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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Vector
Design

Quick Tip: Create a Simple Open Box Icon in Adobe Illustrator

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:QuickLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In the following steps you will learn how to create a pretty simple box icon in Adobe Illustrator. 

For starters you will learn how to setup a simple grid and how to create a bunch of pixel perfect shapes using the Rectangle and the Direct Selection Tool along with some basic Pathfinder options and the Live Corners feature. Moving on, you will learn how to add simple colors and sleek highlights using flat colors or linear gradients and some basic blending techniques. Finally, you will add the background and a subtle shadow using a simple rectangle, some new blending techniques and the Gaussian Blur effect.

1. Create a New Document and Set Up a Grid

Hit Control-N to create a new document. Select Pixels from the Units drop-down menu, enter 600 in the width and height boxes then click on the Advanced button. Select RGB, Screen (72ppi) and make sure that the Align New Objects to Pixel Grid box is unchecked before you click OK

Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). For starters you will need a grid every 5px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides > Grid, enter 5 in the Gridline every box and 1 in the Subdivisions box. Try not to get discouraged by all that grid, it will ease your work and keep in mind that you can easily enable or disable it using the Control-" keyboard shortcut. You should also open the Info panel (Window > Info) for a live preview with the size and position of your shapes. Do not forget to set the unit of measurement to pixels from Edit > Preferences > Units > General. All these options will significantly increase your work speed.

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2. Create the Main Shapes

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and focus on your Toolbar. Remove the color from the stroke then select the fill and set its color at R=127 G=63 B=152. Move to your artboard and simply create a 90 x 40px rectangle, the Snap to Grid feature should ease your work. Focus on the bottom side of this fresh shape and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the left anchor point and drag it 15px to the right then select the right anchor point and drag it 15px to the left. In the end your purple rectangle should turn into a simple trapezoid as shown in the second image.

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Step 2

Set the fill color at R=28 G=117 B=188, pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 120 x 75px shape and place it exactly as shown in the first image. Focus on the top side of this new shape and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the left anchor point and drag it 35px to the right then select the right anchor point and drag it 35px to the left. In the end things should look like in the second image.

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Step 3

Set the fill color at R=39 G=170 B=225, pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 180 x 35px shape and place it exactly as shown in the first image. Focus on the top side of this new shape and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the left anchor point and drag it 30px to the right then select the right anchor point and drag it 30px to the left. In the end things should look like in the second image.

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Step 4

Reselect both blue trapezoids, open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and click the Divide button. Make sure that the resulting group of shapes is selected and simply hit Shift-Control-G to Ungroup it. Focus on the resulting shapes and replace the existing fill colors with the ones shown in the following image.

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Step 5

Pick the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the ten anchor points highlighted in the first image, move to the control panel, focus on the Corners section and simply enter 5px in that white box. In the end things should look like in the second image.

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3. Add Color and Some Sleek Highlights

Step 1

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid), enable the Smart Guides (Control-U), set the fill color at white (R=255 G=255 B=255) and pick the Pen Tool (P)

Hover over the top, right anchor of your blue shape until you will get a that "anchor" piece of text. Simply click on that spot then move to the bottom side of your blue shape and simply click on it when you get the "intersect" smart guide. 

Continue with the Pen Tool, click on the bottom, right anchor point of your blue shape then return to the top anchor point and close your path. In the end you should have a simple, white triangle as shown in the fourth image.

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Step 2

Make sure that your white triangle is still selected, open the Gradient panel (Window > Gradient) and simply click on the gradient thumbnail to add the default black to white linear gradient. 

Make sure that your shape stays selected and focus on the Gradient panel. Set the Angle at 0 degrees then focus on the gradient colors. Select the left gradient slider and set the color at R=117 G=76 B=41 then select the right gradient slider and set the color at R=139 G=94 B=60. Reselect the Pen Tool (P), add a second triangle as shown in the second image and fill it with the same linear gradient.

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Step 3

Disable the Smart Guides (Control-U) then go to Edit > Preferences > General and make sure that the Keyboard Increment is set at 1px. Select your blue shape and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). 

Select the top copy and simply move it 1px down using the down arrow button from your keyboard. Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. 

Make sure that the resulting shape stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance). Set the fill color at white then simply click on the "Opacity" piece of text to open the Transparency fly-out panel. Lower the Opacity to 30% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

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Step 4

Reselect your blue shape and make another two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). 

