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  1. Design & Illustration
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Design

How to Create a Summer Icon Pack in Adobe Illustrator

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

Since summer is upon us, I decided to give you a small treat by putting together this awesome tutorial, which will help you learn how to create four little summer-themed icons using the power of Illustrator. You'll see how easy it is to create these items using some basic shapes and tools that we normally use on a daily basis.

You can always expand the set by heading over to Envato Market, where you’ll find tons of beautifully crafted icon packs at the press of a button.

Now, without wasting any more time, let’s jump into it.

1. Set Up a New Document

As with any new project, start by taking a couple of moments to set up a new proper document.

To do this, go to File > New or use the Control-N keyboard shortcut and adjust it using the following settings:

  • Number of Artboards: 1
  • Width: 800 px
  • Height: 600 px
  • Units: Pixels

And from the Advanced tab:

  • Color Mode: RGB
  • Raster Effects: Screen (72 ppi)
  • Align New Objects to Pixel Grid: checked
setting up a new document

Quick tip: most of the indicated settings can be triggered by setting the document’s Profile to Web, the only one that won’t get automatically set is the Size (Width x Height) which you will have to manually select.

2. Set Up a Custom Grid

Since Illustrator lets us take advantage of its powerful Grid system, we will want to set it up using the lowest possible values, so that we can take full control over our shapes by making sure they are perfectly snapped to the underlying Pixel Grid.

The settings that we’re interested in can be found under the Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid submenu, and should be adjusted as follows:

  • Gridline every: 1 px
  • Subdivisions: 1
setting up a custom grid

Quick tip: you can learn more about grids by reading this in-depth article on how Illustrator’s Grid System works.

Once we’ve set up our custom grid, all we need to do to make sure our shapes look crisp is enable the Snap to Grid option, found under the View menu, which will change into Snap to Pixel each time you enter Pixel Preview mode.

Since we’re aiming to create the icons using a 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. Set Up the Layers

With our new project file created, it would be a smart idea to layer our icon pack, in order to establish and maintain a steady workflow which will allow us to focus on one icon at a time.

So, bring up the Layers panel, and create a total of five layers, which we will rename using keyword descriptions to make them easier to identify:

  • layer 1 > reference grids
  • layer 2 > mojito jar
  • layer 3 > ice cream
  • layer 4 > surfboard
  • layer 5 > sand bucket
setting up the layers

Quick tip: the way that we’re going to be using these layers is fairly simple. Frist, we’ll make sure that all the layers except the one that we are currently working on are locked, by clicking on the little empty box (the Toggles Lock) found next to the eye icon.

As soon as we’re done creating the current icon, we’ll lock its layer and then move on to the next one, repeating the same process until we’ve managed to create all of them.

4. 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

Assuming you’ve locked all the other layers except for the reference grids one, grab the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 128 x 128 px red (#FF6B57) square, which will help define the overall size of our icons.

creating the main shape for the reference grids

Step 2

Then, add another smaller 116 x 116 px one (#F2F2F2) which will act as our active drawing area, thus giving us an all-around 6 px padding.

creating the main shape for the active drawing area

Step 3

Group the two squares together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut, and then create three copies positioned 40 px from one another, making sure to align them to the center of the Artboard.

creating and positioning all four reference grids

Once we have all the reference grids in place, we can lock the current layer so that we won’t accidentally move them, and then move on to creating the universal background that we’re going to be using for each of our icons.

5. Create the Default “Blank” Icon

Compared to other icon tutorials that we’ve done in the past, this one is actually a lot easier, since each icon shares the same collective background, which makes our job a lot more straightforward.

What this means is that we can build a “blank” icon which we will then use to create the actual icons by adding specific details to its composing elements, thus making the creative process really easy to follow and implement.

Step 1

Position yourself over the first reference grid, and zoom in on it so that you can have a better view of what we’re going to be doing.

