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Design

How to Create Delicious Cupcake Icons in Adobe Illustrator

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

In this tutorial you will learn how to create a cupcake icon in Adobe Illustrator, and starting from the first one, you'll create other delicious variations just by making a few changes.

Let's take advantage of the overhead view of these icons and be as creative as possible with the decorations. The four flavors that I've chosen are vanilla confetti, red velvet, chocolate almond, and blueberry cream. Let's begin!

If you are hungry for more food icons or vector icons in general, then Envato Market has you covered, with plenty of designs to choose from.

1. Start a New Project

Launch Illustrator and go to File > New to open a blank document. Type a name for your file, set up the dimensions, and then select Pixels as Units and RGB as Color Mode. Make sure that Align New Objects to Pixel Grid is not checked.

Next, go to Edit > Preferences > General and set the Keyboard Increment to 1 px, and while there, go to Units to make sure they are set as in the following image. I usually work with these settings, and they will help you throughout the drawing process.

Start New Illustrator Document

2. Create the Paper Cup

Step 1

Start by drawing a 190 x 190 px circle on your artboard with the Ellipse Tool (L). With the shape still selected, go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Zig Zag and apply the settings shown.

Draw Ellipse for Paper Cup and Apply Zigzag

Step 2

With the circle still selected, choose Expand Appearance from the Object menu and Ungroup (Shift-Control-G) if necessary. Fill the resulting shape with the linear gradient shown at a -45 degrees Angle. Let's name this shape “paper exterior”.

Fill with Gradient

Step 3

While “paper exterior” stays selected, go to Object > Path > Offset Path and apply a -3 px Offset. Fill the smaller shape with the radial gradient shown and name it “paper interior”.

Group (Control-G) these two shapes and name the group “paper cup”.

Offset and Fill

3. Create the Cupcake

Step 1

Use Ellipse Tool (L) to draw a 170 x 170 px circle and arrange it in the center. Fill it with the radial gradient shown and name the shape “cupcake”.

Draw and Fill Ellipse for Cupcake

Step 2

While “cupcake” stays selected, take a look at the Appearance panel. Add a New Fill above the first and keep the same gradient. Go to Effect > Texture > Texturizer, apply the settings shown, and hit OK. Reduce the Opacity to 33%

Apply Texturizer to Cupcake

4. Create the Vanilla Icing

Step 1

Draw a shape like below and fill it with yellow (1). Copy and Paste in Back (Control-B) this shape, change the fill color to warm brown, and then move it a little down and to the right to act as the shadow (2). Copy and Paste in Front (Control-F) the first shape, make it smaller, and change the fill color (3).  

Create icing shapes

Step 2

Grab the Pen Tool (P) or the Pencil Tool (N) and draw a spiral in the center (1). Stroke it with the Charcoal – Rough Art Brush from the Brush Libraries Menu > Artistic > Artistic_ChalkCharcoalPencil. Select yellow as the stroke color and set the Weight to 2 pt (2). Next, go to Effect > Stylize > Feather and apply a Radius of 5 px (3).  

Apply Rough Art Brush

Step 3

Copy and Paste in Front (Control-F) the spiral from the previous step, change the stroke color to brown, and set the Weight to 0.5 pt. The rest of the settings remain the same. 

Add Another Smaller Stroke

Step 4

Draw a new spiral in the middle but smaller. Use the Charcoal – Rough Art Brush again to stroke it and keep the Weight at 1 pt. Apply a 5 px Feather Radius.

Add and Feather another stroke

5. Decorate With Confetti Sprinkles and Cherry

Step 1

To create the confetti, just take the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw as many small circles as you like. Fill them with various colors, and after that Group (Control-G) all of them. With the group still selected, go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow and apply the settings shown. 

create confetti on cupcake

Step 2

For the cherry, start with a 50 x 50 px circle. Fill it with the radial gradient shown below. 

Draw Circle for Cherry

Step 3

Draw a small shape on the upper left side using the Pen Tool (P). Fill it with the linear gradient shown; then go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply a Radius of 2 px

Add Reflection Shape

Step 4

Draw another small shape in the bottom right side and fill it with the linear gradient shown. After that, apply a 2 px Gaussian Blur

Add second refection shape

Step 5

Group (Control-G) all the shapes that compose the cherry and move them onto the icing. Draw a new circle about the size of the cherry, fill it with the radial gradient shown, and then set to Blending Mode Multiply. This shape will act as the shadow and should be behind the cherry. 

At this point, the Vanilla Confetti Cupcake is ready.  

