Icons are an everyday part of our lives. The rules have always been the same: the simpler the design the more iconic its status. Here are a few examples:
iOS Settings icon
These particular classic icons all have one thing in common (other than being all very cool): A repeated rotating pattern. In this article I’m going to talk you through the techniques you need to create your own classic icons using Illustrator.
Here is what you will be creating:
Select the Rounded Rectangle tool, choose a blue fill color and then click in the middle of the page. Clicking with the shape tools rather than drawing gives a better level of control over size and in this case, Corner Radius.
Set the Rectangle Options to Width and Height 150mm and the Corner Radius to 15mm.
Now choose the Elliptical Marquee tool or Press L and set its fill color to white. This time draw a circle by placing your cursor near to the center of the blue square and holding down Shift to constrain the ellipse into a circle while at the same time holding down Option to cause the circle to grow out from its center.
Select both shapes and use the Align Horizontal Center button in the Control Panel so that the 2 items are partly aligned.
Add a small white rounded rectangle above the centre of the circle, making sure that there is an adequate gap between the 2 shapes.
Then select all 3 items and use the Align Vertical Center button to finish the alignment.
Switch on the rulers (View > Rulers > Show Rulers or press Command-R) and use them to create 2 guides that intersect at the center of the icon.
Select the Ray you drew in step 3, then pick up the Rotate Tool, or press R. Move the cursor to the center of the icon, as marked by the intersecting guides. It is very important that you don’t click the mouse at this stage.
Ready to rotate
Press and hold the Option key and click the mouse over the center point. Doing this makes 2 things happen: Firstly the anchor point by which the Ray will rotate moved to the center point when you clicked. Secondly the Rotate window opens, ready for you to input your options.
Set the Angle option to 30° (use any number that divides equally into 360°) and click Copy.
TIP: tick the Preview box to see the amended position before you copy the shape.
A second Ray appears around the circle.
Rather than repeat the whole rotate process, now that one transformation has taken place, it can be repeated by choosing Object > Transform > Transform Again or perhaps the easier Command-D.
Keep pressing Command-D until the ray entirely surrounds the circle
From this basic workflow can come a huge array of potential designs, each more complex than the other. In the end though, at the heart of each design sits rotating and repeating. See how far you can push your designs using it.