Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

In today’s tutorial, we’re going to take a short journey back in time and look at the process of creating three of the most iconic communication
devices ever made, using nothing more than some simple geometric shapes and
tools from within Adobe Illustrator.

As always, don’t forget you can always expand the pack by heading over
to GraphicRiver, where you’ll find a great selection of communication-themed
icons
.

 That being said, grab a cup of that chai
latte and let’s get started!

1. How to Set Up a New Project File

Assuming you already have Illustrator up
and running in the background, bring it up and let’s set up a New Document (File > New or Control-N)
using the following settings:

  • Number
    of Artboards:
    1
  • Width:
    800
    px
  • Height:
    600
    px
  • Units:
    Pixels

And from the Advanced tab:

  • Color
    Mode:
    RGB
  • Raster
    Effects:
    Screen (72ppi)
  • Preview Mode: Default
setting up a new document

2. How to Set Up a Custom Grid

Since we’re going to be creating the icons
using a pixel-perfect workflow, we’ll want to set up a nice little Grid so that we can have full control
over our shapes.

Step 1

Go to the Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid submenu, and adjust
the following settings:

  • Gridline
    every:
    1 px
  • Subdivisions: 1
setting up a custom grid

Quick tip: you can learn more
about grids by reading this in-depth piece on How Illustrator’s Grid System Works.

Step 2

Once we’ve set up our custom grid, all we
need to do in order to make sure our shapes look crisp is enable the Snap to Grid and Snap to Pixel option found under the View menu, which will transform into Snap to Pixel each time you enter the Pixel Preview mode (if you’re using an older version of the
software).

Now, if you’re new to
the whole “pixel-perfect workflow”, I strongly recommend you go through my How
to Create Pixel-Perfect Artwork
tutorial, which will help you widen your
technical skills in no time.

3. How to Set Up the Layers

With the New Document created, it would be
a good idea to structure our project using a couple of layers, since this way
we can maintain a steady workflow by focusing on one icon at a time.

That being said, bring up the Layers panel, and create a total of
four layers, which we will rename as follows:

  • layer
    1:
    reference grids
  • layer
    2:
    motorola dynatac
  • layer
    3:
    nokia communicator
  • layer 4: iphone
setting up the layers

4. How to Create the Reference Grids

The
Reference Grids
(or Base Grids)
are a set of precisely delimited reference surfaces, which allow us to build
our icons by focusing on size and consistency.

Usually, the size of the grids determines
the size of the actual icons, and they should always be the first decision you
make once you start a new project, since you’ll always want to start from the
smallest possible size and build on that.

Now, in our case, we’re going to be
creating the icon pack using just one size, more exactly 128 x 128 px, which is a fairly large one.

Step 1

Start by locking all
but the “reference grids” layer, and then grab the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 128 x 128 px orange (#F15A24) square, which will help define the
overall size of our icons.

creating the main shape for the first reference grid

Step 2

Add another smaller 120 x 120 px one (#FFFFFF) which we
will position on top of the previous shape, since it will act as our active
drawing area, thus giving us an all-around 4
px
padding to work with.

creating the main shape for the first active drawing area

Step 3

Select and group the
two squares together using the Control-G
keyboard shortcut, center aligning them to the underlying Artboard
afterwards. Create the remaining grids using two copies (Control-C > Control-F) at a horizontal distance of 40 px from the original, locking
the current layer before moving on to the next section.

adding the remaining reference grids

5. How to Create the Motorola DynaTAC Phone

Assuming you’ve successfully managed to
create the little reference grids, move on to the next layer (that would be the
second one), and let’s kick off the project by creating the first ever
commercial portable cellular phone created by Motorola back in 1983.

Step 1

Start by creating the
icon’s circular background using a 104 x
104 px
circle, which we will color using #7DDBCD and then center align to
the underlying active drawing area, positioning it at a distance of 26 px from its top edge.

Step 2

Since we want the circle
to remain constrained to the surface of the active drawing area, we’ll have to
mask it using a 120 x 120 px square
(highlighted with red), which we will center
align to the larger reference grid. Once you have the Mask in place, select both shapes and then right click > Make Clipping Mask.

