Quick and Easy Document Icon

This tutorial is pretty straight-forward, so it will be more of a chronicle of the steps necessary with points of references, as I encourage you to embellish this icon and really make it your own. I only demonstrate how to use simple shapes to communicate an effective message.First, create a new Illustrator document with these settings:

Document Icon Document Settings
Document Icon Document Settings

This is the standard “Letter” setting in the “Print” profile, with RGB for our color, as this will be used on screen as opposed to print.

Next, lets draw out a rectangle the size of the whole page, after all, the best way to get a document shape is to start with the size of an actual document.

Document Icon: Step 1
Document Icon: Step 1

After that, take the line tool and draw a line right through the corner of the document, this is at no particular angle, one that looks like a normal fold line for you:

Document Icon: Step 2
Document Icon: Step 2

Now, offset the path of our rectangle by 30pts, this will serve as a big-fat border for the icon:

Document Icon: Step 3
Document Icon: Step 3

Now use the Pathfinder palette to cut the corner right off, be sure to highlight everything so you cut through both rectangles (the original and the offset one.)

Document Icon: Step 4
Document Icon: Step 4

You can use the Command right above the divide tool (the 2 squares on the top left of the pallet) to take the corner, and “Merge” it together, be sure to hold down the Alt key on your keyboard so that it will also remove unnecessary and touching lines.

Document Icon: Step 5
Document Icon: Step 5

Rotate our new corner by 180 degrees:

Document Icon: Step 6
Document Icon: Step 6

With that we have a folded paper, now with these settings make a rounded rectangle with the following setting:

Document Icon: Step 7
Document Icon: Step 7

We’ll treat that the same as the paper, with a nice thick offset to make our button contrast, which is important especially when you get down to smaller icon sizes.

Document Icon: Step 8
Document Icon: Step 8

Now we color the icon, create a gradient that looks something like what you see here.

Document Icon: Step 9
Document Icon: Step 9

Drag it in line with the top of the “Triangle corner” from bottom to top:

Document Icon: Step 10
Document Icon: Step 10

And give the outer rim of the document the same gradient, only simpler and in the opposite direction for quick and effective contrast:

Document Icon: Step 11
Document Icon: Step 11

Drag that gradient from the top down:

Document Icon: Step 12
Document Icon: Step 12

We’ve got our paper almost done, now just use the “eyedropper” tool on the outside of the paper (the simpler gradient, and we should be good to go.

Document Icon: Step 13
Document Icon: Step 13

Now, the inside of our rounded rectangle will need a gradient too. Using only black and white, make something like what you see here the colors are in this order:

90% White  -  100% Black  -  100% Black  -  85% White

Document Icon: Step 14
Document Icon: Step 14

Now in the transparency menu set it to screen mode and 70% opacity:

Document Icon: Step 15
Document Icon: Step 15
Document Icon: Step 16
Document Icon: Step 16

Now if you make that gradient go from top to bottom of the rounded rectangle, you’ll see something like this:

ScreenShot00021.png

ScreenShot00021.png">

You’ll also notice at this point, I’ve removed the strokes from all the objects in the file, they really just serve as a hard edge and it’s not really the look I’m going for on this one, feel free to keep them if you like.

Now let’s go for some polish, add a drop shadow offset by 10pts with 27% opacity to the “Paper fold triangle” and the outer “Rounded rectangle” you can use the settings you see here:

Document Icon: Step 17
Document Icon: Step 17

And no one needs an icon the size of a piece of paper, so scale down to something like 20% to get ready to type out a file extension, make sure “Scale strokes and effects” is checked off so your drop shadows don’t get away from you:

Document Icon: Step 18
Document Icon: Step 18

Now just type out in any old fake or real file extension, and make a darker and more blurry drop shadow around our white text, we’re much smaller so let’s only offset by 2 points and up the opacity of this on to 55%:

Document Icon: Step 19
Document Icon: Step 19

Now use the extra white space to fill it with the logo for your file-type or program, in this case, how could I resist using my own logo? Ahh judge me all you want, but after you make your own icon I want a letter thanking me!

Document Icon: Step 20
Document Icon: Step 20

You're done! Great job! now you've earned the right to download the free vector document icon now and compare our results.