In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create a fun, vector icon of a people symbol, frozen in an ice cube, from scratch. We’ll explore the usefulness of Adobe Illustrator’s 3D tools. The whole creation can be divided into two different parts. Part I: The ice cube, and this Part II: The people icon. We’ll create the people icon and integrate them together in this Part II. Let’s get to it!
Final Image Preview for Part II: The People Icon and Integration with Cube
Below is the final image we will be working towards in part II of this two part tutorial. Want access to the full Vector Source files and downloadable copies of every tutorial, including this one? Join Vector Plus for just 9$ a month.
- Program: Illustrator CS3
- Difficulty: Intermediate
- Estimated Completion Time: 4-5 hours
Let’s start by drawing the main shapes for our people. We’ll make a circle for the head, and then create a rough shape for the torso, just under that shape.
Now we’ll color the shapes. Select the circle, fill the circle with a solid color, and remove the border.
Now select the torso. Click on the Gradient tab, place the gradient type as Linear. Now you can see the default black and white gradient applied to the shape.
Change the gradient to the colors of your choice, by using the gradient sliders. I’ve made a light blue to dark blue gradient.
Now select the shape. Grab the the Gradient Tool, change the angle of the gradient by dragging the tool from the top to the bottom of the torso shape. Also, remove the outline.
Now draw the collar and tie. I’ve drawn it very roughly. Fill the tie with a solid red color and remove the outline.
Collars need to be of similar colors as the shirt. So, select the collar shape, then with Eyedropper Tool pick the gradient from the torso shape. Now adjust the gradient for the collars.
Now we are done with the basic shape. Let’s group the collar and tie together. For this select the collars and tie together. Then right-click on the selection and select Group from the menu (or simply press Command + G). And the selection will be grouped. Name the group “tie_collar.” Similarly make the head and torso together a group and name it as “body.”
Hide the “tie_collar” group for now. Select the “body” group, then apply Effect > 3D > Extrude & Bevel.
The option box will open. First turn on the Preview checkbox by clicking on it. Now just drag and rotate the cube and see the change in the icon. Play with the parameters and make the angle for the icon as you like. I’ve kept the settings as shown in the image.
Just don’t forget to do one specific thing, and that is: open the advanced option box by clicking on the More Options button. Then change the Blend Step value to 1. This will affect the shading of the icon though, but all we need is the extruded 3D shape information only, not the shading. When you’re done, click OK. And whatever the values you put keep them noted somewhere, as we’ll need those values again later.
Now when you select the group again, you can see though the appearance of the object has changed, but the paths and anchor points are still the same as before. And in this way we cannot modify the graphic’s look anymore. So select the group, then go to Object > Expand Appearance.
The 3D shape is now broken into a bunch of grouped shapes. Though we need the shape information, but still there are many unwanted shapes which we should remove, and retain only the useful shapes. So we need to ungroup them first. For this right-click on the selected group, and select Ungroup. Keep repeating this process until all groups are gone. You will notice that there are many nested groups inside the main group. We’ll have to ungroup them all.
If you take a close look at all groups and layers, you will notice there are some groups containing clipping paths inside them, which cannot be ungrouped easily. Also the frontal blue gradient has become a rasterized image. Now as all shapes are jumbled in a messy arrangement and hierarchy, it’s become very necessary to make them arrange properly for easy navigation through the layers.
Delete all those clipping paths, shapes hidden underneath, and also the group of the rasterized gradient image. This stage may prove to be irritating (as it happened to me). But this will benefit us in future.
After the cleanup there will be just a few layers remaining.
Shapes which are having too many anchor points within should also be simplified. Select such shape and then go to Object > Path > Simplify.
When the dialog box opens, turn on Preview. Then put the values, as shown in the image below, and click OK.
Select together the extrusion shapes of the head part and join them using the add button in the Pathfinder tab. Now click on the Expand button to simplify the shape.
Now there’s a small gap visible between the head and torso. Fix that by adding extra anchor points, then delete the unwanted points and tweak the tangents. Finally, adjust the oval shape accordingly.
Switch on the “tie_collar” layer. Then select the frontal shape of the torso. And pick the gradient from the tie shape. Also, adjust the gradient position.
Hide the “tie_collar” layer again. Put the gradient on the extrusion, and adjust the same.
Reduce the transparency of the extrusion to 75%. Select the frontal shapes of the head and torso. Select the layers in the layers tab as well. Click on the small menu button at top-right corner of the tab, as shown below. Now select the Duplicate Selection option from the menu.
Now there are two sets of head and torso shapes. Hide the top set, drag the layers behind the extrusion layers, and position them aligning the back edges of the extrusion, so that they fill the hollow back side of the 3D icon.