Then, using the Ellipse Tool (L), create an 88 x 88 px circle, which we will color using #34D5EA, and then position towards the center lower section of the active drawing area, leaving a 4 px gap for the outline.

creating the main shape for the default background

Quick tip: at this point, I recommend you start using the Pixel Preview mode (View > Pixel Preview or Alt-Control-Y) so that you can more easily position your shapes in relation to the underlying pixel grid.

example of using the pixel preview mode

Step 2

Give the shape an outline, by selecting it and then going over to the Object > Path > Offset Path submenu, and entering 4 px into the Offset value field from the pop-up window, making sure to change its color to something darker (#493E3E).

creating the outline for the default backgrounds main shape

Quick tip: if you’ve never used the Offset Path tool to create outlines, you can learn about the process by reading this tutorial that compares the two main methods for creating line icons.

Step 3

Once we have the main shape and its outline, we need to add the ring-like highlight which will give the background a nice visual pop.

To do this, simply select the blue circle, and create a copy of it (Control-C > Control-F) to which we will then select apply a -4 px offset. Then, with both the copy and the offset selected, we will use Pathfinder’s Minus Front shape mode to create the cutout.

creating the default backgrounds ring highlight

Step 4

Once we have our new shape, we will need to adjust it by changing its color to white (#FFFFFF) and setting its Blending Mode to Soft Light, lowering its Opacity to 80%.

adjusting the blending mode for the default backgrounds highlight

Next, we’re going to begin adding a couple of details to the background, and we will do so by starting with the beach sand.

Step 5

Grab the Pen Tool (P) and draw a rectangle that has a nice curved line towards the top, using a gold yellow (#EDBC32) as your main color, making sure to position the shape towards the lower section of the blue circle.

creating the main shape for the beach sand

Quick tip: you can get an idea of the size of the shape making up the sand, by taking a quick look at the values I ended up with, which are 96 px for the Width and 50 px for the Height.

Step 6

With the sand in place, we now need to give it a nice 4 px thick outline using the Offset Path method, making sure to change its color to something darker (#493E3E).

adding an outline to the beach sand shape

Step 7

Give the sand some texture, by adding a couple of 2 x 2 px circles (#D19A20) to each side, making sure to group them using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

adding some texture to the beach sand

Quick tip: as you can see, I’ve covered a specific area of the sand (more precisely the left and right sides) using the little circles, since the center space will be occupied by a key object which will have the same width value for almost all of the icons.

In your case, you can fill up that space if you feel like it, and then adjust the number of circles once you add the key object.

Step 8

At this point, we need to start masking the beach sand, and we will do so by first selecting and grouping (Control-G) all of its shapes (the fill shape, the outline and the sand texture) together.

Then we will use a copy of the blue shape which we will position above them and use as a Clipping Mask by right clicking and selecting Make Clipping Mask.

using a clipping mask to hide the outer sections of the beach sand

Quick tip: if you’ve never used Clipping Masks before, you should read this tutorial that explains all the advantages of using the Clipping Mask over Pathfinder’s Shape Modes.

As you can see, our beach sand is now perfectly masked, but it needs a couple of highlights to keep the style of the icon going.

beach sand masked using clipping mask

Step 9

Add the ring highlight to the beach sand section, by grabbing a copy (Control-C) of the one used for the blue circle and pasting it (Control-F) inside the masked group. Then, use the yellow shape to mask it so that it won’t overlap its outline.

adding the ring highlight to the beach sand section

Quick tip: you can easily enter Isolation Mode to edit a Clipping Mask or set of grouped objects by double clicking on them. Then, when you need to exit, simply press Escape.

Step 10

Add a highlight to the upper section of the beach sand, making sure to mask it using an 80 x 80 px circle, so that the highlights don’t overlap.

adding a highlight to the upper section of the beach sand

Step 11

Start working on the first set of clouds, by creating a 16 x 8 px rounded rectangle with a 4 px Corner Radius, which we will color using white (#FFFFFF) (1). Then create the connector element by drawing a 6 x 2 px rectangle (2), to which we will add 2 x 2 px circles (3), one on each side, which we will use to create the cutouts (4).

