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How to Create a Set of Car Icons in Affinity Designer

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

In today’s
tutorial, we’re going to take a close look at the process of creating a set
of car icons in Affinity Designer, using nothing more than some basic geometric shapes that we will
adjust here and there.

Also, don’t forget you can always expand your vector library by heading over to Envato Elements where you’ll find a great selection of car-themed icons.

So, assuming you already have Affinity Designer running in the
background, bring it up and let’s get started!

1. How to Set Up a
New Project File

As always, we’re
going to start by setting up a New
Document
, by heading over to File
> New
(or by using the Control-N
keyboard shortcut) which we will adjust as follows:

  • Type:
    Web
  • Document
    Units:
    Pixels
  • Create
    artboard:
    checked
  • Transparent
    Background:
    checked
  • Page
    Width:
    128 px
  • Page
    Height:
    128 px
  • DPI: 72
setting up a new document

2. How to Set Up the Artboards

Once we’ve created the document, we need
to take a couple of moments and structure our project using a couple of
Artboards, one for each icon, in order to maintain a clear and steady workflow.

Step 1

To do this, simply select the default
Artboard from within the Layers
panel, and then create a copy by either right
clicking > Duplicate
(or by using the Control-J keyboard shortcut), renaming them both afterwards as
follows:

  • first
    artboard:
    front view
  • second artboard: side view
setting up the artboards

Step 2

Since we don’t want
the Artboards to overlap, we’ll need to select both of them from
within the Layers panel (making sure
to start with the bottom one) and then open up the Arrange panel. Here, we’re going to use the Align Horizontally’s Space
Horizontally
option, making sure to uncheck Auto Distribute and enter a custom value of 64 px.

distancing the artboards

Quick tip:
by default, you can select and move any of the Artboards using the Move Tool (V), but as soon as you
position a shape on top of them, they will automatically lock into place.

If you want to make sure that you won’t move them by accident, you can
manually lock them from within the Layers
panel by using the little Lock/Unlock toggle, but this will also lock all the shapes that are positioned on
top of them, which means if you need to select them, you’ll have to do so from
within the Layers panel.

example of locking the artboards

3. 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 to work with.

Step 1

Position yourself
on the first Artboard, and using the Rectangle
Tool (M)
create a 128 x 128 px square,
which we will color using #F15A24 and then center align as seen in the reference image.

creating the main reference surface

Step 2

Add a smaller 112 x 112 px square, which we will
color using white (#FFFFFF) and then position in the center of the Artboard
since it will act as our active drawing area, giving us an all-around 8 px protective padding.

adding the active drawing area

Step 3

Select and group the two
squares together using the Control-G
keyboard shortcut, making sure to name them using the “reference grid”
label and then populate the remaining Artboard using a copy (Control-C > Control-V) of the one
that we’ve just finished working on. Take your time, and once you’re done, move
on to the next step.

adding the remaining reference grids

4. How to Create
the Front View Icon

As soon as we’ve
finished setting up our project file, we can position ourselves on the first
Artboard, and then zoom in on its reference grid so that we can have a better
view of the shapes that we’re going to be creating.

Step 1

We’re going to start by creating the tires using two 24 x 8 px rectangles, which we will
color using #443630 and then center align to the active drawing area’s bottom
edge, positioning them at a distance of 4
px
from its outer ones.

creating the main shapes for the tires

Step 2

Adjust the shapes that we’ve just created, by individually selecting each and every one of them
and then unchecking the Single Radius
option found within the top context toolbar. Set its bottom-left (BL) and bottom-right (BR) corners to Rounded, giving them both an absolute value of 4 px afterwards.

adjusting the shapes of the tires

Step 3

Create the main shape for the front bumper using a 108 x 16 px rectangle, which we will color using #D3622F and then
position on top of the tires, making sure to center align it to the underlying active
drawing area.

creating the main shape for the front bumper

Step 4

Adjust the shape by cutting out a 52
x 4 px
rectangle (highlighted with green) from the center of the previous
shape’s bottom edge using the Subtract
operation.

adding the cutout to the front bumper

Step 5

Continue adjusting the shape, by individually selecting each of the
resulting cutout’s top nodes using the Node
Tool (A)
and then pushing them to the inside by 4 px using the Transform panel, by simply entering +/- 4 px in its X
input box, depending on which side you start with.

