve just created by adding three new anchor points 2 px from one another, which we will position 24 px from the larger shape’s right edge.

### Step 4

Select the center anchor point that we’ve just added, and the push it to the top by 8 px using the Move tool (right click > Transform > Move > Vertical > -8 px).

### Step 5

Add the subtle shadow following the same process used for the first character, coloring the resulting shape using #E89A54.

### Step 6

Create the hair’s side sections using two 8 x 72 px rectangles, which we will color using #2B3249 and then bottom align to the active drawing area’s side edges.

### Step 7

Select and group (Control-G) all of the hair’s composing shapes, masking (right click > Make Clipping Mask) them afterwards using a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the underlying circle.

### Step 8

Create the back section of Jubilee’s hair, using a 96 x 12 px rectangle (#2B3249), which we will position 16 px from the active drawing area’s bottom edge, making sure to send it to the back of all the other shapes (right click > Arrange > Send to Back).

### Step 9

Start working on the hair’s front-side section, by creating an 8 x 44 px rectangle (#2B3249), which we will position as seen in the reference image.

### Step 10

Add another 8 x 16 px rectangle (#2B3249), which we will adjust by selecting and removing its top-right anchor point. Position the resulting shape onto the right side of the previous shape, at a distance of 16 px from its bottom edge, making sure to group (Control-G) the two together afterwards.

### Step 11

Create the right section of the character’s front hair using a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the shapes that we’ve just grouped, which we will vertically reflect (right click > Transform > Reflect > Vertical) and then position onto the opposite side of the active drawing area.

### Step 12

Start working on the left eye by creating a 20 x 12 px rectangle (#FFFFFF), which we will position underneath the shadow, at a distance of 22 px from the left hair section.

### Step 13

Adjust the shape that we’ve just created by setting the Radius of its top-left corner to 4 px, its top-right one to 12 px and its bottom-left one to 8 px from within the Transform panel’s Rectangle Properties.

### Step 14

Add an 8 x 8 px circle (#2B3249) to the center of the resulting shape, followed by a smaller 4 x 4 px one (#FFFFFF) which we will align to its top-right corner. Once you’re done, select and group all three shapes together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

### Step 15

Create the right eye using a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the one that we’ve just finished working on, which we will vertically reflect (right click > Transform > Reflect > Vertical) and then position onto the opposite side of the head. Once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) both eyes together before moving on to the next step.

### Step 16

Start working on the mouth by creating the character’s lips using a 20 x 12 px ellipse (#F97F55) which we will adjust by pinching its side anchor points using the Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C). Once you’re done, center align the resulting shape to the larger underlying circle, positioning it at a distance of 12 px from the eyes.

### Step 17

Add the mouth using an 8 x 4 px ellipse (#2B3249), which we will center align to the shape from the previous step.

### Step 18

Add the visible section of the teeth, using an 8 x 2 px rectangle (#FFFFFF), which we will center align to the mouth’s top edge, masking (right click > Make Clipping Mask) it afterwards using a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the underlying shape. Once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) all of the mouth’s composing sections, before moving on to the next step.

### Step 19

Create the blush spots using two 16 x 12 px ellipses (#FFB266), which we will position at a distance of 4 px from the character’s eyes and 12 px from its hair’s side sections. Once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) all of the shapes that we’ve created so far, before moving on to the next step.

### Step 20

Start working on the glasses by creating the upper section of the frame using a 104 x 8 px rectangle (#BDC9E5), which we will adjust by setting the Radius of its top corners to 4 px. Center align the resulting shape to the underlying active drawing area, positioning it at a distance of 4 px from its top edge.

### Step 21

Create the lens section using a 104 x 28 px rectangle (#F97F55), which we will adjust by setting the Radius of its bottom corners to 8 px, positioning the resulting shape below the frame.

### Step 22

Adjust the shape by adding a pair of new anchor points at a distance of 4 px from its center, followed by another one at a distance of 12 px. Once you have the anchors in place, select the middle pair and push it to the top by 12 px (right click > Transform > Move > Vertical > -12 px).

### Step 23

Start working on the highlight by creating the first pair using a 4 x 20 px rectangle (#FFFFFF) followed by a narrower 2 x 20 px one (#FFFFFF) positioned just 2 px from the wider one. Adjust the shapes by selecting and pushing their bottom anchor points to the left by 8 px (right click Transform > Move > Horizontal > -8 px), grouping (Control-G) and positioning the resulting shapes as seen in the reference image.

### Step 24

Finish off the glasses, and with them the emoji itself, by adding the second pair of highlights using a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the ones that we’ve just finished working on, which we will position onto the opposite side. Once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) all of the glasses' composing shapes, doing the same for all of the character’s composing sections before moving on to the next one.

## 7. How to Create the Baby Groot Emoji

Assuming you’ve finished working on the second emoji, lock its layer and then move on up to the next one (that would be the fourth one), where we’ll create cute little Baby Groot.

