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:
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.
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:
Now, offset the path of our rectangle by 30pts, this will serve as a big-fat border for the icon:
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.)
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.
Rotate our new corner by 180 degrees:
With that we have a folded paper, now with these settings make a rounded rectangle with the following setting:
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.
Now we color the icon, create a gradient that looks something like what you see here.
Drag it in line with the top of the “Triangle corner” from bottom to top:
And give the outer rim of the document the same gradient, only simpler and in the opposite direction for quick and effective contrast:
Drag that gradient from the top down:
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.
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
Now in the transparency menu set it to screen mode and 70% opacity:
Now if you make that gradient go from top to bottom of the rounded rectangle, you’ll see something like this:
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:
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:
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%:
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!
You're done! Great job! now you've earned the right to download the free vector document icon now and compare our results.