adjusting the shape of the front bumper

Step 6

Add the number plate using a 28 x
8 px
rectangle (#443630), which we will position in the center of the
cutout’s top edge.

adding the number plate

Step 7

Create the right-sided cutouts using three #443630 colored rectangles (12 x 4 px for the bottom one, 12 x 2 px for the top one and another 12 x 4 px one for the inner one), which
we will position as seen in the reference image.

adding the main shapes for the right bumper cutouts

Step 8

Add the subtle highlights using three 1 px tall rectangles (#FFFFFF) which we will position below the
cutouts, making sure to lower their Opacity
levels afterwards to 24%. Once
you’re done, select and group each cutout with its own highlight using the Control-G keyboard shortcut, doing the
same for all three of them afterwards.

adding the highlights to the right bumper cutouts

Step 9

Add the left-sided cutouts using a copy (Control-C > Control-V) of the ones that we’ve just finished
working on, which we will horizontally reflect (right click > Transform > Flip Horizontal) and then position on the opposite side of the bumper.

adding the left sided cutouts to the front bumper

Step 10

Add the side detail lines using two groups of three 4 x 2 px rectangles (#443630), vertically stacked 2 px from one another, which we will
position on the bumper’s sides, as seen in the reference image.

adding the side lines to the front bumper

Step 11

Create the bumper’s upper lip using a 112 x 4 px rectangle (#443630), which
we will stack on top of its main body.

adding the upper lip to the front bumper

Step 12

Finish off the current section by adding the subtle shadow using a 108 x 2 px rectangle (#443630) with a 28% Opacity, which we will position below the shape that we created
a few moments ago. Once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) all of the bumper’s composing shapes together before
moving on to the next step.

adding the subtle shadow to the front bumper

Quick tip: as we go along, I recommend grouping and naming
the different sections of the car so that if you need to select and adjust them
later on, you can easily do so by opening up the Layers panel and looking at the labels.

example of renaming groups using custom labels

Step 13

Start working on the car’s front end by creating a 104 x 24 px rectangle, which we will color using #F27B40 and then
position on top of the bumper’s lip.

creating the main shape for the front section of the car

Step 14

Add the main shape for the front grill using a 96 x 16 px rectangle (#443630), which we will center align to the
previously created shape using the Arrange
panel’s Align Center and Align Middle options.

adding the grill to the front section of the car

Step 15

Create the horizontal detail lines using eight 96 x 1 px rectangles (#665049), vertically stacked 1 px from one another, which we will
group (Control-G) and then position
onto the previous shape as seen in the reference image. Once you have the
shapes in place, select them and the larger underlying shape and group (Control-G) them together as well.

adding the horizontal detail lines to the front grill

Step 16 

Add the front grill covers using two 8 x 8 px squares (#443630) positioned 4 px from one another, which we will
first convert to curves using the Convert
to Curves
button in order to be able to reposition their nodes. 

Once you’ve
finished converting them to curves, quickly adjust them by individually
selecting their outer bottom nodes using the Node Tool (A), and then pushing them to the inside by 2 px using the keyboard’s
directional arrow keys, grouping (Control-G)
and then positioning them as seen in the reference image.

creating the front grill covers

Step 17

Create the main shape for the larger right-sided headlight using a 12 x 12 px circle, which we will color
using #F9DDD2 and then center align to the front grill, positioning it 8 px from the section’s
left edge.

creating the larger headlight

Step 18

Add the top highlight using a copy (Control-C
> Control-V
) of the shape that we’ve just created, which we will adjust
by first changing its color to white (#FFFFFF) and then removing its bottom
half, as seen in the reference image. 

Then add the inner highlight using a
smaller 4 x 4 px circle (#FFFFFF),
which we will position in the center of the larger underlying one, making sure
to select and group all three shapes together afterwards using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

adding details to the larger headlight

Step 19

Add the smaller light following the same process, using an 8 x 8 px circle (#F9DDD2) for the main
shape followed by a 2 x 2 px one
(#FFFFFF) for the center highlight. Take your time, and once you’re done, select
and group (Control-G) all three
shapes together, positioning them 4 px from the larger light’s right edge. 

