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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Emoticon Design

How to Create a Stylish Emoji in Affinity Designer

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In today's tutorial we are going to create three distinctive emoticons using Affinity Designer. Hope you are ready to have some fun! 

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1. How to Create the Base Shape of the Emoticon

Let's start by creating the base shape for our emoticons. I'm using a 850 x 850 px document with background color of #FEEEC9, but you can use any size and background color you like.

Step 1

Create a circle with a size of 460 x 460 px and use the Fill Tool (G) to add a gradient with a color of #FFC552 for the top point and #FE6C1F for the bottom one

Creating a circle and adding a gradient for the base shape

Step 2

Create an ellipse with a size of 342 x 274 px, fill it with #FFFFFF color, and set its blending mode to Overlay (1). This will be the top highlight for our base shape. Let's add a fading effect to make it look more interesting. Select the Transparency Tool (Y) and create a top-to-bottom transparency gradient (2):

Creating a highlight for the base shape

Step 3

Open View > Studio > Effects and enable the Gaussian Blur with a Radius of 18 px to blur our shape. Duplicate and flip it vertically to add a bottom highlight to our shape. Place both ellipses inside of our initial circle to mask everything out:

Adding a bottom highlight and blurring everything out

The base shape for our emoticons is finished:

The Base Shape in all its glory

2. How to Create the "Love" Emoticon

Step 1

Let's start by creating lovely eyes for our emoticon! We are going to use the Heart Tool for this. Create a heart with a size of 120 x 106 px (1) and set the Spread value to 20%. Fill it with a color of #FF5E3E:

Let's also create a highlight by duplicating the original heart shape, filling it with white color, and changing its Spread value to 33% (2). Scale it down a bit and add a fading effect with the Transparency Tool (Y) as we did previously. Use 70% for the top and 0% for the bottom opacity points (3)

Creating a heart shape

Step 2

Open the Effects panel and enable the Outer Shadow, setting the values as follows:

  • Opacity: 74% 
  • Radius: 2.4 px
  • Offset: 3.8 px 
  • Angle: 270°

Click on the gear icon and set the Blend mode of the shadow to Color Burn.

Duplicate our heart shape, tilt it a bit (I've used an angle of 10° for the left one and -10° for the right one), and place both of them on the base shape that we created earlier. 

Lovely eyes on the base shape

Step 3

Time to create a mouth for our emoticon! Create a circle for the main shape of the mouth (I've used a size of 110 x 110 px) and add a gradient to it: set the top color point to #3F0303 and the bottom one to #C40A0A (1). Create another circle with a size of 100 x 100 px and a color of #EB2B08 and place it inside our main mouth layer (2). Finally, duplicate the previous circle and squash it down to 80 x 70 px, rotate it -28.5°, and set its color to #FF5E3E (3):

Creating a mouth

And here's what our emoticon looks like with a mouth:

Eyes and mouth

Step 4

Let's make it a bit more interesting by adding a sparkling effect to our eyes. Start by creating a Star shape with the following values (1):

  • Points: 4
  • Inner radius: 38%

Now hit Command-Enter (Control-Enter on Windows) to convert the shape to curves. Now we can use the Corner Tool (C) to smooth out our star shape. Set the corner radius to 38 px for the inner points (2) and 5 px for the outer points (3).

Creating sparkles

Step 5

Add a white Outer Glow with a Radius of 8 px and place a few stars above the heart eyes as follows:

Adding sparkles to the eyes

Step 6

You can skip this step, but I like to add small pieces of tape under the eyes of my characters, just to add some personality and style to them. It's just a Rounded Rectangle (M) with a corner radius of 100% with a color of #FED9C0 and an Outer Shadow with the following values:

  • Opacity: 30% 
  • Radius: 0 px
  • Offset: 2 px 
  • Angle: 270°
  • Blend mode: Color Burn
Adding personal element of style

Step 7

Finally, let's add an outline to our emoticon. Group everything into one layer and enable the Outline effect with white color and a Radius of 28 px. Let's also enable the Outer Shadow effect with the following values:

  • Opacity: 50% 
  • Radius: 12 px
  • Offset: 32 px 
  • Angle: 270°
  • Blend Mode: Color Burn
Adding final FX to the emoticon

Our first emoticon is finished!

Final look of the Love Emoji

3. How to Create the “Joyful” Emoticon

Step 1

To create the eyes, we are going to use a circle with a Stroke of 20 pt and color of #3F0303. Convert the shape to curves using the Command-Enter shortcut (Control-Enter on Windows). Using the Node Tool (A), select two horizontal points of the circle and click Break Curve to break the circle into two separate parts.

Creating eyes

Delete the bottom part of the circle, and we'll have a nice pair of eyes:

Eyes on the base shape

Step 2

To create a mouth, we'll use the Segment Tool to create a semicircle with a size of 174 x 174 px and the following properties (1):

  • Angle: 90°
  • Lower line: 0%
  • Upper line: 43%

Convert the shape to curves and round upper corners with a radius of 16 px (2). And finally, add a gradient with a top color point of #3F0303 and a bottom point of #C40A0A (3). Make sure your gradient line is a bit tilted as shown in the screenshot below:

Creating a mouth

Step 3

Now we need to add a tongue and some teeth to our mouth. Create two ellipses for the tongue, as we did with the previous emoticon. Use #FF5E3E color for the bigger ellipse and #EB2B08 for the smaller one (1). For the teeth, we'll use the Rounded Rectangle Tool (M): create three rounded rectangles with a size of 30 x 50 px and corner radius of 100% and place them next to each other (2).

