Hi, I am Yulia Sokolova, illustrator and graphic designer. In this tutorial I will guide you through the process of creating four flat style robot icons in Adobe Illustrator. We will be covering many different shortcut keys and operations, including Pathfinder and Blending Modes. Also, I’ll show you techniques on how to create effects such as long shadow.
Please note that the shortcut keys are presented in a way that serves Mac OS X users. However, Windows users can follow the tutorial by replacing ‘Cmd’ key with ‘Control’ as well as ‘Option’ key with ‘Alt’. The level of this tutorial is intermediate, requiring you to have some knowledge of Adobe Illustrator as well as of icon design.
Here is how the end result is going to look like:
1. Make a Square Robot Icon
Start by making a New Document of 600×600 px size, RGB Color Mode.
Take the Rounded Rectangle Tool and let’s start shaping the head of our flat robot. Make a 130×110 px light-grey shape with 15 px Corner Radius. You can adjust the size of the shape and the Radius value from the control panel on top.
Now arm yourself with the Ellipse Tool (L), hold Shift and make a 30×30 px bright-orange circle for the left eye.
Copy the circle and Paste in Front (Cmd-C > Cmd-F). Hold Option-Shift and make the top copy smaller, reducing its size to 20×20 px. Fill it with a very dark grey color.
Copy the orange circle again and Paste in Back (Cmd-C > Cmd-B). This time make the copy larger (40×40 px) and fill it with white color.
Finally, Copy the white shape and Paste in Back (Cmd-C > Cmd-B). Set its size to 42×42 px and move the shape down a bit by pressing the down arrow key of your keyboard a few times. Fill the shape with grey color, a bit darker than the robot’s head, this way forming a shadow and make the eye pop out.
Make another copy of the orange circle and set its size to 27×27 px. Set its Fill color to none and its Stroke color to white in the Color panel. Head to the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke) and set the Weight value to 2,3 pt.
Now let’s shape the highlight! Take the Scissors Tool (C) and click two anchor points, which are marked in the screenshot below. This way we split the shape into two parts. Delete the larger part and recolor the remaining arc into light-orange color. If you want to have the same rounded tips, be sure to set the Cap and Corner into middle positions in the Stroke panel.
Now let’s add a second eye and shape the mouth of our robot. Group (Cmd-G) the elements of the eye, hold Option-Shift and move the eye to the right with the Selection Tool (V), this way making a copy.
Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to make an 85×28 px white shape for the mouth. Select the shape with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and use the Live Corners feature to make the corners fully rounded by pulling the circle markers closer to the center of the shape.
This function is available starting from CC version of Adobe Illustrator. If you’re using earlier versions, feel free to apply Effect > Stylize > Round Corners.
Copy the mouth and Paste in Back (Cmd-C > Cmd-B). Increase its size to 87×30 px and use the Eyedropper Tool (I) to pick the dark-grey color from the shadow of the eye. Move the shape a few pixels down, using the down arrow key.
Let’s form the inner part of the mouth.
Select the white shape and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Set the Offset value to -5 px, forming a smaller shape inside the mouth. Use the Eyedropper Tool (I) to pick the dark-grey color from the pupil of the eye.
Apply the Offset Path function to the dark-grey shape, setting the Offset value to -3 px. Fill the created shape with bright orange color, the same as we have for the eyes.
Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and make a small vertical stripe of 3,5×17 px at the left side of the mouth. Select the shape with the Selection Tool (V), hold Option-Shift and drag to the right, making a copy. Press Cmd-D multiple times to repeat our last action and make more copies, filling the mouth with grill-like robotic teeth.
Let’s make sure that our shapes are perfectly aligned! First of all, group (Cmd-G) the teeth. Then select all parts of the mouth together with the head shape and click the head once again to make it a Key Object. You will see a thicker selection around the head, indicating the Key Object, so now all other selected elements will be aligned to this shape.
Head to the Align panel (Window > Align) and click Horizontal Align Center. That’s it! Use this method to align all other shapes that we’ll be creating throughout this tutorial.
Let’s add the headphones or stylized ears to our robot.
Use the Rounded Rectangle Tool to make a 15×45 px shape with 5 px Corner Radius. Press Shift-Cmd-[ to Send the ear to Back. Add smaller rectangle of darker grey color beneath the ear and duplicate the rectangles to form the second ear.
Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and make a thin vertical stripe of 5x30 px shape for the antenna. Duplicate the orange circle of the eye together with the highlight and make the copy much smaller. Place the circle on top of the antenna.
Let’s shape the circle icon base with a trendy long shadow effect.
Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to make a 250x250 px circle of vivid violet color.
Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and make a 157x160 px light-violet shape. Hold Shift, rotate the shape 45 degrees and place it beneath the robot’s head. In the Transparency panel, set the Blending Mode to Multiply, thus forming a subtle flat shadow.
Adjust the width of the shape, if needed, making it fit the robot’s head. Use the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) to add two anchor points at the spots, marked in the screenshot below. Then switch to the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-) to remove the unneeded points on top.
Now let’s get rid of the unneeded part of the shadow outside the circle. We’ll hid it inside the Clipping Mask.
Copy the icon base and Paste in Front (Cmd-C > Cmd-F). Press Shift-Cmd-] to Bring the shape to Front. Finally, select both the top circle and the shadow, click right mouse button and Make Clipping Mask.
Let’s also add a flat half-shadow effect to the head.
Group (Cmd-G) the elements of the head, Copy and Paste in Front (Cmd-C > Cmd-F).
Unite the copy in the Pathfinder (Window > Pathfinder) to merge the elements of the group into one single shape.
Use the Line Segment Tool (\) and hold Shift to make a vertical line across the head. Align the line to the center of the head, using the head as the Key Object.
Finally, select both the line and the merged head shape and click Divide in the Pathfinder to split the shape into two equal halves. Delete the left half. Switch the right half into Multiply Blending Mode, forming a gentle shadow.
Great job, guys! Our first robot icon is ready. We’ve got three more to go!
Feel free to add any minor elements to make our robot even more fancy and detailed. Those can be some tiny screws or light bulbs or anything else to your liking. As you can see, I‘ve added a darker grey rim around the head of the robot, to make it blend nicely with the ears.
Let’s move on!
2. Create a Round Head Robot Icon
Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and start shaping the head from a 130×130 px bright pinkish-red circle. Make a smaller and lighter circle of 30×30 px for the eye. Add a darker-red shadow around the eye and place a 27×27 px dark-grey circle on top for the robotic eyeball.
Finish up with the eye by adding a small orange iris and placing an arched highlight on top, as we did for our previous robot.
Let’s add some elements to the head in order to make our robot look peculiar. Make a 20×45 px rectangle of a light-yellow color at the top left part of the head. Add a dark-red rectangle of 25×50 px shape and press Cmd-[ to Send it Backward, right beneath the yellow rectangle, forming a shadow.
Group (Cmd-G) the shapes and rotate them a bit. Double-click the Reflect Tool (O) to open the Options panel and select the Vertical Axis. Click Copy to mirror the shape and place the copy at the opposite side of the head.
Start shaping the mouth by making a 40x40 px light-red rectangle.
Shape a stylized smile from a 50x4,5 px thin orange stripe. Add two tiny rectangles in the corners of the mouth, making the shapes fit each other.
Copy the head base and Bring to Front (Shift-Cmd-]). Select the top circle and the elements outside the head, click right mouse button and Make Clipping Mask. Add two tiny buttons to the forehead of our robot.
Use two 60×60 px light-red circles to form the ears of our fancy robot.
Here I’ve decided to recolor the light-yellow elements of our robot into bright-orange to make the whole design more vivid and harmonic. I’ve also added another orange stripe to the chin and dragged it inside the Clipping Mask in the Layers panel. Notice that you can still edit any elements inside the Mask like inside of a group by selecting the objects with the Direct Selection Tool (A) or in the Layers panel.
Duplicate the icon base from our first robot. Change the color to light-blue and don’t forget to recolor the shadow as well. Make the shadow fit the new head by moving the points with the Direct Selection Tool (A).
Copy the head base and the ears and Unite the shapes in the Pathfinder. Use the created merged shape to form a subtle half-shadow effect on top of the robot’s head.
There you have it! Our second robot icon is ready. Let’s move right to the next one!
3. Shape the Cyclops Robot Icon
Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to make a 130×160 px light-turquoise rectangle. Select both top anchor points with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and make the top corners fully rounded, using the Live Corners function. Do the same for the bottom anchor points, but this time make them just a bit rounded. We’ve formed a head, looking like a helmet.
Duplicate the eye from our first robot, make it larger and align to the center of the head. Let’s modify the eye to give it a new look and make it fit the new head.