Before you move on to the
next step, make sure you select and group the two lights together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

adding the smaller headlight

Step 20

Create the left-sided headlights using a copy (Control-C > Control-V) of the ones that we’ve just finished
working on, which we will horizontally reflect (right click > Transform > Flip Horizontal) and then position
on the opposite side of the grill at a distance of 8 px from its right edge.

adding the left sided headlights

Step 21

Add the sidelights using two 2 x
12 px
rectangles (#443630), which we will position on the outer edges of
the car’s front, as seen in the reference image.

adding the side lights to the front of the car

Step 22

Create the hood’s nose using a 16 x 2 px rectangle, which we will
color using #F27B40 and then center align to the grill’s top edge.

adding the nose to the front of the car

Step 23

Give the lower section of the grill a subtle
highlight using a 96 x 2 px rectangle
(#FFFFFF) with a 24% Opacity, doing
the same for the car’s front section using a slightly wider 104 x 2 px rectangle (#FFFFFF).

adding the subtle highlights to the front of the car

Step 24

Finish off the current section by creating two 4 x 4 px circles (#443630), which we
will position on the bumper’s upper lip, as seen in the reference image. Once
you’re done, select and group all of its composing shapes together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

adding the circular details to the upper lip of the front bumper

Step 25

Create the hood using a 104 x 4 px rectangle (#D3622F), which we will first convert to
curves using the Convert to Curves
button and then adjust by individually selecting and pushing its top nodes to
the inside by 12 px.
Once you’re done, position the resulting shape on top of the front section’s
main body.

adding the hood to the front section of the car

Step 26

Add the little scoop using a 12 x 2 px rectangle (#443630), which we
will center align to the hood’s main body. Once you have the shape in place,
select and group the two together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

adding the hood scoop to the front section of the car

Step 27

Create the main shape for the car’s upper section using an 80 x 32 px rectangle (#F27B40), which
we will convert to curves and then adjust by individually selecting and pushing
its top nodes to the inside by 4 px, positioning the resulting shape on top of the hood.

creating the upper section for the front section of the car

Step 28

Add the windshield using a smaller 76
x 30 px
rectangle (#443630), which we will convert to curves and adjust as
we did with the previous shape by individually selecting and pushing its top
nodes to the inside by 4
px
. Then center align it to the larger section’s bottom edge,
making sure to select and group (Control-G)
them together using the Control-G
keyboard shortcut.

adding the windshield to the front section of the car

Step 29

Create the bottom window details using two groups of two 2 x 2 px circles (#443630) positioned 4 px from one another, as seen in the reference image. Once you’re done, select
and group (Control-G) all of the
current section’s composing shapes before moving on to the next step.

adding the circular details to the upper section of the car

Step 30

Create the side mirrors using a 2
x 12 px
rectangle (#443630) for their vertical section followed by an 8 x 8 px square (#443630) for their outer shell,
which we will group (Control-G) and
then position on the car’s upper section as seen in the reference image,
making sure to push them to the back afterwards (right click > Arrange > Move to Back).

adding the side mirrors to the front section of the car

Step 31

Start working on the spoiler by creating its
main body using a 104 x 4 px
rectangle (#D3622F), which we will center align to the window, positioning it 2 px from its
bottom edge.

adding the spoiler to the front section of the car

Step 32

Add the top highlights using a 104 x 2 px rectangle (#FFFFFF) with a 24% Opacity, followed by the spoiler’s side sections using two 4 x 2
px
rectangles (#D3622F), which we will position below its outer edges. Once
you’re done, select and group all four shapes together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut, making
sure to position them behind the car’s upper section afterwards (right click > Arrange > Move to Back).

adding details to the spoiler

Step 33

Finish off the icon, by adding the little
antenna using a 1 x 24 px rectangle
(#443630), which we will position as seen in the reference image. Once you’re done, select and group all of the car’s composing shapes together
using the Control-G keyboard
shortcut, before moving on to the next one.

finishing off the front view car icon

5. How to Create the Side View Icon

Now that we’ve finished working on the front view of our little car icon,
we can move on to the second Artboard, where we will gradually build the side
view one.

