Every graphic designer will end up, at some point, with a client who needs an icon designed. Going into the project, your first idea would be to use your experience, training and creativity and dive straight into the project gung-ho. In some occasions, doing this could be disastrous. Ideally, you should learn the basic principles of icon design first, the importance and functions of icons on web sites and in user interfaces, the difference between icon and logo designs, and most importantly, how to use your imagination and creativity to reflect the characteristics of the icon effectively.
In this article we have compiled a comprehensive list of Adobe Illustrator icon tutorials, the graphic editor of choice for many graphic designers. The tutorials range from the basic, for anyone taking their first steps with Illustrator, to using advanced techniques for professional and advanced designers.
Adobe Illustrator Icon Design Tutorials
How To Make an Icy Cocktail
This tutorial explains how to draw a refreshing cocktail drink in Adobe Illustrator.
How to Create a Yellow Submarine Icon with Gradient Meshes
“While spaceships, rockets and UFOs are all the rage in the icon world these days, submarines have been inexcusably neglected. Let’s correct this situation immediately by drawing a fun submarine using gradient meshes, pattern brushes, opacity masks and blending modes.”
How To Create An Academy Icon From Simple Shapes
In this tutorial you will learn how to construct a cool academy icon by putting together simple shapes in Illustrator and then applying layer effects on them in Photoshop.
Icon Design Tutorial: Drawing A Pencil Icon
This tutorial presents some good design practices that will help you master icon design. It will help you, particularly if you have just started to learn, or want to learn more about icon design in Illustrator.
How to Create a Magic Wand Icon
This tutorial will utilize gradient feathering and some simple shapes. These techniques are easily translated to other icons, illustrations, and logos.
How to Create a Golden, Vector Compass in Illustrator
This tutorial will take you through the steps and techniques of creating a golden compass.
How to Bake a Cake in Illustrator
This tutorial shows you how to design a basic birthday cake in Adobe Illustrator.
3D Yet Flat Looking Shopping Basket Icons
In this advanced tutorial you will learn how to create a custom shopping basket icon by combining 3D qualities with a flat look. Cool effect.
Translucent IM Style Icon
Use this tutorial to help you create a scalable vector Instant Messaging style icon with the impression of a glossy and semi-translucent surface.
Aperture Style Camera Lens Icon
In this tricky tutorial, you’ll create a detailed camera lens similar to the one used as the logo for Apple’s Aperture photo-editing software.
Design A Coffee Mug Icon
In this easy to follow tutorial you will create a basic coffee mug icon.
Turn Glasses into a Great Geek Icon
In this advanced tutorial, you’ll learn how make a cool,and geeky, glasses icon.
Detailed Camera with Photo Icon
This tutorial will show the intermediate Adobe Illustrator artist how to make a sleek web 2.0 style icon.
CD Icon Using Illustrator in 5 minutes
In this basic Illustrator CS3 tutorial, you will create a CD icon, in only 5 minutes!
Vector Film Slate Icon
The tutorial uses some basic shapes, some gradients, and even a blend, to create this marvellous Film Slate icon.
Shiny, Vector Dice
In this tutorial, you will learn to create a set of vector dice using Illustrator and the tricky and underused Gradient Mesh Tool.
Vector Safari Compass
Use this Adobe Illustrator tutorial to draw up your own vector Safari inspired compass in Adobe Illustrator, and icon that works well in small formats while also displaying quite a lot of intricate details when viewed in large format.
Multicolored Buddy Icons
This tutorial uses some basic shapes, gradients, Feather, and Illustrator’s powerful Live Color feature, to create these excellent Buddy Icons.
Pie Charts in Illustrator
An older tutorial that teaches how to add some soft and stylish effects to pie charts in Illustrator.
Delicious Chinese Food Icon
In this advanced Illustrator tutorial, you will craft a Delicious Chinese food icon set, using numerous vector illustration techniques.
The challange of this tutorial is to use various Blending modes and blending techniques to replicate the iTune icon, it is a good exercise to help you master your Blend techniques.
Gearbox Settings Icon
Utilizing only simple, predefined shapes, as well as tools like the Pathfinder and transformations, entire illustrations can be created from scratch. In this tutorial, we’ll create an icon suitable for portraying options, settings, preferences, etc., similar to OS X’s system preferences icon.
Tropical Colored Compass
In this tutorial you’ll be creating a stylized Vector Compass Icon Design, applying some modern Web 2.0 effects and bright colors you will bring this icon to life.
With simple shapes, gradients, and vector textures, this simple tutorial will show beginning illustrators how to create an hourglass icon.
Adobe Bridge Icon
This tutorial will show you how to replicate the Adobe Bridge icon in Illustrator CS2.
Magic Hat Icon
For this tutorial you will use the pen tool, pathfinder palette, and other tools to create this magic hat icon with a cute bunny inside.
Vector Audio Speaker Icon
Create a vector speaker icon using some ellipses with gradients, the Grid Tool, and the Mesh Tool.