Step 3

Draw the foreground using a 106 px wide 4 px thick Stroke line
(#3F3330) which we will align to the active drawing area’s bottom-left corner, followed by a smaller 2 px wide one (#3F3330)
which we will position onto its bottom-right corner. Take your time, and once
you’re done, select and group the two together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut, doing the same for the entire
background afterwards.

Step 4

Start working on the device’s front section by
creating 24 x 22 px rectangle, which
we will color using #E6E8EF and then position onto the background, at a
distance of 38 px from the active
drawing area’s left edge and 24 px from
its top one.

Step 5

Give the shape an outline using the Stroke method, by creating a copy of
it (Control-C), which we will paste
in front (Control-F) and then adjust
by first changing its color to #3F3330 and then flipping its Fill with its Stroke (Shift-X). Set
the resulting outline’s Weight to 4 px and its Corner to Round Join,
selecting and grouping the two shapes together afterwards using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

Step 6

Add the earpiece’s center insertion line using a 12 x 2 px rounded rectangle (#3F3330) with a 1 px Corner Radius, which we will center align to the two shapes
that we’ve just grouped.

Step 7

Add the smaller insertion lines using two 8 x 2 px rounded rectangles (#3F3330)
with a 1 px Corner Radius, which we
will put at a vertical distance of 2 px from
the larger center one. Take your time, and once you’re done, select and group
(Control-G) all three insertions
together, doing the same for the entire earpiece afterwards.

Step 8

Start working on the display section by creating a 24 x 12 px rectangle (#565560), which we will position below the
previous shapes and then adjust by selecting its bottom anchor points using the
Direct Selection Tool (A), which we
will push to the right side by a distance of 6 px using the Move tool
(right click > Transform > Move
> Horizontal > 6 px
).

Step 9

Give the resulting shape a 4 px thick
outline (#3F3330) with a Round Join,
selecting and grouping the two together afterwards using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

Step 10

Create a smaller 14 x 4 px rectangle (#3F3330), which we will adjust by selecting
and pushing its bottom anchor points to the right side by a distance of 2 px (right click > Transform > Move > Horizontal > 2 px). Position the resulting shape to the center of the previously created shapes,
selecting and grouping (Control-G)
all three of them together afterwards.

Step 11

Create the phone’s dial section using a 24 x 36 px rectangle (#828293) with a 4 px thick outline (#3F3330), which we will group (Control-G) and then position below the
smaller display section.

Step 12

Add the top four button rows, using three 4 x 2 px rectangles (#3F3330) horizontally stacked 2 px from one another, which we will
group (Control-G) and then
vertically stack at a distance of 2 px,
positioning them at a distance of 4 px from
the current section’s upper edge.

Step 13

Create the bottom button rows using five 4 x 2 px rectangles (#3F3330), which we will group (Control-G) and then position 4 px from the top rows,
as seen in the reference image.

Step 14

Add the little insertion, using an 8
x 4 px
 rectangle (#3F3330), which we will adjust by individually
selecting and pushing its top anchor points to the inside by 2 px (right click > Transform > Move > Horizontal > + / – 2 px depending
on which side you start with). Center align the resulting shape to the current
section’s bottom edge, selecting and grouping (Control-G) all its composing shapes together before moving on to
the next step.

Step 15

Create the phone’s bottom section, using a 24 x 16 px rectangle (#565560), which we will adjust by selecting
and pushing its bottom anchor points to the left side by 12 px using the Move tool (right click >
Transform > Move > Horizontal > – 12 px
). Give the resulting shape
a 4 px thick outline (#3F3330),
grouping (Control-G) and then
positioning the two below the previous section.

Step 16

Add the device’s microphone insertion using an 8 x 2 px rounded rectangle (#3F3330) with a 1 px Corner Radius, which we will position 2 px away from the current section’s bottom
edge, making sure to select and group (Control-G)
all its composing shapes together afterwards.