Step 1

Start by creating the main shape for the
windshield using a 40 x 32 px rectangle
(#443630), which we will convert to curves and then adjust by selecting and
pushing its top-right node to the inside by 38 px. Take your time, and once you’re done, align the resulting
shape to the active drawing area’s left edge, positioning it 24 px from its top one.

creating the windshield for the side view

Step 2

Add the upper section of the metal frame using a
40 x 2 px rectangle (#F27B40), which
we will align to the previous shape’s top-left corner and then mask by opening
up the Layers panel and simply
dragging it over the larger windshield.

masking the upper frame section of the windshield

Step 3

Create the frame for the side window using a 32 x 32 px square (#F27B40), which we
will convert to curves and then adjust by selecting its top-right node using
the Node Tool (A) and then
immediately removing it by pressing Delete.
Once you’re done, align the resulting shape to the windshield’s bottom-left
corner, as seen in the reference image.

creating the frame section for the side window

Step 4 

Add the actual window using a 28 x 28 px rectangle (#443630), which
we will adjust by removing its top-right node as we did with the previous
larger one, making sure to align it to the underlying shape’s bottom-left corner.

creating the main shape for the side window

Step 5

Create the mirror plate using a 12 x 12 px square (#F27B40), which we
will align to the side window’s bottom-right node, making sure to mask it
afterwards by simply dragging it over the larger shape within the Layers panel.

creating the mirror plate

Step 6

Add the actual mirror using a 4 x 8 px rectangle (#443630), which we
will adjust by first unchecking the Single
radius
option, and then setting both its top-right (TR) and bottom-right (BR)
corners to an absolute value of 2 px,
positioning the resulting shape as seen in the reference image.

creating the side mirror

Step 7

Finish off the current section by adding the
circular detail using a 4 x 4 px circle
(#443630), which we will position to the center of the windshield’s
bottom-right node. Once you’re done, make sure you select and group it and all
the other shapes together using the Control-G
keyboard shortcut, before moving on to the car’s next section.

adding the circular detail to the windshield

Step 8

Create the main shape for the car’s lower body
using a 112 x 32 px rectangle (#F27B40),
which we will convert to curves and then adjust by adding a few nodes
positioning them as seen in the reference image. Take your time, and once you’re
done, move on to the next step.

creating the main shape for the lower body of the car

Step 9

Add the subtle highlight using two copies (Control-C > Control-V twice) of the
resulting shape, pushing the top one to the bottom by a distance of 4 px, and then cutting it out from the
first copy using the Subtract
operation. Color the resulting shape using white (#FFFFFF), making sure to
lower its Opacity level to 24%.

adding the subtle highlight to the lower body of the car

Step 10

Create the hood scoop using a 24 x 4 px rectangle (#D3622F), which we
will position as seen in the reference image, making sure to stack it
underneath the car’s main body afterwards (right
click > Arrange > Back One
a few times).

adding the hood scoop to the side section of the car

Step 11

Add the door handle using an 8 x 2 px rectangle (#443630) followed
by the little keyhole using a 2 x 2 px circle
(#443630), which we will vertically stack 1 px from one another, positioning them below the subtle highlight.

adding the door handle and key hole

Step 12

Create the sidelight using an 8 x 2 px rectangle, which we will color
using #443630 and then position as seen in the reference image.

adding the side light

Step 13

Add the main shape for the fender using a 52 x 52 px circle (#D3622F), which we will adjust by removing its
bottom half, positioning the resulting shape 18 px from the active drawing area’s
right edge and 20 px from its
bottom one.

creating the main shape for the fender

Step 14

Create the front bumper’s lip using a 44 x 4 px rectangle (#443630), which we will align to the larger
body’s bottom-right node.

adding the bumper lip to the side of the car

Step 15

Add the side lip using a 68 x 2
px
rectangle, which we will color using #443630 and then position as seen
in the reference image.

creating the side lip

Step 16

Create the smaller detail using a 2
x 2 px
circle (#443630), which we will position on the side lip’s top
edge, at a distance of 2
px
from the fender.

adding the circular detail to the side lip

Step 17

Add the bottom shape for the lower body using a 110 x 12 px rectangle, which we will color using #D3622F and then
position below the side lip.