Vector Smiley Icon
You will use some basic Illustrator tecniques to create this happy Smiley icon.
Magnify Zoom Icon
You’ll work primarily with the pathfinder and basic shape tools to cut out the shapes for this illustration, though the pen tool will also be used, and color the elements using various gradients.
Vector Military Cap Icon
In this advanced tutorial, you will learn how to create a realistic military style cap icon using gradients, blends, and the Gradient Mesh Tool, and using a photo reference to base this illustration on.
Transparent Battery Icon
In this tutorial, you’ll create a detailed icon of a battery similar to the one used for the iPhone touch. The battery “fuel” color can be changed as well as the “fuel” level, allowing the icon to be used to create a battery or power meter for applications
3D Vector Film Roll Icon
In this tutorial, you will learn how to draw a realistic film roll, drawn in perspective, using the Pen Tool, Ellipses and Gradients.
Stylized GPS Icon
In this beginner/intermediate Illustrator tutorial, you will learn how to create a stylized GPS icon using simple shapes and gradients.
Stack of Poker Chips
This tutorial will teach you how to create a simple stack of poker chips.
In this easy to follow step by step tutorial, you will be shown how to create this cool retro television icon, by using some basic shapes and gradients.
Textured Journal Icon
In this tutorial, you will create a textured, rather than glossy, textured Journal icon.
Designing a Stumbleupon Icon
In this tutorial you will cover the basics that will give you an idea how the icon is rendered, you will learn how they appear in smaller sizes and the constraints you can find when using Vector (Illustrator) instead of Pixel (Photoshop) based image software. Great starter tutorial.
Alarm Clock Icon
With simple shapes and gradients, this easy to follow tutorial will show you how to create an alarm clock icon.
A great tutorial explaining the full process of designing an icon, from an initial hand drawn illustration, to using Illustrator to flesh out the glossy and modern icon.
Envelpe Icon with a Satin Feel
In this tutorial, you will be shown how to create a simple envelope/mail icon, using the basic tools of illustrator , ie gradient , rectangle and pathfinder.
Drawing A Pencil Icon
This tutorial is very detailed and in-depth, and it explains the process of designing a simple pencil icon.
Windows Vista Icon
Create a Windows Vista Computer Display using the Pen Tool and the Ellipse Tool.
Designing a Sleek Pencil Icon
In this basic tutorial, you will create this Pencil Icon, using Illustrator CS3.
In this tutorial you will create an administrator icon with a Clean Web 2.0 style.
3d Isometric Vector Icon
Three dimensional shapes are less complicated to create in Illustrator than you may think. The 3D Extrude and Bevel effect can be used to create interesting designs. In this tutorial you’ll learn how.
Illustaror Folder Icons Tutorials
Apple Leopard Folder
Learn how to create the Apple Leopard sleek and cool folders, using Illustrator.
In this simple tutorial, you will learn how to create a basic Folder icon.
Create XP-style Icons
In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to make your own Windows XP-style artwork.
Inspirational and Creative Icon Designers
Sebastien de With
Sebastiaan de With is a 21 year old freelance designer, who specializes in icon and visual interface design, and logotyes.
View the online icon portfolio of Danish designer, Jonas Rask.
Marcelo Marfil is a graphic and interface designer from Sao Paulo in Brazil.
Artua Design Studios
Artua Design Studios are a team of graphic designers and illustrators, who specialize in icon and GUI design.
View the custom icon & pictogram design portfolio of Stefan Dziallas, from IconWerk.
William Wilkinson – Little Pixels
William Wilkinson is an icon designer living in Victoria, Canada.
Medard Konopík – IconBakery
View the delicious icons and interfaces from Medard Konopík, a 21 year old from Prague, Czech Republic.
Icon Design Video Tutorials
Icon Design Video Tutorials
- How to Create a Vector RSS Icon
- iPhone icon Design Tutorial
- Create a Windows Vista Icon
- Create a Prize Icon
- Create Enevelope Icon in Illustrator
- Custom Icon Leopard Folders
- How to create Icons, by Fasticon.com
- Icon Set Design in Photoshop and Illustrator
50 Excellent Icon Design Tutorials
from SixRevisions by Jacob Gube.
30+ Amazing Tutorials for Creating Icons in Photoshop
from Naldzgraphics by Ronald Bien.
What icons are for
from turbomilk.com by Yegor Gilyov.
10 Mistakes in Icon Design
from turbomilk.com by Denis Kortunov.
10 Outstanding Metaphors in Icon Design
from turbomilk.com by Denis Kortunov.
10 Tips for Effective Icon Design
from vector.tutsplus.com by Chris Spooner.
7 Principles of Effective Icon Design
from psd.tutsplus.com by Sean Hodge.
Icon Design: Basic principles explained
About the author
Paul Andrew is a freelance web designer. He is admin for Speckyboy – Design Magazine, a web design, web development and graphic design resource blog.
Follow him on Twitter here: twitter.com/speckyboy.