Step 17

Create the phone’s “chin”, using a smaller 24 x 8 px rectangle (#E6E8EF) with a 4 px thick outline (#3F3330), which we
will group (Control-G) and then
position below the larger bottom section.

Step 18

Add the bottom insertion using an 8
x 4 px
rectangle (#3F3330), which we will adjust by individually selecting
and pushing its top anchor points to the inside by 2 px using the Move tool (right click >
Transform > Move > Horizontal > + / – 2 px
depending on which side
you start with). Position the resulting shape in the center of the bottom edge,
selecting and grouping (Control-G)
all of the current section’s composing shapes together, doing the same for all
the other sections afterwards.

Step 19

Create the phone’s side section using a 32 x 94 px rectangle (#7C8ADD) with a 4 px thick outline (#3F3330), which we will group (Control-G) and then position on the
right side of the device, making sure to position them beneath its front
sections (right click > Arrange >
Send Backward
) as seen in the reference image.

Step 20

Add the vertical divider line using a 2 x 94 px rectangle (#3F3330), which we will position at a distance
of 4 px from the device’s front dial
section. Take your time, and once you’re done select and group (Control-G) all of the sections together
using the Control-G keyboard
shortcut.

Step 21

Start working on the antenna (yes, phones did have outer antennas at some
point), by creating its base using an 8
x 6 px
rectangle (#565560) with a 4
px
thick outline (#3F3330), which we will group (Control-G) and then position on top of the phone, at a distance of 10 px from its right edge.

Step 22

Add the main body using a 4 x 18
px
rectangle (#3F3330), which we will adjust by setting the Radius of its top corners to 2 px from within the Transform panel’s Rectangle Properties, positioning the resulting shape on top of the
base.

Step 23

Create the antenna’s center section using an 8 x 6 px rectangle (#3F3330), which we will adjust by individually
selecting and pushing its top anchor points to the inside by 2 px using the Move tool (right click >
Transform > Move > Horizontal > + / – 2 px
depending on which side
you start with). Once you’re done, position the resulting shape on top of the
base, selecting and grouping (Control-G)
all of the antenna’s composing shapes together.

Step 24

Finish off the icon by drawing the two side detail lines using a 4 px tall 2 px thick Stroke line
(#3F3330), followed by a larger 16
px
tall 2 px thick one (#3F3330),
which we will vertically stack at a distance of 4 px from one another, grouping (Control-G) and then positioning the two onto the left side of the
phone. Take your time, and once you’re done, don’t forget to select and group (Control-G) all the composing sections
before moving on to the next one.

finishing off the first icon

6. How to Create the Nokia Communicator
Phone

Assuming you’ve finished working on the
first icon, move on up to the next layer (that would be the third one), where
we’ll start working on the iconic Nokia Communicator.

Step 1

Create the background
using a copy (Control-C) of the one
from the previous icon, which we will paste onto the current layer (Control-F) and then center align to our
second active drawing area. Once you’re done, make sure to lock the first
icon’s layer, before moving on to the next step.

Step 2

Create the side
section of the phone’s bottom half, using an 80 x 40 px Rounded Rectangle (#7C8ADD) with an 8 px Corner Radius and a 4
px
thick outline (#3F3330), which we will group (Control-G) and then position onto the foreground, at a distance of 14 px from the active drawing area’s
right edge.

Step 3

Add the rectangular
insertion using a 4 x 12 px rectangle
which we will color using #3F3330 and then center align to the larger
section’s right edge.

Step 4

Create the front
section using a copy (Control-C) of
the one that we’ve just finished working on, which we will paste in front (Control-F) and then adjust by setting
the color of its fill shape to #828293, pushing the two shapes to the left by 8 px using the Move tool (right click > transform > Move > Horizontal > -8 px).

Step 5

Start working on the
buttons by creating the first row using five 8 x 4 px rounded rectangles (#3F3330) with a 2 px Corner Radius, which we will space horizontally 2 px from one another, grouping (Control-G) and then positioning them at
a distance of 6 px from the front
section’s left edge and 4 px from
its top one.

