In this Adobe Photoshop icon creation tutorial, you will learn how to create a high-quality three-dimensional pen and paper icon from scratch. It entails simple Photoshop tools and commands, some crafty layer styles, and only needs basic knowledge of the Pen Tool, shape tools, and marquee selection tools to draw the shapes. This tutorial demonstrates how to create two icons (a piece of paper and a pencil), so don’t feel obliged to create both icons.

Preview

Pencil and Paper Icon in Photoshop

Resources

Step 1: Set up the document

Create a new Photoshop document (Ctrl/Cmd + N) with settings similar to the image below.

Step 1: Set up the document

For convenience, fill the default Background layer with a shade of gray by selecting the entire canvas (Ctrl/Cmd + A) and then using the Fill command (Ctrl/Cmd + F5).

Also, position some guides at the center of canvas to help you make symmetrical shapes.

Step 2: Create the paper icon

To maintain the document’s organization, create a new layer group that will contain the paper icon; you can name it "Document".

Set white (#ffffff) as your foreground color, then select the Rectangle Tool (U).

Create a white rectangle shape (use the following image as a guideline).

Create the paper icon

Give this rectangle shape layer a Drop Shadow layer style; you can do this by double-clicking on the shape layer in the Layers Panel, which will open the Layer Styles dialog window.

Create the paper icon

Also, add an Inner Glow layer style.

Create the paper icon

The third and last layer style you want to apply is a standard black-to-white- Gradient Overlay.

Create the paper icon

Create the paper icon

Step 3: Put some text on the paper

Grab the Horizontal Type Tool (T) and select a font of your choice. In this tutorial, I used a calligraphic-styled font called Adine Kirnberg Script.

In the Character Panel (Window > Character), set up your font settings as shown below.

Put some text on the paper

With the Horizontal Type Tool (T) still selected, click and drag a rectangle as illustrated in the following image; doing this defines the boundaries of our text.

Put some text on the paper

Next, paste (Ctrl/Cmd + V) some dummy text—such as Lorem Ipsum text or text that you have handy—inside the paper.

Put some text on the paper

When you are done with the text, go to Layer > Type > Convert to Shape.

Duplicate the text layer (Ctrl/Cmd + J) and reduce the duplicated text layer’s opacity to 40%.

Step 4: Use the Free Transform command on the "Document" layer group

Assuming that the paper and both text layers that we just created are all inside the "Document" layer group, choose said group in the Layers Panel.

With the "Document" layer group selected, go to Edit > Transform > Rotate. Rotate the document about 15o clockwise (CW).

Use the Free Transform command on the "Document" layer group

Step 5: Create the tip of the pencil

Now that we are done with the paper icon, it’s time to move onto the pencil icon. To keep organized and so that the paper icon does not distract you, hide the "Document" layer group and create a new layer group above it named "Pencil".

With the Pen Tool (P), create a triangular shape with its tip pointing downward like the one shown below.

Create the tip of the pencil

Next, add a Gradient Overlay layer style to the tip of the pencil.

Create the tip of the pencil

Also, add a Stroke layer style to the tip of the pencil.

Create the tip of the pencil

Create the tip of the pencil

Step 6: Make the wooden part of the pencil tip

Create a new layer and then use the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) to perform a rectangular selection on the new layer, positioned above the tip of the pencil on the canvas.

With the rectangular selection made, fill (Edit > Fill) the selected area with any color.

Make the wooden part of the pencil tip

To add color to the rectangular shape, we’ll use a Gradient Overlay layer style.

Make the wooden part of the pencil tip

Make the wooden part of the pencil tip

Next, create a new blank layer on top of the rectangular shape and then merge the two layers (Ctrl/Cmd + E). This flattens the shape so that when we transform it, the layer styles don’t shift.

With the merged layer selected, go to Edit > Transform > Perspective and drag any lower corner towards the middle to create a triangular shape.

Make the wooden part of the pencil tip

Step 7: Draw the shaft of the pencil

Use the Pen Tool (P) to create a rectangular shape as shown.

Draw the shaft of the pencil

Give the shape a yellowish-gold Gradient Overlay.

Draw the shaft of the pencil

Draw the shaft of the pencil

Duplicate the layer (Ctrl/Cmd + J) and go to Edit > Transform >Flip Horizontal.

Move the duplicated layer to the opposite side of the pencil and reverse its Gradient Overlay layer style by double-clicking on the layer in the Layers Panel and editing the Gradient Overlay settings so that the Reverse option is ticked.

Draw the shaft of the pencil

Make a similar shape using the Pen Tool (P) in the middle of the two rectangles we just drew using any foreground color.