Move Cherry and Add Shadow

6. Create the Red Velvet Cupcake

Step 1

Now, we are going to transform the vanilla cupcake into a red velvet cupcake. First, make a copy of the vanilla cupcake, but delete the confetti and the cherry because you don't need them. 

Copy all but confetti and cherry

Step 2

For visual purposes and to focus better on the changes that you need to make, I've hidden the icing group, but you don't have to.

First, select “paper exterior” and change the fill gradient, and after that change the fill color for “paper interior”. 

Change fill colour

Step 3

Select “cupcake”, and in the Appearance panel, change the two existing gradients to the one shown below. Increase the Opacity to 44%

Change gradients

Step 4

Change the fill colors of the three shapes that compose the icing, and after that change the stroke colors of the three spirals. The rest of the settings remain the same.

Change spiral stroke color

Step 5

Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a random but very small shape and fill it with red. Don't draw a circle because in the end, the red crumbs on the icing will look too perfect and regular. Drag this shape into the Brushes panel and choose New Scatter Brush.

Now, grab the Pen Tool (P) and draw a messy spiral on the icing, and use the Scatter Brush that you just saved to stroke it. Keep the Weight at 1 pt but open the Stroke Options window (double click on the Stroke attribute in the Appearance panel) and change the settings as indicated. 

Create and use new scatter brush

Step 6

While the messy spiral stays selected, go to the Object menu and choose Expand Appearance. As a result, the stroked path will turn into a group of red crumbs. Take the Selection Tool (V) and double click on this group to enter the Isolation Mode

Now, you'll be able to select the crumbs individually and delete the ones that are scattered too far away. To Exit Isolation Mode, press the arrow in the corner twice. 

At this point, the Red Velvet Cupcake is ready. 

Delete unwanted crumbs

7. Create the Chocolate and Almonds Cupcake

Step 1

Now, let's transform the red velvet cupcake into a chocolate cupcake. First, make a copy of the red velvet cupcake, but delete the red crumbs. 

Copy all but crumbs

Step 2

The paper cup remains the same. Select “cupcake” and change the two gradients in the Appearance panel. 

Modify gradients

Step 3

Change the fill colors of the three shapes that compose the icing, and after that, change the stroke colors of the three spirals as indicated. I also made a copy of the smaller spiral and moved it to the top. 

Change colors

Step 4

Draw an oval shape with the Pen Tool (P) similar to an almond slice. Make a few copies and arrange them over the chocolate icing. Use the two gradients to fill them. 

Draw Almond Slices

Step 5

Apply the Drop Shadow effect to each almond slice in order to add a small shadow. You can't really apply the same settings to all of them because that depends on the position of the almonds, but in the next image, you can see two examples. 

At this point, the Chocolate and Almonds Cupcake is ready. 

Apply drop shadow

8. Create the Blueberry and Cream Cupcake

Step 1

Now, let's transform the vanilla cupcake into a blueberry cupcake. First, make a copy of the vanilla cupcake, but delete the confetti and the cherry. 

Copy the cupcake

Step 2

The paper cup and the cupcake remain the same. Change the fill colors of the three shapes that compose the icing, and after that, change the stroke colors of the three spirals. 

Change the colors

Step 3

Go to the red velvet cupcake, select only two out of the three shapes that compose the icing, and make a copy. Group (Control-G) the two shapes, make them smaller, and arrange them over the blueberry icing. 

Copy the icing

Step 4

Now, make a copy of the cherry, and let's transform it into a blueberry. First, select the circle and change the gradient fill. After that, change the fill colors of the two highlight shapes. The Gaussian Blur effect remains the same. 

Change the cherry color

Step 5

Move the blueberry on the icing. Draw a new circle about the size of the blueberry and fill it with the radial gradient shown. Set the Blending Mode to Multiply. This shape will act as the shadow and should be behind the blueberry. 

At this point, the Blueberry Cream Cupcake is ready. 

Apply shadow

9. Add the Shadows

Step 1

Select the “paper cup” group, go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow, and apply the settings shown. 

add shadow to cupcake

Step 2

Repeat the previous step for the other three cupcakes. Apply the Drop Shadow effect to each “paper cup”. 

add shadow to other cupcakes

Congratulations, You're Done!

Challenge your creativity and use these cupcakes as a starting point to create other delicious flavors, or decorate them in a different way. If you do, don't forget to share your re-creations with us. I would love to eat them.... oops! I mean, to see them! 

overhead view cupcake icons
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