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Beginner Help Needed: Recreating Icons

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  • Beginner Help Needed: Recreating Icons

    Hello everyone,

    I'm new to this forum as well as to graphic design. I am learning how to create icons using Illustrator by recreating icons from The Noun Project for practice. Below there are four icons I have been working on. For each one I have run into a question or a problem that has prevented me from recreating them in their entirety. If anyone would be willing to offer their advice it would be much appreciated!

    (All icons are by Ben Davis:

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    1) Which tool would be best to create the shape of the handle (the very top)? I have tried using the ellipse and pen tools separately, but have still not been able to come up with a similar shape.

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    2) For this icon I was wondering which tool I should use to get the frills under the lid of the jar. I tried the pen and curvature tool, but wasn't satisfied with the results (it could have been because I wasn't quite accurate in recreating it however).

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    3) For this icon I was able to recreate everything except the black semi-triangular cut through the center of the target. I recreated it separately with a circle and drawing curved lines through it with the pen tool, and this was successful, but I was not able to figure out how to overlay it onto the target circles. Is there a different method I could use to recreate this part?

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    4) For this last icon I was able to make it, however, I could not figure out how to get the bottom section to line up properly to the outer lines (on the burrito). My method for recreating this icon was to create a large circle for the top curve and a small circle for the bottom curve and connect them with straight lines with the pen tool. I then deleted the curves on the inside of the shape that are not in the icon. After doing this it looked fine, but when I zoomed in I could see that the half circles for the curve did not line up exactly with the straight lines I had made for the sides of the burrito. I tried moving it around and "joining" the ends, but it didn't work. (If this explanation isn't clear, I can take some screenshots of the one I was actually making to show this.)

    Thanks in advance for anyone willing to offer their advice to a newcomer. I have been setting for a couple of days on these problems/questions and I decided I should overcome my fear and reach out to those with some expertise.

  • #2
    There are not separate tools for all those things. Instead, it's a matter of using various techniques that make use of various capabilities that the tools have. For example, the top icon is entirely symmetrical, so drawing one half of the handle, for example, is all that's needed. The other half can easily be created by reflecting and merging the shape or connecting the strokes. That's also true of many other parts of the icons. Also, strokes (as opposed to fills) can be used to create shapes with equal thicknesses. Taking the handle again, it was likely first drawn as a stroke, then expanded into a shape this eliminated the need to have drawn both the outside and inside of the handle, for example. Other lines in the icons might also have originally been only strokes than were then expanded and, using the pathfinder tools, cut out of the background filled shape to create a compound path.

    These things are difficult to explain, but once you get the hang of Illustrator, you'll find yourself using just a half dozen of the tools, probably, about 95 percent of the time. It's just a matter of learning to use those tools and then discovering how they can be used to interact with one another to create the drawing. It just takes practice and things will start to dawn on you.


    • #3
      The handle is just an ellipse with the bottom two points of the arc selected with the white arrow and pulled down and perhaps moved in the same distance each side.

      The jar frill is more involved and requires you to be able to see the component shapes it is made from and have knowledge of the pathfinder palette.
      Here's a step by step.
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      I just noticed I forgot on Step 7 that you have to set your stroke to the outside of the line using the stroke palette. You have the option there of online, inside the shape, or outside the shape. On this piece, in this step, it is set to outside.

      For that sceptor icon. That is two circles, one a target, the other with the triangle thing. But you have to use the same Y shape to cut both. The Y shape should be shapes, not lines so expand your stroke and use the pathfinder to cut the target and the circle. Then superimpose them.

      The burito, draw a line with the pen tool.
      Select it with the black arrow and give it a stroke that is as thick as the narrow point of the burrito. In the stroke palette, give the stroke rounded ends instead of square. Then using the Stroke Width tool widen the top. Once you have the shape you want, click it with the black arrow tool and go to Object>Path>outline stroke. Or go to Object > Expand Appearance. Either works. Then get rid of the fill and give it a stroke. Add your other lines. Again outline all strokes and Unite using pathfinder.
      Last edited by PrintDriver; 08-27-2017, 09:23 PM.


      • #4
        The handle thing... Actually more like a stroked rounded rectangle rather than an ellipse. Just grab the bottom line segment right in the middle with the white arrow and pull down.


        • #5
          BTW, there are several different ways to do any of these illustrations. What I outlined last night is only one of many ways.
          When doing icon illustrations like this where everything is neat and symetrical, I avoid tracing with the pen tool only and tend to use more shapes, the Align palette, the Distribute function of the Align palette and the Transform palette to place things using the X-Y coordinates. I also work much larger than the final icon size, maybe letter page size so I'm not working in tiny increments of measurement.

          The variable Stroke Width tool is a relatively new addition to Illustrator and is one of my new favorites, along with the Blob brush which I use a lot for creating freeform contour cut shape outlines.

          With any software, don't let your lack of skill with the program limit you. Think about how you want to do something, then look around in the illustrator documentation for a way to do it. I don't know if the manual still comes with the software but that is sometimes easier to use than the online search function. I do have the InDesign manual on my desktop for reference. But that is more because designers tend to throw me some loops in their ''creations'' where I have to figure out what they did so I can get it to print.
          Last edited by PrintDriver; 08-28-2017, 07:03 AM.


          • #6
            Ah, here you go. The Illustrator CC manual (this opens a PDF)
            You can download this as a PDF and keep it handy. Or just use it online as-is.


            • #7
              Hi Tiffany and welcome to GDF.

              We ask all new members to read very important links here and here. These explain the rules, how the forum runs and a few inside jokes. No, you haven't done anything wrong, we ask every new member to read them. Your first few posts will be moderated, so don't panic if they don't show up immediately. Enjoy your stay.
              Shop smart. Shop S-Mart.


              • #8
                B and PrintDriver, thank you so much for the advise and the tutorial! I'm going to go through each one right now and try to make them again using this shape based approach and different mindset. And PrintDriver I really appreciate the CC manual link. I was going to order something like this in book form, but this is better.






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