Finish this first set of clouds by adding a 12 x 4 px rounded rectangle with a 2 px Corner Radius towards the lower section of the connector piece (5).

creating the first set of clouds

Step 12

Group all of the clouds elements together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut, and then position them towards the left upper corner of the icon, making sure to adjust them by setting their Blending Mode to Lighten and lowering their Opacity to 50%.

positioning the first set of clouds onto the background

Step 13

Create a couple of clouds towards the right section of the blue circle, and then make sure to group (Control-G) and place all of them within the beach sand’s Clipping Mask.

Then select all of the shapes that we’ve built so far, and group them since we’ll be creating and using a copy for each of the icons.

finishing off the default background

Step 14

Once we have our default background, we need to create three copies of it, so that’s one for each of the remaining icons, and position them onto the reference grids, making sure to paste them onto the available layers.

positioning the blank icon copies onto the remaining reference grids

At this point we’re pretty much done working on the default “blank” icon, which means that we can now move on and start adding the key objects for each of the four icons.

6. Create the Mojito Icon

The first icon that we’re going to be creating is the little mojito jar. Since we’re already on the right layer, we can start working on it directly without having to lock and unlock any of the other layers.

 Step 1

Using the Rectangle Tool (M) create a 48 x 50 px shape, which we will color using #9FBA7D and then position towards the bottom section of the beach sand, making sure to horizontal center align it using the Align panel.

creating the main lower shape for the mojito jar

Step 2

Next, add a smaller 28 x 4 px rectangle (#9FBA7D) towards the upper section of the shape that we’ve just created, at a distance of 16 px.

adding the upper section of the mojito jar

Step 3

Using the Pen Tool (P), connect the two shapes that we’ve created by drawing the neck section using two curved lines, making sure to drag and intersect each of the two side handles 8 px from their origin point.

creating the neck section of the mojito jar

Step 4

Select all three shapes making up the mojito jar, and combine them into a single object using Pathfinder’s Unite Shape Mode.

combining the mojito jars main shapes using pathfinders unite shape mode

Step 5

Once we have the main shape for our jar, we can give it a 4 px thick outline (#493E3E) using the Offset Path method (select > Object > Path > Offset Path > and enter 4 px into the Offset value field).

adding the outline to the mojito jar

Step 6

Next, add the first neck ridge by creating a 36 x 2 px rounded rectangle with a 1 px Corner Radius, which we will color using #CCC8BE. Give it a 4 px outline (#493E3E) and then position it towards the upper section of our jar, so that their outlines intersect.

adding the first ridge segment to the jars neck

Step 7

Add another ridge above the one that we’ve just created by selecting the two shapes, and dragging them towards the top while holding down the Alt (to create the copy) and Shift (to drag in a straight line) keys.

adding the second ridge segment to the jar

Step 8

Start adding details to the jar by creating the side highlights using a -2 px offset, which we will adjust by removing its top and bottom middle sections. Color the resulting shapes using white (#FFFFFF) and then adjust their Transparency by setting their Blending Mode to Soft Light and lowering their Opacity to 80%.

adding the side highlights to the mojito jar

Step 9

Using the Rectangle Tool (M) create a 2 x 70 px shape and then add another slightly wider 4 x 70 px one which we will position 2 px from its right side, making sure to group (Control-G) and then adjust their transparency using the same values that we applied to the side highlights.