Select the top copy and simply move it 1px up using the up arrow button from your keyboard. Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. 

Make sure that the resulting shape stays selected, bring it to front (Shift-Control-] ) and focus on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance). Set the fill color at black (R=0 G=0 B=0), lower its Opacity to 10% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light. Reselect your blue shape and simply replace the flat color used for the fill with the linear gradient shown in the final image.

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Step 5

Select your left, orange shape and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). 

Select the top copy and simply move it 1px down using the down arrow button from your keyboard. Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. 

Make sure that the resulting shape stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance). Set the fill color at black, lower its Opacity to 20% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light. Move to your right, orange shape and repeat the techniques used for the left one.

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Step 6

Reselect your left, orange shape and simply replace the flat color used for the fill with the linear gradient shown in the following image. Move to the right, orange shape and replace the flat color used for the fill with the linear gradient shown in the following image.

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Step 7

Select your green shape and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). 

Select the top copy and simply move it 1px down using the down arrow button from your keyboard. Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. 

Make sure that the resulting shape stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance). Set the fill color at black, lower its Opacity to 20% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light. Reselect your green shape and simply replace the flat color used for the fill with the linear gradient shown in the final image.

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Step 8

Selecy your purple shape and make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F) then select the red shape and make a copy in back (Control-C > Control-B). 

Move to the Layers panel, select this red copy and move it 1px down. Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. 

Make sure that the resulting shape stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance). Set the fill color at black, lower its Opacity to 10% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

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Step 9

Select your red shape and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). 

Select the top copy and simply move it 1px up using the up arrow button from your keyboard. Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. 

Make sure that the resulting shape stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance). Set the fill color at white, lower its Opacity to 80% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light. Reselect your red shape and simply replace the flat color used for the fill with the linear gradient shown in the final image.

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Step 10

Select your purple shape and simply replace the flat color used for the fill with the linear gradient shown in the final image.

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4. Create the Background

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and simply click on your artboard to open the  Rectangle window. Enter 610 in the Width and  Height boxes then click the OK button to create your 610px square. 

Make sure that this new shape remains selected, send it to back (Shift-Control-[ ) then open the Align panel (Window > Align). Set the aligning to Artboard (open the fly out menu and go to Show Options if you can't see the Align To section as shown in the following image), make sure that your shape is selected then simply click the Horizontal Align Center and Vertical Align Center buttons. In the end your square should cover the entire artboard as shown in the following image.

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Step 2

Reselect your square, focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill using the Add New Fill button (pointed by the blue circle in the following image). 

Make sure that this new fill stays selected, lower its Opacity to 30% then move to the Gradient panel (Window > Gradient) and simply click on that gradient thumbnail. Keep focusing on your Gradient panel, select Radial from the Type drop-down menu then move to the gradient colors. Select the right slider and set the color at R=169 G=124 B=80 then select the left slider, set the color at R=255 G=239 B=210 and lower its Opacity to 0%. Grab the Gradient Tool (G), focus on your artboard and stretch your radial gradient as shown in the following image.

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5. Add Subtle Shading

Step 1

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). For this step you will need a grid every 1px, so go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 1 in the Gridline every box. 

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 66 x 6px shape, set the fill color at black and place it as shown in the first image. Focus on the bottom side of this fresh rectangle and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A)

Select the left anchor point and drag it 2px to the right then select the right anchor point and drag it 2px to the left. Make sure that this black shape remains selected, focus on the Layers panel and drag it below all those shapes that make up your box icon. 

Move to the Appearance panel, select the existing fill and simply lower its Opacity to 10%. Keep focusing the Appearance panel, make sure that the existing fill is still selected and simply duplicate it using the Duplicate Selected Item button (pointed by the blue circle in the following image). 

Select the bottom fill, increase its Opacity to 20% and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 5px Radius and click OK. Return to the Appearance panel, make sure that the entire path is selected (simply click on the "Path" piece of text from the top of the Appearance panel) and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 3px Radius and click OK.

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Step 2

Return to gridline every 5px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 5 in the Gridline every box. Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 100 x 50px shape, set the fill color at black and place it as shown in the first image. 

Focus on the Layers panel and simply drag this new shape below all the shapes that make up your box icon. Move to the Appearance panel, make sure that your squeezed circle is still selected, lower its Opacity to 15% and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 15px Radius, click OK and you're done.

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Congratulations! You're Done!

Here is how it should look. I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and can apply these techniques in your future projects.

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