Join Justin Seeley for an in-depth discussion in this video Solution: Convert your icons to shapes, part of Creating Icons with Photoshop.
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- Okay, hopefully if you're back watching this video, that means you've gone through and you've actually converted all of your sketches into Vector artwork inside of Adobe Photoshop. If not that's okay, I'm going to be walking you through exactly how to do that in this movie right here. So as you can see I've got all of my icons laid out here. If you check out in the Layers panel they are all Vector based shapes, which means it's very easy for me to scale them up or down without rasterizing them or causing pixelation. And so in this movie I'm going to walk you through exactly how I did that, because there are some differences in how I did it and how you might have done it.
So, let's start off first with this heart up here at the top. So what I'm going to do is open up my challenge file from awhile ago, we're just going to work from it. And let's start off talking about the heart. The heart is an easy shape to create, but if you don't know how to create it very easily, it might not be such a quick process for you. There is a default heart shape inside of Photoshop, and if you wanted to use that, you could certainly go do that in the customs shapes right here, and you could have just drawn this out and been done with it. However, I don't like the look of the default heart shape, I like this more simplified heart that you see here.
So we need to know exactly how to do that. Well you can do it in Photoshop, but I actually find that it's easier to draw this and illustrate it. Let me show you exactly how to do that. Let me jump over into Adobe Illustrator for a second. Create a brand new document, OK. And I'm just going to grab the pen tool. I know that's scary, and this will make sense exactly why I'm doing this in just a minute. So what I'm going to do here is grab the pen tool, and I'm going to start right about here, go down and make a little v, just like that. When I finished drawing little v I'm just going to command and control click, like so.
Now, once I have that all done, you may want to move this out just a little bit to make sure that it is even on both sides, there we go. And what I'm going to do now is take this and I'm going to come up to the Stroke panel. And in the Stroke panel we're just going to crank this way up, something kind of like this. And for this particular demonstration it works for about 60 points. It's going to be different depending on how big or how small yours is. And then I'm just going to change the Cap around, and we can also change the Corner point if you want to, but for the most part it looks pretty good just like that.
And so we can do this until it gets exactly the heart shape that we want. Once we have the heart shape that we want, we take this Object, Path, Outline Stroke and we have this just like so, and then to finish it off to clean it up, what I'll do is Window, Pathfinder, and just click the first button to Unite it, and there we go, so there's my heart shape. Now I just take this, copy it to the clipboard, and bring it back over into Photoshop, Paste, choose Shape Layer and hit OK. It's going to paste that in, then all I have to do is resize it to fit exactly where I want it to go.
So let's put it right up here, something kind of like this. And let's change the color so we can actually see it. So I'll press the letter U, change the color, let's change to black, that way we can see it. And if you wanted to, you can even move it over here and make sure that it's the same size as the calendar icon, or if you had guides drawn out, you can use the guides as well. And so there we go, there's my heart shape and I could actually just rename this heart, something like that, very quick, very easy. Now why did I do that in Illustrator versus doing it in Photoshop.
I did that in Illustrator because Illustrator has that one command that Photoshop does not, the Outline Stroke command which turns your stroke into just an ordinary shape. In Photoshop had I done the exact same thing, I could have accomplish the look of the heart, but the problem is when I resize that up and down it would actually change the look of the heart each and every time I did it, and that's a pain, so I had to go and readjust all of the attributes of the heart and that would just get in the way. So I just do it in Illustrator quicker that way, very easy in there, I just bring it right back over as a shape layer in Photoshop.
All right, so number two, the pencil. This one is really simple. Here is what we're going to do, we're just going to go up and grab our shapes, and grab a rectangle tool. And I'm just going to do something kind of like this, and we'll do a second one. So we got the first one here, let's just switch to the Move tool. Hold down the option or alt key and drag out two copies just like so. And then we'll take all three of this, we just kind of shrink them up until they get to about the size I want them to go.