Once you’re done, position them onto the jar, a few pixels towards its right side.

adding the two vertical highlights to the mojito jar

Step 10

Add a 28 x 4 px rectangle (#000000) underneath the first ridge’s outline, and turn it into a shadow by lowering its Opacity level to 40%.

adding a subtle shadow to the jars neck section

Step 11

Next using the Ellipse Tool (L) draw two rows of 2 x 2 px circles (#493E3E) positioned 2 px from one another, and then group (Control-G) and position them towards the center of the jar, about 20 px from its first ridge.

adding the decorative circles to the mojito jar

Step 12

Grab the Rounded Rectangle Tool and create a 24 x 42 px shape with a 12 px Corner Radius which we will color using #EDDAC0, give a 4 px outline (#493E3E), and then position towards the center of the jar, at a distance of 8 px from the grip dimples that we created a moment ago.

adding the main shapes for the jars label

Step 13

Give the label that we’ve just created some polish by adding a couple of highlights using the same process and values as we did with the jar’s main body.

adding highlights to the jars label

Step 14

Add a couple of detail elements to the label using some simple shapes such as circles, rectangles, and a rounded rectangle. Once you’re done, select all of its composing shapes, and group them together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

adding details to the jars label

Step 15

Next, move on up towards the top section of the jar, and add a couple of highlights to its two ridges, using white (#FFFFFF) as the main color, Soft Light for the Blending Mode and 80% for the Opacity.

Once you’re done, group each ridge’s elements together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

adding highlights to the jars two ridge sections

Quick tip: while some details might not be instantly visible at a 100% zoom level, it’s always a good idea to have them, since you never know when you'll need a larger version of the asset for a different project.

Step 16

Start working on the straw, by creating a 4 x 22 px rectangle, which we will color using #EDDAC0, give a 4 px outline (#493E3E), and then position towards the right side of the jar’s top section.

creating and positioning the main shapes for the jars straw

Step 17

Add a 4 x 2 px rectangle (#FFFFFF) towards the top section of the straw which we will turn into a highlight by setting its Blending Mode to Soft Light and lowering its Opacity to 90%.

Then, add a 4 x 4 px black (#000000) square towards its bottom section, and turn that into a shadow by lowering its Opacity to 40%.

Step 18

Finish off the straw by adding two diagonal lines using the Pen Tool (P), which we will color using #493E3E. Once you’re done, select all of the straw’s composing elements and group them using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

adding finishing touches to the jars straw

Step 19

Start working on the mint leaf, by creating a 14 x 14 px circle (#809B54) (1) which we will adjust by selecting its top anchor point, and pushing it towards the top by 8 px (2). Then, give the shape a 4 px outline (#493E3E) (3), a ring highlight (color: white; Blending Mode: Soft Light; Opacity: 80%) (4), and finally rotate the entire leaf 45 degrees (5), making sure to add a shadow (color: black; Opacity: 40%) towards its bottom section (6).

creating the mint leaf for the mojito jar

Step 20

Group all of the elements together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut, and then position the leaf towards the left side of the straw.

adding the mint leaf to the mojito jar

Since at this point we’re pretty much done with the mojito jar, we can select and group all of its elements together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut so that they won’t get misplaced by accident.

Step 21

To finish off the first icon, we will have to mask the jar’s lower section so that it ends up following the curvature of the background.

To do this, simply create a copy of the blue circle (Control-C) and paste it on top of the jar (Control-F).

creating a copy of the blue circle to use as a clipping mask

Step 22

Since we want the top section of our jar to go outside of the background’s surface, we will need to adjust the circle by removing its top anchor point and then drawing a new path using the Pen Tool (M), making sure to go all the way to the top side of the active drawing area.

adjusting the shape of the blue circle before using it as a clipping mask

Step 23

With the circle adjusted, simply select both it and the mojito jar, and then right click and hit Make Clipping Mask. Then group the masked jar to its background, by selecting the two and pressing Control-G.

mojito jar icon finished

Since we’re done with our first icon, we can lock its layer, and move on up to the next one where we’ll start working on the ice cream icon.

7. Create the Ice Cream Icon

Assuming you’ve already zoomed in onto the second reference grid, let’s start working on our second icon.

