Want to know how to learn a new application? The best way is to get involved in a working project. This tutorial based on Adobe Illustrator teaches you to create a vector RSS icon in simple steps. It also includes some useful techniques you can make use of in your future projects.
Adobe Illustrator is a vector graphics application. So, the size of the icon you want to make is not an issue. You can select the objects and scale their size (to large or small) according to your preference. Unlike Photoshop, all the lines and shapes used will keep crispness and their colour. This is because they are created with mathematical calculation instead of using pixels.
Open Illustrator and make a new document. You need to Click and hold the mouse on the Rectangle tool to select the Rounded Rectangle option which is hidden underneath. By holding the Shift key, draw a shape on the artboard. Use the arrow cursor keys to adjust the roundness of the corners while dragging.
Another difference you can find in Illustrator and Photoshop is the options available at the bottom of the main tool palette. You might be familiar with the foreground and background swatches in Photoshop. In Illustrator, these are replaced by fill colour and stroke colour. Click on the Stroke option and clear the default option. Then concentrate on the fill. In the Gradient Panel, add an orange fill which varies from dark to light vertically across the shape.
Select the shape and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter -1mm in the options. By grabbing the corner of the new shape and rotating it to 180 degrees you can change the flow of gradients to the opposite direction.
Now grab the circle tool and draw a circle separately on the artboard. Clear out the fills. Give a 16pt black stroke thickness to the circle.
Select only the left and bottom points of the circle using the Direct Selection Tool (White Arrow). Hit the delete button on the keyboard to trim the circle down to a quarter.
Copy (CMD+C) the quarter circle and paste it in front (CMD+F). You can scale it down by holding the shift key to keep everything tight. Tip: Check the Scale Strokes and Effects option in the preferences and alter the size based on your personal preference.
You need to adjust the stroke weight to16 pt to match the original.
To show the rulers press CMD+R. Now drag a few guides out in alignment with the quarter circles. Use the intersection as a source and
draw a small circle to get the traditional shape of RSS.
Presently the two quarter circles are set as stroked paths. But we can quickly change them to complete shapes by selecting Object > Expand and then select the Stroke option.
Select the three objects and add a pink-white gradient fill running vertically, and a 1pt light grey stroke. To Group the objects together press CMD-G. Then scale and position the object in place in the overall orange container.
Now select the inner rectangle from the orange box Copy (CMD-C) and paste in front (CMD-F). Fill it with white colour. Unlike in Photoshop, Illustrator can hold multiple items in just one layer. Each object can be placed on top of the other.
Draw a large flat oval shape over the entire graphic. Closely observe the overlapping of the bottom curve with the white rectangle. By selecting the oval and rectangle, click the Intersect Shape Area option in the Pathfinder palette.
You can reduce the Opacity of the shape down to 15% to give a sleek shine to the icon.
Add the finishing touch by adding a couple of spectacular highlights in the form of circles. Use 20% opacity again to maintain a subtle appearance.
There you go! Using some simple techniques and covering some of the powerful tools in Illustrator we made a simple vector RSS icon.