I might even make them just a little bit taller, something kind of like that. There we go, there's the base for our pencil. Let's go back to our shapes. You can cycle to the shapes by the way by pressing shift and the letter U. So I'm going to cycle through until I get to the polygon to make sure I'm doing three sides. And then I'm also going to command and control click to make sure that everything is independent of itself and then I'm just going to start drawing out a shape of the triangle, something like that. And then let's move this down into the center. If you want to resize this to kind of fit, there we go, there's my pencil.
Let's zoom in a bit so we can actually see what we're doing. Zoom in here. Now with this, what I'm going to do. Switch to do the Shape tools again. In order to draw a missing piece in the middle here, I have to hold on the Option key on the Mac, the alt key on the PC, and I'm just going to do this until it gets something kind of like that and remove that center point, like that, there we go. Now, once I have those drawn, I can now manipulate these shapes, so let's group them altogether. Command and control G. We'll call this Pencil.
And then we can do that little rotation that I wanted when I was planning it out. And then I can also resize it, just like so. If you find it gets a little skewed or anything like that you can go and clean that up. The easiest way to clean things up is with the Direct Selection Tool, so you can come down here. It's inside of this little arrow tools. So Direct Selection Tool I can come in here and I can just grab the individual points I need to get in there to the pencil, let's go Polygon, there we go. So I can kind of clean that up and move it around do whatever I need to do.
Let's actually take both of these and move those kind of down, something like that, it looks a little better, there we go, a little cleaner. And there's our pencil. So we got that one done. The calendar we already did earlier. Let's move on over here, and let's see which one is next. It is the camera icon, so let's go over here, and let's do the camera icon. So the camera icon I'm going to go grab my Shape Tools again, this time we're going to choose the Rectangle Tool. I'm going to do this roughly the same size as my calendar.
So I'm just going to draw it on top of my calendar here. And I'll use Move Tool to move it over. And if you can't see it just give it a color. There you go. Now I'll move that into place. And I'm actually going to make it just a little bit shorter than that I think. And then what I'm going to do now is switch back to my Shape Tools. Grab the Polygon Tool and this time I'm going to add to the shape, and I'm drawing with a triangle, so let's undo that, and let's go up, six sides this time.
And so I want to rotate it just like so. And then I want to come down here and grab the Path Selection Tool, it's going to allow me to manipulate this on it's own, and let's select both of this, and let's make sure that they are aligned horizontally in the center. There we go. And there is our camera. You can always go in and manipulate this if you want using the Direct Selection Tools. So for instance I come in here and I can select both of these, maybe push this down a bit, there we go.
And then I can also widen this out a bit as well, to make it a little bit more camera like. There we go, it looks a little better. And then I'll switch over to my Path Selection Tool and select the original rectangle. We're just going to round these corners off about 14 pixels, the same as we did before with the other one, there we go. So now the camera is shaping up nicely. Let's go in now and grab our Ellipse Tool, and make sure we're still working on that rectangle with the Ellipse Tool holding the option key on the Mac, the alt key on the PC.
And I'm just going to draw out a circle. Something kind of a like that. I want to make sure that while I'm holding down the option key that it is subtracting, so one that gets like that, and then we'll switch over here to the Path Selection Tool and well shift click on the original rectangle and then I'm just going to align this horizontally and vertically in the center to make sure everything lines up. And then finally, well add in another Ellipse right to the center of that, and we're going to do that this time by holding down the shift key, and then we can select these two pads and make sure they are lined up properly.
If you want to make an adjustment to your path you can select it with a Path Selection Tool and then press command and control T on your keyboard, and that will allow you to manipulate it. So there we go, and then I'll group that, I'll call it camera. Let me group the heart too. So now we got our heart, our calendar, our pencil, and our camera all completed already. So let's go down here and let's keep working. So the next one is going to be the gear, this is going to be the challenging one, remember this is the one that I didn't draw all that well when I first started.