Draw the shaft of the pencil

To give the new rectangular shape some color, add the following Gradient Overlay options settings.

Draw the shaft of the pencil

To give the shaft a nice, 3D look that makes it look like a standard yellow pencil, apply a Stroke layer style onto the shape.

Draw the shaft of the pencil

Draw the shaft of the pencil

Step 8: Create the pencil’s eraser

 We will now move up the pencil by creating the eraser. To create the eraser shape, first select the Rounded Rectangle Tool (U) and set its Radius option to 60px.

Draw a rounded rectangle shape as shown below, just above the pencil’s shaft.

Create the pencil's eraser

Give the eraser a 3D look and feel that’s consistent with the rest of the icon using a Gradient Overlay layer style.

Create the pencil's eraser

Give the eraser a 3D reddish-pink emboss using the Inner Shadow layer style.

Create the pencil's eraser

Create the pencil's eraser

Step 9: Create the silver band around the eraser

The next element we will create is the metallic band that wraps around the eraser. Create a new layer and then choose the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M).

Create a rectangular marquee selection shaped like a band, and then fill it with any color (shown below).

Create the silver band around the eraser

Give the filled rectangular area an Inner Shadow.

Create the silver band around the eraser

To give the band its metallic color, use a Gradient Overlay with different shades of gray, white, and black.

Create the silver band around the eraser

Create the silver band around the eraser

Step 10: Add shadow to the band

To stylize the pencil and give it some detail, we will cast a subtle shadow at the bottom of the metallic band. To start, create a new layer and place it below "band" layer.

Ctrl/Cmd + click on the "band" layer in the Layers Panel to create a marquee selection around it.

Move the marquee selection 2px down using your down arrow key.

Next, fill the selection with black (#000000) on the newly-created layer.

After filling in the marquee selection, deselect it (Ctrl/Cmd + D).

Add shadow to the band

Apply Filter > Blur > Motion Blur onto the filled marquee selection with the settings shown below.

Add shadow to the band

Add shadow to the band

Make a duplicate copy of the layer with the Motion Blur on it (Ctrl/Cmd + J) and reduce the opacity of the duplicated layer to 50%.

Add shadow to the band

Step 11: Make ridges on the band

We will continue to work on the metallic band by adding some more details to it. To start, create a new layer, then use the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) to create two 1-pixel selections; fill the top one with black (#000000) and the bottom one with white (#ffffff).

Add shadow to the band

With the layer selected in the Layers Panel, go to Layer > Add Layer Mask > Reveal All. Apply a reflected white-to-black gradient on the layer mask as demonstrated below.

Add shadow to the band

Reduce the layer’s opacity to 80% so a little bit of the metallic band shows through the ridges.

Add shadow to the band

Create copies of this "ridge" layer by duplicating it several times (Ctrl/Cmd + J).

Use the Move Tool (V) to position the duplicated layers similar to what is shown below.

Add shadow to the band

Step 12: Finalize the icon

To finish our Paper and Pen icon, we will compose and position our icon. Start by un-hiding the "Document" layer group.

Right-click on the "Pencil" layer group and choose "Duplicate Group" from the contextual menu that appears.

Hide the original "Pencil" layer group (we will keep it as a backup copy in case you would like to edit it later).

Select the duplicated "Pencil" group and press Ctrl/Cmd + E to merge all the layers inside it.

Scale down the pencil to about 70% using the Edit > Transform > Scale command or the Free Transform (Ctrl/Cmd + T) command.

Then rotate it about 60o using the Edit > Transform > Rotate command or the Free Transform (Ctrl/Cmd + T) command.

Use the Move Tool (V) to position the pencil at a location in the canvas that looks good to you.

Finalize the icon

To finish up the paper and pen icon, give the pencil a nice shadow using a Drop Shadow layer style.

Finalize the icon

Finalize the icon

Conclusion

That’s all she wrote!

In this tutorial, I showed you how to create a nice paper and 3D pencil icon that you can use in a variety of applications. We covered many techniques using only basic Photoshop tools and commands to create both the paper and pencil. We applied several layer styles to get the 3D look on the pencil and used some clever Transform commands to make our drawing quicker and uniform.

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and if it has inspired you in any way, please feel free to show us your work in the Design Instruct Flickr group.

Conclusion

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Author:

Asher is a freelance designer based in Pakistan. He has a strong passion for learning, which led him into the amazing world of graphic design. While he was designing, he discovered his interest in drawing. Asher is finishing his degree in Engineering. You can find his beautiful work on deviantART, where he goes by the handle of ~kyo-tux.