photosIconPreview

How to Create a Simple Photos Icon

In the following tutorial you will learn how to create a simple photos icon in Adobe Illustrator.

For starters you will learn how to prepare a new document and how to set up a simple grid. Next, using a free stock photo along with a white square you will learn a basic masking technique. Building the picture frame you will learn how to use multiple fills, strokes and effects inside the Appearance panel. Finally, using a simple Transform effect you will learn how to easily multiply your photo icon.


Final Image

As always, this is the final image that we’ll be creating:

Create a Simple Photos Icon

Tutorial Details

  • Program: Adobe Illustrator CS5
  • Estimated Completion Time: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: Beginner-Intermediate

Resources


Step 1

Hit Command + N to create a new document. 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 your click OK. Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid).

You’ll 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.

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.

Create a Simple Photos Icon 1

Step 2

Download Sunset photo and drag it inside your Ai document. Select it and open the Transform panel (Window > Transform). Make sure that the "Constrain Width and Height Proportions" button is active and simply enter "370" in the width (W:) box.

Pick the Selection Tool (V), reselect the photo and move it a little to make sure that it snaps to the grid.

Create a Simple Photos Icon 2

Step 3

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 200px square, fill it with white and place it as shown in the first image. Keep focusing on this new shape, make sure that it has no color set for the stroke and open the Transparency panel (Window > Transparency).

Select this white square along with the photo, open the fly-out menu of the Transparency panel and simply go to Make Opacity Mask.

In the end your masked photo should look like in the second image. Move to the Layers panel (Window > Layers) and simply lock it.

Create a Simple Photos Icon 3

Step 4

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a new 200px square, fill it with the linear gradient shown below and place it right above the masked photo. The Snap to Grid should ease your work. Move to the Layers panel, double click on this new shape and name it "frame".

Create a Simple Photos Icon 4

Step 5

Reselect "frame", send it to back (Shift + CTRL + [ ) and focus on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance). Select the existing fill and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 16px Offset, click OK and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 5.5 px radius and click OK.

Create a Simple Photos Icon 5

Step 6

Reselect "frame", focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill using the Add New Fill button (pointed by the little, blue arrow in the following image).

Select this new fill, add the linear gradient shown in the following image and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 15px Offset, click OK and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 5px radius, click OK and go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

The white numbers from the Gradient image stand for Location percentage.

Create a Simple Photos Icon 6

Step 7

Reselect "frame", focus on the Appearance panel and add a third fill using the same Add New Fill button. Make sure that this new fill is selected, add the linear gradient shown in the following image, lower its Opacity to 15% and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 2px Offset, click OK and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 2px radius and click OK.

Remember that the white numbers from the Gradient image stand for Location percentage while the yellow ones stand for Opacity percentage.

Create a Simple Photos Icon 7

Step 8

Make sure that "frame" is still selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a fourth fill. Select it, set the color at R=250 G=250 B=250 and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 1px Offset, click OK and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 1px radius and click OK.

Create a Simple Photos Icon 8

Step 9

Reselect "frame", add a new fill, make it black and drag it in the bottom of the Appearance panel. Make sure that this new fill is selected, lower its Opacity to 10% and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 16.5px Offset, click OK and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 5.5px radius, click OK and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the following image, click OK and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 1px radius and click OK.

Create a Simple Photos Icon 9

Step 10

Reselect "frame", add a new fill, make it black and drag it in the bottom of the Appearance panel. Make sure that this new fill is selected, lower its Opacity to 10% and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 17px Offset, click OK and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 6px radius and click OK.

Create a Simple Photos Icon 10

Step 11

Reselect "frame", add a new fill, make it black and drag it in the bottom of the Appearance panel. Make sure that this new fill is selected, lower its Opacity to 5% and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 19px Offset, click OK and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 7px radius and click OK.

Create a Simple Photos Icon 11

Step 12

Reselect "frame", focus on the Appearance panel, make sure that the entire path is selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

Create a Simple Photos Icon 12

Step 13

Reselect "frame", make a copy in front (CTRL + C > CTRL + F), select it, bring it to front (Shift + CTRL + ] ) and hit the "D" key from your keyboard. This should replace the existing Appearance attributes with the default ones (white file and 1pt, black stroke).

Create a Simple Photos Icon 13

Step 14

Select the shape made in the previous step, focus on the Appearance panel, remove the color from the fill and select the stroke. Make it 3pt wide, align it to inside, lower its opacity to 5% and make sure that the color is set at black.

Keep focusing on the Appearance panel and add a second stroke for this square using the Add New Stroke button (pointed by the little, blue arrow in the following image). Select this new stroke, make it 2pt wide, align it to inside, set the color at black and lower its Opacity to 5%. Make sure that your square is still selected, add a third stroke and select it. Set the color at black, make it 1pt wide, align it to inside, lower its Opacity to 10%.

Create a Simple Photos Icon 14

Step 15

Focus on the Layers panel and unlock that masked photo. Select it along with the two vector shapes and simply Group them (CTRL + G). Finally, go to Edit > Preferences > General (CTRL + K) and make sure that the Scale Strokes and Effects box is selected. Now you can easily select and resize the entire group.

Create a Simple Photos Icon 15

And We’re Done!

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

Create a Simple Photos Icon

Author:

I'm a self taught vector artist trying to make a living doing something that I like. I spend most of my time working in Adobe Illustrator, trying to avoid the Pen Tool. You can find all my vector experiments at this little website dedicate to Illustrator VforVectors.com.


  • Outis

    I’ve been using Illustrator for years now, and this blog shows that I still have a lot to learn. Great job, guys!

  • http://ducsu.com/ Duc Su
    • Andrei Marius

      It’s nice to see that you knew how to make the background. You’ve gained some experience.
      I believe that you forgot to check the “Scale Strokes and Effects” box for the smaller versions. Do you prefer not to?

      • http://ducsu.com/ Duc Su

        Thanks. I am getting the hang of how to use Illustrator with most of it’s tools. Yes, I didn’t use the scale strokes & effects. I just scale it down using the selection tool. After taking a look at your final image, I see it looks much realistic. Will do next time.