Inspired by the latest developments in space exploration, we will draw trendy space icons in a flat style with a long shadow effect, using simple shapes and contour operations.
1. Draw a rocket
Below you can see the palette of colors that we will use. I used muted tones to create a retro effect that blends well with the flat style. You can save this palette to your computer, then open it in Photoshop and select the desired color using the tool. Eyedropper Tool (I) (Pipette) or on the fill fill panel.
First, create a foundation. The icons will be round, so on the toolbar we activate Ellipse Tool (U) (Oval). Click with the mouse on the working canvas to call the dialog box for creating a circle, enter the width and height of the shape – 512 x 512 pixels. Now we have a base circle. Let’s fill it with a dark blue color, reminiscent of cosmic expanses. Tool Ellipse Tool (U) (Oval) is still active, go to the tool parameter panel and find the button Fill (Fill). Clicking on the button will open the color panel, where you can choose one of the standard colors or click on the multicolor rectangle to set your shade.
Now we need to create a base for the rocket. In the center of the circle create an elongated oval. Activate Direct Selection Tool (A) (Direct selection) and click on the edge of the oval to make its contour and anchor points visible. Switch to the tool Convert Point Tool (P) (Convert anchor point) (it is in the same place as Pen Tool (P) (Pen)) and click on the upper anchor point to make a sharp angle.
The rocket base is still active, go to the top toolbar and select Intersect Shape Areas (Area of intersection of figures). Then take Rectangle Tool (U) (Rectangle) and draw a rectangle that overlaps most of the rocket, except for the bottom. As a result of these actions, everything outside the rectangle will be invisible. So we cut off the bottom of the rectangle.
Let’s slightly shade half the rocket. First, activate the guides View – Show – Smart Guides (View – Show – Quick Guides), they will help in the exact placement of all objects. Create a light gray rectangle so that it overlaps the right side of the rocket.
Now we have to remove the extra part of the rectangle that goes beyond the rocket. The following actions may seem confusing, but you just need to do everything clearly according to the instructions, and then there will be no problems.
First, hold down the Ctrl key and click on the thumbnail of the layer with the rocket on the layers panel. Having done this, a selection will appear around the rocket in the form of marching ants. Then we go to the layer with the rectangle and click on the icon Add Layer Mask (Add layer mask) at the bottom of the layers panel. Thus, everything outside the selection will be hidden with a mask.
Take Ellipse Tool (U) (Oval) and create a rocket porthole. Then draw the glass. Press Ctrl + J to duplicate the window with the porthole. Then press Ctrl + T to transform the shape. Move to the top parameter panel and set Width (Width) and Height (Height) at 70%.
Fill the glass window with a pale gray-blue color, trying not to move away from the shades of our palette. Then at the bottom of the rocket we draw the injector using the tool Rounded Rectangle Tool (U) (Rounded Rectangle).
Now let’s draw the rocket stabilizers. Start by creating a red circle, then using the tool. Direct Selection Tool (A) (Direct Selection) pull the lower anchor point down to extend the circle shape. Then click on the reference point tool Convert Point Tool (P) (Convert anchor point) to create an acute angle.
Hit Ctrl + T, slightly rotate the stabilizer and place it behind the rocket. Then press Ctrl + J to duplicate the stabilizer and go Edit – Transform – Flip Horizontal (Editing – Transformation – Flip Horizontally). Hold down the Shift key and move the reflected copy to the opposite side of the rocket.
We draw the third stabilizer on the front of the rocket and compress it using free transformation (Ctrl + T).
Now we will create a trendy long shadow effect. Let’s start by drawing a black rectangle, then on the layers panel we reduce its opacity to 50%. Activate the free transformation (Ctrl + T) and rotate the rectangle 45 degrees.
We stretch the rectangle so that it covers the entire area of the rocket, as shown in the picture below.
Place the rectangle behind the rocket. Now we need to remove the left side of the rectangle that goes beyond the rocket. Take the tool Add Anchor Point Tool (P) (Add reference point) (located in the same menu as Pen Tool (P) (Pen)) and add two anchor points on the rectangle. We put one point in the place where the rectangle intersects with the lower tip of the left stabilizer, and the second – at the intersection point of the rectangle and the right half of our rocket.
Now with the help Direct Selection Tool (A) (Direct Selection) we can move the unnecessary reference points and hide them behind the rocket.
Here is another simple way to hide the extra part of the shadow, which is outside the circular base of the icon. Go to the layer with the shadow and press Ctrl + Alt + G to convert it into a clipping mask.
Choose a shadow, take Rectangle Tool (U) (Rectangle) and change the fill color to a linear gradient from black to white. At the top of the layers panel, change the shadow blending mode to Multiply (Multiplication) so that it blends well with the base.
Let’s add a couple more small details. Take Ellipse Tool (U) (Oval) and create a red oval at the top of the rocket. Select the layers with oval and base, Ellipse Tool (U) (Oval) should be active, right-click to bring up the context menu. Choose Unite Shapes at Overlap (Combine the figures in the overlay) to hide the excess, thereby forming the front of the rocket. And finally, add a simple highlight on the window using a light blue color.
Over the entire area of the base we draw round stars with a pale yellow color.
2. Draw a striped planet
Now we have the basic skills of working in Photoshop and can speed up the further process of creating icons, since we will use the same operations. Let’s move on to the next icon – a planet with a ring of asteroids.