Step 6

Create the second row
using six 8 x 4 px rounded
rectangles (#3F3330) with a 2 px Corner
Radius
, which we will group (Control-G)
and then position at a distance of 4 px from
the active drawing area’s left edge and 2
px
from the previously created row.

Step 7

Add the third row,
using a copy (Control-C > Control-F)
of the first one, which we will position below the second one, maintaining the
same 2 px gap.

Step 8

Create the fourth
button row, using a copy (Control-C >
Control-F
) of the second one, which we will position at a distance of 2 px from the bottom one, making sure
to remove its last button by selecting it using the Direct Selection Tool (A) and then pressing Delete.

Step 9

Add the fifth and
final button row, using three 8 x 4 px rounded
rectangles (#3F3330) with a 2 px Corner Radius, followed by a 14 x 4 px one (#3F3330), which we will
position as seen in the reference image.

Step 10

Add the circular
button using a 4 x 4 px circle (#3F3330),
which we will position 2
px
from the first row’s right side.

Step 11

Create the larger
button, using an 8 x 10 px rounded
rectangle (#3F3330), with a 2 px Corner
Radius
, which we will adjust by setting the Radius of its top-left corner to 4 px from within the Transform
panel’s Rectangle Properties.
Once you’re done, bottom align the resulting shape to the second row,
positioning it 2 px from
its right edge.

Step 12

Start working on the
phone’s D-pad, by creating a 16 x 16 px circle
(#3F3330), which we will position at a distance of 2 px from the front section’s bottom edge and 4 px from its right one.

Step 13

Create a smaller 8 x 8 px circle (#828293),
which we will position on top of the one from the previous step.

Step 14

Separate the D-pad’s
buttons, using two 2 px thick
diagonal Stroke lines (#828293),
which we will position onto the smaller circle as seen in the reference image.

Step 15

Finish off the D-pad by adding its center section using a 4 x
4 px
circle (#3F3330), making sure to select and group (Control-G) all its composing shapes
together, doing the same for all the other buttons afterwards.

Step 16

Finish off the
current section by adding the bottom insertion using a 16 x 4 px rectangle (#3F3330), which we will center align to its
bottom edge. Once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) all of the front section’s composing shapes, doing the
same for the phone’s entire bottom half.

Step 17

Create the upper
half’s side section, using an 80 x 40 px
rounded rectangle (#7C8ADD), with an 8
px Corner Radius
and a 4 px thick
outline (#3F3330), which we will group (Control-G)
and then position on top of the phone’s bottom half, at a distance of 16 px from the active drawing area’s
right edge.

Step 18

Create the phone’s front
section, using another 80 x 40 px
rounded rectangle (#A3A3AD) with an 8 px
Corner Radius
and a 4 px thick
outline (#3F3330), which we will group (Control-G)
and then left align to the underlying bottom half.

Step 19

Add the phone’s screen
section using a 48 x 24 px rectangle
(#565560) with a 4 px thick outline
(#3F3330), which we will group (Control-G)
and then center align to its upper half’s front section.

Step 20

Create the up and down
arrow keys using two 8 x 6 px rectangles
(#3F3330), which we will adjust by setting the Radius of its outer corners to 4
px
and its inner facing ones to 2 px
from within the Transform panel’s Rectangle Properties. Vertically stack
the resulting shapes at a distance of 4
px
from one another, grouping (Control-G)
and then positioning them onto the left side of the screen.

Step 21

Create the right
buttons using three 8 x 4 px ellipses
(#3F3330), which we will vertically stack at a distance of 2 px from one another, which we will then group (Control-G) and position onto the
opposite side of the screen.

Step 22

Finish off the
current section by adding the little insertion using a 12 x 4 px rectangle (#3F3330), which we will center align to its
top edge. Take your time, and once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) all its composing shapes,
doing the same for the entire upper half.

Step 23

Add the center
connecting piece using a 44 x 8 px rounded
rectangle (#3F3330) with a 4 px Corner
Radius
, which we will position in the center of the intersection point of the top and bottom
halves.