Make sure all of our shapes are placed inside our main mouth shape layer. Now let's enable the Inner Shadow for this layer with the following values (3):

  • Color: #A18383
  • Opacity: 0 px
  • Radius: 0 px
  • Offset: 12 px
  • Angle: 270°
  • Blend mode: Multiply
Adding details to the mouth

Here's how our joyful emoticon looks with a new mouth:

Eyes and mouth on the base shape

Step 4

Let's create a hat for our little guy! We are going to use the Ellipse Tool and the Trapezoid Tool for this. Create an ellipse with a size of 320 x 240 px and a trapezoid with a size of 470 x 138 px and set its Left point to 12% and Right Point to 88% (1). 

Convert the trapezoid shape to curves and round its corners using the Corner Tool (C). Set the corner radius for the top points to 20 px and the bottom ones to 60 px (2)

Finally, let's add a gradient to both shapes using the Fill Tool (G) with a top color of #EEF8FB and a bottom color of #9ED6ED (3).

Creating a hat

Step 5

To make our hat a bit more interesting, let's add a circle pattern to it. We'll be using a simple line that you can draw using the Pen Tool (P) . Set the stroke color to #54BFED, Stroke Width to 58 pt and Dash to 2,3 for the second input (1). Finally, let's add a fading effect using the Transparency Tool (Y), setting the top opacity point to 50% and the bottom one to 0% (2):

Adding details to the hat

Step 6

Now group everything and add the same effects as we did with the previous emoticon. Just select the layer with the “Love” emoticon, go to Edit > Copy, and then paste its style into our new emoticon using Edit > Paste FX. I've also copied rounded rectangles from Step 6 of the “Love” emoticon, just to keep everything in the same style.

And we're done with our joyful emoticon! 

Final look of the Joyful emoji

4. How to Create the "Cool" Emoticon

Step 1

We are going to construct glasses for our next emoticon using a rectangle with a size of 392 x 40 px and two semicircles using the Segment Tool with a size of 175 x 175 px and the following values (1):

  • Angle: 90°
  • Lower line: 0%
  • Upper line: 50%

Select all shapes and unite them using Layer > Geometry > Add. Now, let's round some corners using the Corner Tool (C). Select the points shown in the screenshot below (2) and set their corner radius to 12 px.

Add two white semicircles using the Segment Tool and fade them out using the Transparency Tool (Y) to create highlights. Set the top opacity point to 0% and the bottom one to 40% (3):

Creating glasses

Here's the final view of our glasses:

Glasses on the base shape

Step 2

Let's reuse the mouth layer from the previous emoticon. Delete everything inside the mouth and create a new circle with a size of 128 x 128 px and color of #FF5E3E (1).

For the teeth, we'll create a rounded rectangle with a size of 116 x 50 px and corner radius of 19% (2).

Finally, let's create a tongue using a rounded rectangle with 100% corner radius and size of 75 x 78 px, setting its color to #FF5E3E.

Customizing mouth

Place the mouth layer under the glasses layer:

Mouth and eyes on the base shape

Step 3

Now let's create a fancy hat! Use the Segment Tool to create a semicircle with a size of 440 x 440 px and the following values:

  • Angle: 90°
  • Lower line: 50%
  • Upper line: 100%

Create a Rounded Rectangle (M) with a size of 480 x 90 px and corner radius of 100% (1).

Add a gradient to both shapes using the Fill Tool (G), and set the top color point to #3BA1DB and the bottom one to #1570A1 (2).

Creating a hat

Step 4

Create a 100 x 130 px rounded rectangle with a corner radius of 25% and place a star shape above it. We'll keep the default values and size of 75 x 75 px and color of #4AACE0 (1).

Add a gradient to the rounded rectangle using the Fill Tool (G) and set the top color point to #DFEEF6 and the bottom point to #6EB9E2 (2). 

Finally, add a fade effect to the star using the Transparency Tool (Y) (3) and round all points using the Corner Tool (C) and radius of 2.5 px (4).

Creating a card

Place the card under the rounded rectangle of the hat and tilt it by 16°:

Card placement

Let's add a shadow to our card. Draw a rectangle with a size of 70 x 130 px and fill it with a color of #399FD8. Add a fading effect using the Transparency Tool (Y) and blur it using the Gaussian Blur effect with a radius of 6 px:

Adding details to the card

Step 5

To finish up, group everything and go to Edit > Copy and Edit > Paste FX as we did previously to copy the Outline and the Outer Shadow from the previous emoticon:

Final look of the Cool Emoji

And That's All, Folks!

I hope you've learned few new Affinity Designer techniques that you can now use in your workflow.

And most importantly, I hope you had fun going through the process of creating these emoticons! <3 :D :-P

Looking for more emoticon tutorials? Why not check out these:

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