So here's what I'm going to do. I'm just going to come down here and I'm going to start with a circle, let's close the Properties Panel. And I'm going to do it roughly in the middle here. As I click and drag, I'm going to hold on the option key and the shift key. That's after I start clicking direct and the shape, otherwise you're going to get a color picker on screen. So once I do that, what I'm going to do is something about [big] and then once I get that drawn, that's going to be the basis for the shape. I also want to make sure that I change the color of this, let's just do black so it's easier to see, there we go. And then in the middle of this shape I want to subtract something so let's go ahead and draw out a shape.
Again holding down the option key as I drag, and then once I get it to the size that I want, there we go. And then you can use the Path Selection Tools to grab both of them and then you can use the Alignment Tools to line them up. Okay, so there's the basic interior part of this. Now comes a tricky part, the little cogs that go all the way around the outside, right? So I'm going to move this to the top of the layers panel. Let's go ahead and put it inside of a group, call that group Gear. And then what we're going to do is come down here and grab the Rectangle Tool.
Let's zoom in so you can see exactly what I'm doing here. And then I'm going to move the Ellipse so that it actually sits on the grid. And if you want to resize this, so that it fits in a grid a little bit better, there you go. Okay, now let's go back to my Rectangle Tool. I'm just going to draw out a rectangle. I'm not really following any guides here, I just want it to be as big as it can be. Just draw something kind of like that. So there's my rectangle, right on top of it.
And then from there, what I want to do is I want to revolve this around the outside of the gear. And so in order to do that, what I'm going to do is press option or alt, command or control and the letter T. And what that is going to do is allow me to transform this while at the same time creating a copy of it. And so once I do that I'm going to move this little reference point, and I'm going to do that by holding in to the option key, clicking and dragging it. And I want it roughly in the center of this circle right here. So something kind of like that. And then what I'm going to do is I'm going to rotate this around, and you can see that it rotates around just like that.
And then I'm going to press enter. Then in order to create multiple copies, you're going to hold down basically the entire left hand side of your keyboard. So shift option or alt, command or control, and then press the letter T as many times as you need to to create copies all the way around the outside. And there is your gear icon. And the best part is, these are all vector shapes, so they all scale. I can now take this gear icon, and let's say compare it to the heart, so let's move it up here, the heart is kind of like my base line of how big this thing needs to be. So maybe this is a little too big it looks like, so let's shrink it just a tad, so that it fits a little bit more with the heart.
It doesn't matter if this are a little bigger a little smaller than each other, that's okay. And then once you get that done, just move it back down into its place. If you need to make any adjustment to this you could do so after the fact it's all vector, so no worries there. All right, let's go back over here. The chat bubble this is going to be probably the easiest one that you do all day. All it is is a rectangle with a triangle on top of it, so let's do something like this. Rectangle, just like so, and change it to black. And then if we want to add the triangle go back grab the polygon, step that back down to three.
Make sure we'll holding down the shift key while we're doing that. And then you want it to be sort of an angle like that. And then you can switch to your Path Selection Tool by pressing the letter A, and then you kind of nudge that down into place. If you want to adjust the points on this, very easily done as well, switch to the Direct Selection Tool, it's the white arrow, so I can manipulate this to line up a little bit more with that, something like that and then we want it to give it a little bit more of a slant on the bottom. You can just click on that with the Direct Selection Tool and then move it with your arrow keys.
There we go. And then I'll switch back to the Path Selection Tool, select the original path and we'll give that the same 14 point rounded corner effect that we have everything else. And then what I'll do with this finally is I'll bring this up to something like the calendar, and then I'll just make sure that it's roughly the same size and then we'll move it back down. And once we put the circles on a little bit later on you'll see exactly how that's going to line up, it looks pretty good right now. Next one up is the envelope.