### Step 1

Start working on the character’s head by creating its lower section using a 120 x 92 px rectangle (#B5725B), which we will adjust by setting the Radius of its bottom corners to 60 px. Once you’re done, center align the resulting shape to the active drawing area’s bottom edge.

### Step 2

Create the head’s upper section using a couple of varying width and height rectangles (#B5725B), which we will adjust by setting the Radius of some of their upper corners to 4 px. Once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) all of the head’s composing shapes, before moving on to the next step.

### Step 3

Take a couple of moments and add the grass sections, using #B6D65F as your main Fill color, moving on to the next step once you’re done.

### Step 4

Give the character some texture, by adding a couple of rounded rectangles (#82453B) with a 1 px Corner Radius, which we will position as seen in the reference image. Once you’re done, make sure you select and group (Control-G) all of them together, doing the same for all the head’s composing sections as well.

### Step 5

Start working on Groot’s eyes, by creating the main shape for its left one using a 16 x 16 px circle (#2B3249), which we will position at a distance of 32 px from the active drawing area’s left edge and 40 px from its bottom one.

### Step 6

Create a slightly wider 24 x 12 px ellipse (#B5725B), which we will position onto the lower section of the previously created, making sure to mask it afterwards using a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the smaller circle (right click > Make Clipping Mask).

### Step 7

Add the little highlight using a 4 x 4 px circle (#FFFFFF), which we will position at a distance of 4 px from the eye’s top and right edges. Once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) all three shapes together before moving on to the next step.

### Step 8

Create the right eye using a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the one that we’ve just finished working on, which we will position onto the opposite side of the head, making sure to select and group (Control-G) the two together once you’re done.

### Step 9

Add the character’s mouth using an 8 x 8 px circle, which we will color using #2B3249 and then position at a distance of 40 px from the active drawing area’s right edge and 28 px from its bottom one.

### Step 10

Move a few pixels down and add the blush spots using two 16 x 12 px ellipses (#A0604E), which we will position at a distance of 32 px from the active drawing area’s bottom edge and 16 px from its side ones.

### Step 11

Create the left eyebrow, using two 4 x 4 px circles (#82453B), horizontally spaced 12 px from one another. Push the right circle to the top by a distance of just 2 px (right click > Transform > Move > Vertical > -2 px), and then connect the two using a diagonal rectangle, making sure to group (Control-G) and position the shapes as seen in the reference image.

### Step 12

Finish off Groot, by adding the right eyebrow using a copy of the one that we’ve just created, which we will vertically reflect (right click > Transform > Reflect > Vertical) and then position onto the opposite side of the head. Once you’re done, group (Control-G) the two together, doing the same for all of the emoji’s composing sections, before moving on to the next one.

## 8. How to Create the Wonder Woman Emoji

Make sure you’ve locked the previous layer, and then move on up to the next one (that would be the fifth one) where we will start working on the Amazonian goddess.

### Step 1

As we did with all the other ones, start by creating the character’s head using a 120 x 120 px circle, which we will color using #FFDA66 and then center align to our second active drawing area.

### Step 2

Start working on the hair by creating a 120 x 120 px square (#2B3249), from the bottom of which we will cut out a smaller 88 x 72 px rectangle (highlighted with red) using Pathfinder’s Minus Front Shape Mode.

### Step 3

Mask the resulting shape using a copy (Control-C) of the underlying circle, which we will paste in front (Control-F) and then use as a Clipping Mask (right click > Make Clipping Mask).

### Step 4

Start working on the hair’s side sections by creating the main shape for its left one using a 16 x 40 px rectangle (#2B3249), which we will align to the active drawing area’s left edge, positioning it at a distance of 20 px from its bottom edge.

### Step 5

Next, we’re going to go a little off the grid, by creating the curled section using a 32 x 32 px circle (#2B3249), which we will adjust by cutting out another 32 x 32 px one (highlighted with red) from its top-left section. Once you’re done, position the resulting shape as seen in the reference image, selecting and grouping (Control-G) it and the previously created rectangle together.

### Step 6

Create the right hair section using a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the one that we’ve just finished working on, which we will vertically reflect (right click > Transform > Reflect > Vertical) and then position onto the opposite side of the head.

### Step 7

Next, grab the Pen Tool (P) and draw the iconic crown, using #FFB266 as your main Fill color. Use the reference image as your main guide, moving on to the next step once you’re done.

### Step 8

Give the resulting shape a pair of vertical highlights using a 4 x 36 px rectangle (#FFFFFF) positioned 2 px away horizontally from a narrower 2 x 36 px one (#FFFFFF), which we will group (Control-G) and then position at a distance of 20 px from the crown’s right edge. Once you’re done, mask the highlights and then move on to the next step.