adding the bottom shape to the lower body of the car

Step 18

Give the shape that we’ve just created a subtle shadow using a 110 x 2 px rectangle (#443630) with a 28% Opacity, which we will center align
to its top edge.

adding the subtle shadow to the lower body of the car

Step 19

Add the little rectangular details using an 8 x 2 px rectangle (#443630) for the
left insertion, followed by three 8 x 2
px
ones (#443630) vertically stacked 2 px from one another for the bumper. Take your time, and once you’re done, select and group the bumper details together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut, before
moving on to the next step.

adding the rectangular details to the side of the car

Step 20

Create the lower section of the front bumper
using a 42 x 4 px rectangle (#D3622F),
followed by the side skirt using a 68 x
4 px
one (#443630), which we will position below the car as seen in the
reference image.

adding the lower bumper section

Step 21

Add the subtle shadows to the bumper’s detail lines using three 6 x 2 px rectangles (#443630) with a 28% Opacity, which we will position between its main shapes as seen in the reference image, making sure to select
and group them afterwards using the Control-G
keyboard shortcut.

adding the subtle shadows to the bumper lines

Step 22

Create the underneath details using a 24 x 2 px rectangle (#443630) for the
left one, which we will convert to curves, and then adjust by selecting and
pushing its bottom-left node to the inside by 2 px

Add the right detail using a 24 x 4 px rectangle (#443630), which we
will adjust by adding a new node to the center of its right edge by simply
clicking on it using the Node Tool (A),
and then selecting and pushing its bottom-right one to the inside by 8 px.

adding the underneath details to the side of the car

Step 23

Add the cutout for the wheel using a 44 x 44 px circle (#443630), which we
will adjust by removing its bottom half, and then extend to the bottom using a 44 x 12 px rectangle (#443630), making
sure to unite the two shapes into a single larger one using the Add operation. Once you’re done,
position the resulting shape on the fender, as seen in the reference image.

adding the wheel cutout

Step 24

Create the main shape for the tire using a 40 x 40 px circle (#443630), which we
will center align to the larger cutout, positioning it 2 px from its top node.

creating the tire for the side view

Step 25

Start working on the rim by creating its main
body using a 32 x 32 px circle (#F9DDD2)
which we will center align to the larger tire. With the shape in place, create
a subtle highlight using a copy (Control-C
> Control-V
) which we will adjust by removing its bottom half, making
sure to set its color to #FFFFFF. Add the darker section using a 28 x 28 px circle (#443630), followed
by the inner lighter one using a smaller 16 x 16 px one (#F9DDD2).

creating the main shapes for the rim

Step 26

Add the spokes using four 22 px tall 4 pt thick Stroke lines (#F9DDD2), which we will
adjust by rotating some of them by 45º as seen in the reference image. Once you’re done, group (Control-G) and then mask the resulting
shapes using a 20 x 20 px circle,
making sure to remove its Fill color
in order to make it see-through.

creating the spokes

Step 27

Finish off the rim by adding the inner darker
section using an 8 x 8 px circle (#CCAEA8),
followed by the bolt using a smaller 4 x
4 px
one (#443630), which we will center align to the wheel’s main body.
Once you’re done, select and group all of the rim’s composing shapes together
using the Control-G keyboard
shortcut.

finishing off the wheel

Step 28

Add the side skirt’s upper detail using a 4 x 4 px square (#443630), which we
will convert to curves and then adjust by selecting its top-left node using
the Node Tool (A), and then
immediately removing it by pressing Delete.
Once you’re done, you can select and group (Control-G) all of the wheel’s composing shapes together as we did
with the rim.

adding the detail to the side skirt

Step 29

Finish off the icon, and with it the project itself, by adding the little
antenna (which we’ve pushed towards the front for this view) using a 1 x 56 px rectangle (#443630), which we
will position at a distance of 4 px from
the mirror, making sure to position it behind the car’s upper body (right click > Arrange > Back One a
few times).

finishing off the side view car icon

Great Work!

As always, I hope you had fun working on the project but most importantly
managed to learn something new and useful in the process.

That being said, if you have any questions, feel
free to post them within the comments section and I’ll get back to you as soon
as I can!

finished project preview

Expand Your Affinity Designer Skills!

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