We start by creating a pale yellow circle on top of the blue base. Then using Rectangular Tool (U) (Rectangle) create a group of horizontal lines of different widths and shades, place them close to each other. You can group the lines (select the layers and press Ctrl + G) and rotate the whole group diagonally to add the dynamics of our planet.
Now we have to get rid of the extra ends of the lines. Choose the basis of the planet, take Ellipse Tool (U) (Oval) and right click on our icon. From the context menu, select Make Selection (Create selection) and in the opened window click OK, leaving all the default settings.
When marching ants appear, select the group with lines and click on the icon Add Layer Mask (Add layer mask) at the bottom of the layers panel. Thus, we have hidden all the extra details.
Let’s add volume to the planet by drawing a shadow on the right side. Duplicate the base of the planet and place a copy above all layers, move it slightly to the left. Select the base of the planet and a copy and select Subtract Front Shape (Subtract the front figure). Change the blending mode to Screen (Lightening) and reduce opacity (Opacity) up to 40%, making the planet a little lighter, and thus creating a shadow.
Now draw a ring of asteroids. Create a flattened oval and enable the function Subtract Front Shape (Subtract the front figure). Then inside the previous oval we create a new one, thus forming a hole.
It is necessary to remove the part of the ring, which must be behind the planet. Create an oval covering the upper part of the planet and the part of the ring that we need to hide (the figure with the red outline in the image below). Select the layers with the created oval and the base of the planet and select Unite Shapes at Overlap (Combine the figures in the overlay).
Click the right button on the figure with a red stroke and select Make Selection (Create selection). Then go Select – Inverse (Selection – Invert).
Without removing the selection, select the layer with the ring and click on the button Add Layer Mask (Add layer mask) at the bottom of the layers panel to hide extra areas.
Create a flat shadow using the same technique that we used in the first section.
And finally, draw the stars.
3. Draw a radio telescope with an antenna
Start by creating a black circle. In fact, the color doesn’t matter, since we don’t need the circle itself. On top of the circle create a red rectangle, overlapping approximately half. Load the selection circle using the command Make Selection (Create selection) (we used it above), then add a mask to the layer to hide the extra. Now we can remove the black circle, leaving only the red shape.
To slightly detail the telescope, fill the bottom of its base with a dark red color.
Now draw the antenna. To begin with, we create a vertical compressed oval on the right side of the telescope to form its inside. Next with the tool Polygon Tool (U) (Polygon) create a triangle and fill it with a light gray color. Pull it horizontally to make it thinner, and draw a small circle on the tip.
Slightly rotate the telescope so that it looks diagonally upward, transmitting signals into space. We draw another gray triangle at the base of the telescope. Inside it, cut a hole in the shape of the same triangle using the command Subtract Front Shape (Subtract the front figure).
Add a long shadow and a group of stars.
4. Draw a flying saucer
Let’s start with the formation of the top of the plate and create a circle. We need to remove its lower part with the help of an additional oval, which we create in the upper part of the circle. After creating a shape, use the command Unite Shapes at Overlap (Combine the figures in the overlay).
We draw a highlight on the plate and the lower part, which consists of two red ovals, one above the other. In the lower part under the ovals draw a gray rectangle.
Detail the plate by adding a light oval at the bottom and a few yellow lights on the red part.
Finish the icon by drawing a long shadow and stars.
5. We draw a telescope on a tripod
Let’s start with the formation of the basics of the elongated rectangle. Duplicate it (Ctrl + J) and compress the copy with Free transform (free transform) (Ctrl + T). Fill the bottom rectangle with a dark red color to get a neat shadow.
We draw the front part of the telescope, then we add a lens, for which we have to draw the oblate oval of a gray-blue color. Tool Convert Point Tool (P) (Convert anchor point) click on the upper and lower anchor points to get sharp corners.
Place the lens behind the front of the telescope by pressing the key combination Ctrl + Shuft + [, then in a light blue color draw a highlight.
We draw the eyepiece of our telescope by combining two gray rectangles. Then take Rounded Rectangle Tool (U) (Rounded triangle) and draw the legs of the telescope.
Adjust the tilt of the legs and draw a connecting part between them with a darker shade.
We turn the telescope so that it looks diagonally upwards. Draw a long shadow and stars.
6. Draw the moon in the clouds
We start by creating a yellow circle, then draw a smaller circle on top of it, placing it on the upper right side of the previous one. We use the command Subtract Front Shape (Subtract front figure) to form a crescent.
Now let’s take a look at the clouds, which will consist entirely of blue circles. Add several circles of different sizes to get a fluffy cloud. If the circles are on different layers, select them all and use the context menu to execute the command Unite Shapes (Combine shapes).
Now cut the bottom of the cloud using a rectangle that should be on top of the cloud, and the commands Subtract Front Shape (Subtract the front figure).
For the crescent draw another cloud, but smaller to add depth to the picture. Then we draw a long shadow and stars.
7. Create a cosmic background.
Now that we’ve finished with the icons, let’s create a background layer with a dark blue fill and distribute stars of different diameters over it. Then along the edges of the instrument Rounded Rectangle Tool (U) (Rounded Rectangle) add rectangles to make work more interesting.
Houston, we have no problem!
Great job friends! We have finished creating a set of modern icons in a flat style with a long shadow. I hope the knowledge gained will be useful to you in future projects. Good luck!