Step 1

Grab the Rounded Rectangle Tool, and create a 48 x 92 px shape (#E25439) with a 6 px Corner Radius, which we will adjust by changing the roundness of its top corners to 24 px using the Transform panel. Give it the usual 4 px outline (#493E3E) and then position the two shapes towards the top section of the active drawing area.

creating the main shapes for the ice creams upper section

Step 2

Give the upper section of the icon some polish by adding some highlights, using white (#FFFFFF) as the main fill color, Soft Light for the Blending Mode and 80% for the Opacity.

adding highlights to the upper section of the ice cream

Once you’re done, select and group all of its composing elements using the Control-G keyboard shortcut. 

Step 3

Start working on the ice cream’s wooden stick, by drawing a 12 x 12 px square which we will color using #D3B276 and then give a 4 px outline (#493E3E), making sure to position the two just underneath the larger section that we created a few steps ago.

creating the main shapes for the ice creams stick

Step 4

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create two 2 x 12 px shapes (#FFFFFF) and position one on each side of the ice cream’s stick, making sure to adjust them by setting their Blending Mode to Soft Light, and then lowering their Opacity to 80%.

adding two side highlights to the ice creams stick

Step 5

Add some texture to the stick by drawing a couple of 2 px wide rounded rectangles using #B2915D as the main color.

adding a subtle line texture to the ice creams stick

Step 6

Create another 12 x 4 px black (#000000) rectangle which we will position towards the top section of the stick, and then turn it into a shadow by lowering its Opacity level to 40%.

adding a subtle shadow to the ice creams stick

Once you’ve added the shadow, select all of the stick’s elements and group them (Control-G) so they won’t get misplaced by accident.

Step 7

Group all of the ice cream’s composing elements together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut, and then mask them using the same process that we used for the first icon.

ice cream icon finished

Since at this point we’ve finished creating the second icon, we can now lock its layer and move on to the third one.

8. Creating the Surfboard Icon

We are now down to our third icon, the surfboard, which will be pretty easy to create, as was the ice cream one.

Step 1

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 48 x 164 px shape, which we will color using #D3B276. Then give it the usual 4 px outline (#493E3E), making sure to position both shapes onto the third background, aligning them towards the top side of the active drawing area.

creating the main shapes for the surfboard icon

Step 2

Give the board a ring-like highlight using white (#FFFFFF) as the main fill color, Soft Light for the Blending Mode and 80% for the Opacity level.

adding a ring highlight to the surfboards main body

Step 3

Give the board some texture by creating a couple of 2 px wide rounded rectangles (#B2915D) positioned at various distances from one another, making sure to mask them so that they won’t go outside its main surface.

adding the subtle line texture to the surfboards main body

Step 4 

Add two more vertical highlights (color: white; Blending Mode: Soft Light; Opacity: 80%) and position them towards the right section of the board, making sure to mask them so that they won’t overlap with the larger ring highlight.

adding the two vertical highlights to the surfboard icon

Step 5

Continue adding details to the board by creating an 18 x 32 px ellipse, which we will color using #EDDAC0. Give it a 4 px outline (#493E3E), and then position it towards the center of the board, about 82 px from the top side of its larger outline.

creating and positioning the center piece for the surfboard icon

Step 6

Add the usual highlights to the round shape that we’ve just created, and then finish off the board by adding a 2 x 84 px rectangle (#493E3E) to its center, which goes all the way from the ellipse to the tip of the board.

adding finishing touches to the surfboard

Step 7

Select all of the surfboard’s composing elements, and group them together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut, so that you can then mask them to the background as we did with all the other icons.

Once you’re done, select the masked board and the background and group those as well.

surfboard icon finished

9. Creating the Sand Bucket Icon

We’re almost there! All we have to do is create the fourth and last icon from the bunch.

So, assuming you’ve already moved on to the sand bucket layer, zoom in on its reference grid and let’s wrap things up.

