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!
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.
2. Create the Paper Cup
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.
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”.
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”.
3. Create the Cupcake
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”.
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%.
4. Create the Vanilla Icing
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).
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).
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.
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.
5. Decorate With Confetti Sprinkles and Cherry
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.
For the cherry, start with a 50 x 50 px circle. Fill it with the radial gradient shown below.
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.
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.
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.
6. Create the Red Velvet Cupcake
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.
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”.
Select “cupcake”, and in the Appearance panel, change the two existing gradients to the one shown below. Increase the Opacity to 44%.
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.
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.
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.
7. Create the Chocolate and Almonds Cupcake
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.
The paper cup remains the same. Select “cupcake” and change the two gradients in the Appearance panel.
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.
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.
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.
8. Create the Blueberry and Cream Cupcake
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
9. Add the Shadows
Select the “paper cup” group, go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow, and apply the settings shown.
Repeat the previous step for the other three cupcakes. Apply the Drop Shadow effect to each “paper cup”.
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!