Now this is a another one that can be done in Photoshop but it's actually easier to be done in Illustrator. So let's take a look back over on Illustrator again. We got the same blank canvass. I'll just delete that shape that we have there. I'm going to draw out a rectangle roughly the size of what that would be. And then we're going to round the corners off. Again, giving you that same basic appearance that we have before. And then here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to take the Line Tool. Coming in from the side here, to the center point, go out to the side here, using the Smart Guides to line those up.
There we go. And then I'm just going to increase the Stroke weight on this quite a bit. And if you change the Stroke color to white, you can actually see when I click away that's what it's going to look like. And so what I want to do here is select both of this and let's go to the Stroke, and we want to make sure that those extend past each other, sort of like that. And then let's click away from that. Object, Path, Outline Stroke, again to give me that.
Then I'm going to remove the extra stuff I don't need. I'm going to bring in the shape builder tool, And with the shape builder tool selected, hold down the option key or alt key on the PC and just click those areas to remove them, and then you can unite those areas in the middle. Then select all on screen command or control A, hold down the option key with the shape builder tool and then just remove that piece from the middle, and there's your little email icon. Take that, copy it over, bring it back into our document, paste it in as a shape layer, and then just use your chat bubble as a rough guide on how big it needs to be, and move that in, and there you go.
A nice little email icon coming as a shape layer. And then let's group this together, chat. And again I'm just grouping this together with command or control G, Mail, there we go. And I'm putting those in group in case I want to add anything to them later, like these circles that are going to go behind them. So I got my email icon all built, let's do the tablet next. This is another easy one. It is just a rectangle. So let's go in and let's draw out a rectangle somewhat tablet like in appearance.
Something kind of like that, in the Properties panel we'll change this to black, and then let's also round the corners, 14 points something like that. Now let's grab the rectangle tool again, this time holding down the option key as we draw, and we can just kind of move this thing into the middle. And you just want to create almost like an iPad screen. Here, so we'll just move this out like that, here we go. Kind of like that. And then of course you can switch to your Path Selection Tool, select both of this paths and make sure that they are in alignment with one another.
If you needed to you could also make adjustments to the paths. In this case though I'm just going to add one last thing and that is the circle, down here, so I'm just going to make sure I'm working on this. And for whatever reason it's not letting me subtract it, that's okay, I can just go ahead and let's just change that color, that way it's not hollow, and I can change the color of the button anytime I want it to anyway. So let's just do that, there we go, there's my little button. So that looks like a tablet device, very easily done. And then the final one that we're going to do is the clock, which is another super simple one.
What I'm going to do is use the gear icon as my basis here, so we'll just use that. Move that down, and then give it a black color, there we go. And then the hands on the clock, it's very easy to create with the Rectangle Tool here. And we'll just draw two rectangles, something like that. It doesn't matter where you draw them. And then we'll zoom in, and we'll use the Path Selection Tool and Direct Selection Tool to actually move this things where they need to go, so there we go.
And this one right here is going to be the bigger one, this will make that a little bigger. This one here, this will be a little bit skinnier, so we'll make it just a little bit thinner, it is the minute hand, there we go. And then we'll take both of this and sort of move them towards the center of that, something like that, there we go. And there is our clock icon, and of course we can make any adjustments to that that we need to. So there you go. As you can see, as long as you know the basic controls for how to do these things, it's relatively easy to recreate the shapes that you draw using Vector Tools inside of Photoshop.
So I hope that you've learn a little bit on my process of how I would do this, and I hope that you had as much success as I did recreating your icons as well. From here, we're ready to actually start finishing these things off, adding the aesthetic elements and then maybe even some texturing or depth elements to give them a little bit more life, and that's what we're going to continue to do throughout the rest of the course.
- Exploring file formats, sizes, perspective, and platform guidelines
- Choosing an icon style
- Creating sketches and assigning color schemes
- Building a grid system for icons
- Redrawing icons with shapes
- Saving icons
- Generating icons for different operating systems