Step 1

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 40 x 28 px shape, which we will color using a dark grey (#AAA79F) and then position towards the center of our active drawing area, aligning it to the bottom side of the beach sand.

creating the main shape for the sand buckets lower section

Step 2

Adjust the shape by selecting its bottom anchor points one at a time using the Direct Selection Tool (A), and pushing them towards the inside by 2 px, giving the resulting shape a 4 px outline (#493E3E) using the Offset Path method.

adjusting the main shape of the sand buckets lower section

Step 3

Add the usual highlights and shadows to give the object a little visual pop. Use white (#FFFFFF) in combination with Soft Light and an 80% Opacity for the highlights, and black (#000000) with a 40% Opacity for the shadow.

adding highlights and shadows to the lower section of the sand bucket

Step 4

Add the label by creating a 16 x 20 px rounded rectangle with an 8 px Corner Radius, which we will color using #EDDAC0. Give it a 4 px outline (#493E3E) and then carefully position both shapes towards the center of the bucket, leaving a 10 px gap towards its top side.

creating the main shapes for the sand buckets label

Step 5

With the label in place, give it some highlights and add two little rectangles (#493E3E) as dummy text to make it more visually appealing.

adding details to the sand buckets label

Once you’re done, select and group all of the bucket’s composing elements using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

Step 6

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 48 x 10 px shape, which we will color using #CCC8BE. Give it a 4 px outline (#493E3E) and then position it towards the upper section of the bucket section that we’ve just created, making sure that their outlines overlap.

creating the upper section of the sand bucket

Step 7

Give the new shape some highlights, using white (#FFFFFF) for the main color, adjusting its Transparency by setting its Blending Mode to Soft Light and lowering its Opacity level to 80%.

adding highlights to the upper section of the sand bucket

Step 8

Next, add two sets of three 2 x 2 px circles (#493E3E) positioned 2 px both vertically and horizontally from one another, and position one on each side of the bucket’s top section.

adding the two circle segments to the upper section of the sand bucket

Step 9

Finish off the top section of the bucket, by adding a 22 x 2 px rounded rectangle (#493E3E) with a 1 px Corner Radius to its center. Then select all of its composing elements and group them together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

adding the last detail to the upper section of the sand bucket

Step 10

Start working on the little shovel by creating an 8 x 46 px rectangle, which we will color using #E25439. Give it the usual 4 px outline (#493E3E) and then position both shapes above the sand bucket, making sure their outlines overlap.

creating the main shapes for the shovels lower section

Step 11

Add two 2 x 44 px rectangles (#FFFFFF) to each of its sides, and turn them into highlights by setting their Blending Mode to Soft Light and lowering their Opacity to 80%.

adding two vertical highlights to the shovels main body

Step 12

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a smaller 8 x 4 px shape, which we will color using black (#000000) and then turn into a shadow by lowering its Opacity to 40%, making sure to position it towards the lower section of the shovel’s body.

adding the bottom shadow to the shovels main body

Step 13

Next, add some detail lines to the current section of the shovel, by creating a 2 x 14 px rectangle followed by another smaller 2 x 2 one positioned 2 px from it. Color both shapes using #493E3E and then align them to the center of the red shape, a few pixels above the shadow that we’ve just created.

adding detail lines to the main body of the shovel

Step 14

Create the shovel’s handle by drawing a 28 x 20 px rounded rectangle with a 4 px Corner Radius (1), from which we will cut out a 20 x 12 px rectangle (2) using Pathfinder’s Minus Front shape mode. Give the resulting shape a 4 px outline (#493E3E) (3), making sure to send it to the back (right click > Arrange > Send to Back) (4). Then add two 6 x 4 px rounded rectangles (#493E3E) with a 2 px Corner Radius to the lower section of the outline (5), and finish the handle by adding some highlights (6).

creating the shovels handle

Step 15

Group all of the sand bucket’s elements together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut, and then mask them using the same process as we did with the rest of the icons.

sand bucket icon finished

And That’s It!

There you have it: four sweet-looking icons just ready to kick off the summer vibe. I hope you’ve managed to follow each step of the tutorial, and as always learned something new and useful along the way.

all icons finished
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