Illustrator Tutorial: Designing a Sleek Pencil Icon

Even though I consider myself a newby with Adobe Illustrator, I’ve been learning it for a few months now, and I find it very intriguing! I was inspired to design this kooky little pencil, that some would say works for icon design. So I thought I would write a tutorial on how to achieve the design of this sleek pencil using Adobe Illustrator CS3.

Illustrator Tutorial: Learn how to Design this Pencil Icon

Note: Since Illustrator changes very little over the versions, it shouldn’t matter too much if you’re using an older version.

Step 1

First thing’s first, set up your canvas. Just go to File > New, and use whatever settings you like. I’ve never been a big fan of using custom sizes and all that in Illustrator, unless designing a business card or something like that, so just change the color mode to RGB and leave the rest.

Enable the grid (View > Show Grid) and Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid).

Step 2

Let’s create the base of our shape. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), draw out a rectangle on your canvas, keeping it aligned with the grid. Looking at the subdivisions of your grid, make sure that the base of our pencil is an even number of boxes tall, umm, see the screenshot:

Creating Base Shape of Pencil

Width isn’t important at this time. You can easily change it later if it looks out of whack with the rest of the pencil.

Step 3

Now we should make the rest of the separate shapes. You’ll need to use various different tools for this one, such as: the Pen Tool and the Rounded Rectangle Tool. See the below screenshot to get the idea of it.

Creating the Rest of the Pencil Shapes

So, using the Pen Tool, you should create the pointed end(s). Start by creating the wood part of it, then afterward create the sharper point (the lead).

Detailed Layers Screenshot

Step 4

Now let’s give the pencil some life! Start with coloring each shape the color you would like it to have.

Separate Pencil Colors

Now, using these colors as a guide, add gradients to each of your shapes (some might not require it, though).

Gradients Applied to Separate Shapes

Now, as you can see we’ve added gradients to each of the shapes. All of these are simple two-color gradients except for one, the metal piece next to the eraser. All of the colors used in this gradient were: #f2f2f2, #b3b3b3, #ffffff and #e6e6e6.

Metal Gradient Settings

You should understand that it isn’t important that you comply exactly with what you see above, the shiny metal effect is very random, so you should just add a few extra points, change the colors of them, etc.

Get creative, be messy with the settings.

Step 5

Let’s finish off by adding a nice little highlight effect to the top of our pencil. Start by getting out the Pen Tool, then draw a simple two-point path along the top like this:

Simple Pen Tool Path

When you’re done with the path, add a fairly-thick rounded-corner stroke to it, using whatever color you like. In the “Transparency” tab (Window > Transparency), change the mode to Screen and lower the opacity to around 50%.

Layer Mode and Opacity for Stroke Layer

Hopefully by now you have something like this:

Finalized Pencil Design



Final Result Image

OK, looks like we’re pretty much done! My apologies if the tutorial was a little lean on instructions, but this was my first Illustrator tutorial! If you have any questions at all, please leave a comment or contact me!

You can download the .ai (Illustrator) source file from here: Download Icon Tutorial Source File.

Print at PsPrint

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  1. Dejan Cancarevic said at 3:03 pm on September 10, 2008

    Very good tutorial, great for beginners like me heh

  2. NaldzGraphics said at 7:52 am on September 12, 2008

    great tutorial.your blog is nice.keep up the good work in here


  3. Biju Subhash said at 3:30 am on February 6, 2009

    Nice Tutorial
    Thank you for sharing :D

    Biju Subhash

  4. Mahima said at 5:12 am on April 7, 2009

    Nice tutorial. I was looking for something like this. It is good for beginners like me.. Thanks..:)

  5. tourist book said at 3:57 am on October 18, 2009

    nice tutorial.but on the pencil line oppacity could be more little

  6. Irene said at 2:51 pm on January 13, 2010

    I love the fact that you encourage us to use our creativity. Keep it rollin’!!!!

  7. SUBHENDU said at 11:15 pm on January 13, 2010

    excelent work, this type of work very helpful to me. in future i see lot of work to your blog. Thanks……..:)

  8. chocomancer said at 8:11 pm on February 19, 2010

    Good tutorial, easy to understand. Just what a beginner like me need.

  9. tomaz said at 4:38 pm on February 20, 2010

    thumb up

  10. Annie Jackson said at 6:31 pm on February 22, 2010

    Nice one. Was able to do it. Keep the good work

  11. manas said at 5:47 pm on May 10, 2010

    Great tutorial very easily explained, good for new-by like me!!!! Thanks for sharing your creativity…..

  12. sowndarya said at 9:32 pm on June 23, 2010

    {ILLUSTRATOR}how to create high quality logos.what are the document properties and resolution?how to save that it does not pixelate when i maximise it.

  13. beatrizingryd said at 8:46 am on July 17, 2010

    I did ones, but not in the same colors. Was great (the mine, obviously!) thanks!

  14. Kush said at 4:06 pm on September 8, 2010

    Hey man This tutorial was fantabulicious……

  15. logo templates said at 4:54 pm on October 5, 2010

    Nice tutorial. This will definitely encourage the beginners. Thanks for the post.

  16. Debbie said at 1:13 pm on March 10, 2011

    Great tutorial. Much easier to follow than some I’ve tried recently. Very clear and concise with great graphics. Thank you!

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