### Step 9

Quickly draw the star using #F97F55 as your main Fill color, selecting and grouping all of the crown’s composing shapes afterwards using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

### Step 10

As we did with all the other characters, add the subtle shadow (#E89A54), making sure to position it behind the hair’s side sections (right click > Arrange > Send Backward). Once you’re done, select and group all of the current shapes together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

### Step 11

Start working on the eyes, by creating the main shape for the left one using a 20 x 12 px ellipse (#FFFFFF), which we will adjust by pinching its side anchor points using the Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C). Position the resulting shape underneath the crown’s shadow, at a distance of 14 px from the left hair section.

### Step 12

Continue adjusting the eye, by selecting its top anchor point using the Direct Selection Tool (A), and then pushing it to the left by 2 px (right click > Transform > Move > Horizontal > -2 px).

### Step 13

Add the eye’s remaining details using an 8 x 8 px circle (#2B3249) which we will position in the center of the resulting shape, followed by a smaller 4 x 4 px one (#FFFFFF) in its top-right corner. Once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) all three shapes together, before moving on to the next step.

### Step 14

Create the right eye using a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the one that we’ve just finished working on, which we will vertically reflect (right click > Transform > Reflect > Vertical) and then position onto the opposite side of the head. Once you have the copy in place, select both it and the original and group them together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

### Step 15

Start working on the mouth by creating a 20 x 16 px ellipse (#2B3249), which we will center align to the larger underlying circle, positioning it at a distance of 8 px from the character’s eyes.

### Step 16

Add the teeth using a 20 x 6 px rectangle (#FFFFFF), and the tongue using a 20 x 12 px ellipse (#F97F55), which we will position as seen in the reference image, making sure to group (Control-G) and mask them afterwards. Once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) all of the mouth’s composing shapes before moving on to the next step.

### Step 17

Finish off the emoji, by adding the blush spots using two 16 x 12 px ellipses (#FFB266), which we will position as seen in the reference image. Take your time, and once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) the two together, doing the same for the entire character afterwards.

## 9. How to Create the Luke Cage Emoji

We are now down to our fifth and last superhero, which is one of my all-time favorite Marvel characters. That being said, take a quick sip of that second coffee, and let’s jump into it!

### Step 1

Start by creating the character’s head using a 120 x 120 px circle, which we will color using #B5725B and then center align to the last active drawing area.

### Step 2

Add the hair section using a 96 x 24 px rectangle (#2B3249), which we will center align to the circle’s top edge and then adjust by setting the Radius of its top corners to 8 px.

### Step 3

Grab the Pen Tool (P) and draw Luke’s headband using #BDC9E5 as your Fill color.

### Step 4

As we did with Wonder Woman, give the band a set of vertical highlights (#FFFFFF) followed by the subtle shadow (#8E5042), making sure to group (Control-G) and mask the shapes afterwards. Once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) all of the other composing sections as well.

### Step 5

Start working on the eyes by creating the main shape for the left one using a 16 x 16 px circle (#FFFFFF), which we will position at a distance of 32 px from the active drawing area’s left edge and 4 px from the band’s shadow.

### Step 6

Create the pupil using an 8 x 8 px circle (#2B3249), onto the top-right corner of which we will add a 4 x 4 px circular highlight (#FFFFFF).

### Step 7

Create the eyelid using a 24 x 12 px ellipse (#B5725B), which we will position on the upper section of the eye so that its bottom half overlaps it. Mask the shape (right click > Make Clipping Mask) using a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the underlying circle, selecting and grouping all of the eye’s composing shapes together before moving on to the next step.

### Step 8

Create the right eye using a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the one that we’ve just finished working on, which we will position on the opposite side of the head. Once you have the copy in place, select both it and the original and group them together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

### Step 9

Create the beard using a 36 x 40 px rectangle (#2B3249), which we will adjust by setting the Radius of its top corners to 12 px and its bottom ones to 18 px. Once you’re done, center align the resulting shape to the underlying head, positioning it at a distance of 6 px from its bottom edge.

### Step 10

Add the mouth cutout using a 28 x 16 px rounded rectangle (#B5725B) with an 8 px Corner Radius, which we will center align to the beard, positioning it at a distance of 8 px from its top edge.

### Step 11

Create the actual mouth using a 12 x 8 px rounded rectangle (#2B3249) with a 4 px Corner Radius, which we will center align to the cutout, positioning it at a distance of 4 px from its right edge.

### Step 12

Give the beard a small inner facing segment using a 12 x 2 px rectangle (#2B3249) which we will adjust by individually selecting and pushing its top anchor points to the inside by a distance of 2 px (right click > Transform > Move > Horizontal > + / - 2 px depending on which side you start with). Position the resulting shape to the center of the cutout’s bottom edge, selecting and grouping (Control-G) all of the mouth’s composing shapes before moving on to the next step.

### Step 13

Finish off the character and with it the project itself, by adding the rough beard using a couple of 2 x 2 px circles (#2B3249) distanced both horizontally and vertically at 2 px from one another. Take your time, and once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) each side of the beard, doing the same for the entire icon afterwards.

## Avengers Assemble!

Great job! As always, I hope you’ve managed to keep up with each and every step, and maybe learned a trick or two along the way.