Step 24

Start working on the device’s antenna by
creating its lower body using a 6 x 24
px
rectangle (#565560) with a 3 px bottom
Corner Radius and a 4 px thick outline (#3F3330) with a Round Join, which we will group (Control-G) and then position at a
distance of 14 px from the active
drawing area’s right edge and 22 px from
its top one.

Step 25

Add the antenna’s horizontal divider line using
a 6 x 4 px rectangle (#3F3330),
which we will position at a distance of 2
px
from its lower body’s top edge.

Step 26

Create the antenna’s upper body using a 6 x 24 px rectangle (#3F3330) with a 3 px top Corner Radius, which we will position on top of its lower body.
Once you’re done, make sure to select
and group (Control-G) all of its
composing shapes together, doing the same for the entire phone afterwards.

Step 27

As we did with the first icon, we’re going to
finish off the current one by adding the two vertical detail lines to the right
side of the phone’s body, making sure to select and group (Control-G) all its composing sections before moving on to the next
one.

finishing off the second icon

7. How to Create the iPhone

We are now down to our third and last
icon, so without wasting any more time, make sure you’re on the right layer
(that would be the fourth one) and let’s start working on one of the iterations of the device that changed the entire phone industry!

Step 1

Kick things off by creating the repeating
background using a copy (Control-C)
of one of the other icons, which we will paste (Control-F) onto the current layer and then center align to the
third reference grid.

Step 2

Create the phone’s
side section, using a 60 x 114 px rounded
rectangle (#7C8ADD) with an 8 px Corner
Radius
and a 4 px thick outline
(#3F3330), which we will group (Control-G)
and then position onto the foreground at a distance of 26 px from the active drawing area’s right edge and 2 px from its top one.

Step 3

Add the top button using
a 16 x 4 px rectangle (#3F3330),
which we will position on top of the larger side section, at a distance of 12 px from its right edge.

Step 4

Add the little antenna
lines using two 6 x 4 px rectangles
(#3F3330), which we will align to the side section’s right edge, positioning
them at a distance of 8 px from its
top and bottom edge.

Step 5

Create the side button
using a 7 x 12 px rounded rectangle
(#3F3330) with a 2 px Corner Radius,
which we will position at a distance of 12
px
from the top antenna line and 24
px
from the active drawing area’s right edge. Once you’re done, select and
group (Control-G) all of the current
section’s composing shapes before moving on to the next step.

Step 6

Add the phone’s front
section using a 60 x 114 px rounded
rectangle (#E6E8EF) with an 8 px Corner
Radius
and a 4 px thick outline
(#3F3330), which we will group (Control-G),
and then position at a distance of 24 px
from the active drawing area’s left edge.

Step 7

Create the screen using
a 48 x 82 px rectangle (#565560)
with a 4 px thick outline (#3F3330),
which we will group (Control-G) and
then center align to the device’s front section.

Step 8

Add the front facing
camera using a 2 x 2 px circle (#3F3330),
which we will center align to the phone’s front section, positioning it 2 px from its top edge.

Step 9

Create the earpiece
insertion using a 12 x 2 px rounded
rectangle (#3F3330) with a 1 px Corner
Radius
, which we will position below the front facing camera, at a distance
of just 2 px.

Step 10

Add the light sensor
using another 2 x 2 px circle (#3F3330),
which we will position onto the left side of the earpiece, at a distance of
just 2 px, selecting and grouping (Control-G) all three detail shapes
together afterwards.

Step 11

Create the phone’s circular button using an 8 x 8 px circle, which we will color
using #3F3330 and then center align. Take your time, and once
you’re done, select and group (Control-G)
all of the front section’s composing shapes together, doing the same for the
entire phone afterwards.

Step 12

Finish off the icon by adding the two vertical
detail lines, making sure to select and group (Control-G) all its composing sections before saving the project
file.

finishing off the third icon

Radios Off!

There you have it—a nice little tutorial
on how to create your very own communication themed icons, using nothing more
than the basic shapes and tools found within Illustrator. As always, I hope you’ve managed to keep up with each and every step and learned something
new during the process.

finished project preview

Go to original Source
Author: Andrei Stefan

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