Recolor the shadow and the white shape into darker and lighter turquoise tints. Duplicate the orange shape and Bring it to Front (Shift-Cmd-]), on top of the eye. Use the Scissors Tool (C) to click the side anchor points and split the shape into two halves. Delete the lower part, forming a half-closed eyelid. Recolor the eyeball and the iris of the eye. Finish up by placing an arched highlight on top.
Let’s render a grill of a loudspeaker in the mouth area of our robot.
Make a 15×40 px rectangle of a dark-turquoise color and align it to the bottom of the head. Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select the top anchor points and make the corners fully rounded. Switch to the Selection Tool (V), hold Option-Shift and move the shape to the right, making two more copies.
Group (G) the rectangles and align the group to the head, making it perfectly centered.
Shape a 3×60 px narrow rectangle in the top center part of the robot’s head.
Let’s see how we can get rid or the unneeded piece of stripe. Select both the head and the stripe and switch to the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M). Hold Option (you will see a tiny minus sign next to your mouse cursor) and click the piece outside the head to delete it.
Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and add a few light-turquoise screws of 7×7 px size, making the robot more detailed.
Arm yourself with the Rounded Rectangle Tool and form an ear from a 25×54 px light-turquoise rectangle. Send it to Back (Shift-Cmd-[).
Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to make a dark-grey 9×60 px antenna on top of the ear.
Make the top of the antenna fully rounded with the help of the Direct Selection Tool (A) and Live Corners feature. Copy the antenna and Paste in Front (Cmd-C > Cmd-F). Fill the copy with light-yellow color.
Select the bottom anchor points with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and drag them up, shrinking the shape to form a light tip at the top of the antenna.
Duplicate the elements of the ear and move them to the opposite side the head, making our robot symmetrical. Form a bright red icon base and finish up with our third icon by adding a semi-transparent half-shadow.
Great! We have our last icon left, so let’s move on!
4. Render a Smiling Robot Icon
Take the Rounded Rectangle Tool and make a smooth yellow shape of 160×110 px size with 45 px Corner Radius. Add a dark-grey shape of 120×83 px on top, forming the screen of our futuristic robot. Make the top corners of the shape more rounded than the bottom corners.
Shape a 9×13 px bright-blue rounded rectangle for the pixel eye of the robot. Copy the shape and move it to the opposite side, making a second eye.
Select both eyes with the Selection Tool (V), hold Option-Shift and drag the shapes down, forming two copies in the bottom part of the screen. Connect the copies with a narrow horizontal rectangle, this way forming a smiling mouth and making our robot look friendly.
Let’s copy the antenna from our very first robot and use it to make a double-antenna for our new futuristic character. Recolor the base of the antenna into dark-grey and change to color of the head into bright-orange, thus making the elements combine with each other, fitting the overall bright palette.
And let’s make the screen more dimensional and pop out. Select the screen and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Apply -2 px Offset value, creating a smaller shape inside of the screen.
Select the initial screen shape again and apply Offset Path with -4 px value. Recolor the two bigger shapes into dark-orange and light-orange colors, forming a rim and a shadow around the screen.
Make another Offset Path shape on top of the screen, setting the Offset value to -5 px. This time, turn the shape into a light-grey Stroke and use the Scissors Tool (C) to split the shapes into two pieces. Leave a smaller part, creating a stylized highlight, as we did previously.
Shape the headphone of our robot from a light-orange rounded rectangle of 25×50 px size with 12,5 px Corner Radius. Add a smaller shape beneath, forming a bright-blue tip of the headphone.
Duplicate the elements to form a second headphone at the opposite side of the head.
If you feel that our robot lacks of details, use the Offset Path function to add a new shape on top of the head base. Turn it into Stroke and use the Scissors Tool (C) to cut the stroke, forming a new highlight above the plastic orange surface.
Form a grey circle base for our last robot and finish up with the icon by placing a gentle half-shadow on top of the robot.
Our Flat Robot Icons are Ready!
Great job, everyone! We’ve finished our set of trendy flat icons with detailed robots! I hope you’ve discovered some useful tips and trick about working with simple shapes and functions of Adobe Illustrator, which will be helpful for your future projects. You can use these techniques to create other icons in the same trendy style.
Have fun and don’t forget to browse through over 900,000 icons on Iconfinder for your inspiration or any design needs.