Unhide the top set and duplicate them again. Selecting them together, make the outline color white, and remove the fill color. This will provide a thin rim to the icon.
Select the frontal torso shape, and reduce Opacity to 75%.
Now select the oval shape of the “head.” Add a radial gradient that goes from orange to white, as shown below. Position the gradient such that the brightest spot appears towards an edge, which gives the shape volume.
Duplicate the layer. Put another gradient to that layer as shown.
Set the blending mode to Multiply and reduce Opacity to 80%.
Now select the side extrusion for the head. Change the base color slightly so that it gels well with the head.
Duplicate the layer and add a gradient like the one shown below.
Change the blending mode to Multiply and reduce the Opacity to 65%.
Now let’s make the head glossy. Select the frontal oval head shape and duplicate it.
With the Pen Tool draw a shape, such that, it makes and S type curve at the middle of the oval. Don’t worry about the color of this shape.
Select the duplicated oval and the shape together. Using the Pathfinder Tool intersect the shape areas to extract that much area from the shapes. Press the Expand button. Now we have the desired shape.
Screen the layer with Opacity set at 65%. Adjust the gradient and its color if you want.
Similarly cut another shape as shown. Place a bright gradient as well.
Multiply the layer with Opacity set to 60%.
Drag the layer under the previous S type gradient, so it looks subtle, and doesn’t effect that layer directly.
Now we’ll use some grayscale gradients (black to white) to make the reflections. So we again repeat the previous process, and intersect a shape. Put a black to white gradient on it, and adjust as you wish.
Screen it with an Opacity of 30%.
Keep adding such reflections as you like. It’s totally up to your creative choice. I stopped at a stage shown in the image below.
If you feel layers have become too messy, just group shapes logically and name the groups, so everything becomes organized again.
Use these grayscale gradient reflections for the torso part as well. I’m not describing it this time by making each and every shape for reflection. I’ll straight-ahead show you what I finally came up with. I suggest you experiment with different types of shapes and gradients as much as you wish.
Now switch on the “tie_collar” layer. Drag the layer on top, so that you can view the changes being done easily.
Then go to Effect > 3D > Rotate. When the dialog box opens, put the same values you’ve used for the “body” layer. See in the preview that the angles are matching perfectly now but the position differs. Click OK to apply. This is why I noted the values last time.
Go to Object > Expand Appearance, as we did earlier. This will convert the object into grouped shapes. Now move the group into the proper position.
Let’s make some reflections for the tie as well. Make the shapes and gradients as you like and set them to Screen mode.
The tie looks glossy but flat. We’ll use a simple small trick to make it look a bit 3D. Offset the layers a bit, as shown in the image. This gives an illusion a thick glassy surface.
Make a sharp shape as shown below. Put a radial gradient of red to white. Keep it 100% opaque.
This will create an impression of a sharp glass edge reflecting and shining brightly.
When you’re done, select all the layers related to the tie and then group as well, and then group it again and put this group below the “head” group.
Finally everything is done! We’ll just add a last piece of gem to make it complete. We’ll add sharp small highlights on top of the graphic. So, create a solid white elliptical shape, make it very small.
Blur it at an amount of 3.0. Set the blending mode to Screen.
Now keep on duplicating the layer, scale, rotate, change opacities and put little sparkles wherever you like. Just as a suggestion, I would mention my preference, that on edges these highlights look good. You can see how I applied these below.
Finally we’re all done with this part. Drag-select the whole icon and group it. Name the group “People Icon.”
Putting it All Together
Now let’s finish this up by embedding our people symbol inside the ice, which will finalize our icon.
Now we have the “ice cube” and the “people_icon”, so let’s keep them together in the same file (if you’ve made them in different files). Arrange them so the “people_icon” comes on top of the “ice cube.”
Resize the icon such a way, that it fits inside the cube.
Duplicate the “people_icon” group and bring the new group layer behind the old one. Scale it down a bit, and then place it as shown. Reduce the Opacity to 75%. And finally select both icons together, just reposition them so that they are visible and centered as well.
Create a rectangular shape at the bottom a area of the icon. Put a dark cyan color on it. And make sure you bring down this layer below the icon, but over the “back part” of the ice cube. This will serve as a shadow of the icon on the cube’s inner floor.
Blur the shape with an amount of 25. Set the blending mode to Multiply, and at the end reduce the Opacity to 35%. And we’re done!
Here’s the final look of our fun icon of frozen people on ice. Optionally you can add a shadow under the ice cube as well, but I’ll leave the up to you.
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